Our latest geocaching trip took us to Drevant, in neighbouring département Cher.
Our first cache of the day was an earth cache. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the purpose of these caches is to bring you to a point of geological interest: there isn’t a physical cache to find. The feature we discovered was the Hettangian quarry at La Groutte, just outside Drevant. The Hettangian was the earliest age and lowest stage of the Jurassic period of the geological timescale (approx. 201-199 million years ago). At that time this part of France was covered by a warm, shallow sea. There are many fossils of ammonites, plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs to be found in this layer, but we didn’t see any unfortunately!
Then we walked on to Drevant, following a natural trail for some of the way until it mysteriously disappeared, and followed the Canal de Berry. This stretches alongside the River Cher, almost touching in places.
The first part of the walk was pleasant and uneventful. We left the canal to do a loop along green lanes, then returned and crossed a lifting bridge to the other side of the canal for the walk back to Drevant.
On this side are the Gallo-Roman remains of the ‘sanctuaire’. Gallo-Roman describes the Roman-ised culture of what was Gaul under the rule of the Roman Empire. Gaul consisted of modern-day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, with bits of Switzerland, northern Italy, The Netherlands and Germany thrown in. The period lasted around six hundred years, from 121BC to the fifth century AD.
The sanctuaire consisted of a temple and public meeting places.
Very close by are the ruins of the Roman baths and amphitheatre.
We’d been able to walk around what’s left of the sanctuaire but the other ruins were closed off, which was a little disappointing.
We saw signs to an old priory but by now we’d clocked up most of our total of 17.5 kms on foot, so we didn’t make the detour to go and see it. There’s certainly a lot of antique Drevant to see.
And talking of antiques, we were nearly taken out by not one but two old biddies in separate cars as we crossed the very narrow bridge (built in 1896) across the Cher. The ‘pavements’ each side are about six inches wide so we were walking in the road part. Tobi has a bit of a thing about see-through bits on bridges, in this case the sides, and is nervous of them. So when the first car approached, when we were about halfway across the bridge, she refused to get up onto the pavement. Another of Tobi’s things is that if you grab her by the scruff of her chubby neck, she rolls over and plays dead. This isn’t helpful in the middle of a road with traffic bearing down on you. Chris and I both had various things in our hands – an alpenstock, a GPS, a camera, a dog lead – so it was tricky manhandling her at all. We beat a retreat back the way we’d come to let the scowling old f*rt pass. Boy, did she look annoyed that we’d delayed her by about, ooh, a minute at most.
We tried again, and were a good two-thirds across the bridge when old biddy no. 2 appeared. She really might have waited before driving onto the bridge. She was probably worse than old biddy no. 1 as, despite Chris flagging her down to stop so we could heave Tobi onto the tiny pavement, she just kept going! Tobi was practically under her wheels before Chris got her out of harm’s way, and the woman brushed Chris with her wing mirror. Needless to say, she was subject to a barrage of choice British swearwords as she rampaged onwards.
Let’s face it, the extremely narrow bridge with its microscopic pavements is totally inadequate for sharing between people and cars. Drevant is a touristy spot, with cyclists and walkers galore using the canal paths so heaven knows what chaos reigns in summertime.
We grumped our way back to Precious, getting a little lost en route, and had a cup of tea. Re-energised and having sorted out how Drevant should handle its pedestrian/vehicle confrontational problem, namely by traffic lights at each end of the bridge that allow enough time for people to walk or cycle over as well as drive, or by building a traffic bridge and keeping this old one just for pedestrians, we walked up to Caesar’s camp, otherwise known as Oppidum des Murettes. This was a wonderful discovery. It’s on a an escarpment up to 40 metres higher than the surrounding land so offering a great vantage point. It was well protected by a ditch and defensive stone wall (vallum) back in Roman times. Parts of the vallum remain, now covered in trees. We walked along a section of it.
Then it was back to Precious and home after a tiring but exciting day. Tobi slept soundly all the way!