A recent geocaching trip took us to Étang des Landes at Lussat, Creuse. This is a 100 hectare lake, Limousin’s largest, set in 165 hectares of nature reserve. Apparently 600 species of animal call it home, with 50 of them being protected. Certain breeds of amphibians are amongst those menacé (threatened).

We’ve only ever seen about three of these species during our many visits to this lovely spot – namely egrets, frogs and ducks. The remaining 597 are awfully good at hiding! The purple heron, one of these shy ones, is the étang’s flagship bird. My sister and her husband think they caught a fleeting glimpse once, but they weren’t entirely sure.

It’s a treasure trove of plants too, with 430 different varieties, including 6 regionally protected ones, and 5 that have sadly been granted European-wide endangered status.

Lussat is about a half hour drive from home. We stopped off for a quick potter round Gouzon on the way, and discovered this lovely old steamroller in a small park …

… and admired the towering church.

It was very wintry at the étang with a stiff breeze whistling off the choppy water. A trio of fisherman at the end of the lake where angling is allowed looked absolutely frozen.

But Rors set a cracking pace for our walk so we didn’t get cold. He found the hidden geocache on the way round, his second so far.

There are some puzzling signs at the étang. Here’s an unclear direction post …

Which way?

And Chris thought the lower one here meant don’t be sick on the flowers, while Ruadhri imagined a lollipop connection!

This great big wood pile wasn’t there the last time we visited. Clearly the trees aren’t protected like the animals and plants are.

As usual we went up to the largest hide at the lake. We were rather disappointed to see that this has new stairs leading up to it. Previously there were sets of steep almost ladder-like stairs that the kids loved because they were terrifying. But they’re gone and so has a lot of the excitement.

The hide is a beautiful wooden construction.

And of course it gives a great view of the lake, which, apart from one duck, appeared to be completely devoid of wild fowl, protected or otherwise!

We carried on round the lake, pausing for a quick snack on the way close to la fontaine des eremites (the hermit’s spring). Rors tried to see how deep it was.

It was a great way to spend a Wednesday morning.

The Étang des Landes is a beautiful spot and well worth a visit if you’re in the area. See this website about it (in French).