Le Puy de Gaudy
by Dave • Thu 24 Oct 2019 15:24
Puy de Gaudy, near Guéret (651m), was one of my first discoveries in Creuse. There’s a horse-riding centre on the hill nearby that I used to go to. Not to ride but to sit and wait outside. I suppose it’s a nice enough spot to sit but the view of stable yard stuff and horseboxes isn’t very fascinating even to the most pony mad, let alone to M. le taxi. So after sitting about for a week or two listening to the radio, contemplating the obvious pointlessness of mud flaps and slowly sucking the life from a fluffy dog-eared mint that was festering in the depths of a door pocket, I started to drive off and look about a bit.
We used to come up to the centre from Guéret, up past the old wood mill (now no longer there) and past a basic but very serviceable hotel restaurant and on up, taking a hard right just in front of the massive Agricultural Hall and disappearing into the countryside. This way we always drove past the turn for Puy de Gaudy which was a small wooden painted job on a varnished stick. That stick being planted at more of a schoolboy javelin throwing angle than is usual for signs. Not really advertising anything much.
Still, there was a road with its sign and there was me with about an hour to drive about in. Perfect. At the top of this ever-steepening single track road about 500 meters past a mental dog leg is a car park - not the type of leg that’s voted to leave the rest of the mental dog but the kind that might brown the pants of the inattentive motorist – well sure the woofy type of leg can do that too when working hard with the other three legs to move the entire dog to a space once occupied by a calm driver. Anyway, you get the gist.
Car park might be overselling it a bit but there is tarmacked area of a size and space where people need not park in the bushes or on the verges. Although many clearly still do. There was a rotten fence and what looked like the remains of the map thing with a little roof and iirc an unused bin. More importantly than all that there is a path at the back; walking for the use of.
The path winds up into the woods and splits off a bunch of times, some of these take you down and around, some just down and more down, and some take you to named rocks. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but there are many rocks or piles of rocks in Creuse. Some of these seem to know people and therefore have been given a sign with their name on it. Sometimes more than one sign.
There are several possibilities to becoming unexpectedly horizontal; in no particular order, tree roots, loose rocks (covered in mud, leaves, snow or a combination of the above depending on the season), rock ledges, bricks, logs and finally deep stone-sided open graves. Many of these wait in the long grass until you are looking the other way before making their move. So be careful.
The graves are pretty awesome and I recommend risking the path of never-ending bruising just to see these. Many are small ponds filled with aquatic life. These are said to be from the iron age; a time I remember very little about. There are also some vitrified remains of the ramparts of a fort – the largest in Creuse. I expect I’ve tripped over these on one of my visits but as historic ramparts, they don't really make themselves known.
The path will take you back through the trees and join up with the main path that you came up on, near the named rocks. Turn left and downwards and follow the main path back to the car park. Drive down gently because sometimes, when you are in a hurry, a large tractor will be found enjoying a rest across the entire width of the road, just a bit more than a full-on four-wheel skid away.
I've visited it often over the years but as the horse-riding centre is no longer in favour and as I’m currently without the distraction of a dog and often lack a reason to visit Guéret these days, I haven’t been for a while.
It’s great for an afternoon out. It’s free and there’s space for dogs and kids to run amok, although it’s often muddy. Very OMG what the hell happened to the inside of my car and the outside of my person muddy. I long ago accepted that everything I have is now slightly browner and smellier than before the time of dog. If white jeans and cream leather are more your thing then choose more wisely. The inside of my Landy still looks like a riot in a turnip field. Well almost, but that’s entirely another day.
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