A Burgundy diary – 8 January 2022

To Grosme, les Fands and the forest

We set off this morning to find another path we can walk in the countryside around here. We started along the Roman track from Savigny-le-Jeune to Épinac. One version of this track may have passed along the road in front of the barn and into the farm lane (‘Lucie’s Lane’). It was a cold, grey day. Rain was forecast.

The first junction on the Roman lane, once it becomes a farm lane, runs through a small cluster of houses – called les Fands – and on up towards the forest to the south of us. There are five or six houses in les Fands, and only two or three – I suspect – are now lived in more or less full-time. The group of houses must once have included a couple of working farms with accompanying out-buildings and farm-workers’ houses. Now I wonder if there is anyone living there who farms at all; though, of course, today there are farmers and farm-workers working in the local fields. All on the farms are less intensively employed thanks to mechanisation.

Beyond the short road from les Fands, a field runs up towards the forest. Some track passable by medieval forms of transport must surely have passed from the chateau in Sully via la Come to the smaller but older – at least as to what remains now – Tour de Grosme. The Tour was on the other side of the wide field we wanted to cross (in the centre of the picture above). And I guess there would have been a way – even a right of way, so far as these exist (other than metalled roads) in France – which may have taken in les Fands and where we were planning to walk. Now there is a gate into the field and you walk up towards Grosme. Today the field was empty of cattle.

Boars and passing the fence

Boars had been shallow mining, rootling in the grass in the upper part of the field we were walking across. But for what? We were three or four hundred yards (350 metres) from the nearest oak trees. Do they like worms? What else could they have been searching for? Whatever it is they had conducted a thorough, if superficial, excavation of the upper part of this field.

And there was evidence in a couple of places where they had got through a fence which crossed it, and which we needed to get past; but the gap they had negotiated it was too small for us even if we had crawled through there. We needed to find a point where we could at one pass of the fence, negotiate two electric fences (probably not live: there were no cows in the fields; but who wanted to test the question?) and a barbed wire fence in between. Eventually we found a point where we could climb under the electric fences, and where the barbed wire could be held down.

Climbing a little higher in the field, we could look back to the hills beyond the barn. Vergoncey gradually came into above the trees below us. And ahead of us, as we crested the hill, we could see what looked like a gap for a gate in the fence at the far side of the field; and so it was. The pathway – perhaps part of the old road to Grosme castle, when it was more fully occupied – was fully evident as a short track on the other side of the gate; and so at last crossed the field from les Fands.

Above us, above the forest road, and above the Tour de Grosme (the old ruins were in the woods a few hundred meters away), climbed the hill and spread our local Forêt Domaniale des Battées. Through the forest lead a path for us back home; but the next thing was to find it.

(To be continued).

One thought on “A Burgundy diary – 8 January 2022

  1. Pingback: A Burgundy diary – 9 January 2022 | dbfamilylaw

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