Thursday, 2 August 2007

Le Tarn

While in and around the Tarn we based ourselves in the village of Le Rozier. This little village marks the point at which the Jaunte joins the Tarn rivers and their respective gorges meet. What does this mean? Well it means that theres more bolted rock around you than you’re likely to find anywhere in the UK! For years the climbing in La Jaunte overshadowed it’s neighbouring gorge. La Jaunte is home to huge multipitch sports and traditional climbs all over its grand rock faces – it was very much THE crag to climb at for years. Then the locals began to pass their climbing eyes over the masses of roadside, steep, featured crags that line the tarn river and a whole new age of hard, modern style sports climbing was brought to the region. Don’t go to tarn expecting a huge pristine ceuse-like expanse of perfect limestone. The climbing in the Tarn is spread out among dozens of sizable outcrops – each with a unique character, aspect, conditions and style of climbing. No wonder its become so popular! There is literally something here for everybody. Aside from the climbing the main attraction seems to be the kayaking rides along the river – classic! Lunch break on a quiet stretch of river - Caroline sporting the latest fashion

Bon jour!
Then this 11km stretch of the Tarn is the most … interesting…

11km of kayaking through rapids full of nasty pointed rocks looming out of the boiling froth like the flesh ripping fangs of some ancient wild beast is not the most ideal way to spend a rest day but it was fun all the same. We only capsized one time and I’ll take the blame for it. Brilliant experience – totally recommended!Also of interest in and around Le Rozier are the numerous trail walks up the sides of the gorges and onto the Moors. Another rest day and another adventure – this time we took on the Tour Noir. Set out from Le Rozier up la Jaunte before zigzagging steeply up the gorge, through forest, eventually arriving at the Hermitage of St. Michael. We got the picture that thisis not one of the more popular treks due to the unused path and untouched ruins. Truly impressive – arriving at the top of the rock, as a group of Rare Griffin Vultures glide noiselessly past… They’re HUGE! Close enough to see their feathers catching the thermal drafts as they glided by. Apparently they have been reintroduced into the area and are now unique in Europe to the two gorges – awesome! And they’re thriving here due to the sheep farms on the highland moors above the gorges – hey, a birds gotta eat! I forgot to mention, we first stumbled across this spot two years ago while out for a morning run – without knowing about it we just ran through the forrest – although we had only set out for a 50 min run we just kept on going up through the forest – it was very special. This time we knew where we were headed and had planned a route back down to take in some more natural sites. A combination of tiredness and heat resulted in jelly legs and the giggles before stumbling back to the town and diving into the river at out favourite spot. Now is a good time to mention our typical daily routine. Get up, go for a 8 mile run, back to campsite, shower and stroll through village for baguettes and croissants – by the end of our visit the bakers family knew me well enough to have the craic, classic – free goodies!

And then back to the campsite for a leisurely breakfast. All ready for a few hours climbing while our secret beach comes into the sun. Then we would typically go climbing for a while somewhere shady if possible and retreat to the beach on the river for some rays and lunch (baguette, cherry tomatoes and whatever local cheese the shopkeeper recommended that day).

... For the record i DID eventually get a tan...

Half a dozen swims and naps later we’d pack up and go try routes that had just come into shade in the more south facing sectors. Before returning to the campsite for an early dinner and some TLC for out skin before the next days climbing. Evenings are great for just exploring the surroundings of the village – beautiful! Another advantage of staying in Le Rozier is that it catches the most Sun and stays lighter for longer than the campsites in the gorge itself.

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