.............not all those that wander are lost..............

Sunday, 3 January 2010

The Cathar Way (Sentier Cathare)............

When I heard the bad news that I hadn't made it on to the TGO Challenge for 2010 I felt compelled to plan an alternative. Of course I'm still hoping (all things crossed) that I will get on from the standby list. My number is 39 so it seems unlikely............

I could try the Southern Upland Way - across Scotland but much further south than the TGOC routes.  I've bought the book and started reading up about it. Scottish Access laws mean that if I carry my tent then I can wild camp along the way - that's quite an attraction.

However, it comes to mind that I could try something in France.

I considered the GR 5 from the Northern Alps to Nice.  Quite long though and is mountainous in places, perhaps not to do on my own.

So the next thought was The Cathar Way. It makes its way from the Mediterranean coast to Foix for 240 kms following a waymarked route which visits medieval castles and historical sites related to the history of the Cathars. (Very amusingly translated on one French site as 'catarrh').  This was a religious group of the 11th century who felt themselves to be 'true' Christians; believing the Catholic Church of the time to be corrupt and created by the Devil.

The Cathars seem quite modern these days. Men and women were considered equal. They believed in 'dualism' - that good and evil spring from different sources. They saw the material world as completely evil. Living, working and preaching their beliefs within a caring community without levying taxes made them a popular alternative to the Catholic Church of the time.

The Church was quick to condemn all this as heretical and launched a crusade against the Cathars aided by the French crown who at this time did not rule this South Western corner of France. Eventually in 1244 the Cathars were cruelly defeated with 200 members being burned at the stake.



{Photo of ruins at Lastours}
"During the Cathar Crusade this was one of the most ardent centres of resistance to the French Crusaders, In 1209 it was besieged unsuccessfully, by Simon de Montfort. It was here a year later that a line of a hundred men appeared on foot, having snaked their way from Bram, their eyes torn out, their noses cropped and their lips cut off by the Holy Catholic soldiers of Christ."

Sorry that's a bit gruesome................

Faced with a weather forecast for the next few days of a return to grey cloud and snow we're going to take the camper van down to Carcassonne where I can start investigating the possibilities of walking the Cathar Way. I'll post a trip report when we get back.

I'd be interested to hear from anyone who's walked this route. I think I would try and use campsites for accommodation. Wild camping may not be an option.

Of course, I can still walk both the SUW and the Sentier Cathare even if I'm lucky enough to get on the Challenge after all!......

3 comments:

Gibson and Lynne said...

Hi,

We are new bloggers too and will be following your exploits.Crathie must just about be cut off I imagine!

Laura said...

I imagine it might be.............

John J said...

No39 on the Challenge waiting list - just keep on in there. Although the waiting list system has changed somewhat this year, there's still hope - don't be downhearted!

John