An "airy" hike which will yield fine views over the Ardèche Cévennes, the Ardèche valley to the south and the Fontaulière valley to the north. The route follows some of the paths maintained for the "Giants' Causeway Trail" and overall is thus very practicable and without difficulty. A large part of the walk is waymarked white and yellow.
Best done in May/June when the broom is in flower.
Calculated time is computed with the distance, the height difference, and an average speed of 2.2 mph. For an intermediate walker, this time includes small breaks.
The starting point is a shady car park at the entrance to the village of Thueyts on arriving from Aubenas, to the right just after the bridge over a stream, the "Merdaric".
(D/A) Leave the car park by the lane at the far end leading towards the "Château de Blou". Turn left to reach the "Rue du Pouget". Follow this street to the right. Continue slightly to the right along the "Rue de l'Église", then the "Rue Haute".
(1) At the end of this street, bear left, then, at the end of the parapet, drop down to the right into a stream bed paved with flat stones. Follow this up to the left, then head right, up the slope, to reach a good path.
On this section, the route is complicated and does not match the IGN map, since the old lane which was closer to the hamlet of "Dardet" has been enclosed in private ground. However, it is easy to avoid getting lost by following the signs Chaumienne or Croix de Brige.
Continue on the path up through the chestnut trees. When it widens, ignore a lane to the right which leads past a house (take no notice of the white and yellow waymark) and arrive at the cross Croix de Brige after about a hundred yards.
(2) Ignore the road leading down towards Brige on the left and take the lane on the right.
(3) On emerging from the chestnut forest, at a little saddle, ignore a lane arriving from behind on the right. At the next fork, head left, then, at the hiking sign, bear left again towards Mayres (Le Fenadou).
A little later, ignore a path joining from behind on the right, and continue along the path leading along the south flank of the ridge with an open view of the whole valley of the Ardèche.
(4) At the sign Le Fenadou, turn right along the path marked Montpezat. This descends gradually along the north slope, now giving views of the valley of the Fontaulière and the edge of the Ardèche Plateau. Carry on along this path as far as the sign La Croix Blanche.
(5) Head left towards Montpezat. Continue along the path, which skirts the head of the valley of the Merdaric and then leads over the summit of "Prat Berland".
(6) Ignore the track on the left which leads to the nature trail around the volcano "La Gravenne".
Carry on along the lane, which becomes a wide forest track. Ignore a lane on the left and continue to the right to reach a tarmac road. Follow this road to the right, ignoring the lane to the "Rocher d'Autureyre" on the left.
(7) Leave the road to take a rough stone path to the right, which leads down towards Thueyts and arrives at a tarmac section.
(8) Continue straight on, then head right along the road which leads down and veers left. Carry on along this road (the "Chemin du Cros de Laval"). At the next junction, turn left along the "Grand Font" road.
(1) Then head back along the route taken on the outward leg to return to the car park from which the walk started (D/A).
D/A : km 0 - alt. 465m
1 : km 0.44 - alt. 475m - Junction with the loop
2 : km 2.41 - alt. 750m - "Croix de Brige"
3 : km 3.21 - alt. 813m - On emerging from the wood, keep left
4 : km 5.83 - alt. 1028m - The "Fenadou"
5 : km 7.69 - alt. 886m - The "Croix Blanche" sign
6 : km 10.49 - alt. 782m - The path round the "Gravenne"
7 : km 11.6 - alt. 709m - Lane to the right
8 : km 12.73 - alt. 535m - Road to the right
D/A : km 14.21 - alt. 465m
The Giants' Causeway Trail is held on the first Saturday in June each year. A day to be avoided if you want to walk undisturbed, or athletes can find details on the event's website http://lachausseedesgeants.com/.
Variant : At point (6), it is possible to take a path on the left leading round the "Gravenne" volcano and giving access to the bottom of the crater. It is a 2.5 km circuit leading back to its starting point.
Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
On completing the walk, it is worth taking a stroll through the old streets of Thueyts.
Other noteworthy sights are the Devil's Bridge (the "Pont du Diable"), where it is possible to swim, and the volcanic rock formations by the Ardèche.
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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.