Day 33 GR1 to Lluçà

Today must be the first day when I managed to estimate the distance correctly. Normally I am horribly over-optimistic but today almost everything when to plan. 29 kilometres, two of which were accounted for by the location of the hotel in Gironella, a nice relaxed 8 hour walk.

Gironella is not somewhere you would choose to visit on a weekend - some of the small Spanish towns are wonderful, but on first impressions this isn't one of them. We walked through the old centre, past the cathedral, in and out of a bread shop, and then out of town. The trip out of town was pretty depressing, lots of uncompleted residential accommodation and a new industrial estate which has only got as far as the road layout.

Strange rocky landscape past Olvan
It was all pretty messy until just past Olvan, 6 kilometres east of Gironella, and then the countryside lost its urban fringe feeling and settled down. It's not exactly a stunning landscape - Mediterranean scrub with the occasional patch where the soil is thick enough for some arable cultivation.
A single to turn
After the tough walking of the last few days it's now altogether easier, and it feels like a different sort of countryside. The way marking was also excellent - a real strolling day.

Segàs - Ermita de Sant Jordi
The highlight for me was Sagàs. I knew that I would be crossing my 2011 E4 route somewhere today but hadn't bothered to work out where. Sagàs was a place I knew from the E4 but it had been given a different name on the local signposts and we were approaching it from a different direction. I still didn't recognise it when we were having a break next to the church. Bizarrely as we followed the GR signs out of the village I suddenly recognised the route. We were on the wrong GR and heading along the E4, magnetically I was being pulled to Budapest.

Getting back on the right trail the lowlight of the day came about 45 minutes later. Travelling through pig farming country (no much evidence of free range anything here) we approached a farm with what looked like a dog prison. About 20 dogs in a cage. Not sure what they had done wrong but they were definitely not repentant and went totally nuts when they saw us. The noise was pretty scary and they sounded as if they hadn't been fed for a couple of days. What is it with the Spanish and dogs - over a period of about a hour we must have been barked at on six separate occasions.

Nice road side hostal at the Pont de Vilalta - if we hadn't bought lunch with us it would have been a nice place to stop. The locals were all tucking into excellent home cooked food.

The afternoon trail took us gradually up along a winding track through scrubby pines. It went north before swinging east and higher still, and looking west we got great views of the mountains we had been walking in over the last few days, some with fresh snow. We also saw a huge black cloud approaching from the Pyrenees and before we knew it it was raining and hailing and the Gortex was quickly donned.

The road down to Lluçà was long and winding but it did give us perhaps the most impressive of a series of huge, often wonderfully restored farmhouses (masia) we had been seeing all day. These huge farmhouses are typical of Catalonia and apparently you can date them by the style of the main entrance.  An arch means it was built before the 16th century and a lintel means it was built.  Some would have been based on Roman villas.

The guardians to the sanctuary at Lluçà were just leaving as we arrived at the hostal so we missed out on seeing its mural which is supposed to be excellent. Very nice little hotel/hostal/casa rural here, can't really work out the difference but the food here was particularly good.

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

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