Monday, October 10, 2016

Salinas de Trillo - Graus

GR1 Sendero Historico day 32.
Distance: 26.7km (939.0km), time spent: 8:11.
Waymarking: Good.
Weather: Nice, and hot.


By John Hayes is the section between Murillo de Gallego and Graus regarded as the most special and interesting on the GR1, I have now come to the final day of this section. Giving thought to all the empty villages and houses that I have passed by, Graus may well feel like a huge city. The walk there will at first take me through a forgotten forest, before the surrounding area opens up when the trail crosses over an open moorland. Tiny hamlets and villages, castle ruins with prayer flags, hidden chapels, an abandoned village and even a Buddhist temple are guarding around the trail.

Looking back at the dilapidated church in Trillo, with its large open holes.

The hosts at Casa Bielsa does not let me continue without having a generous breakfast. Which is needed since my backpack has become heavier. With me, I carry half a litre of the red wine they are making (which, by the way, also was served at breakfast).

Inside Armita San Bizien, most of the interior is about to fall apart, but you can still see some of the decoration.

‘Sendero Historico’ as a whole may look like a testament or a wandering monument to the times of old, a memorial that in itself is about to be erased. The feeling of watching the past times fade in front of your eyes. The church in Trillo is derelict and deserted, as with the path the trail is going on down from it. Once upon a time the stonewall alongside the path was probably whole, the path clear and possible well used, now thickets and bush are blocking the way like guardians to a lost forest. In the climb up from the valley again, open holes in the church are gaping at me.

Straddling the ridge is Pano, a formerly abandoned hamlet that is now being restored. On the cliffs to the right is Ermita de San Antón

For a moment, the woods forgets that it is forgotten and makes way for a narrow walk beneath some cliffs, and there in the views, San Emetier and Castillo de Samitier are visible at the top of the cliffs above L’Entremon. Time becomes truly relative when hikes reaches over as many days as this, where places you have been to are better milestones or waymarks of the progress you make. Only that in this case, the distance does not give any impression that I have come far away since I stood next to the ruins of Castillo de Samitier and admired the view. The trail has gone a long way north before it took a u-turn and headed southwards again.

Prayer flags hanging next to the ruins of the Castillo de Panillo, there is a Buddhist temple located below the ridge, Dag Shang Kagyo.

Out on the tip of a ridge, almost as hidden as it seems to be forgotten, is the tiny chapel of Armita San Bizien. Situated so remote away from everything that may not be so strange. Inside, everything is falling apart, a long time since it has been in use. On this trail at least, it is something it is not alone on. It rather more looks to be the common thing, than not. I have not met any others on the GR1 today either. I come to Pano, when John Hayes (the author of the guidebook) last time was here, there were works here restoring the tiny hamlet. They are still working on it. Inside the church, more support has been added so that it stands more safely and is about to be made into a house. Exciting things are done with the remains of the abandoned hamlet; I would like to see the final result.

Up at the open ridge after Castillo de Panillo (view back towards the north).

At a tiny church, Ermita de la Virgen de la Collada, I am finished with the walk through the woods and starts on the second half of today’s walk. The ruins of Castillo de Panillo is not as impressive as the other castle ruins that I have seen, but it boasts some other interesting thing. Next to the ruins, prayer flags are hanging and fluttering in the wind. Beneath the ridge is the Dag Shang Kagyo, a Buddhist temple that I could look down at on the way up.

The GR1 meandering along over the open ridge, the trail is going on an old transhumance route.

Above, the landscape is opening up, as if the trees are giving way to the path on each side. The walk here is not in any way spectacular, but open ridgewalks with views has always appealed to me. The trail goes on an old transhumance route that meanders its way over the ridge. On the way, you pass by a junction, where one of the paths leads not yet another lost village, Le Púy de Cinca, where there is a spectacular ruin of a church, here the church tower looks like it has been cleaved in four with a gigantic axe (this I found out later, if I had known it now, I would probably seriously considered going there).

Grustán, only shadows and skeletons left of the houses, but the Santa María de Grustán church is in a conspicuously good shape.

I have truly enjoyed it at the top of the ridge. Ate lunch at a small cabin with a good overview of the surrounding area (took a sip of the wine that I got as well). The last thing I come to before I begin the descent to the civilization again, in the shape of Graus, is Grustán. Situated at the top of a hill, the houses has been left to decay, with the exception of the church, Santa María de Grustán. Which the sundial above the entrance is a fitting symbol of, that watch has not stopped ticking. Here the door to the church is locked and I cannot see how it looks like inside. When the time reached 1970 all the villagers had left the village, in 1960 there were 28 that lived here.

Basilica de la Virgen de La Peña with the Jesus on the viewpoint above.

At first sight, Graus does not appear to have any special to it, it looks mostly like something you have seen before several times, but when you first has got away from the modern part of the town and located the core of the old town, there is another story. In the Barrichós, you find narrow streets, old buildings and a pleasant small plaza where the facades of the old houses are decorated with colours and paintings. Children are running free around the plaza; there are places to relax at outside two small cafés.

View over Graus and the direction the trail goes from the viewpoint above the town, next to a statue of Jesus. The old town in Graus, Barrichós with the pleasant small plaza visible, closest in the picture.

Unfortunately, I arrived at Graus too late to get into what is probably the major landmark of the town. Just below the cliff that towers above Graus, you find the Basilica de la Virgen de la Peña, an old Romanesque church that has been extended to include a cloister. It is a wonderful building. At the top of the cliff, there is a viewing point next to a statue of Jesus. My feet does not agree with me on going up. From the viewpoint, there is a great view over Graus, towards the Pyrenees and in the direction that I will walk tomorrow. The scenery has a more reddish hue; the sun is on its way down behind me. The GR1 should definitely have arrived at Graus from here; it would have made a better entry.

A relaxing evening at the pleasant plaza in the Barrichós in the old town of Graus.

In the evening, the small plaza inside the Barrichós become even more pleasant, when small lights illuminates the walls of the houses while the sky is darkening. I eat dinner at the hotel, the Lleida, also a pleasant place with a lot of life in the bar and restaurant. I sit and consider taking a zero day, but I know that I will continue tomorrow. It has been a nice day, with the walk over the open ridge as a highlight of the stage.

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