Tag Archives: Marcilhac

Winter 2017/8 Newsletter

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Hand-crafted and Fully Guided Canoe Trips that combine the pleasures of paddling down tranquil rivers with an insight into the history and natural history of the region whilst we enjoy the local cuisine and stay in small Inns and B&Bs as we make our way gently downstream in beautiful & dramatic countryside.

A Green River Canoes Poster: http://goo.gl/GRZBSF © Steven R House 2016

2018 Canoe Tours

Dreaming of next summer

Hello from Green River Canoes. We wish you all the best for 2018. Let’s hope you all find time to do some paddling in the coming year.

8 Day Allier Tour

We have one all new tour for this season where we canoe down the Allier river in central France tucked between the Velay and Auvergne regions. The river runs through a spectacular Basalt Gorge where you can see columns similar to Fingal’s cave and villages perched on volcanic plugs. The canoeing gives us bouncy rapids up to Class 2+ and we can do some (guided) rafting upstream too if we wish. In addition we have some splendid hikes in the valleys. This is the area where both the Way of St. James (Camino de Santiago de Compostela) and the Robert Louis Stevenson trail begin. All the details are here: 8 Day Allier Tour. You can see plenty of photographs from our explorer tour here.

Self-catering & single-base Tours

In a break from our usual Inn-to-Inn style accommodation we are suggesting you may do this tour using a single-base self-catering Gîte (Villa) in order to save costs. Where possible we may be able to offer this style of accommodation on some of our other tours. It worked very well on our Célé tour last summer for example. Lots of photos here.

If you think this sort of tour would suit you better then please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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6 or 8 Day Tarn Tour


Our 6 Day Tarn Tour, is in the process of being re-arranged to include a further stretch of the Tarn flowing under the famous Millau bridge and also paddling a section of the Dourbies river: a tributary of the Tarn in its own gorge. We’ve also re-arranged the accommodation to suit our new itinerary. It really is a special river, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves there last summer. This can now be an 8 Day Tour. Some photos are here.


6 Day Yoga/Canoe Retreat

We have an exciting combination tour for this season which includes Yoga sessions before our day on the river. We’ve created a new version of the 6 Day Célé Tour, arranged so that we stay in the farmhouse at Sauliac all week and have a Yoga instructor on hand for our morning and late afternoon Yoga sessions. You can see all the details here.


Lascaux 4

On our 7 Day Perigord and 12 Day 3 Rivers Tours we can now visit the newly opened Lascaux 4 cave at Montignac. This is a new replica of the famous Lascaux cave which contains some of the worlds oldest cave paintings dating from 25,000 years ago. The original cave is closed to visitors as the paintings are sensitive to atmospheric changes. Previously we visited the Lascaux 2 replica (Lascaux 3 is apparently a travelling exhibition). I’m personally looking forward to seeing the new version.


8 Day Loire Tour

Last seasons new 8 Day Loire Tour went very well: we had a lot of fun on the rivers including a couple of nights wild-camping and lots of wild-swimming – not to mention the visits to innumerable Chateaux. You can see plenty of photographs from that tour here. The camping part, by the way, is not compulsory!


Build your own Kent Tour

Our tour to the garden of England (the County of Kent around Canterbury and my home patch) has been re-designed as a series of half and full days. The idea is that you can mix & match these days to make your own itinerary of 2, 3 or 4 days (or longer if you wish). The days cover canoe trips on the Stour, Medway and Rother, walks on the Pilgrims Way, the Downs, the White Cliffs of Dover, visits to castles and gardens, a city walk visiting Canterbury Cathedral and a ride on a vintage Steam Train. All is explained here.
Yoga & Canoe Poster

6 Day Yoga & Canoe Retreat

New from the 2017 season is this tour which brings Yoga sessions to one of our favourite canoeing tours on the Célé river in the Lot region of the south of France.

It is a 5 Night, 6 Day tour which combines morning and early evening yoga sessions with gentle and relaxing paddling down the beautiful Célé river.

Our instructor, Elizabeth Reed is an Inner Axis yoga teacher, focusing on breath work and non-competitive movement to increase well being, strength, flexibility and relaxation. On this tour she concentrates on general well being; specific postures relating to issues identified by individual participants and postures for warming up and preparing for paddling. It is suitable for beginners or those with some experience of yoga.

Elizabeth is a fun and knowledgeable teacher who focuses on learning and enjoyment, with tips and techniques you can take away and use to benefit your health in a number of ways.

We will explore the little known Célé valley by both canoe and foot and visit its beautiful villages and see its wonderful wildflowers & butterflies & dragonflies. We will also visit the famous cave paintings at Pech Merle.

A fuller description of the tour with more details, including dates, prices, maps and photographs can be found on our Yoga & Canoe Retreat web page.

 

A Green River Canoes Poster: http://goo.gl/GRZBSF © Steven R House 2016

12 Day 3 Rivers Tour

This is our flagship tour which I have been running since 2004. Naturally it includes some fantastic paddling with visits to iconic chateaux, castles, villages and caves. The canoe days are separated by two rest days: but we usually find plenty to do on these days too, perhaps a market visit, a long hike or a visit to a vineyard.

This summer we will be able to visit the newly opened Lascaux 4 caves at Montignac.

This truly is a once in a lifetime tour and not to be missed.

As always it will be a pleasure for me to show you around this delightful part of France.

Full tour details are here. The brochure is here.

The Chateau de Belcayre on the River Vezere, Perigord, France

The Chateau de Belcayre on the River Vezere, Perigord, France

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8 Day Loire Tour

This is a new tour which was inaugurated in 2016. The river Loire itself is broad and fairly swift, but with no rapids to speak of. The river is surprisingly empty of boats and we paddled for miles without seeing much more than the odd fisherman. We did however see plenty of wild-life including hundreds of birds of many kinds. The Loir and Creuse and Cher are smaller rivers. They are also quiet and rapid free. It makes for a serene & blissful day on the river with plenty of opportunities for exploring islands and taking a wild swim. When not canoeing we spend the time visiting the small towns along the way and visit a wide range of chateaux.

This is an 7 Night, 8 Day tour in which we canoe on the Loir, the Loire (for 3 days), the Creuse and the Cher in the Loire region of central France.

We will explore the valley of the Loire by canoe, see many of its famous Chateaux and experience its cuisine and wines.

In particular we will canoe through the Chateau Chenonceaux, picnic on islands and enjoy a wild swim, if it’s warm enough, visit the Chateau where Leonardo Da Vinci lived, and as many other chateaux as we have the time for. We also visit the Parc Naturel Regional la Brenne.

Full tour details are here. The recently updated and downloadable brochure is here. Lots of photographs from our first tour can be seen here.

 

Picnics

Sometimes the best part of the day is the picnic stop. Usually on the river bank and sometimes on an island. Always time for a leisurely lunch, a crisp cold Rose or beer and then perhaps a snooze under a hot sun.

A Green River Canoes Poster: http://goo.gl/GRZBSF © Steven R House 2016

In France we have tours going out to the rivers of the Ardeche/Gard region, the Tarn region, the Loire region as well as our flagship tours to the Perigord/Dordogne and Lot regions. And not forgetting our new tour to the Allier river in central France.

We also take a tour to the Belgium Ardennes, where we paddle on three rivers, and we have a short tour in the south of England too.

Over in the USA we run a tour on 5 rivers in the state of Vermont.

Our tour dates for the 2018 have been decided, but please remember if you are a group of 4 or more, you may choose your own dates, and play with the itinerary. We are always happy to adjust start & finish dates to suit you and your incoming/outgoing travel arrangements.

All the details of all our tours here. You can read about our previous tours here. And finally you can download our brochures here.

 

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Yoga & Canoe Poster

6 Day Yoga & Canoe Retreat

 

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

Spectacular cliffs on the Célé river, Lot France

Combined Yoga & Canoeing Vacation

New for the 2017 season we are introducing this tour which brings Yoga sessions to one of our favourite canoeing tours on the Célé river in the Lot region of the south of France.

It is a 5 Night, 6 Day tour which combines morning and early evening yoga sessions with gentle and relaxing paddling down the beautiful Célé river.

Our instructor, Elizabeth Reed is an Inner Axis yoga teacher, focusing on breath work and non-competitive movement to increase well being, strength, flexibility and relaxation. On this tour she concentrates on general well being; specific postures relating to issues identified by individual participants and postures for warming up and preparing for paddling. It is suitable for beginners or those with some experience of yoga.

Elizabeth is a fun and knowledgeable teacher who focuses on learning and enjoyment, with tips and techniques you can take away and use to benefit your health in a number of ways.

We will explore the little known Célé valley by both canoe and foot and visit its beautiful villages and see its wonderful wildflowers & butterflies & dragonflies. We will also visit the famous cave paintings at Pech Merle.

A brief description of the tour is given below but more details, including dates, prices, maps and photographs can be found on our Yoga & Canoe Retreat web page.

Riverside Yoga Position

A Riverside Yoga Position

Benefits of Inner Axis

In physical terms Inner Axis Yoga has positive effects on back ache, stiffness, blood pressure, diabetes,  and balance. It can further aid the digestive system, and your strength, flexibility, posture and gait. The concentration on controlled breathing aids asthma and other breathing related difficulties. In general it helps towards a leaner and more toned body.

From a mental and emotional point of view Inner Axis Yoga provides a calmer mind, with less anxiety, which is more resilient to stress and life issues. It overcomes a depressive and negative mind set which contributes towards better sleep and gives an improved ability to relax and focus. This in turn instills greater personal confidence.

In social and spiritual terms Inner Axis Yoga builds community spirit, dispels resentments and old patterns which prevent happiness, promotes being your best self in relationship to yourself and others, and fosters gratitude & enjoyment of life.

Lot, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

The Abbey in the village of St. Cirq Lapopie, Lot, France

Features of Inner Axis

Inner Axis is jargon free, taught in simple, clear and concise language and does not use Sanskrit terms.

Inner Axis teaches a variety of breathing exercises and correct breathing techniques, which are scientifically recognised to have a hugely beneficial impact on health and well being.

Inner Axis uses slow and safe yoga movements that are adaptable to your physical needs and condition whatever your age or your level of fitness. It uses props such as blocks, straps, bolsters etc to facilitate faster development.

The focus of Inner Axis is on healthy alignment and the explanation & reasoning behind the methods used.

Inner Axis uses mindfulness and inspiring visualisations.

Inner Axis is non-competitive and fosters an attitude of kindness to yourself and others.

Inner Axis is for everyone who desires inner health as well as physical health, no matter what religion or ideological beliefs they may hold.

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

On the ‘English Trail, in the Célé valley, Lot, France

Tour Includes

  • A Trail & River Guide whilst on the river & trail
  • A Fully Trained Yoga instructor
  • Full minibus support throughout, to transport us to & from the river and transfers to and from our departure point (local Railway Station or Local airport).
  • Includes all accommodation in a local farmhouse
  • Includes all breakfasts, lunches and evening meals
  • All necessary equipment for Canoeing the remote valley and stream of the Cele
  • An opportunity to hike along the route of the Way of St. James
  • Join your guides for a pre-breakfast walk
  • Visit the ancient cave paintings at Pech Merle
  • See the beautiful villages of Marcilhac, Espignac, Cabrerets and St. Cirq Lapopie
Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

Family fun on the Célé river, Lot France

Tour Description

Everyday of the tour will be book-ended by a yoga session. The friends of the Célé organisation have arranged that the river is set aside for fishing before 11am and for canoeing thereafter. We will use these morning hours for our Yoga sessions, often by the riverside, and for short walks.

Yoga and canoeing through the gentle waters of the Célé are the perfect companions to bring the mind into the body, to refine our awareness and deepen mindfulness. This tour teaches you techniques that can be practiced and used in the hurly-burly of our everyday lives.

After our day on the river we will have time for another yoga session, or you may relax if you prefer. Our accommodation has a small swimming-pool but we can also wild-swim if we wish too. Evening strolls are also possible.

When we are on the river or trail you will be accompanied on the river by an experienced river guide who will make sure you see all the interesting places along the way. If necessary we can provide top-up/reminder paddling lessons if it’s a while since you paddled, or indeed if you have never paddled before.

The rivers are easy paddling and suitable for inexperienced paddlers. The emphasis on this trip is to enjoy the rich history and natural history of the region from the unique viewpoint of the river.

Cave paintings at Pech Merle, at Cabrerets on the Cele river, Lot, France

Cave paintings at Pech Merle, at Cabrerets on the Cele river, Lot, France

We shall enjoy lazy days meandering down the river and take our time to enjoy all that we see along the way and taking the time to visit many of them as we go. We will certainly visit the world famous caves at Pech Merle and see the ancient cave paintings.

Everyday we will stop for a fabulous picnic lunch and in the evenings we will enjoy a home-made dinner in the farmhouse where we are staying. We will take dinner out one evening too.

The Célé is a small winding stream that flows down a steep sided valley into the Lot. On the way it passes through several small and picturesque villages such as Espignac, Marciilhac, Sauliac and Cabrerets.

Along the same valley a long-distance trail winds its way. Sometimes besides the river but mostly up high along the valley’s edge. This is the GR651 which is a small deviation off the famous GR65 more commonly known as the ‘Way of St. James’ or the ‘Chemins de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle’.

In an adjacent valley flows the Lot river with the famous cliff-hanging village of St. Cirq Lapopie.

We will explore the dramatic scenery as the river winds its way through a deep limestone valley stopping at pretty villages along the way. We will watch the birds along the riverbank: herons, kingfishers, wagtails, dippers and various hawks and admire the glittering colourful damselflies and dragonflies.

For those so inclined we will have a pre-breakfast walk and before we start canoeing each day we will have our yoga session. If we have the time and inclination we will also explore the trails along the causse above the valley and find dolmens left by ancient man. We will see plenty of colourful butterflies in the meadows and in the season plenty of wildflowers too, including some exotic orchids, like the Lizard and Bee Orchids.

The Célé valley is a quiet and largely undiscovered small valley and we shall probably have the river all to ourselves. If it is warm enough we can find some beautiful spots for wild swimming.

Our evenings will be spent discussing our day over a family style evening meal with plenty of opportunity to make the conversation flow.

Yoga & Canoe Poster

Autumn 2016 Newsletter

NewLogLemonBalmCanoe100x100

Hand-crafted and Fully Guided Canoe Trips that combine the pleasures of paddling down tranquil rivers with an insight into the history and natural history of the region whilst we enjoy the local cuisine and stay in small Inns and B&Bs as we make our way gently downstream in beautiful & dramatic countryside.

A Green River Canoes Poster: http://goo.gl/GRZBSF © Steven R House 2014

Autumn Canoeing

On the Vézère, the Dordogne and the Célé rivers in France

You still have time to enjoy a late holiday break to the South of France with us. September & October are great months for paddling, and of course these are wonderful places to canoe in the Autumn.

It is still warm: very often it is still warm enough to swim in the rivers. We have the  7 Days in the Perigord and the 6 Days on the Cele trip. Or you can push both trips together for our 12 Days 3 Rivers tour. The rivers are quiet: we are often the only people on the river, and of course the châteaux and castles and restaurants and wines are as fabulous as ever.

The tours include visiting the 25,000 year old cave paintings in these regions at Lascaux & Pech Merle, and we can fit in visits to other caves if we wish: Castel Merle, Rouffignac and Font de Gaume for example.

The number of châteaux we canoe past is almost too numerous to mention: the Losse, Belcayre and Clérans on the Vézère, the castles at Montfort, Castelnaud and Beynac as well as the châteaux of Marqueyssac, Fayrac and Milandes on the Dordogne and also the Devil’s Castle and the Chateau Cabrerets on the Célé.

We also visit and stay in numerous pretty villages – Les Plus Beaux Villages de France – which include Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, Beynac-et-Cazenac, La Roque-Gageac and Castelnaud-la-Chapelle. With a little bit of effort we can also visit Domme, Cardaillac and Saint-Amand-de-Coly. These are all tiny country villages in stunning settings. We will also visit the regional town of Sarlat-la-Canéda, preferably on market day.

But, of course, rivers are our main focus and the scenery and wildlife are just as stunning in this season and we will have the bonus of autumn colours.

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

Admiring the cliffs on the Célé river, Lot France

6 Day Célé Tour

A 5 Night, 6 Day tour in which  we spend three days paddling the Célé river and a day hiking a section of the Way of St. James. We also visit the cave paintings at Pech Merle. An extra day can be added if we wish to paddle on the Lot river for a day or we can swap the hike day for a paddle day.

On this tour we will stay in a farmhouse above the Célé for the whole tour. This will save us packing & moving on every night. Every day is but a short drive to the river. Not even 20 minutes drive. Our host Richard & Helen will prepare lovely home-made meals for us and we will enjoy the conviviality of their home.

We will rendezvous with our canoes on the first day and then keep them for the three days it will take us to paddle down to the confluence of the Lot river. We will picnic along the way for lunch and stop at the pretty villages along the route. We will also have ample time for little walks & hikes here & there.

Full tour details are here. The brochure is here.

The Chateau de Belcayre on the River Vezere, Perigord, France

The Chateau de Belcayre on the River Vezere, Perigord, France

7 Day Perigord Tour

A 6 Night, 7 Day tour in which we canoe down the Vézère & Dordogne rivers with visits to caves to see 25,000 year-old paintings, troglodyte dwellings along the river, huge castles and beautiful chateaux.

On this tour we spend two days paddling down the Vézère river and 3 days paddling down the Dordogne river.

The Vézère valley is famous for being the ‘valley of man’. Almost 200 sites of Neanderthal and CroMagnon antiquity have been found here. We will see and explore some of them, including the renowned Painted Caves at Lascaux. But the Vézère is also beautiful for other reasons, including fabulous chateaux, stunning scenery and wildlife.

The Dordogne river is  famous for its more recent history, the 11th and 12th Century for example, which are represented by the huge castles we shall pass, which are reminders of the 100 Years War between France & England. We shall paddle past these as well as numerous smaller chateaux  built for more peaceful times. We shall have plenty of time for visiting some of these as well as the stunning villages along the way.

Full tour details are here. The brochure is here.

Beynac on the Dordogne river, France

Beynac on the Dordogne river, France

12 Day 3 Rivers Tour

An 11 Night, 12 Day tour in which we canoe down the Vézère, the Célé & Dordogne rivers by combining the 6 and 7 Day tours above.

Full tour details are here. The brochure is here.

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Guest Blog: Day 4: Célé: Stream & Weirs

A day on the Célé: Espagnac & Marcilhac

a6 So peaceful...

Starting off on the Célé river from St. Eulalie

We awake to sunny skies – so nice!  After a wonderful breakfast at the hotel, we are off on a 20 minute drive to our next river adventure – the Célé.  This river is actually a small winding stream that flows down a steep sided valley into the Lot. It is a place that few tourists visit and we do have the river to ourselves.  Our paddle today is from St. Eulalie to Marchilhac.  We put in and only go a short distance before stopping in the village of Espagnac to check out the beautiful flowers that are blooming and some ancient ruins of an old monastery.  The bearded iris and roses are just beautiful.

b13 Beautiful!

Flowers and steps at St. Eulalie Espagnac

Back on the river and we are in for some adventures.  The Célé is very narrow and is running fast.  My long ago learned canoe skills are being tested!  We do have to navigate three weirs along the river – rock areas that sometimes have to be portaged around.

b15 I am paddling with Annie

Annie leads the way on the Célé

The first one we ran right over without a problem – it was a little like running a very short rapid.  Next we had to come down a roller area to the side of the weir – we made it fine but Paul and Patty got somewhat hung up – must be all the great French food!  The last one was just a log and we went right over that.  Guess we are lucky that the river is running so high!

c20 Patty & Paul negotiating one of the weirs on this river

Patty & Paul negotiating one of the weirs on the Célé river

The scenery along the river was stunning – green colors everywhere with tree branches hanging over the river, herons flying ahead of us from one place to another, wag tail birds flitting about and cuckoos singing high in the trees.  We had planned to stop at a small café in town on the way to the farm where we are staying for a beer, but it was closed.

c29 Another view

La Métairie Basse: our lodgings for two nights

We finally wound our way up the hill to where we will stay for the next two nights.  It is a wonderful farmhouse in the middle of the countryside and we will be eating all our meals here, prepared by our hosts Helen and Richard.  This place (originally built in 1809) was converted 15 years ago from a complete ruin into a B & B – something you would see the likes of on an episode of International House Hunters on HGTV!  This couple came from England in search of a better life and are soon getting ready to retire.

d35 Our dinner - salmon in pastry puff - yum!!

Richard bakes a Salmon en Croûte for dinner

Richard cooked a delicious salmon in pastry main course, plus we had an aperitif, appetizer, green beans, various cheeses and a banana pudding for dessert.  Time for bed so we can go for the 6:30am hike!

Green River Canoes Back Book Cover

Details of this tour can be found here: Green River Canoes 12 Days 3 Rivers

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

A Trip to the Célé in July 2015, Part 5

A Hike on the Causse & the Compostela

Today was a hiking day so after breakfast we set off for our morning hike which was going to be along the cliff edge above the Lot river and over the Causse. On our drives to and from the Métairie Basse farmhouse we had noticed a primitive signpost on the road-side. It simply said ‘Dolmen’ and pointed along a track.

We thought we’d have a look so we parked opposite and started walking down the undulating trail. After a couple of kilometres we started to lose heart. Where was it? We hunted around for a bit to no avail. The map of course was back in the minibus. After aimlessly wandering about for a whie we returned the way we had come. At the road we saw a Shepherd and his flock of black-eyed sheep. When asked he seemed to suggest that it was some way off. Oh well.

Back in the minibus we continued along the road and down to the Lot valley, berfore turning off under the disused railway to find the trail-head. I’ve walked this particular trail many times so I wasn’t worried about the aimlessness of this walk. Unfortunately the weather was against us and it was misty & foggy. The clouds looked ominous.

Lot, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

On the trail above the Lot river and St. Martin Labouval, Lot, France

A stiff uphill walk of twenty minutes through the mossy woods up a trail guarded by tumble-down walls brought us out onto a cliff overlooking the river valley far below. It was a pity the views were impeded by the poor visibility.

We pressed on along a muddy track by the cliff edge. It’s narrow and slippery and can be dangerous. We were careful. When the trail forked we took the branch that would take us over the causse rather than down into the valley.

Lot, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

Old sheep Cazelles on the trail above the Lot river and St. Martin Labouval, Lot, France

At this point we saw a collection of Cazelles, which are dry-stone building which the shepherds used to use for sheltering sheep. We had a quick look inside to see if any bats were about. They weren’t. The trail continued through the long grass until it popped out by a run-down farmhouse and a small track. We saw another Cazelle. This one was covered in green moss.

We pressed on in the damp air and made our way past several simple stiles until we reached the road. The drizzle started, but we carried on. We past a house with a garden containing a home-made dolmen and cazelle and still carried on as the rain started to fall. Undeterred we persisted, but evetually we had to stop and shelter under a tree as the rain came down.

After a brief discussion I sent a message to Steve and arranged a rendezvous. We retreated to the house with the dolmen and Steve was soon there to pick up some sodden walkers.

We decided a cafe and a hot chocolate would be a good idea so we returned to the Lot valley and drove upstream to Carsac. I was tempted to try the railway museum but it looked shut & miserable so we parked in the small town and found a cafe. Hot drinks all round.

The rain was still falling, but only lightly, so after that so we hopped back in the minibus and drove over to the Célé valley to make an attempt on an afternoon walk.

At Marcilhac we decided to have a picnic in the rain and used the tailgate of the minibus. It worked fine and much to our surprise the weather improved and we decided an afternoon walk was possible. A short drive up the valley to Espagnaac took us up to the trailhead and we were soon out on the GR651 long-distance trail. This is the Santiago de Compostela or Way of St. James, a pilgrimage trail that leads all the way to Spain. We were only going to walk as far as St. Sulpice, but we were going to hike along a part of the trail called the ‘English Way’.

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

Not far to go. On the GR651 Compostella trail in the Célé valleyn above Espignac, Lot, France

We set off up the hill past a few houses and saw the sign that told us we only had 1236 kilometres to go to complete the pilgrimage. The climb took us up through some woods and then out on the road. It still climbed until eventually we were walking high above the valley.

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

Wells nn the ‘English Trail, in the Cele valley, Lot, France

At a group of houses we got slightly diverted by following a path to some wells. These turned out to be small ponds but the view over the valley made it clear we were going in completely the wrong direction. We returned to the houses and took the othe fork. Soon we were out on the ‘English Trail’ which wends its way underneath a buttress cliff. We are still high above the river though.

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

On the ‘English Trail, in the Célé valley, Lot, France

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

The Engish Chateau on the ‘English Trail, in the Célé valley, Lot, France

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

On the ‘English Trail, in the Célé valley, Lot, France

In time we passed beneath the ‘English Chateau’ which is some fortifications built into the cliff with three arched window. I believe these are the remains of an English garrison from the 100 Years War of the 14th and 15th Century.

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

The Bertamin family at the English Gate on the ‘English Trail, in the Célé valley, Lot, France

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

Steve at the English Gate on the ‘English Trail, in the Célé valley, Lot, France

The narrow trail traced the cliff closely until we came to the ‘English Gate’ a beautifully arched gateway in the middle of nowhere. Their is a story here, but no-one knows it. I take a photograph of the family here and then insist on having a photograph taken of myself. Nine years ago was the last time I walked this trail on a day when we couldn’t paddle the river as the levels were too high. I was with my Father that day and we had a great day on the trail. I took a photo of him stood in this very same gateway.

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

On the ‘English Trail, in the Célé valley, Lot, France

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

On the ‘English Trail, in the Célé valley above St. Sulpice, Lot, France

The trail continued up and down until we eventually came to Brengues. We decided to soldier on and climbed out of the hamlet back up the cliffs and up to the causse. The trail took us on quite a diversion on the the top, before, in the end, after a coule of hours we began the descent into St. Sulpice. Steve was there to collect some tired hikers (that’s me) and he whizzed us off back to the farm for a rest.

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

The old barn and vegetable patch from the windows of Métairie Basse, Lot, France

We were going out this evening for dinner. It would give our hosts a rest. We drove down to the Pizza Restaurant in the Lot valley called L’Oilo. We took a table outside and ordered some drinks. When they arrived the waiter spilt the whole lot over the table. Oops. We changed table so he could clear up. No worries. The pizzas did eventually arrive and they were great. In spite of the mishap we had a great evening.

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

A Trip to the Célé in July 2015, Part 2

Marcilhac to Cabrerets

After a hearty breakfast at Métairie Basse we made a prompt start to the day and drove back to the village of Marcilhac for a morning walk before our paddle. On the Célé they like to reserve the morning and evening for those that fish on the river and leave the between times for the canoeists.

We were dropped off at the trailhead high above the village on the causse, that is the limestone plateau. These days the plateau is forested although up until the 1950s it would have been grazed by sheep. Some of the old dry-stone walls and Cazelles (stone sheep shelters) remain.

So off we went in the bright early sunshine to traipse along the undulating trail. Not many insects were about at this time of day and certainly not many butterflies. We had taken a net in order to capture, identify, and release some specimens, but only the usual suspects were abroad.

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

Looking down on the Célé valley from above Marcilhac, Lot, France

Eventually we arrived at the mobile telecommunications tower on the cliff directly above Marcilhac. We admired the view and looked at the river below and where we would be canoeing. We then retraced our steps to a fork in the path and began the deep descent to the road far below. We stepped out at another viewpoint on the way and could see that our canoes were still tucked up on the grassy bank .

Steve was at the roadside as we tumbled out of the woods and soon we were down in the village getting ourselves prepared. We have the first chute to negotiate. Was everyone ready? The three canoes scooted over to the dam and picked out the correct entrance to the chute. Trying to paddle down a fish-ladder is not wise. I went first and got only mildly soaked as the canoe hit the wave at the bottom. I then turned around to watch the two boys come down. Awesome. Then the parents came down. A slight wobble, but disappointingly, no capsize!

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

Heading downstream on the Célé river, Lot France

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

Reflecting on life on the Cele river, Célé France

Off we set then under the bridge where we where nearly stopped by a group of horse-riders coming down to the water. After an hour of gentle paddling under the dappled light of the trees the river once again slowed down as we approached a second dam. It was another Flour Mill. As we approached the water was slow enough for large yellow water-lilies to grow.

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

Taking a chute on the Célé river, Lot France

Everyone decided to take the chute instead of the portage and after another soaking for the person in the bow we were on our way again. The river twisted here and there and we dodged from side to side trying to avoid running aground but also trying to avoid bumping into the bank as we took some sharp corners. As we approached a bridge I knew that we weren’t very far from the lunch spot at Sauliac. The place was set up for a fete or a fayre but not many people were around. Steve however did have our lunch all ready and we sat down in the shade to devour it.

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

Relaxing on the beach at Sauliac on the Célé river, Lot France

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

All three canoes set off from the beach at Sauliac on the Célé river, Lot, France

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

On the Célé river, Lot France

After a post-prandial swim we were again on our way with our next stop at the ford only an hour or so away. After gently idling down the river we stopped here briefly to check that it was safe to go over the drop. It was and we lined the boats to go over it in the the middle of the little wave, before sweeping left to avoid the shallows.

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

Taking a detour on the Célé river, Lot France

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

Spectacular cliffs on the Célé river, Lot France

Shortly afterwards we took a small detour around an island, from where we could see some strange sculptures pinned into the cliff,  and entered a small canyon where we had to make a sharp S bend and avoid some rocks. This section can be tricky when the water level is higher but today it was just a bit scratchy.

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

The overhanging cliffs on the Célé river, Lot France

And so on we drifted until we reached a place where it seemed the river ran directly into a wall. Right up until you reach it you wondered where the river goes and then it turns sharply right. And then about thirty minutes later it does the same all over again and you know you are coming into Cabrerets. As we approach the wall I see some cows cooling off in the water. In the past I’ve seen a whole herd bathing under these cliffs.

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

End of the day approaching Caberets on the Célé river, Lot France

We take the turn under the cliff and start the run into the village. We can see troglodyte buildings built into the cliff and then finally the Devils Castle, a ruined English Castle from the 11th Century looms above us. Right underneath it and before the bridge we manage to get ourselves up the river bank – the mud is black and slippery. Steve is here to meet us and before long we have packed our gear away in the minibus and tucked the canoes under a tree to retrieve tomorrow.

A short drive takes us back home to the farmhouse where we loll about for a bit before Leonardo & I decide to stroll off catching butterflies in our nets. In the end it turns out to be a two hour hike as we go out to the Dolmen. We manage to catch some, blues, Commom Blue and Chalkhill Blue, a fritillary of some kind and plenty of Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers. I make a idiotic fool of myself by hilariously chasing after a Clouded Yellow – which I do eventually catch. We arrive back at the farm all hot & bothered and just in time for dinner.

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

A Trip to the Célé in July 2015, Part 1

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

The river sign at the put-in at St. Eulalie, Célé river, Lot, France

The Travel & the Getting There

I’ll keep it brief. It was a long day! Steve & I got up very early to catch a ferry at Dover with concerns about the industrial action taking place at the docks. No worries, we were delayed only 20 minutes or so. A good start, and a good breakfast on board.

We then had to rush onto CDG Airport in Paris to pick up Marco. More slight delays meant we were an hour late here. No worries we press on.

After that it was a 4 hour drive to Limoge Airport to pick up Kate and the boys, Leonard & Federico. The delays were stacking up now and we were a couple of hours late here. Thank goodness everyone was patient and not too rattled.

On again for another 2 hour drive down to the Célé valley to arrive at Métairie Basse in the countryside above Sauliac. Richard & Helen were of course their to welcome us. We were late for dinner but they were prepared for that and before long we were sat down to a fine Cassoulet supper, with plenty of wine to ease the exhaustion of a long day in the saddle.

Other guests were staying so Steve & I were going to camp outside. In the end we slept under the stars by the swimming-pool.

I’m very pleased to be here after missing the last two summers, and of course, the last time I was here was under trying circumstances. Here’s to the memory of Carolyn, who found this place for us, and with whom I came here on many happy occasions.

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

Family fun on the Célé river, Lot France

First Day on the River

What a fine day. As usual the communal breakfast was lively and fun. We are all set for our first day. The sun is shining and we quickly have everything we need in the minibus and we are off for the short drive to Marcilhac. We hang around for a bit and the Didier turns up from Kalapca Canoes. It’s great to see him again. Without further ado we drive upstream to Eulalie where we are dropped off with the canoes. We shall be keeping them for three days whilst we paddle down to Conduché at the confluence of the Lot and the Célé.

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

At the put-on at St. Eulalie, Célé river, Lot, France

Before long the canoes are launched, we wave farewell to Didier & Steve (though we will see you in a minute!) and are off downstream. We’ve had our safety talk, a few reminders of about paddling strokes and it is as if we were only on the river yesterday rather than about a year ago. And then, bump, we skitter underneath the bridge, and run up the beach beside Espignac.

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

Taking a break at Espagnac St. Eulalie, on the Célé river, Lot, France

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

In the village of Espagnac St Eulalie in the Célé valley, Lot France

This lovely little village is on the GR651 long distance trail, a branch of the Way of St. James. We look around the ruined Priory, with the exotic tower, the church and the hostel where the pilgrims can stay. Five minutes later we are back on the water and heading for the first of a series of weirs which will punctuate our day.

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

On the Célé river, Lot France

The river is narrow & shallow, but we have enough water to pick our way downstream. The trees offer some welcome shade as those at the front see the looping flight of the Wagtails and, from time to time, the iridescent flash of a Kingfisher in flight as we push them downstream. Their flight is characteristically fast and straight, about a foot above the water.

At the first weir we pull over to the right. We decide to push the empty boats over and catch them on the other side. It saves dragging them. Soon we are on our way again, lolling about, dragging our hands in the cool water. from time to time we threaten an all out splashing war but we are not hot enough yet.

Wild Swimming, Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

Taking a break at Brengue and wild swimming on the Célé river, Lot, France

In time we reach the second weir at Brengue and this is where Steve is waiting for us with our lunch all ready. Our first picnic. Fantastic. Everyone is hungry and ready for bread & cheese & salad & fruit & all the usual things. After lunch the kids relax by swimming in the river.

In the afternoon we are back on the river and back dodging the shallow places and avoiding getting caught up in the overhanging trees. It’s warm, it’s pleasant. We are already damp from our swim. Time to practise our water shovelling? Not yet. Too many responsible adults about!

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

Family canoeing on the Célé river, Lot France

We get past the third weir without any problems and continue on our way. The river winds its way through the deep valley. We can see high cliffs above us. Sometimes we can see troglodyte buildings built into the cliff. We have already passed the mysterious ‘English Castle’ perched high above us. We will explore that another day.

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

Paddling down the Célé river, Lot France

Towards the end of the day the river slows down a little. It is approaching the big dam at Marciilhac where a Flour Mill still operates. The river gets sluggish just as we are getting tired. We pass the place where the frogmen are. It’s hard to believe that underneath us is an underwater cave entrance and these divers can swim inside and explore inside for over 1km. I don’t think I’d fancy doing that.

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

Having fun on the Célé river, Lot France

At last we come around the last bend and find the grassy bank where we are to finish paddling for the day. I go over and explore the chute by the dam as tomorrow we can go down the chute if we want. A thrilling start to the day. I’m just checking that it has enough water and is not blocked by a fallen branch or anything. It looks good.

At the river bank we pack out water things away and leave our canoes tucked into some bushes and flipped over for tomorrow. No-one will take them. We then stroll over to the village cafe to visit my lovely old friends there. I’m so pleased to see them after a break of three years. Hugs & kisses all round. I have to pass on the sad news of Jim passing last summer and Cecile insists I must not come back next time with more sad news. I promise. After a couple of beers we hop in the minibus and return back to base.

Célé, Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips

Admiring the cliffs on the Célé river, Lot France

We still have plenty of time for a swim in the pool and a nap before dinner. We all sit down for a lovely evening dinner and long chats about this and that. Steve & I have a room tonight. Bliss.