Brilliant walk, great scenery, lots of interesting and unexpected things and a lovely trail.
Again it's a different route to the one Juan walked and today the GR1 Sendero Historico followed the Camino Natural de
la Hoya de Huesca all the way from Arguis
to Nocito. I went on the old route, which still has GR signs on it, along the road up to the pass at Mesón Nuevo only to find when I got there that the new route came cross country up from Arguis
. To be honest it didn't look that nice - all routes lead to the pass and there's a sodding great motorway to be avoided whichever way you go.
Once I got on the new route the signs were brilliant and took me all the way to Nocito. Compared with the original GR1 it's more "off road" - carefully avoiding anything that could be accessed by a vehicle. It's had a lot of money spent on it including some unnecessary and slightly ugly hand-rails
. Minor complaint though on what is otherwise an excellent trail.
|Ugly new railings on the GR1|
After a gentle descent down the valley you arrive at the largely abandoned village of Belsué. Lovely location on a little hill in the bend the river. This turned out to be the first in a series of abandoned villages and the only one with even a limited amount of life.
Following the side of a tiny stream and past some interesting mud-rocks the trail climbs over a small pass and descends down to the abandoned farmstead at Pardina de
Ascaso. It could have been more that just a farmstead, the stonework is much higher quality than other abandoned properties and it's a bigger building. Perhaps a hunting lodge for some long gone aristocrat.
|Pardina de Ascaso|
Just around the corner you discover why someone would spend money on a house in this location. There's a small river running down the valley from the north with a wide flat bottom of what looks like scrubbed York Sandstone - bright yellow. On its way down the river rushes over waterfalls and rests in
rock-pools creating every 10 yards the best place for a picnic and a swim.
The trail follows the river to the ruined church of Santa Maria de
Belsué and leaves it as it disappears into a huge reservoir the fate of all rivers in these parts.
|Santa Maria de Belsué|
The next abandoned village, Lúsera, is really evocative, it has everything accept people and a roof that would keep the rain out. You approach it along a ghostly old road, bordered with dry stone walls and surfaced with ancient foot worn pavements. It's bigger, grander than you would expect. The buildings surrounding the church are arranged, there is a street pattern and the arch at the far end suggests a gateway, a formal entrance to the village. This was a place where hundreds of people must have sustained a living and within my lifetime was still functioning. Amazing.
After Lúsera there's a steady 300 metre
climb over the pass at Collada de
Santa Coloma (1238 metres
). At the top the scenery changes yet again, with the dominant snow covered summit of Puntón de
Guara (over 2,000 metres
) providing an almost Alpine view. After circumventing a valley and another little pass, it's downhill all the way to Nocito.
|Puntón de Guara|
After a great walk, which took a lot longer than anticipated (6 hours 30 for just over 20 kilometres
) I arrived at Nocito to find everything shut - a fact confirmed gleefully by the only two locals I could get any sense from. Juan checked with the owner who will, after all, be here sometime after 6. Just have to sit in the sun and write this rubbish, no great hardship.
By the way the formation of flying birds I mentioned the other day were cranes. Some 60,000 arrive at the Sotonera reservoir every Feb/March to pair up. The Sotonera reservoir is just behind the Mallos de Riglos, the big red mountains I passed day
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