Day 18 GR1 Murillo de Gállego

No Day 17 I'm afraid. It rained all night on Saturday and according to the weather forecast it was going to rain all day Sunday. I was in a comfortable hotel in Sos Dey Rey Catolico and the idea of tramping for 9 hours through the mud to Biel just didn't appeal. Of course what usually happens when I decide not to make a trip is that the sun comes out - well it didn't - it kept raining, walking would have been miserable and for once I had made the right decision. I hung around Sos Dey Rey Catolico all day, had a drink in the Parador, saw the sights and rested up.

I am however on a schedule - the accommodation is all booked and I'm meeting Juan and Christine at a particular time this Saturday. To get back on schedule meant a taxi trip to Biel where I was supposed to stay last night. The taxi took nearly an hour but it was a nice trip and I got to see Uncastillo yet another lovely town surrounding a castle on top of hill.
The huge church in Biel

Had a look around Biel hoping to meet Elena who had sorted out my accommodation for me but couldn't find the pharmacist she runs. I did bump into another of Juan's friends though, Pedro, who knew that I should be there.

Today's walk was excellent. The weather was good, hints of rain but hints only, and a really good trail. Hardly any road walking and lots of walking along old mule trails, trails you can't access with a vehicle. Having left Navarre the way marking has come back again, Aragon clearly takes the route seriously, which is just as well because it did take me on a different route to the one I was expecting from the GPS.

Following an ancient trail into Fuencalderas
The first part of the trip, Biel to Fuencalderas, took me along an old farm trail across open arable countryside, all bonus as I expected a road walk. Nothing at Fuencalderas, so no chance for an early coffee break.

Limestone ridges to the north-east of Fuencalderas
The scenery then got more dramatic as it headed north into higher country. In the distance, to the east, I got first sight of some red cliffs which were to feature later on. The path itself was now the mule trail which I really like, narrow, often overgrown but nicely graded and easy walking.
San Miguel de Liso
The trail crossed a couple of small valleys, all the time in evergreen oak and pine, before starting a steady climb up the ruined church of San Miguel de Liso. The church was surrounded by cows with new born calves who were not particularly pleased to see me.

The oven at San Felices
The descent down from San Miguel de Liso to San Felices was a lovely one. An open valley but with a series of rivers dropping into it from the northern side forming waterfalls and pools. San Felices itself was largely in ruins but at least one of the houses was occupied. There was a strange conical chimney, definitely in use for something but I'm not sure what.
Mallos de Agüero
After walking south for 3/4 kilometres the route turns east again and for the first time, towering above Agüero, you see these huge red cliffs. The Mallos de Agüero are 300 meters high, the home for numerous griffon vultures (you could see lines of them on the ridges) and look different from every angle. Agüero is a pretty town, with a 12th Century church in the middle but totally dominated by the cliffs above it.

The final 5/6 kilometres were along an ancient road, with some of the original paving still intact, through fields of almonds and olives, to Murillo de Gállego. The huge red cliffs were now a kilometre or so to the north.

Murillo de Gállego
The River Gállego flows down through a gorge through the red cliffs and Murillo de Gállego is an important location for white water rafting.

My hotel is a new Spa hotel just to the south of town. There was a momentary confusion about the booking (not used to accommodating muddy men carrying bags) and to make amends the receptionist gave me an upgrade. I'm now in a suite, spread over two floors, with a giant Jacuzzi on one floor and another bathroom on the other. If I didn't have to carry them I would leaving this place tomorrow with a rucksack full of "products". Spa hotel - seriously wasted on me.

If you want to see where I went today go to the following link

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  1. John. The conical chimney you saw in the small village of San Felices is a traditional oven in the rural architecture of Aragón. It is built outside the house but with the entrance from inside with a round table and the kitchen. It is called "catiera" and you will have more sights of that kind next days, also in certain restaurants ask to be seated in the "catiera" to get the heat and the pleasure of the roasts.
    By the way one of the St James trails passes through the Church of San Miguel de Liso so you had to see the yellow arrows indicating the trail.

  2. Hi John,

    Including a second day in Sos we have been making our way east truly loving the GR1. Today's walk from Petilla de Aragon to Biel was tough but just so lovely. The steam/pond at the camping area was roaring and Colleen did take a dip.

    Word to your readers - think through food on this stretch. We are moving through Petilla and Biel over the weekend and got a good lunch but no dinner in Petilla (folks at the hostal there are just great but a Saturday night fiesta meant no dinner) and in Biel by the time we called (a day in advance) Sunday lunch was full and no dinner being offered. We did get a plate of ham and cheese at the other bar in Biel.

    There are no food stores in Petilla and Biel but We were fine having stocked up in Olite and Sos.

    John, if anything you have understated what a great walk this is. Btw, the woman owner at the Petilla hostal said a few hikers have been coming through so hopefully the increase in traffic will help keep these towns going.

    Regards, Nathan

    1. So pleased your enjoying the walk Nathan. Good point about accommodation and food, it's easy to assume that every day is the same and it isn't. At Easter and some weekend's everything is full and on Sunday night's and sometimes on Mondays things are closed.

      You are about to enter the wildest and in my mind the most beautiful part of the walk so fingers crossed with the weather.

      Good walking and keep in touch