The Tree of the Wolf (L’Arbre du Loup) and Getting Lost
An end-of-holiday walk, and unusually without geocaching involved, took us to Évaux les Bains, Creuse’s only spa town. This is rather odd little town, more like an extra-large sprawling village with a very incongruous casino stuck at one edge of it.
We were headed a few miles out of it. Despite the best efforts of the sign makers in Évaux, we found our totally unmarked road from town and after a few kilometres pulled in at the hamlet of La Bussière. There was a certain amount of grumbling from the younger Dagg family members. They don’t quite share Chris’s and my enjoyment of a healthy, bracing walk. They were also sceptical that the walk would prove a success. We’d picked it from our infamous walking guide, La Creuse à Pied.
This is, without doubt, THE worst book of walks ever published. Every single one we’ve ever been on, or more accurately tried to go on, has been a disaster. None quite matches the Great Sidiailles Death March of 2007 that I took the kids on when Chris was back in Ireland and which took over seven hours to complete since we got so helplessly lost. (The kids were 14, 12 and 5 at the time!) However, all the others have been failures too – a result of naff maps and vague instructions. Reader, be warned.
Still, optimism prevailed over common sense and we set out on our walk. It took a couple of tries to find the right direction – you think we’d have stopped then – but finally things seemed to vaguely match the description in the book and we set off.
It wasn’t long before we were lost, but luckily we had Chris’s GPS and so were able to plot a trail of sorts along the tracks in the wood. The goal of the walk was to find the Arbre du Loup, a 300+ year old tree that looked fascinating in the photo in the guide book. We trudged along muddy paths for a while and then saw a convenient picnic table for a spot of refuelling. To our amazement, we also saw a stone sign telling us we’d reached the Arbre du Loup.
This was a real surprise as we’d been led to believe we’d have to walk 12 or so kilometres first to get there. Somehow we’d found our own shortcut to it. It has to be said the tree has seen better days. There’s not a great deal of it left at all.
Legend has it that a wolf raised her pups inside it, hence the name. Another legend says that it’s the portal between this realm and the one of the dead. When I say ‘legend’, you must remember the tree is around three centuries old so these aren’t exactly myths shrouded in the mists of time, more like eighteenth century gossip. Still, it’s interesting enough.
The kids hoped we’d turn round and go back to the car but we parents decreed otherwise and we ploughed on, now roughly knowing where we were on the map of the walk. And we’re glad we did. We saw our first lambs of the year…
… and this wonderful, wonky old cross on a field post in the middle of nowhere. It’s brilliant the way you find these hidden treasures on any rural walk.
We clocked up 9.5 km on our walk, which was quite respectable, and got through a good amount of biscuits and chocolate en route, plus a healthy croissant, and to which rations Rors also added a couple of apples.
Getting lost is hungry work!