Le Cap du Sarrat - an easy circular walk from Maison Grillou

One of our projects for winter 2017 is to come up with a short portfolio of easy routes that can be walked directly from Maison Grillou. This hasn't been easy in the past as many of the tracks that appear on the map are completely overgrown, and I've lost count of the number of times that we've set out only to be blocked by impenetrable undergrowth! But we continue to plough on, and last week were rewarded by discovering a newly cleared track that meant we could finally map out a circular walk over this lovely hillside.

It's a fabulous walk, with some of the best views of the Pyrenean chain that we've seen from within our village boundaries. And it's very straightforward, with most of the walking on lanes and well-made tracks, so perfect for French Foothillers and a great way to get a sense of where you are on your first day here.

The photos here were taken on a gloriously sunny day just after a light fall of snow - we hope it won't snow when you're here (!) but I've included them to give you a sense of our foothills in all their winter wonderland glory. In total, you'll walk around 14km; with lots of photo stops we walked for three and a half hours.

Begin by walking down the track from Maison Grillou towards the lane at the bottom of the hill. There are always lovely views of the chain from here.




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Turn left as if you're going to the village centre, but then head off left again opposite the cemetery; this lane will take you up the hillside opposite Maison Grillou. Two of our 'neighbours' live on this hillside, although there's no direct access between our house and theirs, and you can't see our house from theirs (or vice versa)! Continue upwards, ignoring the various tracks leading off to houses and lieu-dits to the left and right.

You'll soon find yourself in what feels like virgin territory, with no habitation visible in any direction. One of the startling things about the hills around Maison Grillou is that many of them can only be seen from a single place or track. In fact Maison Grillou itself is invisible from everywhere but a helicopter!




After a while you'll reach a junction of paths, just by a collection of disused mailboxes. The track straight ahead is signposted Bastard; ignore this one and the one that leads off at a right angle, and instead head up on the track that runs to the left and diagonally above it, towards Cap de Sarrat (check this on the map to make sure you're right). This is a classic forest track, used by the occasional 4X4 or tractor, but mostly by horses and people. Make sure you look back at the lovely views opening up behind you: 






The track brings you out onto a small lane at Cap du Sarrat and to another expansive view:




Turn right, then right again towards Lassalle ... and now it's downhill until you hit the main D117 road. There, turn left for half a kilometre, then cross the road and turn off to the right (by the dechetterie sign) to reach the Voie Verte (the old railway line) which is your route back to Rimont. When you reach it turn right again  - you'll go through the old tunnels, which are well lit - and continue until you reach the old station building at Rimont. There, you leave the Voie Verte and take the lane back up to Rimont village; you might want to stop for a well deserved drink at the Bon Accueil épicerie-bar (unless it's Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday, when it's closed), or if you've done the walk in the morning, at the restaurant fermier nearby.

To get back to Maison Grillou, take the little road through the village centre, past the church, follow it round to the bend to the left then continue until you reach our track, where you turn right and back home.

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