My favourite walk. On a clear day nothing beats the breath-taking views of the Pyrenees. It’s a pull up, but definitely worth it. Plus you really shouldn’t miss the sight of the waterfall.
Around 9 km (5 and a half miles). 3 – 3 and a half hours. Just under 4 hours if you take the detour to St. Sernin church.
Steep and rocky in places, mainly woodland tracks, some tarmac. I would recommend hiking boots or trainers with a very good tread for the sections coming down off the panorama and between St Julien down to Labastide-Esparbairenque.
- Leave La Muse and head for the Source. Take the path to the left of the sign for ‘La Caono’. At the V junction, take the right-hand side trail. Cross Fern Bridge and follow the track as it turns left. Ignore the right-hand spur later on.
- About 20 minutes after leaving La Muse, you’ll pass the Turn of Stumps. Follow the wall ahead to the Sabarthès ruins. Follow the path as it curves around Holly Tree Bend. At the hairpin, go left. A quick detour at the apex of the bend is to the top set of the Sabarthès ruins. However in October it was knee-deep in nettles.
- Keep straight on. The path to the right is where you come out for Walk to Lacombe (point 21)
- 10 minutes later, follow the curve to the right and then turn left at the apex to follow the wall. You’ll see a sign saying ‘Cubserviès 30 minutes’
- A couple of minutes later, walk through the ruins of Payrayrol (Pellairol on the official map). Many of these abandoned farms were used as shelter by the Resistance in World War II. Good place for a break!
- Keep following the track. It starts to level out as you pass the Lavoire. Just beyond this, you might be able to look across the valley and get your first glimpse of the houses of Cubserviès clinging to the rocks.
- Cross the delightfully named stream of ‘Ruisseau de la Conque’. Carry on. 10 minutes later ignore the spur on the left and continue straight on.
- At the T-junction, go right then follow the hairpin round to the left.
- Congratulations! You have reached the road and done 80% of the climbing.
15 minute detour to St. Sernin
If you turn right and follow the road in about 5 minutes you’ll see the church of St. Sernin. It’s been there since the 12th century and there’s a modern wooden cross and also a more traditional offering Virgin and Cross. It was shut when I went, but it was still interesting to have a nose around.
Back to the walk
- From the track, turn left up the road. There are some breathtaking views down the valley you’ve just walked up and to the forests above Labastide-Esparbairenque. 10 minutes later you’ll cross the road bridge over the stream by Mill House. Keep walking up the road and pass the Lavoire. Turn left at the farm and look for the Information board. This is the viewpoint for the Cubserviès waterfall, and definitely worth a two minute detour.
- Turn back the way you came and at the V junction take the left fork around the White Christ on a Black Cross memorial. Keep left and keep going up the track. You’ll see Pic de Nore (the red stripey pole) in the far distance on your left.
- Keep going pass the green chain-linked fence and follow the track as it curves to the right. There are pine trees to your left. Soon you’ll get your first peek at the Pyrenees.
- At the crossroads of the Black Virgin, turn left following the sign for ‘Labastide’. Continue straight on down this forest track for 15 minutes.
- At the white bar gate and the ‘Foret Departmentale de Roquefère’ sign, turn right. Follow the track as it bends to the right by the tree with the red line on white painted on it.
- At the track’s end, take the trail in the top right-hand corner. It snakes for about 5 minutes until coming out onto grassland.
- Turn left, down the rocky path. Take it easy and remember to watch your feet while you take in the amazing sight of the Pyrenees. Carry on down through the grassland. and pass through a thin ribbon of trees. This is the last bit of shade for a while.
- Choose your spot to take in the views and have a break. Then continue down for about 15 minutes. You’ll see a square cream house on the opposite valley side. When you go between two rocky outcrops, check out the Pi Mountain Shelter.
- Keep left on the single track. 10 minutes later you will be back into scrub and small trees. Keep left. Watch your feet as some sections are steep.
- 10 minutes later you’ll reach the Pink Arrow Ruins, so-called after a Pink Arrow direction sign which may or may not still be there. Cross the stream or stream bed.
- After 10 minutes you’ll turn a corner with a cairn. Enjoy your last good view of the Pyrenees.
- Keep right down the hill. At the T-junction turn left. You’ll see a sign for ‘St Julien’. Pass below the Virginia Creeper House and at the T-junction keep left on the tarmac track.
- On reaching the road, turn right and follow the road down pass the parking place sign, the Lavoire and the Hoover Dam Wall. Follow the hairpin round.
- About 15 minutes after leaving St Julien, you’ll see a wall. Turn left after the end of it. This is the track down to the stream that runs below Labastide-Esparbairenque. Take it easy as parts can be steep. You’ll pass the Heidi Terrace and hut.