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Do you prefer to walk locally, or do you go out to find wilder, far-flung places away from the bright lights? I’m lucky that within fifteen minutes I can be heading into what seems like wilderness, although there is actually a lot of the stuff we try to escape from nearby. This walk is a favourite because of the wide views you get all round the valley of the Allier river.

The view across the valley from the foot of Montcelet

The view across the valley from the foot of Montcelet

When the weather is warm, and the wind quiets down it can be a pleasure to walk through the woods to find new paths up the side of this old volcano. The plateau is formed by the old lava flows creating a hard barren platform, now mostly used by sheep farmers. The word in French is Chaux, so this is: Le Chaux de Montcelet.

Random leaf patterns, late Autumn this year and the wind has brought these down, still very green.

A late Autumn this year and the wind has brought these down, still very green.

Montcelet, Le Chaux

Montcelet, Le Chaux, the remains of a village called Eglise vielle, from the middle ages

This plateau also has the remains of a middle ages village, now just piles of stone in orderly patterns, but the name, Eglise vielle, remains. Shallow flat ponds that come and go abound in this area, and are havens for wildlife and wild flowers, though I am too late in the season to show them now.

Small remains of the pond.

Small remains of the pond. Expanding ready for winter.

Nearly at the summit of Montcelet

Nearly at the summit of Montcelet

Saving the view till last

Saving the view till last

From the summit I sit a while, draw and make notes for writing. The joy of it is in not being far to go for a fix of the great outdoors. It’s not a major expedition to reach, and by stepping of the beaten track I make new discoveries every time.

So what do you think, stay local or look for the big things that need bigger prep times?

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