There’s a rather nice wood about 45 minutes from here that we go to from time to time – the Bois de Lassoux near Budelière. We have fond memories of it as it’s where we did our first official llama trek way back in 2007.

So, having a free day today, we decided to pay another visit. We’d hoped to go to the volcanoes in the Auvergne but there were thunderstorms forecast and we didn’t fancy being up high amidst lightning bolts!

They’ve done quite a lot of tree felling since our last walk at Lassoux; whole chunks of the wood have gone, making parts of the route unrecognisable. A rickety wooden bridge has been replaced by a concrete and metal affair. No doubt safer, but not as charming and exciting.

We walked all the way through the wood (what’s left of it) to the chapel of St Radegonde.

Radegonde chapel This dates back to the eleventh century. It’s a small stone chapel up a steep path and with a lovely view out to the reservoir and suspension bridge.

Radegonde view

You’ll notice the prominent bell. Saint Radegonde was said to have warded off storms in her day, but now that she’s no longer with us, any time a thunderstorm threatens, you must rush up and ring the bell on her chapel to ward the storm off.

Radegonde bell

Saint Radegonde lived in the sixth century. She was the daughter of the King of Thuringia, Berthaire. In 531 the son of Clovis, Clotaire, killed the king and queen and took 12-year-old Radegonde and her brother prisoner. Radegonde was sent to the royal villa at Athies and given a good education. In 538, Clotaire’s wife died and he decided to marry Radegonde. She fled, understandably not keen on marrying the person who’d butchered her parents, but was caught and the wedding took place.

Radegonde was very pious and devoted herself to caring for the poor and sick, and was a popular queen. However, when the tactless Clotaire had her brother killed, allegedly for high treason, Radegonde quite rightly refused to have anything more to do with her husband and joined a religious order. She continued to stick up for the people when they were oppressed and remained an important person, although living in seclusion. She died in 587 in Poitiers, and the church of Sainte Radegonde houses her tomb.

Radegonde bridge2

The suspension bridge across the River Tardes that you can see from her chapel, the pont suspendu de St Marien, was built between 1909 and 1921. The dam at Rochebut was being built and the ancient stone and wooden bridge crossing the Tardes was drowned by the rising water levels. This new metal bridge, built using the Gisclard Bridge method of cables anchored to blocks beyond the bridge itself, is the only one of its kind in Creuse. (The Gisclard Bridge is in the Pyrenees.) We walked across wooden beams of the single-track. Even with just four of us and one small dog we made it sway a little and a couple of the cables were swinging merrily! It was a super walk on a warm, sunny day and luckily we got back before the rain and thunder arrived.