Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Wednesday 29 July 2015 - Pyrenees GR11 - Day 45 - Wild camp outside Els Vilars to El Port de la Selva (Hostal German)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Distance: 29 km (Cum: 821 km)

Ascent: 700 metres (Cum: 44200 metres)

Time taken: 8.9 hrs including 1.4 hrs stops (Cum: 327.6 hrs including 63.6 hrs stops)

Weather: blue skies soon clouded over, leaving an overcast day with sunny periods and even a short shower.

I think I should have drained the oil off the tuna last night before adding it to the mushroom and fly soup. The thick layer of oil started to pose questions of my stomach that had me doing deep breathing exercises and preparing a sick bag for use.

Meanwhile, Humphrey was beavering away trying to make today's route to the already booked Hostal German, more palatable. Between us we succeeded.

The dog at the farmhouse was barking on and off, then at about midnight a single gunshot, very close, shut it up and we all went to sleep. It was another hot night. My sleeping bag hasn't been used for some time.

I was down at the water point soon after 7 am, complete with a heavily bandaged foot and a clean pair of socks. The dog was still alive but I couldn't see the farmer's wife.

Rucksack sorted, I set off on Humphrey's suggested route to Rabós. It was straightforward apart from one turn that I didn't notice. It was overcast and humid. But initially a nice path. Half an hour later than I should have been there I was glugging cold coke outside a café in Rabós. I'd been dripping from the start, such was the humidity, and it was good to distract my posse of flies for a few minutes. There were a few folk around, but this was another village of deserted narrow streets with shuttered windows of second homes behind flapping Catalan flags.

The dirt track into Rabós had been fine - not too stony, and the 3 km to Vilamaniscle, before which I regained the GR11 markers, was on easy tarmac.

At the water point in Vilamaniscle was a distinctive couple that I've seen before, possibly several weeks ago. He has a long beard that I might describe as 'orthodox'. I tried to feign a greeting and even sat on the same bench, but so far as this couple was concerned I was invisible. A shame, but they appeared not to have any English and I certainly don't have any of the language they were speaking.

The walk over to Llançà was easy, mainly on the sort of dirt roads my earlier shortcut had avoided. Mountain bikers were in evidence. These are certainly surfaces more amenable to mountain biking or horse riding than they are to walking.

I was now in a land of many acres of disused terracing, of communities that have lived and died and moved on, leaving rampant giant cacti to rule like triffids over the countryside.

Lunch was taken at Església de Sant Silvestre de Valleta, one of many locked churches passed on this trip. I'll do a little research when I get home, but this one appeared to be like a number of others - completely empty inside, stripped of any religious artefacts, with no apparent reason for being locked.

The two 'orthodox' passed by, blanking my attempt to open a conversation. They gained on me on my amble to Llançà, along easy concrete and dirt tracks, the smell of sewage greeting me as I passed under two lines of pylons to enter the town.

Llançà probably isn't too bad a place, but my first impressions were of busy narrow streets, an aggressive beggar, noisy two stroke scooters, people in wheelchairs, and shops all closed for lunch.

The town is on the Mediterranean Sea. I walked through it and found a beach to dip my toes. Logically, to me, that should have been the end of the journey, but GR11 goes right out to the end of a peninsula, and that's after heading inland again to reach El Port de la Selva.

I'd passed a large quarry on my way to Llançà and I didn't fancy the ascent, maybe past that, up dirt roads to a 500 metre col, then back down to the coast. I could surely do that as a day walk sometime, linking each end with a walk along the coast. So today I chose to walk along the excellent GR92 coastal path to El Port de la Selva rather than flog my way up and down a 500 metre lump.

The GR92 path has featured in last year's reports on our holiday in Argeles. It's this part of the world's equivalent to the South West Coast Path. It's well engineered and really does stick to the coast on this section. It took me a little short of two and a half hours to stroll about 9 km along the path from Llançà to El Port de la Selva. My bandaged foot coped well and the many twists and turns, minor undulations and changes in the surface provided helpful variety compared with the GR11 alternative. The coastal views were very pleasant despite the dull afternoon and attempts at rain. A good choice of route selection.

I was happily installed in Hostal German by 4.30 pm, and a trip to the Spar shop saw me well provisioned with a few snacks before dinner, starting with half a litre of ice cream that really just had to be eaten before I embarked on trying to wash some of the dust and sweat from the last few days out of my clothes.

Later I ventured out to Bar Gus - not quite what Humphrey would have chosen, but a reasonably cheap meal with a nice view over the harbour.

It doesn't somehow feel right that having got to the Mediterranean I still have to go a bit further tomorrow to finish the walk!

Today's pictures (not up to standard - I blame the dull weather):
Last night's wild camp - the farmhouse was visible through the trees
Leaving the exciting village (ha) of Rabós
A view across to the GR10 route
Llançà
A view from GR92, with El Port de la Selva in the distance
Another coastal view from GR92
Provisions - for eating Now
El Port de la Selva 

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9 comments:

Nallo Lady said...

You'll be on your way by now. Enjoy the last few hours of your journey! You can look forward to cool temperatures in Manchester!

Phreerunner said...

Not quite on my way! A leisurely day today. Foot bandaging worked yesterday so that's ok. Just need to pack up and find somewhere for breakfast...
Overcast and thundery here...

Sir Hugh said...

It does seem a bit strange not to finish when you hit the sea, but coastal walking does have its attractions. That looks like a bottle of Fanta, my preferred fizzy drink when walking in the UK - in France it becomes Orangina - I'm not sure what I will be guzzling on my forthcoming trip.

Phreerunner said...

How about vin rouge, Conrad?

Louise said...

What a journey.

afootinthehills said...

I expect you'll be drinking well-earned large beers soon Martin.

Phreerunner said...

Louise - it would have been much easier if I'd stuck to my original timetable. Any hardships were of my own making - my liking for long days in the hills...

Gibson - I'm savouring the final few km - currently exploring the ruins of Sant Baldiri de Taballera - an interesting spot...

Alan Sloman said...

Bandaged feet, locked churches, murdered farmer's wives.
Silent orthodox walkers.
Baying hounds.

I think I would have walked into the sea with rocks in my pockets.
Good luck with tomorrow (though I see from the date of the post, that is, today.
:-)

Phreerunner said...

Thanks Alan. All did go well.