Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Brañosera - Reinosa

GR1 Sendero Historico day 6.
Distance: 31.3km (172.1km), time spentt: 07:51.
Waymarking: Difficult (the trail is not supported or marked in Cantabria).
Weather: Very alternating, some nice weather, then overcast and then rain.


The greatest question after this day was, did I go on the GR1 or not? What I had to go after was rather difficult, given that when the trail crosses the border to Cantabria, the waymarks stays behind in Castille y León. In the guidebook, the route is just followed until Cantabria, but where John Hayes after said border had described a more direct route to Reinosa (not the GR1), I chose to make my own way. After all, if I could not follow the original trail, I could just as well make my own route.

Meson Cueva del Coble, Jesus Delgado standing in the entrance.

From Brañosera however, the trail was marked and I woke up there after a good night's sleep. The route is waymarked to an old Roman bridge in Valle de Valdeolea. Weather was fine at first, most of the sky blue, drifting clouds in the horizon, nice light. Although, the most interesting view was when I looked back at the ridge that I had walked across yesterday in wind, rain and fog. Jesus Delgado was waiting for me above the village, to show me the direction of the route, he had an errand higher up. Wanted to drive me, but I had to decline the offer. He drove off and disappeared, whilst I had a pleasant enough walk to the the small bridge.

Above Brañosera with view back towards Valdecebollas and the ridge that I crossed yesterday in heavy wind, rain and fog.

There is a small trail purist living in me, so at the bridge, I found myself in a little dilemma. Should I try to find the original route to the Collado de Somahoz or follow the guidebook. There would not be any big differences between the two options, so I decided upon the easiest choice when it came to finding the way, I followed John Hayes' alternative route up. Was not so easy that either. I could hear the sound of a helicopter in the air, in the hillside below Peñas Majaducas there was a large black field, smoke fumes rose in the sky. Signs of wildfire. The helicopter flew back and forth, dumping water over the hillside.

Drifting clouds in the horizon in the morning, on my way to Valle de Valdeolea.

To some, it may feel strange that I and others, we are here talking about the purists, will feel it as wrong not to follow a trail one hundred percent. And they are in a way actually quite right about that. To speak for myself, I see it a little bit as if I did not follow the route, I could just as well pick a random starting point and find a random way to get where I want to (basically, nothing wrong with that either). Doing this makes me feel that I deviates from the purpose of my journey, which is to walk the trail. So, it took quite an effort to make the decision, even on the short distance up to Collado de Somahoz (that became 'comatose' in my head).

Forest walk to Valle de Valdeolea after Brañosera.

At the pass, I was given yet another choice. Being no longer locked to a route, you will have a lot more opportunities to choose from. The guidebook outlined a simple route, which first followed a local path named Camino de Brañosera downwards, then past some small villages before eventually reaching Reinosa, I saw the signpost further down. Strangely enough, I found a GR trail marker on a sign written camino forestal on. Whether it was GR1 or another GR-trail I had no idea, but I chose to follow that route instead. GR1?

Fighting wildfire below Peñas Majaducas.

The waymarking led me to a stretch that made me happy at heart in the beginning. The view was nice, and good enough to see that there were dark clouds brooding in the horizon. Then the vegetation around me became more and more scorched, where it recently must have been a wildfire. Probably controlled, I walked past firemen. The forest I entered afterwards was untouched by any potential fire. I came down to the road, where I crossed John Hayes' route, my route felt far better.

Path after Collado de Somahoz, uncertain if it was the GR1 or not, the route was marked with the red and white GR-blazes.

The rain came on the ensuing walk on the road, I followed the waymarks that led me out onto a road and into the rain. It was another deluge. In Villacantid, I sought shelter in a local bar, when I left it had momentarily paused. The red and white blazes then guided me up into some small hills. In the guidebook, it stood that it was not much to recommend on the original route, except the impressive castle in Argüeso, but I had no idea where that was. I wondered a little whether it was located in these hills.

Walking through a scorched field where it had been a wildfire, view towards Reinosa and gathering dark clouds.

Far from it, instead I found my way up to a small peak, Picu la Robleda. A nice view to all sides at the top, but the future was not bright from there. Rain almost in every direction. And the waymarkers took the consequences and became difficult to follow. I ended up in a small village called Fontibre. From here, all traces of the trail stopped, and time had passed. The GR99 (Ebro) however was waymarked, it went to Reinosa. I chose to follow it, even though it meant a long walk on a paved surface. As I arrived at the outskirts of Reinosa, it began to pour down again.

Picu la Robleda. A small top in the hills I came to after Villacantid. There were still GR-waymarks along the path I walked on (not up to the top). Rain in the horizon.

In Reinosa, I got myself a room at the Hotel San Roque, where the floors were creaking. I got my clothes washed, used the sink, standard procedure, dried them afterwards with the hair dryer. Further information on how to get to Corconte on the trail, I did not get, the tourist information office was closed, not sure if they would have known anything more anyway. So tomorrow I will be walking on the road to Corconte, found out where it goes, around 21 kilometres to go. Forecast is for rain as well. Will not be the most exciting day.

Mural on a wall in Reinosa, with a picture of Reinosa from 1948 painted on tiles.

I had a great afternoon and evening in Reinosa, with the rain turning itself on and off. Ate a pizza at a small place while I sat and wondered what GR-trail I had walked on after Collado de Somahoz. If it was GR1 or not. From Fontibre, I knew I went on the GR99, but since the GR1 is not supported in Cantabria, it was a small chance that it followed the same route (you just would not see any signs of it being so). PS. On the website of Brañosera, the trail is said to follow the GR99 from Fontibre to Reinosa, but also that it follows the road down from Collado de Somahoz almost all the way to Fontibre. Not good to know. A decent enough day when it comes to the walk, but not very exciting.

A store in Reinosa that looked like a had a little bit of everything.

<- BrañoseraCorconte ->

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