Book Recommendation - La Creuse ... à pied
Walking in the countryside is one of the joys of living in Creuse, but Creuse is big and in order to get the best out of your walking you will need not only a map, but a decent guide to some of the best walks.
La Creuse ... à pied (ISBN: 978-2-7514-0208-1) details 50 walks spread throughout the department. These walks vary in difficulty and length - from about an hour and 3.5km for an easy rated walk up to 7 hours and 26km for the most difficult. The walks are divided into four categories (very easy, easy, medium and hard). The timings are about right for a steady pace, taking time to appreciate the scenery, but do not include breaks, which would be vital on the longer, all days walks.
Each walk comes with a detailed map with the route marked on it, a few photographs of the main sites together with a general description of the walk. The route is broken down into 6 to 12 steps depending on the length and difficulty of the route. There are simple directions for each of the steps to help you find you way on the ground and to point out the various places of interest - buildings, wildlife and alike - some of which will be shown in drawings or sketches.
The main points for each walk are summarised clearly - altitude, start point, parking, any particular difficulty (step sections, mud and so on) and a quick listing of the main highlights on the walk and other interesting features nearby. Some circuits are also suitable for horse riders and off-road cycling and these routes are clearly marked.
Having done a few of the walks myself I am impressed with the level of detail and the easy of navigation on the ground. Sometimes the map and route are not totally clear, but when this has been a problem it has been countered in the directions for each step of the route. I have always managed to stick to the route without an issue, although a good map and compass should still be considered essential backups for all but the simplest routes. The language isn't that difficult and each route could be easily translated before setting off, should your grasp of French be too weak do this en-route.
These walks are a great way to explore areas further afield from your normal part of Creuse and are not only good exercise, they are also informative and fun. I'm looking forward to trying a few more.
For anyone wondering which route to try first (or next), route 5 (Le moulin de Malval) is one of my favourites and at only 6km it isn't that hard. It takes in rivers, hills, woodland, fields and a few villages as well as the watermill and some ruins.
If you have a favourite walk from this book, please take a moment to leave a comment and let us know about your experiences.