Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Loarre - Bolea

GR1 Sendero Historico day 26.
Distance: 19.0km (753.9km), time spent: 5:35.
Waymarking: Missing for GR1, but good for El Camino Natural de la Comarca de Hoya de Huesca.
Weather: Nice.

The short walk of today did not count for more than just an apropos, it did not provide the greatest outbursts of joy, but an outbreak from the trail did just that. Afterwards, I was left with a question why the trail goes where it goes. There is supposed to be a marked path from Castillo de Loarre to Ermita Virgen de la Peña. Without knowing how well the condition of that path is, it sounds like a better alternative than both the GR1 and the El Camino Natural de la Comarca de Hoya de Huesca (El Camino), which both stays below.

Castillo de Loarre guarding above the trail.

After a somewhat late start of the day and a large and good breakfast at Hospederia de Loarre, I was ready to get on my feet again. The weather turned out to be nice, contrary to what I had expected; the recurring themes in the last days had been overcast in the morning. From Loarre, I had planned to follow the GR1 and not El Camino to Bolea, but that plan quickly turned out to lead me to confusing ways. The waymarking quickly disappeared after I had crossed the road going up to the castle, and then it was just to walk crestfallen past sculptures and playground equipment formed as dragons up to where El Camino went.

The church dedicated to St. Stephen in Aniés, the bell tower seemed oddly outsized compared to the rest of the building.

If nothing else, it brought me closer to Castillo de Loarre, which now lay above me with only almond trees between its guarding eyes and me. Since it did not became a visit to the castle today, nothing became of my plan to walk the higher traverse to the small chapel in the cliffs and from there down to Aniés. The most striking thing with the village is the bell tower of the church, which looks far too outsized compared to the rest of the church. In Aniés, I am so fortunate to find a bar and restaurant that lets me leave my backpack behind while I go visit Ermita Virgen de la Peña.

Birds of prey circles around the cliffs housing Ermita Virgen de la Peña, you arrive at the chapel from above.

Almost embedded in the cliffs above the village, we find a small chapel and cloister, Ermita Virgen de la Peña. It is a spectacular location. From its elevated location on the south side of Sierra Caballera, it has as Castillo de Loarre, a formidable view of Hoya de Huesca, but it is not the view that is the most spectacular about the place. The way you arrive at the chapel tells us everything about that.

Location of the Ermita Virgen de la Peña up in the cliffs.

Large vultures flies above me and around the cliffs when I stand below the chapel and look up, wondering where the entrance is. To get there however, the path takes an altogether different way; you go around and then steeply up a staircase almost carved into the cliffs and then arrive at the chapel from above. All the time with great views south. Unfortunately, it is only open in the weekends, the doors are locked and closed. Fortunately, you can stand above and look down upon the buildings that lies squeezed into the cliffs, but I would love to see what it looked like inside the doors.

Up to the chapel you walk on this staircase almost carved into the rock, with wonderful views of Hoya de Huesca.

There are two houses at the place, where it is the roofs that I see the most of, the chapel itself and Casa del Santero. The latter is almost entirely embedded in the cliff. I get an urge to try to climb down, but I resist the temptation, you will get a great experience here even if the doors are closed.

Casa del Santero that is almost entirely embedded into the cliff, below Aniés and Hoya de Huesca. Ermita Virgen de la Peña lies underneath the cliff in front of my feet.

I make another attempt to follow the GR1 from Aniés to Bolea, but the trail is again making some antics that makes it difficult to follow it. El Camino holds a steady course however, with GR1 occasionally turning up. The first impression of Bolea is not the greatest, looking worn, but Casa Ruffino seems like a very nice place and almost like the centre of life in the township.

Ermita Virgen de la Peña seen from above.

I have arrived at the destination for today, but it is not the time for shower yet. In the cliffs above Bolea there is another chapel, Ermita de San Cristóbal, and after having lunch I set out on another visit to a chapel in a cliff. From Ermita Virgen de la Peña there is a path to this chapel as well, so again I wonder why the GR1 from Loarre does not go directly past Castillo de Loarre, Ermita Virgen de la Peña and then Ermita de San Cristóbal before Bolea.

Old fortresses guarding in the horizon. Furthest back we can see Torre de Marcuello and to the right, Castillo de Loarre.

Back in Bolea, the sunset it on its way. Bolea lies between two hills and I climb up on top of one of them to get to see the sunset. Right next to the top is also La Colegiata de Bolea, a church built in the 1930's and now a national monument. At the top, there is a viewing point, Mirador del Fosal Viejo, and it is a perfect place to watch a landscape bath in a red light. In the warm colours from the sunset the houses of Bolea looks more alive again.

La Colegiata de Bolea, a national monument.

In Casa Ruffino there is still life. The place also offer a great dinner, pasta w/chees and meat, cutlets with patatas, caramel pudding, a lot of red wine and mineral water that tastes like lemon soda. I miss staying the night in my tent, but I also enjoy sitting like a fly on the wall and just observe the life in other places, experience other cultures and lifestyles. Two amazing chapels in cliffs and a beautiful sunset made the day today.

Sunset from Bolea.

<- Castillo de LoarreErmita de San Cristóbal ->

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