|Also see my long walks in Britain|
randonneur américain en
A hike from the Mediterranean
to the Atlantic in 2010
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A glimmer of hope - Portiragnes
Day 3 This is more like it - Béziers to Capestang
Day 4 Rain didn't stop play - Capestang - Pouzols Minervois
Day 5 Nowhere to stay - Pouzols-Minervois to Azille
Day 6 Hard day not at the office - Azille to Carcassonne
Day 7 Just rewards - In and across Carcassonne
Day 8 Hobson hunkers down - Carcassonne to Bram
Day 9 Monsieur l'Inspecteur - Bram to Castelnaudary
Day 10 Highest point of the canal - Castelnaudary to Villefranche de Lauragais
Day 11 Going the extra mile - Villefranche de Lauragais to Toulouse-sud
Day 12 Canal du Midi, done - In and across Toulouse
Day 13 A real bruiser - Toulouse-nord to Montech
Day 14 A real bruise, too - Montech to Moissac
Day 15 Warm sunny day at last - Moissac to Lamagistère
Day 16 Mileage math - Lamagistère to Agen
Day 17 Fast walk to a slow train - Agen to Port Sainte Marie
Day 18 An easy day - Port Sainte Marie to Tonneins
Day 19 The perfect wall - Tonneins to Marmande
Day 20 Another training day - Marmande to La Réole
Day 21 Canal des Deux Mers, done - La Réole to Langon
Day 22 Cadillac for Hobson - Langon to Cadillac
Day 23 Peaceful villages - Cadillac to Latresne
Day 24 Bordeaux, done - Latresne to Le Pian Médoc
Day 25 Unfortunately - Le Pian Médoc to St Laurent Médoc
Day 26 Second-last day - St Laurent Médoc to Lesparre Médoc
Day 27 Mediterranean to Atlantic, done - Lesparre Médoc to Soulac sur mer
The route first follows the famous Canal du Midi, between the Mediterranean at Agde, and Toulouse.
Between Toulouse and near-Bordeaux, it follows a canal adjacent to the Garonne River, aptly named the Canal latérale à la Garonne. These two canals (Mediterranean to near-Bordeaux) form the Canal des Deux Mers.
From Bordeaux to the Atlantic, I maintained a link with maritime history by paralleling the Gironde estuary, which is Europe's largest.
The finish line of Soulac-sur-mer is within sight of the famous Cordouan lighthouse.
The total distance is 600 km (375 miles).
Above right is a Google Maps photo of the route. Click here for a zoomable, scrollable version.
To locate a place of interest, just type Place, France into the "Search Maps" box here and you'll get there faster than I did.
Hobson, the geriatric hiker, hopes he isn't done-for yet.
My retirement lifestyle is a study in paradoxes. I have a wife who loves to work but not to travel, while I am the opposite. I love hiking, but age and injuries make hiking an exceeding struggle. I love the U.S., but hike in Europe. I love good weather but set out in the thick of winter. My next hike is in France, but my French can be described by a word common to French and English: déplorable.
2007 at the age of 63,
Hobson (a nickname of my own choosing) fulfilled a childhood dream of
from Land's End (the southwest tip of England) to John o'Groats (the
tip of Scotland), a thousand miles.
started the overview of my British hikes with the
to "Never let dreams die on your pillow". So here I am in
raring to go on the hike described here - but feeling a dozen
- and wondering whether I have already fulfilled my quota. Both
kept Tampa's finest surgeons busy when I got home. I am mentally a
hiker - but
I limp and I ache. There's a chance that I'll be home by the time you
this. If these webpages splutter to an untimely end, it's because I've
Each bulge and each pocket of
the backpack houses a distinct piece of my gear.
My boots, coat and backpack are more important than a wardrobe of haute
couture to a model.
Next day, the pattern repeats.
There's a feast of scenery that unfolds oh-so-slowly as one trudges. The meticulously-planned route is a line on a map across wonderful, always-new terrain. My life is like a line too. The start point is the beginning of a new chapter, and that distant finish line is a glorious end. At each end of the line is a lighthouse. The Agde lighthouse at the start line emits a red flashing light ("no turning back"). On the Atlantic coast, the Cordouan lighthouse emits a welcoming green. One of the world's oldest and tallest, it's been described as "the most beautiful" and "most famous" of all lighthouses. We will talk more of it later.
Between the two lighthouses are untold adventures yet to be revealed. From past experience: It's a memorable privilege to be the only person for miles on a snowy trail in the Scottish Highlands. It's a lesser privilege to be lost in a sewage plant while trying for a shortcut across a blighted industrial area. I can expect muddy moments, barbed-wire entanglements, and dog encounters - juxtaposed with beautiful sunsets, bird sightings, and meetings with friendly locals.
Reaching nightfall in winter without a bed
is one of the "lesser
privileges". It quickly re-orders my priorities.
Once home, I luxuriate in the pleasure of long lie-ins, baths, and doing nothing. It takes me a week or two to lick my wounds and assume my normal responsibilities. Then I start to plan next year's hike, a process that takes some months. This time, I waited an extra year because we moved house.
The extra year is up. Hobson, now 66, flies to France in late February to walk four hundred miles from sea to sea along famous canals. You can read about it here. He'd be honored if you did. And if you find time to write to him at email@example.com, he'd be even more honored.And so will I.
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