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  • Writer's pictureKate Woodman

Les Femmes Sauvages Marchant - Wild Women Walking 2023

Saint-Cirq Lapopie

Cette année, les femmes sauvages marchant ont choisi le département du Lot du Sud-Ouest de la France pour faire randonner. Le Lot est situé dans la région Occitanie qui tire son nom de la rivière Lot. Notre randonner était, pour la plupart, au centre du département avec des vastes étendues calcaires, érodées et sèches, des champs de fleurs sauvages (beaucoup de coquelicots rouges), et de beaux petits villages. Cette année, nous étions 4 femmes : 1 anglaise, 1 écosse, 1 "Kiwi" (Néo-Zélandaise) et moi, la seule américaine. Les autres ont commencé la randonné 2 jours avant moi. Donc, je parle seulement des 4 derniers jours de la randonné.

Five years ago, a small group of wild women walked the coast of Scotland with the goals of strengthening their friendships, having fun and raising funds for organisations that support women and girls. This year 4 wild women walked the GR65 and GR6 between Cahors and Rocamadour in the Lot region in southwestern France. Our walk was, for the most part, in the middle of the region, with its vast expanses of eroded white limestone cliffs, fields of colorful wildflowers (in particular, bright red poppies) and lovely little villages. This year we were 4 wild women, a Brit, a Scot, a Kiwi (New Zealander) and me, the sole American. The others started 2 days before I arrived (scheduling conflict).....hence this post covers the last 4 days of a 6-day trek.

The department of Lot and where the wild women walked

Chaque année nous choisissons un organisme de bienfaisance qui soutient les femmes et les filles, et nous demandons à nos amis pour nous soutenir en soutenant cet organisme de bienfaisance. Cette année, c’est WaterAid, un organisme dont la vision est un monde où chacun, partout, dispose d’eau, d’assainissement et d’hygiène sûrs et durables. Nous remercions nos nombreux amis qui ont déjà fait des dons. Ensemble nous avons soulevé presque 2500 GBP. On voudrait soulever 3000 GPB. Si vous pouvez faire un don pour nous aider à atteindre notre but, nous serions très reconnaissants. On peut faire un don ici.

Each year we choose a charity that supports women and girls, and we ask our friends to support our walk by supporting our chosen charity. This year, we chose WaterAid, an organisation whose vision is a world where everyone, everywhere has safe and sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene.

How does the lack of clean water impact women?

While easy access to clean water is very much a human issue, it is first and foremost a women’s issue. Women and girls are the ones responsible for water collection in eight out of ten households where there is no water on the premises, spending an estimated 200 million hours every day globally collecting water. The lack of easily accessible clean water makes women uniquely vulnerable to abuse, attack, and ill-health, affecting their ability to study, work, and live with dignity.

Together we have raised over 2500 GBP for WaterAid. We’d love to see that figure reach 3000. We thank our many friends who have donated so generously during the course of our walk. If you can help us achieve a gift of 3000 GBP for WaterAid, we'd be most appreciative. Click here to make a donation.


Kate, Maddy Cooper, Sue Milliken, Jo Ballingall


Jour 1 - de Concots à Saint-Cirq Lapopie et puis Corn à Espagnac Sainte-Eulalie (17K)

Day 1 - from Concots to Saint-Cirq Lapopie and then from Corn to Espagnac Sainte-Eulalie (10.5 miles)

Jour 2 - de Figeac à Saint-Bressou (19K)

Day 2 - from Figeac to Saint-Bressou (11.8 miles)

Jour 3 - de Lacapelle-Marival à Gramat (24K)

Day 3 - from Lacapelle-Marival to Gramat (15 miles)

Jour 4 - de Gramat à Rocamadour (14K)

Day 4 - from Gramat to Rocamadour (8.7 miles)


Through forests.....

......beside moss-covered limestone walls

.....through wildflower fields (the red and white stripes are the trail-marker for the Grand Randonner (GR) trails that crisscross France)

.....under sunny skies!

.......along the floor of a gorge

.....past moss-covered trees

.....over stone bridges

.....and other less-stable ones.....bravo Maddy!

Marker for the GR6 - the path we followed most of the way.....the scallop shell is a marker for the Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James), which overlapped with our path from time to time

Invitation from Bernard which reads: "hello all, a place to stop and relax in 2.7 kilometres: hot and cold drinks offdered...." And indeed it was......we didn't stop however, as we had just had our morning coffee break....

Morning coffee.....or "elevenses" as my British friends say



Saint-Cirq Lapopie


Maddy among the poppies in. Rudelle

Vallée de l'Ouysse

Vallée de l'Ouysse

Vallée de l'Ouysee as seen from Rocamadour.....on our final day, we walked along the rim of the valley, then descended to the bottom of the gorge where we followed the Alzou River to Rocamadour



Notice the bell....even the sheep had them.....thought I was in the Alps!


Entering Saint-Cirq Lapolie

Eglise Saint-Cirq-Lapopie et Sainte-Juliette in Saint-Cirq Lapolie

Cemetery in Saint-Cirq Lapolie

Cemetery and roof-tops of Saint-Cirq Lapolie

Exploring Saint-Cirq Lapolie - Maddy and I did some shopping for lovely pottery here.....including these small blue /white striped and polka-dot bowls....

The Lot is close to Dordogne, where duck and fois-gras reign supreme....hence, these happy ducks in front of a shop in Saint-Cirq Lapolie

Le mairie (town hall) and church in the charming Espagnac Sainte=Eulalie

Rooftops of Espagnac Sainte-Eulalie

Inviting terrace in Espagnac Sainte-Eulalie

Espagnac Sainte-Eulalie

Calvaire in Cardaillac

Lots of half-timbered buildings in Figeac.....many with a top-floor "gallery" like this

Église Saint-Brice in Saint-Bressou

Chârteau de Lacapelle-Marival

The spectacular medieval town of Rocamadour, a pilgrimage destination since the Middle Ages, is now primarily a tourist destination. The buildings of Rocamadour rise in 3 levels up the side of a cliff on the right bank of the Alzou River. The town is on the lowest level, with the Grand Escalier (great staircase) leading the the Sanctuaire, an assembly of 7 religious buildings in the middle and finally to the château (castle) at the top.

The town of Rocamadour....marred unfortunately by too many shops catering to tourists....

Looking up from the main street to the Sanctuaire.....famous staircase climbed by pilgrims on their knees is on the left middle of the photo

The Sanctuaire.....middle level of the town

The small chapel of Notre Dame, in which the famous Black Madonna is located

Chapel od Notre Dame

Votives in chapel of Notre-Dame

Black Madonna in the chapel of Notre Dame

Château of Rocamadour

View of the town of Rocamadour and its lovely red rooftops


Throughout our stay in the Lot, we saw many small round structures, along the side of the road, in fields as we walked and indeed on the grounds of the gîte where we stayed. Curious, we discovered that these structures are called "caselles" or "bories." They are constructed of "pierre sèche" or "dry stone," a building method using stones without any mortar to bind them together. I'm quite familiar with this building method, used throughout New England for centuries to make stone walls and still being employed today (our house in CT was surrounded by such stone walls). Anyway, these caselles were built to shelter farmers and shepherds, as well as some of their animals when not close to home. Today many are abandoned or used for storage (as the one at our gîte).

Caselle at our gîte

Late 19th century caselle in Gruffiel, restored by its owners and marked by a sign....

Caselle along the GR6


Window at our gîte.....a renovated 18th century farmhouse

Roofs of some of the outbuildings at our gîte.....

Espagnac Sainte-Eulalie

Window in Lauzou

Teapot finial in Lauzou

Window in Gramat

Carriage in Lauzou

Our formidable trip-planner extraordinaire, Maddy, consults one of her sources.....

A word about the planning of this trip. It takes enormous time and effort, mostly expended by Maddy, including agreeing on the dates, identifying the location of the walk (taking into account availability of GR paths, difficulty of the terrain, ease of getting there), finding a suitable (ie, number of bedrooms plus some semblance of tasteful decor) gîte in the designated area, identifying the charity to support, and then planning each day's walk (taking into account distance, difficulty (not TOO difficult for the eldest wild woman, thank you!), and variety of terrain. We have 2 cars. Each day we drive both cars to our day's final destination, leave one car there, then drive to our starting point for the day, leaving the second car there. We walk to our destination, pile into the car left there, drive back to our starting point, pick up the second car and drive back to our gîte. Sound complicated? It is, but Maddy's extraordinary organisational skills make it seem easy. Thank you Maddy!

End of 119K (74K for me) trek for the wild women of 2023....thank you ladies!

A final reminder that donations to WaterAid can be made here.

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