Monday, 18 July 2011

A very long ride, day 4

Monday morning dawned windy and wet, just what we needed for the long ride home. So we saddled up, put on the waterproofs, well all apart from Ali as Seraphina took exception to her long orange mac, and set off early, with the saddlebags stuffed with the last of the birthday cake and some beer.

We went back down the hill to St Pierre de Bat but it was miserable so we didn’t get in the lavoir this time. The horses seemed reasonably OK and were happy to trot and canter a bit. We went past a load of plum trees and stopped for a bit of breakfast, Gandalf liked the plums too and hoovered them up from the floor.

A load of curious donkeys cam to investigate the strange short eared ones, and this caused Mav and Organza some consternation....

We moved on, and got very wet in a serious downpour with nowhere to hide. Then we tried a chemin we hadn’t checked out and ended up having to get off the horses to open an electric fence that went across it and fit though between electric tape and barbed wire, thankfully Mav chose not to do any of his dancing sideways routines. We fought our way out of the soggy woods at the other end but then ended up in vineyards and had a great canter to the top of a hill. We stopped to give the horses a breather and had cake and beer and started to dry out a bit and feel better.

More roads followed, then we spotted a watering hole and went to investigate, which was fine until a load of donkeys came rushing up to the fence next to it, one of them was obviously a boy and was rather excited to see the horses. Organza tried to tank off and we had visions of Tess ending up in the water but she managed to head her off before the edge of the pond. Maverick was snorting like he’d seen dragons, the others were a bit curious but didn’t feel the need to exit the scene at speed. So we stayed a while and ate pitta bread with the last of the cheese that was all we had left in the saddlebags, no point stopping and summoning a car full of lunch as there was nowhere dry to sit and eat and anyway the OH backup team had gone back to Brussels.

We trekked on, and eventually came to St Martin du Puy which is a fantastic little place with a stream bubbling out below the church so we stopped to water the horses again.

Not far up the road is the mediaeval village of Castelmoron, we got to ride up cobbled streets and parked the horses round the corner from a bar so we could have a beer. We got talking to some passersby and the horses dozed off. As we felt they needed a bit of a rest we decided another beer was in order (and ice creams for the kids).

After that it was a bit of an effort to get going again, but we duly set off. More vineyards to cross, we had to jump ditches at one point to get to where we wanted to go.

Then I made the fatal decision to try another chemin marked on the map – bad move. It didn’t exist. We had to ride in a complete circle to get back to the road, very annoying at such a late stage in the day! You can clearly see it on the track of our trip  here

More roads, then the end was in sight. The horses even managed a last burst of canter up the hill into Massugas.

According to my handy iPhone app, we’d done 48kms, more than enough for one day!

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