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Great Days Out

Going to the Source

Robin Hicks, Mar 24

Two mighty rivers drain the Larzac and make their way to the sea across L'Herault. We decided to look for the origins of the "other" River - the Orb. And we found it - but it was not exactly impressive.

But even after a hot dry August it was WAS running - Just.

Do not for one moment be put off - this is a great journey through extraordinary countryside and worth the effort.

From La Caylar - where we had a pleasant lunch at the Auberge du Rocca - opposite the preserved but dead and decorated Elm tree - take the D142 from the south of the town heading towards Les Rives.

This road will take you over the A75.

The route is like driving along the top of the world and the air seems somehow fresher up here.

Look for a right turn to La Bastide des Fonts and the barn which marks the spot (and the guide book wrongly says is the source) is on your left. It was in use within the last 50 years but has since then lain neglected.

This building - which once housed sheep - is in a distressing decaying state - amonst the trees growing within. You can make out the noble arches which once supported the roof.

If you really want to see the real source - coming out into a red washing up bowl - head down to the wooded land below the barn and fight a bit with the undergrowth. It is so quiet up here you can actually hear the water going into the bowl.

Perhaps all great rivers have boring sources.

But do not be put off and continue to the little town of La Bastide des Fonts perched on the edge of an escarpment and not a place to attack from the North.

This fine house is perched on top of the steep cliffs which you might be able to make out in the background.

For what a source should really look like - return to the main road and head for

Romicuieres where the Orb gets life and is the sort of setting that would not disappoint central casting - if there is such a body which searces for river sources.

One is in a different world up here when sheep still take priority on the road.

This flock was evidently on its way back from milking to the fields. Think cheese and then think how hard it must be to win enough milk from these tiny udders to satisfy our demand for Rochefort.

On your way back down the hill to Lodève you are within a few meters of Lerab Ling above Roqueredonde - worth a look even if you are passing on a day when it is not open.

You will also see a defence department listening post which looks like a golf ball on a tee - albeit around a thousand or so times bigger.

WoW! really recommends this as a half day out - but such a refreshing and cool contrast from the plain and the beach it is worth the drive.

Whilst up on the Larzac you are close to the splendid walled Crusader town of La Couvertoirade 

www.lacouvertoirade.com/ 

Close too to the wonderful and quirky Velorail at St Eulalue-de-Cernon.

This jerky YouTube video gives you and idea. The up hill route does need effort - if you prefer the train to take the strain - take the downhill route - almost no need to pedal - and you will be grateful for the brakes and you hurtle down through tunnels and over viaducts. When you reach the end - rest and await the train which will come down and take you back to the station.

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