Ascent: 1600 metres (Cum: 41050 metres)
Time taken: 10.8 hrs including 1.2 hrs stops (Cum: 296.9 hrs including 57.9 hrs stops)
Weather: sunny and increasingly hot
Last night's evening meal at Hostal el Forn was excellent - vegetable, seafood and mushroom crepe with goats cheese, baked chicken with plums and pine nuts, and cheesecake.
This morning's picnic was fine apart from the failure of the coffee flask. Never mind - I could have got the stove out but I couldn't be bothered.
Under a blue sky all day, with wisps of cloud at one point that cleared later, the temperature started acceptably cool. Good walking weather. But by the time I hit a concrete road for the final 8 km the hot sun was glaring off the hot concrete which would have been very sticky had it been tarmac.
Humphrey - I confess. I didn't re-read your notes about the church in Beget until it was too late. But all is not lost. Beget is such a nice place that a future visit with a dishy pharmacist should remedy the defects of this current visit. Hostal el Forn is being run by two families who speak reasonable English. When I mentioned your name they checked your account and asked me to tell you to call back in person as soon as possible to discuss your wine bill.
I wondered as I set off - 'will I be as clean and fresh as this again before I reach the end?' Perhaps not.
I also wondered where Tobi was and was pleased later to get a message saying that he had enjoyed a pleasant walk to Camprodon. I know he would be commenting on these entries if his iPhone would let him, but any comments he drafts just disappear when he tries to post them.
The start of today's walk took me down a quiet road to below 500 metres for perhaps the first time since the Basque country over a month ago. Roadside fields with sweetcorn and cereal crops made the landscape look quite English. But not for long.
The first ascent of the day wasn't much more than 200 metres, over a wooded pass, during which ascent I emerged from the cool early morning shadow into the dappled sunlight that was easing its way through the dense foliage of the deciduous wood blessed with the sound of chirpy birdsong.
After pausing for a second breakfast (ie to finish my picnic) I headed down to a river crossing before my next ascent. Here I met Rob, on a bivouacing jaunt from Girona (or did he say Figueras?) - just a few days trying out GR11. I commend that approach - it'll mean he is better prepared for 'the real thing', should he ever be inclined to attempt it.
The second ascent was a bit longer - nearly 500 metres up to the ruined and deserted village of Talaixà, complete with one intact building and the wreck of a church. There is more than just the GR11 path hereabouts - I saw a mountain biker descend on a nearby track.
Around here there is evidence of a once vibrant community, with many ruined buildings and disused terraces with aged olive trees.
Views from now on were fairly limited, but the magnificent ancient contouring path offered sporadic glimpses of limestone cliffs and wooded hillsides stretching in every direction to hazy horizons.
Spurges and Teasels now lined the paths, together with some Mediterranean offerings that I'm unable to identify. Any such observations were limited by the need for concentration above the noise of the cicadas and the requirement for great care not to fall off the path. At times it was more like a ledge on a cliff face than a contouring path.
Eventually it descended to Sant Aniol d'Aguja, a 9th century Benedictine monastery that is currently being restored. A spot very popular with tourists. The church next door is more intact. It was being used as a bar, presumably raising funds for the restoration. I bought an expensive coke and was the fortieth person today to sign the book. People visit the area to admire the limestone gorge and take advantage of its swimming holes.
A final long (700 metres) ascent on a path churned by the passage of professional path wrecking teams of wild boar, saw me climb to around 1100 metres, my high point of the day. It's all downhill from there! Brian recommends ascending a nearby peak - 'an easy scramble up a limestone buttress'. Easy for Brian that is. The views would have been very hazy, so I didn't bother. I got plenty of views anyway, of low hills cloaked in trees, stretching into the distance towards an unseen Mediterranean Sea.
It was a pleasant enough descent to Can Nou 'which has a bar-restaurant'. Not today though. And the spring that was running in August 2013 was bone dry.
Soon a concrete road with a sign 'Albanyà 9 km' was reached. The hot and dusty road was not appreciated by this thirsty traveller. I went slowly, trying to preserve some energy for tomorrow. A massive campground, mainly with cabin accommodation, was reached soon after 5.30 pm. Time to stop. €14 for a pitch on hard core that won't take my pegs. A further €3 for wifi. But a nice fly free restaurant in which to consume a huge bottle of water and compose this entry between courses.
It's been a long day. I need to retire.
Today's pictures (simples Alan S - just 10% of the original, the lowest it will go, but it seems to work fine):
Humphrey arrives on his last visit to Hostal el Forn
Early morning near Beget
Towards the Mediterranean
Looking back from near Talaixà
Sant Marti de Talaixà
View towards the Mediterranean from near the Coll de Bassegoda
Next Day - Day 43
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