The ladder path
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The ladder path
Roquefort-sur-Soulzon

The ladder path

Agropastoralism
Geology
Panorama
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This path offers stunning panoramic views over the Larzac, then on the Tournemire amphitheatre and over the village of Roquefort which are the highlights of this hike that provides a glimpse of pastoral life in the past.

A long time ago, an employee of the Mas de Roquefort farm used to bring a meal to the shepherd who was grazing his sheep on the Combalou plateau. He had to take a short-cut escalating two ladders to reach the top of the cliff, hence the name of this path which offers a wealth of discoveries such as the Balhol sinkhole, the Combalou jasse and the 11th century chapel Saint-Pierre built on a rocky spur.

4 points of interest
Geology

The Combalou scree slope

The imposing rocky chaos that surrounds us comes from the numerous and profound movements that the plateau of Combalou has undergone: landslides, rockslides, erosion… The diagram highlights the primitive and current structures of the whole Combalou plateau.

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Agropastoralism

The Combalou Jasse

Once the milking season was over, shepherds and their flocks would reach the Combalou pastoral routes via the slopes to the rear of the Combalou plateau rather than climbing up the cliff using the ladders. Shepherds used these ladders to scale down directly to Roquefort and climb up the same pathways when the ewes needed to be sheltered in the jasse. The flocks would be kept on the plateau until the first cold of autumn.

The jasse was a two storey building: the ground-floor consisted of two sheepfolds, one of which had a vaulted ceiling, the first floor was a huge barn used to store the hay.
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Geology

Sotch de Balhol

The cliff towering over our heads is really impressive with its steepness, the smooth appearance of the rock and the feeling of solidity it conveys. Actually, the huge screes we are walking on have been created by a rockslide. The bottom of this valley is called “sotch”, which is the local name for sinkholes 

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History and heritage

La chapelle Saint-Pierre du XIe siècle coiffe le rocher en éperon du même nom. C'était la chapelle du château qui ne fût jamais

The Saint-Pierre chapel dates back to the 11th century and is located on top of a rocky spur of the same name. It was the chapel of the castle and was never a parish church. The castle, which dates from the same period, was attached to the rocky vertical face (remains of a tower). The structure of the chapel is made with a fine stone-setting and is proof of the quality of the construction of this small religious building. The squat and vaulted semi-dome choir was restricted by a semicircular arch with an enlarged triumphal arch that stood in front of it and led to the short nave.

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Description

This is where the name of the path “the ladder path” originates from. Due to a number of landslides, the path has been diverted towards the far end of the Combalou plateau and now follows a staircase
  1. From the Tourist Office carpark, walk across the road near the bus stop and walk up the rising path running alongside the graveyard. When the path meets the tarmacked road, turn right then first left following the hairpin bend. 300 m further on, take the fork to the left up to a drinking water fountain.
  2. Take the small path that slopes up to the right towards the Combalou plateau.
  3. At the base of the scree, first walk uphill to your right, then scale across it.
  4. Once you get across the scree, carry on along a marked path that joins a track through box trees following the contour line.
  5. When you arrive at the far end of the Combalou, walk uphill until you reach the pierced rock and take the metal staircase.
  6. When you get to the plateau, head East in the direction of the relay masts, once  you have reached them, carry on to your right for 200 m and at the hairpin bend fork to the left on the path that leads to the jasse (sheepfold).
  7. Walk between the Jasse and the edge of the plateau, keep on walking along the plateau and take a trail through the pinewood. Start walking downhill until you reach the Aiguières pass.
    Head towards Roquefort and carry straight on past the “Sotch de Balhols” (large geological fault) and walk down to the Saint-Pierre chapel (a flight of steps to the left gives access to a viewpoint indicator). Once you’ve enjoyed the view, descend the steps, and then go to your left down the Créance street and then up the Baragnaudes street which rises up onto the opposite side towards the Quille des Baragnaudes which are impressive vertical monoliths. Walk past the Quilles, then along the cliff and climb down the steps.
  8. At the bottom of the steps, take the right and immediately after turn to the left to pass under a porch to get back to the avenue de Lauras that will lead you to the Tourist Office from where you started your hike.
Departure : Tourist Office
Arrival : Tourist Office
Towns crossed : Roquefort-sur-Soulzon

Altimetric profile


Recommandations

Box tree moths are active from May to October. During the caterpillar phase, they feed on the leaves of box trees. They crawl down trees and move on long silken threads, although these threads are annoying when hiking they do not pose any health risk
Is in the midst of the park
This itinerary is located in the World Heritage zone Causses and Cévennes, mediterranean agropastoral cultural landscape.

Information desks

Avenue de Lauras, 12250 Roquefort/Soulzon

http://www.roquefort-tourisme.fr/

contact@roquefort-tourisme.fr

0565585600

Situated in the Grands Causses Regional Natural Park, the cheese village of Roquefort stretches on the hillside over the famous scree of the Combalou Rock, in southern Larzac. The village is at an elevation of 630 m and has 700 inhabitants.

OPENING PERIODS:

The Tourist Office is open all year round:

  • In July and August, Monday to Saturday: 9.30 to 18.30, Sunday: 10.00 to 17.00.
  • April, May, June, September, October; Monday to Saturday: 9.30 to 12.15 & 13.00 to 17.30, closed on Sunday.
  • January, February, November, December; Monday to Friday: 9.30 to 12.15 & 13.00 to 17.00, closed on Saturday and Sunday.
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Transport


Access and parking

Situated 25 km southwest of Millau via the D 992, D 999 and D 23 roads towards Albi, and 14 km from St-Affrique via the D999 road towards Millau.

Parking :

Tourist Office

Source

Communauté de communes du St-Affricainhttp://www.roquefort-tourisme.fr/

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What to see

What to see

At its entrance, is a 180 million-year-old complete skeleton of an extinct marine dinosaur, the Occitanosaurus tournemirensis which was discovered fossilized in the “grey clay soils.”

The ecologically Sensitive Natural Space (SNS) of the Tournemire amphitheatre which is situated in the village of the same name, stretches over an area of approximately 130 ha and marks the boundary between the frontal causses and the causse du Larzac. This area has a remarkable environmental importance due to the geomorphology of the site and also owing to several natural habitats of European interest that it provides. This natural space shelters numerous noteworthy bird species: the Eagle Owl, the Golden Eagle, the Common Whitethroat, the Wallcreeper, the Red-billed Chough and some inconspicuous bats. A few plant species well-adapted to the topography, the rock and even sometimes to the Mediterranean climate can be observed: Hoppe's Figwort, Hormathophylla macrocarpa...

The House of Plesiosaur displays the skeleton of the marine reptile (it's a copy, the original is at Millau's museum) along with interpretative panels about the geology, Plesiosaur, flora, birds and bats. It is also the starting point of the Tournemire amphitheatre hiking circuit that enables you to immerse yourself in a unique environment and of the point of departure for the amphitheatre interpretive trail.

"Espace Nature Aveyron" is a mobile application which allows to discover the whole range of animal and plant species living in this ecosystem and to enjoy the SNS stroll.


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