Weather was clear sky and 6c, a chilly start but forecast to reach 27c. I left the camp site with a climb to start, not ideal. It soon became clear the local economy was built on walnuts, rows and rows of trees covered the hillsides and when I reached to top of the ridge there was a superb view back of the chateau at Hautefort.
The route continued through Badefols d’Ans , Chatres and Beauregard before I came to a halt looking down towards Condat-sur-Vezere. The beautiful countryside had given way to a giant industrial complex belching smoke and fumes, I pedalled by feeling rather disappointed that my vision of rural France had been spoiled but a couple of turnings later I was back to a picturesque village and the confluence of rivers Vezere and Colys. In the distance the imposing Chateau de la Fleurie was visible and there followed a short steep climb up to the top of the ridge.
The road into Montignac was rough and busy and certainly needed concentration to navigate the correct route but once through the town the river revealed more gems, none more so than the magnificent Chateau de Losse on the far bank of the river, certainly the grandest to date.
The next section from Thonac to La Roque St-Christophe was one of the most interesting of the ride, the limestone rocks with their troglodyte caves had first been inhabited 55,000 years ago and the area had built an industry on pre history with a dinosaur museum complete with roadside model. I met Kaye for our morning stop in the car park for Maison Forte de Reignac a chateau built within the rocks.
Continuing on through Tursac more evidence of the foie gras industry and all the way to Les Eyzies -de-Tayac, pre history was a dominant theme for the tourist Euro.
Les Eyzies-de-Tayac proved a nemesis as my Garmin froze and did not pop up any turn directions. I tend not to have mapping on all the time to save battery and had done about three miles before I became aware I was not going in the direction I expected, the extra mileage in 25c was not welcome. Once back on track I found it hard work to shake off my navigation mistake and pushed on a little harder than I should to make up time. I ignored the cycle track and took the D704 to Grolejac before joining the D50 to Veyrignac, St-Julien-de-Lampon and Le Roc, this is another area where walnuts are harvested in great numbers and provide jobs and wealth.
My next target was Souillac and a meet with Kaye who had lunch and cold drinks waiting for my arrival. With 75 miles already done the lunch stop had given me a second wind and I pushed on along the D43 through Pinsac before crossing the Dordogne River after which there is a long gradual climb to the limestone plateau and the Parc Naturel Regional des Causses du Quercy. After some downhill sections come a formidable 4km climb as the terrain takes on a more rugged look as you approach the village of Calles, there then begins an equally sharp descent to Rocamadour, a town which dominates the landscape with its beauty. The fast road in meant I caught up with Kaye in the motor home which was in traffic and I watched as she negotiated the narrow streets and switch back with inches between vehicles and walls.
When you reach the bottom of the valley you then have to climb back out and this certainly gives you a few Kodak moments looking back at the town. I begun the climb and noticed two cyclists ahead, as I got closer I could see their Harrogate Cycling Club tops and pulled alongside to meet Anne and Katie who were also doing St Malo to Nice but using pre booked accommodation, after introductions and a brief chat I pushed on through the village of Couzou and a few climbs and descents later I entered Gramat. The campsite we were aiming for was a bit off track and when we eventually found it there was a notice saying park anywhere and we will collect the fees later but with no one about and metre high grass in the field we declined the invitation and tapped into Mr Google who soon found us Les Teuliores Camping 4.5k away €19 with electricity but no wi-fi available, hot showers, water and motor home service point.
Stats: 105 miles, 5768 ft climbing