A Burgundy diary – 9 January 2022

Brambles on the hillside climb; winter colours in the old oak forest

The road across the field above les Fands had lead to the forest road (Route Forestière du Val St Benoît). Above this, above the Tour de Grosme a few hundred yards into the woods beside us, our local forest – the Forêt Domaniale des Battées – climbed away through the trees. And along the spine of the hill above us was a path, we knew, which followed the crest the hillside and led to a path back down to home. The path to the top of the spine showed on the map as a somewhat fitful link. Continuous lines on French maps are no guarantee of a right of way, still less of a way through; and dotted lines – as here, partly – sound real caution.

We knew it was a walk through trees, mostly pine; and the climb was barely one hundred feet (80 metres). A path we had not been on before set off up through the forest. It was clear, and had obviously been used by vehicles. No longer though, I fear; and thus, sad to say, I suspect it will soon decay back into the forest, unless foresters use it to fell and take away the trees higher up. Around here there was originally not only forest traffic; but there were small coal or bitumen (houille) mines (as with Épinac les Mines), only five or six miles (eight kilometres) away. The coal must have been carried by vehicles through the forest. (A sign on the forestière road below warns of ‘puits’, which for years I thought meant wells; but here in the forest it means old mine shafts.)

The forest path turned upwards where the map said it would; but its existence all but died, first in a stream and then in deepening brambles growing profusely between the pines and aas we climbed the hillside. Finally, the brambles became thinner as the hill climbed more steeply. We arrived at the top by a quarry cut five or six metres deep into the hillside. I wonder if any stone had been used from there to build the Grosme castle. And then we arrived on the path along the crest.

It had started to rain now; but the colours in the oak forest around us remained as bright as ever: autumn oak-leaves almost pink and shining; grey stone; and moss of all sorts of colours: dark green, fresher green, and green which was tinged with blue. I thought the small knoll of moss I photographed looked like a green tortoise plodding under the trees; but my son, to whose family I sent a copy, came back with: ‘Looks more like a green rabbit who’s fallen on his face’.

The path is bordered – on the part we walked – by three or four boundary posts. A couple have carved into them the moor, or Corsica coat of arms. This is associated with Jean-Baptiste Lazare de Morey and his wife Charlotte Le Belin (wife and cousin), owners of Sully castle in the early eighteenth century (till 1748). We walked back home down the hill in sporadic rain.

One thought on “A Burgundy diary – 9 January 2022

  1. Pingback: A Burgundy diary – 30 January 2022 | dbfamilylaw

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