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"Deer, foxes, rabbits and even an owl accompanied me...." Given the option, I almost always chose the wilder route. This took me on walks among forests and meadows so I could be as close to the wild as possible. I was alone, yes, but not as alone as you would think. Nature was all around me and the air rich in the scent of acacias and roses. Bees buzzed, butterflies fluttered. Buzzards circled above my head and the forest echoed with the knocking of woodpeckers. Deer, foxes, rabbits and even an owl accompanied me along my walk. Though some may worry about the concept of ‘self-guided’ walks, there’s nothing to fear. At the beginning of my walk, I conscientiously checked and over-checked the directions and maps in case I took the wrong turn. However, just a day into my walk, I let go of the need to control and simply followed the hiking tracks posted along trees and telegraph posts. I only checked my guide text occasionally to confirm details. There is something very special being able to walk alone through storybook forests, cliff top tracks and country paths lined with moss covered stone walls. Passing in and out of communes so quaint and quiet, the crunch of my hiking boots on gravel seem to penetrate every window of a sleepy village. Through this journey along the route of the river, I relished being completely immersed into such a beautiful, rural part of France. Having stayed in the cute La Petite Auberge in Carennac, my tour took me to Floirac before progressing into Meyronne to stay in an old castle right on the bank of the river. From here I was able to take a close look at the river and the surrounding limestone cliffs. What a sight. My walk eventually ended at the impressive village of Rocamadour, with its grand Rocamadour (right) is on the pilgrimage route 'Way of St James' is a place of religious importance, it's believed miracles happen here. The 216 steps leading to the medieval complex of churches, chapels and courtyards is hard on the knees but worth the effort... Of all its history and stories, I found myself most intrigued by the small chapel dedicated to injured rugby players in this area famous for its love of rugby. At dinner on the balcony of my hotel, watching the evening sun wash the cliff golden red, I felt a sense of accomplishment. There is much more to discover in the Dordogne Valley, but in slow and steady steps, I got to know it intimately, and the experience was truly soul lifting. Amy McPherson was hosted by www. onfootholidays.co.uk
Editor's Letter Welcome to the Autu
Features continued 48 Le Weekend: B
Where to enjoy wine in winter in Fr