Despite another night of waking up every 90 minutes to inflate the mattress, I slept well and was up and ready to roll by 6.30am.
The path climbed quickly and looking back I was greeted with wonderful views of Bugarach. There was a weather front brewing up over the mountain which sent a refreshingly cool breeze my way. That was fine with me as long as I was able to keep abreast of the weather.
The path took me high above the Gorges de Galamus.
It was a perfect morning for hiking.
So perfect that I had to stop for a cup of tea and enjoy the mountain solitude for a while.
I finally reached the summit of the hill.
The Agly Valley and mount Canigou were laid out before me…
I continued on the spine of the hills, the views were pretty spectacular.
And then came my first Cathar castle, Peyrepertuse. The castle is built into the mountainside itself and is hard to spot at first. If you look carefully at the photo below you’ll see the castle walls to the right.
My photo doesn’t do the castle any justice, so here’s one I borred from the Chateau de Peyrepertuse entry in Wikipedia.
I then began the slow descent into the valley towards my bed for the night in Duilhac-sous-Peyrepertuse.
It was very hot as I completed the final five miles, I was tempted to make the detour up the castle but the 90 minute round trip wasn’t appetising, I was hot and bothered, with no water supplies left and a growing headache.
I found the Gite and after some complex negotiations in French, Spanish and English my dorm and bed were found. I drank a lot of water, made a cuppa tea and took a long nap.
I really, really liked Duilhac.
The council-run gîte d étape communal (well, it was more like a youth hostel than a B&B) was cheap (10 euros), clean and friendly (the only downside being the church next door that ran its bell on the hour, every hour, all through the night!).
The bar I visited that night cooked a magnificent steak and chips, and served up a hearty local red, all for 12 euros. There is a shop for buying lovely croissants and fresh veg and fruit. Perfect.
Despite the church bell waking me up every now and again (sigh…) I slept well.