Friday, October 7, 2016

Nocito - Paúles de Sarsa

GR1 Sendero Historico day 29.
Distance: 36.6km (843.0km), time spent: 11:26.
Waymarking: Mostly good, but non-existing in the beginning out from Bara.
Weather: Nice.


There are some days on a long walk like this, which just takes hold of you and never let go. Where you know that what you experience will stay with you for a long time. This can be due to some remarkable and spectacular scenery or encounters with other cultures and people. Or a combination of both. In this case, it was where there was an absence of people that caught hold of me. From Nocito to Paúles de Sarsa the GR1 passes by a line of abandoned villages caught in stunning locations, an absolutely exceptional day. The history told yesterday, continued in a larger extent today.

A radiant morning on the walk from Nocito to Refugio de San Urbez.

When I leave Nocito early in the morning, the sky is pink. I had prepared and eaten breakfast inside my little room at the camping site, since I wanted to get an early start. The first thing I do is to go the wrong way, a recurring theme on this walk. The beauty that is created by both the fiery pink sunrise and the sun itself is not to be mistaken of, it is lovely. I walk in an ethereal world up towards Refugio de San Urbez wen the radiant rays from the sun are filtered by the trees and baths the landscape in a layered light. Refugio de San Urbez consists of a significant church, with tall trees as pillars outside, and a building that houses an albergue of a kind, closed. The place was clearly visible yesterday on the way down to Nocito.

Refugio de San Urbez.

Bentué de Nocito can be described as a starter to what is served later, then the small village is not entirely deserted either. It is however a long time since any preaches has been heard in the church. I am afraid that I will break the gate outside the church when I enter; it looks like it will fall apart at any time, like the church. Half an hour later, I come to the next abandoned village, Used. Here it also looks like the village has received a tiny hope of life.

Small waves of clouds over the summit of Tozal de Guara.

The walk has lost some of its magic when the sun is higher up in the sky and the trail has taken to the woods until Bara. On the way, I arrive at a place in the woods that will be an oasis for any one that loves to bath, Salto de Cardito. When the water is flowing here, it will run like a waterfall over the cliffs and down into a pond. Now it is dry, no waterfall and the lack of waterflow through the pond below has made the water stale and murky, to take a swim is not tempting.

Bara could be said to be like a last outpost on this stage, because after you venture out on hike destined for the history books. If you can find the way. In the village there are two sets of waymarks, both apparently leading to nowhere. It does feel like a shot in the blind when I set out on the ascending path, a walk in uncertainty whether I am on the right way or not. At this time, it must be mentioned that El Camino Natural de la Comarca de Hoya de Huesca is not following me anymore, our ways separated in Nocito. I am again in the kingdom of GR1, a somewhat uncertain destiny when it comes to waymarking. A white and red blaze calms my nerves a little bit further up into the history.

Salto de Cardito, advertised as the best place on the GR1 for a swim, but now late in the year, no water flows over the cliffs and down into the pond below. The water is dirty and murky, and taking a bath was not tempting, but with water flowing in the river it is not hard to understand that this is a small oasis in the woods.

For now, the path reveals itself in all its glory, with a parade of abandoned villages. Kind of pompous said, but there are possibly no better way to say it. The landscape is opening up, the surrounding area is unveiled. And I arrive at Nazare, deserted houses in a village from the past at the top of a hill, in the horizon the Pyrenees are towering. The magic from the morning has returned. Again is my mind filled with all these questions of who lived here. The church is in a remarkable good condition, the walls inside a whole and white. Nature is otherwise far ahead in reclaiming the houses to its embrace. In 1940, there were 32 people living here, ten years later everyone had left the village.

The Romanesque church in Nazare. The rest of the abandoned village is in a considerably worse condition.

The fields after Nazare are like a verdant heath. In the horizon, I am drawn towards the allure of the Pyrenees. Another hiker approaches, I am surprised by his appearance. It is a Frenchman that has a more random plan of where to hike, rather than following the GR1 as I do. Through the wonderful peculiar landscape, I come to yet another lost farm, not small of size either, Pardina Villanúa. I forget to look inside, the paintworks are supposed to be still intact. Below, I can see another an overgrown village, but the trail is not passing through that one.

A green moorland after Nazare with the Pyrenees towering in the background. Pardina Villanúa, the remnants of an abandoned farm, is visible to the right.

Otin is the next place coming up, here the houses are bigger, almost the sizes like in a small town, but still in ruins. Overgrown, with numerous years since any one has looked out from the metal balconies. You almost have to go back to 1960 to find last time people lived here, then it was 19 inhabitants in the village. Bar Otin someone has written on a wall of a house, but there is no bar to be found of course. Strangely enough, it is on the day when I visit the most abandoned villages that I meet the most people on the whole walk. It is almost bustling with a lively crowd here. Not hard to understand, to visit all this ghost sites in this weather is an experience beyond the ordinary. Torn canyons are revealed on a small detour off the trail afterwards, Oscuros de Otin. In front of Letusa, some bikers are resting, but these remains are not that exciting. The cows looks disapprovingly at me when I pass by the hamlet.

The ruins of Otin. On the wall it is written Bar Otin, but many ghosts and wanderers has passed through this deserted village since there was a bar here.

A relatively steep climb carries me up to the crowning glory. As with Nazare, Bagüeste is located at the top of a hill, with sweeping views over the Pyrenees. The remains of the village is a mass of buildings about to collapse, everywhere is nature about to reclaim what it has lost. The guidebook warns about following to the confusing waymarks through the village, but that is now fixed and a safe route through can be found. 27 villagers were living here in 1960, in 1970 there were none.

Oscuros de Otin.

At the very top of the hill that Bagüeste is located at, lies the ruins of the church, Ermita de Santa Marina. The church is still standing, but inside it, only the sheep are now preaching. Once upon a time the walls were blue, now most of the inside interior has faded and fallen off. Inside, a lonesome sheep is staring intensely at me, so much that it almost feels eerie. I name the sheep Sheepula and goes out again. In the shadow of the bell tower, I sit down and eat lunch. The sun shines through an abandoned village when I leave Bagüeste.

The ruins of Bagüeste with the Pyrenees in the background. The abandoned village is situated in a stunning location at the top of a hill. The remaining houses are unsafe and nature is about to take the village back.

A boar snorts and disappears into the bush, the quiet remnants of Ermita de San Miguel says nothing when I venture down into the shrubby valley that leads back up again to Las Bellostas. Here, a paved road greets me. I have returned to the present again. This stage of the GR1 is an absolutely marvellous walk, but is somewhat marred by the last part going on the road. It is eight hurting and boring kilometres down to Paúles de Sarsa, there should be a better path down.

Inside the ruins of the Ermita de Santa Marina church in Bagüeste. Parts of the walls still has remains of what must have been a blue interior. Inside the church, a lonely sheep stood and looked intensely at me, which promptly made give it the name Sheepula.

When I arrive at Casa Rural de Fina, I am tired and my feet are hurting some, the long day has made its toll. The place is run by a friendly old lady. Before I even has got to take a shower, she shows me out on the small terrace, where a bottle of red wine and biscuits stands ready for me. After the shower, I sit and enjoy a cold glass of wine, while the sky once again takes on a pinkish hue. I see a farmer herd a flock of sheep, which flows around the church. The dinner is large and good, I answer yes for an extra icecream for desert. Yet another pleasant accommodation along the trail. An exceptional day, I quickly forget the walk on the road

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