Stage 07: From St Chély d’Aubrac to Espalion on GR65 path

Here, the absolute pleasure is the Virgin of Vermus, on top of Lot River

Today, you are going to leave Aubrac behind you. Yet, the Way of St James is so diverse that other horizons lie in the store for the pilgrim. Lot River keeps on meandering in Central France.

You are in Aveyron for several days. The direction always remains southwest. The stage is completely in Haute Rouergue, the Northern Region of Aveyron, stuck between Cantal of Massif Central in Auvergne and limestone plateaus of the South of Aveyron. The path runs on the tops of St Chély’s Boralde River, which empties itself into Lot River near St Côme d’ Olt. Then, the route follows Lot River western to the town of Espalion.

We leave Aubrac for the country of Olt. Yet, Olt or Lot (must be pronounced t) is it the same? You can imagine that the etymologists have studied the question. And yet, nothing is very clear. It is necessary to go back to the Celtic, Gallic, Occitan, and other origins of those countries crossed by the river. Some experts look for a Gaulish / Celtic origin, ollo meaning big. Under the Romans, ollo will become oldo, then olto. And then in old French olt. Other experts think that ollo would refer to Ollodio, the god Jupiter, the greatest. Whatever its origin, Olt once switched to Lot, a phenomenon known in linguistics under the beautiful term of metathesis. For questions of pronunciation, letters are inverted, most often consonants! So, do not be surprised that Lot valley is still called Olt Valley today. Anyway, if olt means big, we can only abound in the sense of the etymologists, because the river and the valley are probably among the most beautiful in France.

 

 

 

 

In these areas, livestock (cattle and sheep) predominate in a geologically complex landscape in a network of small rivers. It is the country of “boraldes”, small rivers or fast torrents flowing in very small valleys. These small rivers have cut the base of Aubrac, which is here formed of schists and gneisses, which are rocks transformed from granite, the base of Aubrac, which is, on the surface, covered with basaltic volcanic rocks. Lot valley forms a clear border to the south of Aveyron.

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Slope variations (+436 metres/-928 metres), are tough today, almost downhill. At the start, you will climb uphill to the high plateau. Then, this is a long descent towards the Lot Valley on rocky pathways and deep forest. Anyway, you start at more than 800 metres above sea level at St Chély d’Aubrac to get to Espalion at around 400 metres. At the end of the stage, you will appreciate a leg-breaking uphill climb to the Virgin of Vermus, near Espalion. Some pilgrims will say, with a slight bias, that this is not the most beautiful stage of the Camino de Santiago. But, the forests here are beautiful as well as the detour to the Virgin of Vermus, near Espalion in the disorder of the undergrowth.

The stage of the day is clearly in favour of dirt roads:

Paved road: 8.6 km
Pathways: 15.1 km

Sometimes, for reasons of logistics or housing possibilities, these stages mix routes operated on different days, having passed several times on Via Podiensis. From then on, the skies, the rain, or the seasons can vary. But, generally this is not the case, and in fact this does not change the description of the course.

To help you recognize trees, refer to the Botanical Summary in the general introduction to the track (in the menu in French, to be developed in English).

It is very difficult to specify with certainty the incline of the slopes, whatever the system you use. GPS watches, whether measuring barometric pressure or altimetry, are hardly more convincing than estimates based on mapped profiles.

There are very few sites on the Internet that can be used to estimate slopes from maps (up to 3). Since these programs are based on an approximation and an average around the desired point, there can be large variations from one software to another, depending on the state of the art or the variation between two points (for example a hole followed by a bump very close). Do you want an example? On the GR36 along the coast of Brittany, the altitude is rarely more than 50 meters above the sea. But the path only goes up and down. For a course of about twenty kilometres, a software will give you 800 meters of elevation gain, another 300 meters. Who says true? For having made the course several times, the legs say that the difference in altitude is closer to 800 meters! So how to proceed? We can rely on software, but, we must be careful, ignore slopes given, but only use altitudes. From there, it is only elementary mathematics to deduce the incline, considering the altitude and the distance travelled between two points whose altitude is known. It is this way of doing things that has been used in this site. Moreover, in retrospect, when one makes « in real » the course estimated on cartography, one notes that this way of doing is quite close to the truth of the ground. When one walks often, one has quite quickly the degree of slope in the eye.

The courses were drawn on the « Wikilocs » platform. Today, it is no longer necessary to walk around with detailed maps in your pocket or bag. If you have a mobile phone or tablet, you can easily follow routes live. For this stage, here is the link:

 

https://fr.wikiloc.com/itineraires-randonnee/de-st-chely-daubrac-a-espalion-par-le-gr65-29911252

 

Click here to start the stage on the first section. Avant

If you are not interested in the course, and you only require details information about lodging, you get enter this item.

Click here for details of lodgings. Avant