Once again, we’ve been having really nice weather in la Manche. When it’s like this, you can’t help but go outside and do something—head to the beach, ride your bike or take a nice long walk. Fortunately for me, I’ve been able to do all these things in abundance. Yesterday, I did the “Promenade et Randonnée Autour de Rochemont” which takes you through some very pretty woodlands around the village of Ruffosses, a community belonging to the small town of Saussemesnil (sometimes spelled, Sauxemesnil). The hike begins from a parking lot near the Boulangerie Pâtisserie Leterrier and takes you first past the Église Notre-Dame-des-Anges. There is a sign posted at the entrance that says, “By order of the mayor, the doors of this church must remain open every day.” They were closed and I was unable to go inside. An elderly man with a thick Norman accent, attending to some graves, said that it was probably too early and that it should be open later. It wasn’t. I came back after the hike and it was still locked. Oh well. As with more than a thousand churches in Normandy, the church in Ruffosses is devoted to the Virgin Mary. Before the mid-nineteenth century, the oldest religious building of Ruffosses was the Chapel of Our Lady of Deliverance which was erected by sailors in the 17th century. It was used as a place of pilgrimage for sailors until 1851, abandoned and condemned by 1853 and eventually sold. In 1854, Mme Féline de Montdésir, née Sivard de Beaulieu donated money to have a new church completed on the site. It was surrounded by a cemetery and meditation garden of exotic plants, rhododendrons and bamboo which still exist to this day. The church was bombed in 1944 and the vault collapsed in 1947 but was restored in the neo-Gothic style during the 1950s. Before you leave, don’t forget to see this small chapel on the grounds devoted to Saint Anthony. The hiking path is quite flat and very easy to follow if you keep to the marked trail which follows several small farm roads and some overgrown paths covered so thickly with trees, it appears that you’re walking through a dimly lit cave at times. There are also several nice houses to see along the way including this one just to the left of the church. Along one street called la Fosse Lonlay you come across this beautiful house with a thatched roof. Later on, past some apple orchards you come to a place called Ferme de la Chaussée with a rundown farm which is in need of repair. I don’t think that will be a problem since most “Norman peasant” farms are being quickly bought up by the rich and turned into holiday cottages. Even though this dirt road looks like any other dirt road in Normandy, it is actually the remains of the old Roman Way or Voie gallo-romaine. Le bois de l'Etot Rouge belongs to one of the most beautiful sets of woods in the Cotentin. It was formerly part of the great forest of Brix, which occupied more than 7,000 hectares in the 17th century. Along another small road called Les Planques I came across a man harvesting cherries from his trees. His house was surrounded by hydrangeas of every color. There is only one stream that you cross along the course of the hike and that takes you over the Rivire de Gloire. It is crossed by a ford of flat stones called Gué à pierres plates. Past fields planted with corn, through country lanes lined with tall trees and through thick underbrush you'll eventually come back to this waterway again which joins les étangs de Roudoux (a series of two large ponds) within a beautiful valley. The two ponds are located on private property and until recently they were open to visitors for water recreation activities. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case as the sign posted on the gate reads: The smaller of the two lakes is still open to the public and has two large swans to entertain you. The last stretch of the hike takes you past the farm and the Château de Rochemont from whence this hike gets its name. It was built in the late 18th century by ancestors of the De Mondesir family, who managed to hold onto their property despite the French Revolution due to their support for it. The outbuildings and nearby farm house are lined with more hydrangeas in nearly every shade of blue you can think of. There are a number of lovely houses along the route as well including this charming little cottage with its appealing gardens. Are you interested in owning your own little castle or manor house ? This one is located just beside the church and is currently for sale.