Day 34 GR1 to Ripoll

Normal service resumed, the walk was longer than expected and I was in trouble as we made the final, extra long approach to Ripoll. Not sure what the fuss was about, 38 kilometres instead of 33, but I was blamed for all sorts. Shame because I got everything else right, nice walk and near perfect weather.

Left the hostal, really a casa rural, at Lluçà at about 8.45. Great food last night (despite having forgotten we were coming, the owner produced a feast : a perfectly dressed salad, a bowl of puy lentils and vegetables, grilled chicken with wild rice and then strawberry fruit salad); and a lovely breakfast.
Llucà - Ermita de Santa Maria

It was a perfect morning, bright clear sky and the sun was busy clearing the remains of any overnight frost. We were joined for the first couple of kilometres by a black labrador dog who I managed to persuade to go home after he started to get interested in some cows with their calves.
Early morning views of the Pyrenees
It wasn't long before we were getting what turned out to be a series of wonderful views of the snow covered Pyrenees. One mountain in particular stood out, I think it was the Puigpedrós but I could be wrong.
Miniature daffodils
The countryside between Lluçà and the village of Santa Eulàlia de Puig-Oriol was a mix of open meadow and trees, really nice, particularly the dense displays of miniature daffodils.

After Santa Eulàlia de Puig-Oriol we followed an old transhumance trail through trees up to Ermitá de Sant Cristòfol de Borrassers and then down again towards the village of Alpens. At a place called El Graell there was large strange but spectacular old building, which we think was an elaborate barn, built perhaps for drying hay.

Barn at El Graell
After we had eaten our sandwich at Alpens we set off on the only climb of the day, a 400 metre climb up to the Ermita de Santa Margerita. A sign said 20 kilometres to Ripoll, a bit of a blow, but Christine didn't seem bothered, she was enjoying the walk and the weather.

Ermita de Santa Margerita
The Ermita de Santa Margerita was set in a stunning location; however the fortified mesia, just down the hill at Portavella, with its tower and adjacent little church gradually becoming overcome with ivy, were even better. Almost defining ancient decay they could have been some elaborate folly in an English country park.
Fortified masia at Sant Martí de Vinyoles
Sant Martí de Vinyoles
We then started to walk steeply downhill on a concrete farm road. I think it was the hard surface which sapped Christine's energy but the dodgy information on the sign's didn't help. At 4 o'clock we saw a sign saying Ripoll was 4 hours 30 minutes away: there wouldn't be time for a shower before dinner!

The concrete farm road went on for about 9 kilometers and the only variance was a short tarmac interlude and a small but unpredicted climb at the end. To make matters worse we were heading north, sometimes west, when Ripoll was to the east.

Terraces and masia at Arquers
When we did turn east everything improved. The light was now excellent and the final descent to Ripoll was along the side of a valley adorned with a series of enormous masias set in dark green terraced fields.

I turned my trip recorder off as soon as we got into Ripoll, it was 36.61 kilometres. We did however have to walk about another 2 to find the hotel. Definitely not enough time or energy to look at the monastery - still we were drinking our first beer by 6.30. Spoke to Juan while drinking the beer, he has ordered a taxi for the morning and tomorrow's walk will be shorter.

If you want to see where we went on a map then please go to the following link

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