Thursday, 22 July 2010

Through a local lens No. 3

This great fissure in the flank of a limestone massif called Mt. Caroux is about 3 miles down the road from us. It's (they're?) called the Gorges d'Héric, after the tumbling stream, the Héric, which has carved out this narrow valley and the vertiginous crags and pinnacles that overhang it. There's a road which twists and turns following the stream until it reaches the deserted hamlet of Héric. A little train (actually a small truck got up to look something like Thomas the Tank Engine) used to puff up and down the gorge, but eventually no one could be found to insure it against public liability, so it was withdrawn.

When I first came to live in this part of the world I hardly thought earth had anything to show more fair. Now I may pass it several times in the day without sparing it a glance. Heigh ho.

A peculiarity is that once you've climbed up the gorge and have reached the top of the parent 4000' mountain, there's no other side. It doesn't come down, at least not for several hundred miles. You come to a vast rolling plateau. In fact this is a tiny section of the southern edge of the Massif Central, the great upland mass which occupies much of central France.


Dave said...

I like to think of Norfolk as a vast rolling plateau.

I just wish I lived near the edge of it. I do love views of distant peaks.

Rog said...

Is Dave talking of me and da Swaffham Massif innit?

I'd love to live near some proper hills like that.

patroclus said...

Dave: I do believe I saw an episode of Time Team about 'Doggerland', a low-lying area of land now subsumed under the North Sea, high above which Norfolk used to loom like the mighty plateau you imagine. I've tried to find a picture but to no avail.

Charlene said...

Your plateau would be called a ridge here. The picture shows a lovely scene. About your passing it frequently without admiration, even the Hope Diamond would be not be noticed if you saw it 50 times a day.

Z said...

When you say "you've climbed up the gorge', you weren't talking to me, were you? I can think of few things I'd rather not do. A rolling plateau suits me nicely, preferably just above sea level (undulating a bit, I wouldn't want to live in the Fens, either)

Looks Gorgeous, though.

Christopher said...

Oh, Z, not being familiar with your proclivities in respect of declivities, I was indeed addressing you particularly. I had this vision of J. and I plodding up the gorge and seeing, coming towards us, this medium-sized person with a millimetric difference in leg length, accompanied by a gentleman of patrician bearing and speech. You passed.

'I almost think I've seen her before; her face seems familiar to me,' I said.

'The narrow gallery at the Louvre: attributed to Leonardo da Vinci?' J. said.

'Of course!' I said.

Q: Who actually said this?

Z said...

I haven't the air with rubies that Elaine de Frey achieved, but then I only have one minor brooch. And there's very little that's nut-brown about me. I think that Francesca would pass me without a second glance.

We had a dog called Bassington at one time, by the way.

Christopher said...

There! I knew I could rely on you, Z. A very pleasant exchange. Your familiarity with the Munros is as deep as any Scottish mountaineer's.

Dave, I hope from where you are there are inspiring vistas of the snowy peaks of Lyonesse.

Rog: Ditto Doggerland from Swaffham. (Tho' I didn't know this was the kind of thing you went in for at all.)

Patroclus: Because there was insufficient postage on this we had to send it by another route. Sorry for any delay. We further believe your correspondent is actually within hayleing distance at the moment.

Charlene: Hi. So far - so far! - no curse appears to have attached itself to devotees of the the Gorges (Ridge?) d'Héric. But you may have given timely warning...

Z said...

Oh, very nice, Christopher. How clever a link.

I had to look up Elaine's name, although I recognised the reference. I reread the book a few years ago, for the first time since my teens (short stories regularly dipped into) and was surprised to cry at the end. I felt absurd, even as I did so.