Stage 10a: From Conques to Livinhac-le-Haut

 Back to the Lot and its calm meanders

by Didier Heumann and Milena dalla Piazza

We have already left Haut Rouergue and its green valleys for the Lot valley, but your track is still for a few days in the north of Aveyron, in the middle of beeches, oaks and chestnuts. Wooded slopes, groves and grasslands interspersed with brooks gradually give way to more open spaces with fairly poor land, where coal dominates.

You are still in Aveyron, along the valley of the Lot on the heights, direction west.

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s give here a little overview of the department of Aveyron that you’ll cross in its northern part. After passing the Aubrac and the Vallon region, where you were in Conques, today the path slopes up the valley to descend to the Decazeville Coalfield. Thereafter, it will reach the Quercy “causses” via Livinhac and Cahors. The Conques country, placed between the basin of Decazeville and the valley of the Lot, is a “ségala” whose acid soils were formerly synonyms of rye, chestnut and moors. Since then, crops have gradually evolved. Here, the entanglement of the geological layers, cut by Lot and Dourdou Rivers gives a great variety of rocks. If the schists and granites make up the interior of this corrugated plateau, you’ll also see limestones and sandstones that create red or yellow effects on the green of the meadows. Therefore, in the region, the villages are made of shale or gray granite, pink sandstone or yellow limestone.

 

The coal basin of Decazeville was one of the main coal blocks in France. During the Great War, more than 15,000 employees extracted coal, the product of accumulation and fossilization of plant waste. Here, the mines date from 1828, mines that extended over a perimeter of 50 square kilometers. In the early 1960s, the mining basin experienced a resounding strike. More than 1500 miners stayed more than 2 months underground. The last mine was closed definitively in 2001.

The stage of the day has become more ambiguous, because there are two tracks, GR65 path and GR6 path, which sometimes merge, sometimes intersect. In recent years, both tracks have just reversed! We will come back in a future chapter on that story. Today, you’ll follow GR65 path, which is what the majority of pilgrims is doing, because when you tell them “Santiago track in France”, they run almost always on GR65 track. It is a difficult stage, but pilgrims who have already been walking for several days will pass the test without any problem. As the stage is long, and as a result, some pilgrims split the difference, stopping at Decazeville. No pilgrim will say that this stage is the most exciting stage of the Camino de Santiago. Far from there!

Slope variations today are very important (+763 meters / -849 meters). In fact, it’s one of the most uneven stages in GR path. Today’s stage is tough in its first part and then before reaching Livinhac. First, you must leave Conques valley to reach the basin of Decazeville, with more than 300 meters of positive sloping. It is with the climbs to Briffoul, Escluzels and Roncesvalles, the most difficult course on GR path, perhaps the most confronting. Subsequently, the main part of the journey is a great ride on the paved road to Decazeville. In places, the descent is tough. Finally, a long and tedious climb to St Roch ends with a descent to Livinhac-le-Haut, at the foot of the Lot.

 

In this new GR65 deal, you’ll love tar, for sure! You’re kidding, say the organizers of the road! It’s not tar, it’s a strip of grass or dirt along the tar.:

Paved road: 16.3 km
Pathways: 8.2 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.

We divided the course into sections to make it easier to follow. For each section, the maps give the route, the slopes found on the path and the state of the GR track. 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-conques-a–le-haut-par-le-gr65-42542373

Click here to start with the first section of the route. Avant

I f 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 housing. Avant