One of the things I don't like about this stretch of walking is that I don't really know where I going. It's about a year ago since I researched the route and it was very difficult, without buying a Spanish Topoguide, to work out in detail where the GR4 goes. Unlike the GR7 I couldn't find a GPS trail on the web so came up my own trail from various sources and don't have any confidence in it.
If the walk was going to go wrong it was most likely to go wrong today. It was going to be long, but I wasn't sure how long although at least 40 kilometres, and the destination Santa Maria de Merles, is a very tiny place. It was on the route but it was my route and of course I didn't know if my route was right. I was going there because it was the only place I could find with accommodation.
I was out of the hotel by 7 and went across the road for a coffee and a chocolate croissant. Is it just Spain or have all chocolate croissants changed. Instead of the anaemic bit of chocolate running through the middle, which I was used to, it's now a solid lump and each end of a proper shaped croissant has also been dipped in chocolate so you get it on the outside as well. Really good, a meal in itself.
Was able to find the GR 4 just north of Navarcles, really well signed. After about thirty minutes I concluded that the route I had on my GPS had nothing to do with the real GR 4 and decided to follow the signs. Essentially the first hour walk took you through a mixed landscape as you went along the industrial valley but eventually, after going past Cabrianes, you get into the country side proper.
For the rest of the day the scenery was essentially the same but really nice. Walking through hilly countryside, wooded, but interspersed with fields of barley and occasionally wheat. Everything was incredibly green, nice weather, sunny, fairly clear but not too hot. Not a day of really big views but the sort of walk you can often get in England at this time of year.
|North of Cabrianes|
The other feature of the walk were the really beautiful farmsteads and the little churches generally associated with them. Although the countryside was still being farmed (unlike much of the countryside I went through in upland Valencia) a lot of the farmsteads and churches were abandoned and falling into disrepair.
At about 5, I had a big ridge to climb, but once I got over that I was within 3/4 kilometres, as the crow flies from Santa Maria de Merles. Got over the top and kept following the signs, I was heading west not north which was the direction I anticipated. This went on for nearly an hour and I was heading down into a huge gorge and now much further away from Santa Maria de Merles than I had been at 5. I had convinced myself that Santa Maria wasn't on the GR 4 when I started heading east again and by 7 I had got to the village. In total had walked 51 kilometres with 1500 metres of climb. The last bit of the walk, through the gorge was excellent, nice time of day, actually saw a cuckoo rather than just hearing it, just a shame I had started to think I was going to be sleeping rough again.
|Woodland Approaching Santa Maria de Merles|
I'm the only person staying in a huge converted farmhouse. No one else here at all. Very remote, the owner gave me a lift here, picked me up to take me to dinner, bought me back, and is picking me up for breakfast in the morning. Much better than sleeping in the woods.
Sounds great but scaring, this adventure. What if one is not able to walk 50 km? Or is the average rambler supposed to be supported by driver and car? MennoReplyDelete