Sunday May 15th Ballestavy to Sournia

A transition day in several different ways. Left Peter Williams, my walking mate for the last few days; the weather has taken a distinct turn for the better; and I have now left the Pyrenees and I working my way through much smaller mountains on the way up to Carcassonne.

Has been great walking with Peter, he's was excellent company and it would have been no fun walking alone high up in the Pyrenees given the terrible weather of the last couple of days. Shame we weren't on  on top of Canigou today as the views would have been amazing, as it was the views of the mountain were pretty impressive.

Fresh snow on Canigou

Today's walk was good although a bit longer than I anticipated. Essentially a walk down the Ballestavy valley heading north, across the flat east west valley and then up into mountains on the other side. Looking east you could clearly see the coastal plain and beyond that the Mediterranean. Towards the bottom of the walk down the valley I was walking through orchards and the cherries provided a really nice early lunch. Left Peter to catch the train at Vinca and crossed the bridge over the Tet reservoir. Slightly strange to be on my own again after 4 days so plugged myself into my IPod, went marching of up a very well marked trail and then missed a really obvious turning. Eventually got back on the route and the first highlight was the old monastery at Marceval.


Marceval Monastery

The countryside is much lower than it has been for the last few days and the vegetation has changed. High in the Pyrenees it felt really north European and had sort of trees you would associated with the UK, dropping down a bit it has returned to the Mediterranean scrub I got familiar with in Spain.

The area I'm walking through for the next few days is famous for it's Cathar castles. The Cathars had there own variation of Christianity in the 13th and 14th centuries and at the time this was one of the richest parts of Europe. They built lots of spectacular castles generally located on the tops of hills. The then Pope eventually declared them heretics, called for a crusade against them and have a series of particularly bloody campaigns the Cathars were suppressed and the area lost it's prosperity. I think I saw my Cathar castle today.

Cathar ruins near Campoussy

Although I wasted half an hour or so when I got lost today's walk was a lot longer than anticipated, more like 36 as opposed to the 25 on my schedule. Hopefully this isn't a sign of things to come. I'm staying in the Gite d'Etape at Sournia. It's a bit like a refuge but there is no one else here. The key was left in the door and there was some food for me in the fridge. There was a bill on the table, all I have to do is leave the money before I go in the morning. All very trusting.

1 comment:

  1. John nice to hear from you. Now you are walking on my steps. I am now in Poland so in a couple of days I will read your adventure with pleasure. Voila friend.