Wine and water: a round walk from Villelongue dels Monts

Our Mediterranean retreat, Maison Leela (where you'll stay if you're on a French Foothills holiday), is in a small village that's lucky enough to be surrounded by small lanes and tracks known in Catalan as cami, from the same root as the French chemin. They're ancient ways of getting from one old house or domain or vineyard to another; some have now been tarmacked, though they see little car traffic, while others remain the earth tracks they always were. There are no yellow waymarks or red map markings, and sometimes you have to work a little to create your route (except when we've done it for you!), but when you just want a lovely but low-key stroll, they make for perfect rambling.

This particular round walk is one that we often do almost as soon as we arrive, as a kind of hello handshake. It takes us around three hours, as we like to stop and catch up with the changing views and seasons on the hills and in the vineyards and orchards, though it's probably around two hours walking time; sometimes though we turn it into a longer outing by packing a picnic to eat at the lake, which is roughly the halfway point. It's great done all year round, though perhaps at its best in late spring and early summer when the nightingales are singing (all day, contrary to popular belief). And of course, although the route comes right back to the house, we often amble on down to the village bar afterwards for a well-deserved beer!

This is one of the walks for which we've created our own walking map and directions (you'll find it in the walking guide at the house), but here it is in a few photos:

Great views of a still-snowy Canigou in early spring.

This is muscari comosum, or the tassel hyacinth.

The very first stirrings of the vines ...

... and the first views over the lake, looking over to Canigou (a bit blotted out by the sun here).

Those are the Albères in the background. And that's our dog, Noodles!

It's not a huge lake, but it's very secluded - a secret place.

On the way back, we passed this amazing poppy field.

If only my log piles could be as creative as this one!

This is the little stream and path that runs right behind Maison Leela.

This old well,  Font d'en Guillot, is also just behind the house; it served as the main water supply for Maison Leela and all the houses of the old quarter of the village until 1955, when mains water was connected for the first time.

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