Saturday, October 22, 2016

Lluçà - Ripoll

GR1 Sendero Historico day 44.
Distance: 36.7km (1297.4km), time spent: 10:37.
Waymarking: Good.
Weather: Overcast and gloomy, fog, sunny at the end.

I sleep so well, that in the morning I have to force myself up, something it takes a lot of effort to. Kin is awake when I tussle down, even after yesterday evening, and prepares a large and good breakfast for me. All honour to Kin and this place, it is a wonderful accommodation and my stay here has been fantastic. Still, the road goes ever on and I have to continue out into the grey world that waits outside the doors. Today, I have planned to do another combination of two stages in the guidebook; I will skip Alpens and walk straight to Ripoll.

On the way after El Castell (to the right), the ruins of Castell de Lluçà are guarding above.

Already from the morning there is a wet sky above me, as predicted. Not much, a quiet drizzle, but enough to ascertain that there are no views of the Pyrenees to get from a large and fortified farm, El Castell. The mountains to the north are otherwise supposed to be a distinct feature from here; the view is just as abandoned as the farm. I wander around the hill, where the ruins emerges up from the trees above, bygone watchtowers from the past. The eyes of the ghosts in the tower is watching over me for a good time.

A small oasis near Molí de Puig-oriol.

The first hours of the day is a walk in an undulating landscape, among scattered farms and tiny hamlets. Above the landscape there is a mournful mood resting, melancholic clouds that slowly tatters. Mournful and melancholic sounds sad, but I always feel a calm about me when I walk in such surroundings. Nearby Molí de Puig-oriol there is another small oasis, where the water runs down from pond to pond, on top of flat and large slabs of stone.

An undulating view, underneath the clouds in the horizon you can bare see the feet of the Pyrenees.
It is grey and melancholic in the horizons, between the undulating hills tiny veils of clouds are seeping. Furthest away, I can barely discern the feet of the Pyrenees, which is the closest I get to see some of those great mountains today. I have however escaped all of the serious rain today, although there are some drops coming here and there. It is not to be ignored that I think a lot of the fact that I will be at the end of my walk in just a couple of days now. With that in mind, I also know that I am now on my way down from the high country; I am excited about what this brings with it of changes in scenery and surroundings. But today, I feel it like an improvement from yesterday and the last part of the walk to Gironella, the landscape are more charming in this section.

The trail continues unabated further through the verdant scenery with now grey contrasts around. A small detour takes me up to a small chapel with a nice name, Ermita de Sant Cristòfol de Borrassers, which also houses a small cemetery called Sepultura de la Coma Homes. After a couple of kilometres more, I arrive at a huge masia with an overwhelming façade towards the route, El Graell. In the inside, there is a large room with high ceilings and pillars from the roof to the floor. A stately home for the livestock, an almost royal barn. A large group of youths swarms around in the opposite direction on the last part of the walk down to Alpens, possibly scouts.

El Graell, an impressive masia.

To stop for the day in Alpens would have been too early, it is the middle of the day when I arrive at the village, there are after all only a 14km long walk from Lluçà to here. In the centre of the village, I find a bar, some locals are already gathered around some tables, I order a bocadillo with loin of pig and cheese, together with some refreshments. It is good with a break; I have still over twenty kilometres left before I get to Ripoll. When I leave Alpens, I walk past some curious sculptures, abstract noes and musicians.

Sculpture in Alpens.

Out from Alpens, I meet the most serious rain of the day. Of the annoying kind, which does not last long, but still long enough that you spend time changing to your raingear. It begins on my way up into the hills and mountains above Alpens. I venture up into the misty country between the downpours. Fog always hides the views from your eyes, but usually compensates by always bringing a mysterious mood to the surroundings you are located in, my subconscious conjures up gnomes and trolls hidden in the layers of clouds. Even with the outside world obscured to me, it is a good walk up into a wooded ridge. Clouds drifts through the trees, bringing forth memories of earlier walks. I know that there are views here, but now I stare out into a grey eternity, wrapped in by both clouds and clothes.

Foggy ridge on the way to Santa Margarida de Vinyoles after Alpens.

The silhouette of another lonely walker appear in front of me in the mist, and disappears again behind me, I wander along a meandering path with trees on one side and clouds on the other. Above me, I can see the contours of a building emerge from the mist; I have arrived at Santa Margarida de Vinyoles. You are supposed to be able to see far away in the distance from here, but unnecessary to say this do not apply to this day. Instead, the clouds lies dense around the church and I think it is fantastic, although I would have liked to see the real surroundings of this church located so far off the beaten track. They do not make it easy for those who wishes to attend a service in the church.

Santa Margarida de Vinyoles.

Inside the clouds, the route then starts moving downwards again, past a large fortified manor in the tiny hamlet of Sant Marti de Vinyoles (where there is a barbeque going on of all things). A long, but not unpleasant, walk on a road ensues; I pass by a dancing young girl on the way down. The guidebook was advertising that there were no places for lunch between Alpens and Ripoll, but down by another road, I come to a restaurant, El Cremat. I have eaten lunch, but buy myself a quick café con leche. Afterwards, I pick the wrong way and walks for a good while up into a valley before I recognize that I have gone wrong.

Between masias and cultivated farmland on the way to Ripoll.

This detour I may take the full blame of myself, when I turn around I am both irritated that the waymarking has lead me on a wrong track again and that the route does not continue further where I had to turn. I liked the path that I was on. Back again, I have to take back what I uttered when I was frustrated, I had overlooked a red cross marking that the trail was not going in that direction. The correct path further, is not as exciting, but gets better after a while. The most distinct feature next to the trail is the large masias. I wonder how it must be to live up here in these farms, especially in the winter, but maybe they do not live here then. The sun suddenly emerge again towards the end of the walk, the outside world coming for a visit.

A small square in Ripoll.

Ripoll is larger than I had expected, but it does have a population of over 10 000. My first impression of the town is that it is kind of worn and looking somewhat poor. I spend some time trying to locate the hotel containing my room, it was supposed to be situated close to the famous monastery in the town, but near it I cannot find it. When I in the end has found it and completed the necessary shores, it is too late to visit the monastery, Monasteri de Santa Maria de Ripoll. Instead, I go to a small local bar for a beer before I go to a place for dinner. My impression of Ripoll grows bigger during the evening and I find myself enjoying the city, which counts especially for the small squares and the narrow streets in the old town.

Scorpion on the ground in a small square in Ripoll.

I find out that Hostal del Ripollés makes a really good pizza, clearly an in-place, there are a lot of people here. In the evening, I walk through a small square in the city, where something small and scary catches my eye. On the ground, there is a scorpion crawling, a black little rascal. And that on a square where I earlier saw children running around. When I show the picture to the host at the hotel, he only shrugs laughingly on his shoulders, they must be aware of them (I hope). A great day, despite the weather that was anything but great. And a nice evening in Ripoll. A change of plans for tomorrow begins to take shape in my mind, but that I will tell about tomorrow.

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