Walking the Sentier des Plâtriers
We did this walk over a year ago. As the pics I took were with my camera it took me a while to get round to downloading them. Now that’s done, here’s the write up I said I would do in my Exploring on Foot post.
If you’re looking for a short and relatively easy walk within a short drive of Esperaza, Puivert, of Quillan, this is a nice one to do.
The walk starts in the small village of Rouvenac, which is nestled in the Faby valley between Puivert and Esperaza. Leaving the place in Rouvenac, we crossed over the bridge, take a left, then headed straight ahead, following the road towards Galie. This climbs steadily until you reach the ruined moulin, which is a nice place for a quick explore – there’s an information board, in French – and a snack stop, if needed.
Just past here the road forks, going left towards Galie and the short way to Fa, or right – which is the direction this walk takes.
The road then follows round the hill, climbing all the time (but once you’re at the top, you’re done) into a really quiet out-of-the-way valley. It’s quite an unusual landscape. Look out for the donkeys!
The track wiggles a little bit back and forth then turns off sharply to the right. We weren’t sure about this and um’d and ah’d before heading that way. Perhaps one of the signs is missing? Either way, after passing a couple of houses in very idyllic spots, the route takes the track to the right and heads a little higher before starting to descend, back in the direction of Rouvenac.
The next turning was little difficult to spot. It is signed but not that noticeably. First you pass the sign, by the V shaped tree, then you see, on the right side of the track a wooden “gate” – just wide enough to fit one relatively slender human through.
After squeezing through the stile, you start the descent back to the village. The path follows a lovely winding path through the trees. It was at this point that DD decided she wanted to walk and she really enjoyed hopping over the rocks and picking her way along the path – until we came to the field of cattle! I had a few run-ins with cows while mountain biking in the Peaks back in the UK so am always wary of them now, so we bundled her up onto my shoulders for that stretch and hurried along. I’m sure they were friendly but they are big animals so I prefer just to get past them asap so I can get on with enjoying my walk.
After all the excitement with the cows we were ready for a quick refreshment stop – snack time. We stopped where the path widened by the entrance to another field, and well away from those pesky cows!
Shortly after here an electric fence blocked the path. As this was one of our very first walks we weren’t really sure what that meant. Since they we’ve learned that it’s fairly common for tracks to be “blocked” by fencing, but these fences are there to keep the livestock where they want them rather than keeping people out. That’s what the plastic handles are for, so you can open the fence and pass through; no need to take your chances hopping over the top.
According to the sign there are some cabanes up there somewhere, but they weren’t visible from the track and we didn’t go looking for them. There’s no mention of them on the Internet either (I Googled on my return) so have no idea what’s there. We’ll have to take a closer look the next time we do this walk.
From this point the walk meanders down a very obvious path all the way back to the village. You come out at the back of the village and, on arriving at the first houses, follow the road to the right, passing the children’s park and the water fountain. This takes you past the park and also the water fountain. If you have time, it’s also fun to wander through the narrow streets and then find your way back to the bridge.
On the Rando Pyrenees Audioses website it’s listed as an easy walk and estimates it to take about 2 hours. That was about right for us – and that was with DD pottering along and a snack stop. Anyone with a good march on could get round in much less time. It’s a nice length for a family, only 3 miles, and although it is hilly, once you’re at the top you’re done and it’s downhill all the way from there. Our three-year-old was carried all the way top but enjoyed walking all the way down.
We always like a walk with “features” – meaning a bit of variety – and enjoyed that aspect of this walk: the open valley, the woods, the cows, the meandering nature of the descent. It’s a nice walk for a family outing, never to far from civilization, fairly well signed, with lots of opportunities for snack stops and wildlife spotting. And also a nice route for any trail runners wanting to sneak a quick 5k in!
Although we were living only a short distance away, we drove down and parked in the square by the bridge. The only way to get there, unless you’re already in the village, is by car. There may be buses but they are few and far between. The nearest railway station is Esperaza.
If, like us, you are doing the walk with small children, I recommend crossing over the bridge then taking left and then a right to park closer to or directly alongside the park, as we ended up there on our return then struggled to get a very tired DD back to the car. A three-year-old who won’t walk or be carried is a force to be reckoned with!
As far as refreshments go, there isn’t anywhere nearby to recommend. At the time of writing the restaurant in Rouvenac is closed and for sale, so unlikely to reopen anytime soon. There’s the Cafe de Fa, a few miles down the road serving both food and drinks or, if you fancy a speciality beer, there’s the Brasserie de Quercorb, a microbrewery in Puivert, which is well worth a visit. Opening times may change so check their Facebook pages before setting off. In summer months there are other places in Puivert and also in Esperaza. Whether they’ll be open or not is another matter!
Have you visited Rouvenac and done this walk? If so, what did you think?