Friday, October 21, 2016

Gironella - Lluçà

GR1 Sendero Historico day 43.
Distance: 30.5km (1260.7km), time spent: 8:49.
Waymarking: Ok, some difficulties here and there.
Weather: Grey, gloomy and overcast, then nice towards the end.


Yesterday evening I fell asleep sitting on my bed in my room in Gironella, while I was sitting down, relaxing and writing down my notes of the walk of the day. I am probably more tired than I think I am, my quick reinvigoration when I walked from Massanés to Cambrils just a short flicker. Still, I keep on going; I have never walked as long days before as I have done on this hike, on my other long distance hikes. Today, I follow the guidebook to the letter, I will walk to Lluçà. Outside it is grey, but when I looked out of the window earlier in the night, it was to a clear and starry sky. I have really no expectations to this days stage, so I am not noteworthy bothered by the sombre weather.

In Gironella in the morning.

I am more bothered by trying to locate the trail out of Gironella, why is it always so hard to waymark the trails out of towns, even small towns like these? The clouds seems to stretch out to the western horizon, which forms the border, I can see the sun shining on the mountains that I went on yesterday. That the border will move over here, I have little belief in. In my direction, it is grey and gloomy, rain in the making. Even a short scenic walk through a forest does little to improve the boring beginning of the day until Olvan.

Grey weather where I walk after Gironella, but in the horizon, I can see sunlight over the mountains.

After Olvan, however, both the scenery and weather plays better as a team. Here the route disappears into a more open terrain, dominated by large surfaces of stone. You are not far away from people here, but the whole terrain and area has a desolate and barren touch to it. The waymarks are painted directly on the stony surface. There are some power pylons here, which otherwise would have ruined the views a little, but appears to vanish in this weather. When the bushes and vegetation surrounding me increases in scale, it is because the trail has dived down into a small valley, before it slowly climbs up again. The disconsolate weather and this mysterious open landscape fits perfectly together. Unfortunately, nothings lasts forever.

After Olvan, the GR1 goes through a barren and open landscape, with large surfaces of stone.

This part of the walk is nice until I arrive at a farm; because after the farm, the waymarking is no longer corresponding with the description and map in the guidebook. In it, I am supposed walk north when I get to a road, but the waymarks are pointing to the south. At first, I get confused, but then I understand that the trail has been rerouted. If it is to the better I cannot tell, but the new route that I follow to Sagàs is not particularly exciting. Sagàs is a small and charming village, but judging by its appearance also quite sleepy. The church, Sant Andreu de Sagàs, is from the 11th century. Around the village, the meadows are full of white blooming flowers.

The weather is grey and quite gloomy, but it sort of nicely fit the terrain I was walking through between Olvan and Sagàs, like here.

Outside Sagàs, I come to a farm, and my bypassing sets off a cacophony of dog barking. It is then quite fitting to say something about the dogs you encounter along the trail and in Spain. For the sound of barking is something that you will get to hear a lot and become tired of if you walk this trail. Mostly in all the villages you walk through, there will be a least one house where there is a dog, usually several houses, and when you arrive, the dogs will begin to yap. It is however quite notable that this for the most part applies to dogs that are locked inside the gardens of people, which is the usual way of using guard dogs. The dogs that I have met outside of confinement has as a rule been calm. So far, I have not had any bad experiences with dogs, but I am tired of their barking.

Sagàs.

There is not much to say about the walk down to Pont de Vilalta. On the way there, the clouds begin to split, but that does not bring any more interest to the walk for that reason. At the hotel next to the bridge, Sant Cristòfol, I just as well eat a four-course dinner. Soup with pasta, macaroni with meat, a good meat dish with equivalent good sauce, cheese with honey as desert. The Pont de Vilalta bridge and the Riera de Merles river forms a weathershed for the day, on the west side it was grey and sad, but now that I have crossed over to the east side, it is sunny and a blue sky.

To pass by a farm with five dogs provides you with the opportunity to hear a dog-symphony of barking. All the commotions the dogs made meant that I had to take a picture of them. The boy living there came out and wondered why I was talking a picture.

East of the Riera de Merles, however, the landscape is first quite messy, but when I rises in altitude it gets better. The view cannot be said to be very challenging, but the landscape feels more open and the walk up along the hill is pleasant. You can also see Lluçà from the hill, although it is not easy to see were the borders of the hamlet are, it is a hamlet were the houses lies well scattered away from each other. Under twenty persons are living here. If anything can be called the centre of Lluçà, it will have to be where the monastery is. Above there is a hill where the ruins of Castell de Lluçà are resting on the top of. You pass a large masia on the last part of the route down.

Before Pont de Vilalta, it was not that exciting, but this short walk between the trees was a pleasant one, even on a road.

In Hostal Fonda La Primitiva, there are no one present when I arrive, but that matters little, I can put down my backpack outside and relax by the tables and chairs standing there. Something I does not do for long. The church of the monastery, Monasteri de Sant María de Lluçà, is open and when I walk inside, the monastery itself is opened to me. Inside there are old murals on display, together with paintings that the churchwarden himself had made, a curious combination. Kin, who runs Fonda La Primitiva, appears and wants me to check in. She is tired and wants to rest a little; she has a long evening ahead of her. There is a concert at the place this evening. I was warned about it, but I am only looking forward to it. With me to my room, I get a local artisan beer, NAPA, New Anarchy Pale Ale.

View of Lluçà. At the top of the hill in the centre of the pictures lies the ruins of Castell de Lluçà, Hostal Fonda La Primitiva and the monastery are visible just below the hill to the right.

Before the evening sets in, I get to see more of the monastery. Outside, it is now nice, but there is a brim of clouds further back in the distance. There is something absurd that there is a monastery in such a tiny place as this, but when it was built, this was probably a very remote place and the monks do like to stay in places like that. The monastery has a nice, but small cloister garden. I would have liked to climb up to the castle above, but does not have the energy to do it.

The cloister garden of Monasteri de Sant María de Lluçà.

The evening becomes one of the very best on the GR1. So is also the Fonda La Primitiva a very pleasant place, even though I also wonder how it survives in a place like this. I can hardly believe that there are hikers on the GR1 standing in line to spend the night here (or any other place), since it does not appear to be very many hiking the trail. A digression. The evening becomes as said great. Firstly, there is a dinner consisting of seven courses, yes, you read correctly. Seven dishes. And the food tastes excellent; I also think that I get a little bit more food than the rest of the guest. Of the sole reason that I walk the GR1 and has gone a long way (and still has some to go, although I am getting closer to the end). I eat the desert together with the musicians and some friends of theirs. It has mostly been quite so lonesome dinners for me on this walk, so this feels very welcome.

From the concert in Fonda La Primitiva, Lluçà.

Afterwards, the concert begins. Where I can just sit down and relax with a bottle of white wine and enjoy the music. Kin told me that it would be some brazilian rhythms, that is correct, but more correctly it is that they are actually playing jazz with some brazilian touches. It is a good concert and wonderful to get to experience this on my walk, tonight I do not miss my tent. Still, however good it is, the Sandman is a difficult contender and in the end, I have to acknowledge that I have to go to bed, although I very much would have liked to hear the rest of the concert. In a break between some of the tunes, I say farewell to the friends of the band and waves goodbye to the musicians, who stops and greets me farewell and good luck. The evening here in Lluçà has without doubt been the highlight of the day; you quickly forgets some more boring walks when they carries you to such finales as this. Barely a week left before I am finished.

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