We had a recent outing to the volcanoes of the Auvergne. We’d been intending to go for ages but various obstacles kept presenting themselves. However, finally, the way was clear. So Chris, Caiti, Rors, Nessie the dog and I set off to climb the Puy de Vache.

Quite near the start of the walk, we came across an old quarry with some large volcanic bombs in. Here’s one that’s been split to show the grey inside. The volcanic rock – hardened lava – originally grey/black becomes red as it oxidises.

vache big bomb inside

We had climbed the Puy de Vache before, when Caiti was six and Benjy eight I think, during one of our summer holidays. I had memories of hanging onto Cait as we slithered our way down steep slopes of scoria. And I wasn’t wrong! However, the ascent was easier than it had been thirteen years ago. A large section of the ascent has now has steps added which possibly help prevent erosion, but don’t make it any easier to walk up the slope. The steps were designed for people with extremely long legs! However, I appreciate that a lot of people put in a lot of very hard work, even if only to make our muscles ache more than they needed to.

But we made it to the top.

vache top mum cait rors

This is where we had our lunch. Quite a view. We were about 4,000 feet up.

vache dinner1

vache veiw red scoria

We started to descend, then came across a path leading up to the summit of Puy de Lassolas. There were a few grumbles from certain members of our party, but parental will prevailed and we started climbing up again.

vache view sign

We were again rewarded with a lovely view, and then we started the tricky descent. This was very similar to what we remembered from our first visit, but this time I didn’t hang onto the kids. They were on their own! Nessie didn’t know what all the fuss was about. She kept patiently waiting for us slow bipeds to catch up.

vache nesse what you wait for

We finished the visit with a look around the exhibition hall at the Maison du Parc des Volcans, where we’d parked. We may have only covered seven or so kilometres, but it was tough terrain and we were all quite weary. Even Nessie was happy to curl up in the boot.

Puys de Vache and Lassolas from halfway down Lassolas

Puys de Vache and Lassolas from halfway down Lassolas

Bitching Betty, our satnav, pulled one of her tricks and took us home cross-country. We’d blasted down the motorway, not a direct route, but the quickest and the best when one of the car passengers is prone to travel sickness. However, Betty brought us back on smaller and smaller roads and to more and more mutinous rumblings in the back seat. But we got home in time for tea with an assortment of small volcanic rocks as souvenirs.

Chris and I are already planning our next trip there. It’s a fabulously beautiful part of France and we’ve been away from it for far too long.