Day 14 GR1 to Olite

Weather wise it's different but not really any better. The cold north wind which dominated yesterday has abated; today it's been a mix of heavy wintry showers interspersed with sunshine.

The first of the wintry showers came just as I was finishing my breakfast - more a blizzard than a shower. The Spanish men drinking their kick start coffees seemed to be mildly amused to see a mad Englishmen preparing to go out in the snow whereas the landlady and her daughter showed much warmer hearts and were genuinely concerned. When I insisted on going, but left my walking poles behind, they came running after me, giving a hands on a steering wheel impression, and saying they would drive me Olite.
The church in Larraga
Of course it wasn't that bad and within minutes the sun was out and I was at the church in the centre of Larraga getting my departure bearings.

The sun stayed out for the long enough to get me down to Berbinzana, across an ancient looking bridge over the Rio Arga, and once again onto the massive empty plain that characterised yesterday's walk.

Disused irrigation pipes
I say empty but it's a strange mix, to my eyes anyway, of super-intensive agriculture with something which is lighter touch. For example there are large areas equipped with permanent irrigation systems and another stretch where a crop had been grown (no idea what) with the aid of huge quantities of plastic pipes. Much of the piping was just left broken and useless in the ploughed soil but the rest had been pulled out of the field and left - equally useless - in a large heap. I'm sure it makes more sense to someone else than it did to me.

Approaching Olite
Later on I walked along a stretch of the remnants of a less intensive agriculture - a Canada Real - part of a huge pan-Spain network of drove trails, established by royal decree - which were used to shift livestock, transhumance style, from part of the country to another. The trails were designed to be wide enough to grow enough grass to sustain the animals as they walked along it -perhaps urged along by the original cowboys (or that dog from yesterday).

Walking along a Cañada Real

The waymarking is as limited as ever but to be honest you hardly need it. Essentially you're travelling along farm trails and there are enough to get you from A to B. Cutting corners this time of year is not a good idea however - the ground is so wet you just sink.

The centre of Olite
Crossing a final ridge you drop down towards Olite, a bridge over the motorway and a busy road to navigate before entering what is a lovely town. It's a Roman walled settlement, a cross between a mini-Carcassonne (French Gothic), and an Italian Tuscan town. I really liked it although it was just a bit too cold to spend much time on top of the tower of the Royal Palace. Not quite so cold was the wine museum and another Parador, part of the soon to be privatised chain of state hotels, in the Old Palace.
Roof tops in Olite

If you want to see on a map of where I went today than please go to the following link

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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