There is something poignant about the end of an adventure.
It was cold on the morning of our last day on the Cathar trail. The pale almost-full Easter moon hung low in the dark sky behind the pog (rock) as we trudged from our accommodation in Cazals d’en Dessus back up the hill to the village of Roquefixade. The spring sun struggled to rise from behind the surrounding Pyrenees.
The quiet gave us opportunity to reflect on our time in the mountains: every day – new terrain, new vistas and new challenges; every evening – aches and fatigue, good food and great wine. While it is true that after almost two weeks of walking over the rugged landscape with what was later diagnosed as severely inflamed osteoarthritis of the hips, part of me was ready for a change, it was also sad to know that by the end of the day we would be at the end of our trail.
Points of interest: The ancient fortified town of Roquefixade and its fortified castle. Superb ridge walk to Foix offering some very interesting viewpoints. The country town of Foix with its famous castle.
Seen the ruins of one Cathar Castle – seen them all?
We were tired and the wind was rising as we passed through the small town of Roquefixade (144 inhabitants in 2007) and looked up at the precarious rise to the Château de Roquefixade high above, so we were tempted to bypass the 45 minute climb in favour of shortening our day. But, knowing it might be a long time before we are back this way again, we tied our hats to our heads and clung to the rocks as we braved the winds on the hill.
It was worth it.
Like the other citadels in the area, Roquefixade was built in its day to provide a vantage point over the roads in the region. Today, the rocky ruins allow us to marvel at the hardship of lives in mediaeval times in these windy aeries perched on their rocky outcrops.
Once we descended from the chateau, we spent the day traversing along paths, through forests, over stony tracks, past ruins and across farmer’s fields.
We’d been exceptionally lucky with the weather on our twelve days of walking. Although it had often been windy and cold, for the most part it had been clear and dry. It seemed poetic somehow that, as we descended the hill into Foix, it started to rain – and the rains looked as though they would stay for a while. We couldn’t help but feel sorry for those people who had their walk ahead of them, in what was forecast to be inclement weather.
As we crossed the Ariège river into Foix and towards our accommodation, we met with a man with his backpack going the other way. “I’m a real Pyrenean,” he told me in French. “I live up there.” He indicated vaguely the direction we had come.
It seemed a fitting end to our trek – to meet a ‘local’ going back the other way.
We did, of course, visit the famous Foix castle – but that is another story for another day.
Good health ~ À Votre Santé!