Monday, October 17, 2016

Massanés - Cambrils

GR1 Sendero Historico day 39.
Distance: 40.6km (1146.2km), time spent: 10:50.
Waymarking: Good, but difficult out of Oliana.
Weather: Overcast, gloomy, atmospheric. Then quite magical.

Today I felt invigorated and rejuvenated, contrary to how I have felt in the last days. I have then felt cumbered down and tired. I surpassed myself today. The plan for today was ready, go to Oliana and eat there, for then to continue walking some more and find a place to camp. I had the tiny chapel of Ermita de Sant Just in my mind. The reason was simple, in the guidebook the walk to Sant Llorenç de Morunys is estimated to take about three days, but by eating into the next stage from Oliana to Cambrils, I could make it in two. If not, one of the days between would probably feel too short.

Looking up above the woods towards Pallerols, which you can see the top of appear above the trees.

The hosts at Masia Massanés have returned in the morning when I wake up, I have slept well. The breakfast is like the dinner, large and good, but this time I do not have to prepare it myself. From Massanés the trail continues downwards and moves from an empty landscape to a drowsy scenery, some more places and farms appear, but the largest are just for small hamlets to count. The drowsy landscape makes the walk a relaxed affair. The route enters beneath a cover of trees and leaves, a forested undulating blanket, gradually upwards. The top of a small hamlet appearing up from the foliage, Pallerols, behind me in the pale and grey horizon, the undulating disk of Montsec de Rùbies vaguely visible.

Looking back above Pallerols, in the background is Montsec de Rùbies still visible.

Up at Pallerols, the clouds are threatening with rain, there has been some drops hanging in the air already. The scenery below lies heavily behind. Pallerols does not consists of many houses, but the buildings are large and massive, almost merged together with the church dedicated to San Esteban. The route has now definitely begun climbing higher up, from the hamlet it continues upwards on a gravel track. In the guidebook, the trail from here is described as tedious, but in my rejuvenated form it feels far from it. I can make long and good strides, to an increasing view for each step.

The walk beneath and around Tossal de Sant Marc is an atmospheric experience, inflicted upon me by the weather. Empty windows guards above the route, forgotten roofs hides between the trees. In the horizon to the south, there are some roads to see, some dammed lakes, but few settlements. The scenery has changed a good deal since I began walking for almost forty days ago, but there is one thing that has not changed, I am still walking alone. Like the scenery around me. An open heath that I enjoy so much walking through, with a route that meanders alongside the mountainsides. When I have walked around the mountain, more and larger places are getting visible, I come down to the village of Peramola, through a lowered and pleasant park.

Path below Tossal de Sant Marc, before the descent to Peramola.

Suddenly there were life, children’s laughter and people around me, in what looks like a nice village. I like the many appearances of water in the village, from the public laundry to something that resembles a canal. Finding the route out of Peramola is however a little bit troublesome, but I appear on the correct way out in the end, to a less interesting walk to Oliana. The sight of the cliffs to the north of me does provide some consolidation on the walk through flat acres however. I have really felt in a better shape today, the kilometres has passed quickly away, the clock is about half past two when I arrive in Oliana. A small town that is stretched out along a busy road, from the quiet times on the trail in the last days, there is a lot of sound to consume.

In Peramola, houses and the bell tower reflected in a canal running through the village.

I feel so revitalized that I change my goal of the day, I decide to try going all the way to Cambrils. So I spend little time sightseeing in Oliana, and honestly enough, the small town does not look that exciting as well. Maybe it would have appeared more charming if the road had been placed outside of it and not noisily through it. I do, however, spend some time eating. A large meal in the first restaurant I walk past, to keep up the energy level for the next 14km. It is not that far a distance to Cambrils from Oliana, but it is mostly climbing all the way. Locating the way from Oliana was not entirely trivial.

Ermita de Sant Just, situated on the top of a ridge.

The weather has begun to diminish when I move up from Oliana; it is as layers upon layers are peeled away from the clouds, without entirely getting through to the blue core behind. A worn sign wishing you welcome to Municipal d’Oden looks more like it is trying to tell you that you are entering a more lonesome area. To Cambrils, the GR1 enters a ridge that rises upwards towards the cliffs to the north. Another aspect when you feel that you have regained your energy is that you get more time to appreciate your surroundings, not lose sight of why you are doing this because you go around having pains. With the exception of the few mentioned places with poor waymarking, this has also been a day where I could let go of the thoughts in my mind about finding the way, focus my attention towards other things and the joy of walking is present to a greater extent. To feel unsure if I am on the correct way and being tired has been the two biggest problems so far on this walk through the more remote areas of Spain.

View from the ridge above Ermita de Sant Just.

Ermita de Sant Just is situated out on the edge of the ridge; I could already see the tiny chapel when I was on the way down to Peramola, which should indicate that the views are good. The door to the chapel is as expected locked, but you can look inside through a small fence in the door, you quickly understand why the door is locked. Inside, it is worn and dilapidated. From Sant Just, the route follows the ridge upwards, on one side you can still look down towards several places, like Oliana and Peramola further away, but on the other side it is empty and lonely. One or two farms. I wander further alone in between, but pass by an elderly couple with their campervan on a bumpy forest track I have to cross; the ascent up alongside the ridge is completely to my taste.

A monument over Tour de France that passed by here in 2010, in the background, you can see the mountains that GR1 goes below later on.

The day turns to late afternoon and evening when I arrive up at a road, where a large cyclist in metal passes by. Tour de France went by in 2010. The sky has begun to assume a reddish hue and the clouds does not have that tight grip around each other anymore. Up through the woods before the road, it was already indications of a magical sky, but up at the viewpoint above the cyclist, Mirador de Serra Seca, it is a heavenly view. Below, a dramatic valley unfolds between two lines of cliffs, Serra dels Obacs and Serra de les Canals. If you follow the line of cliffs, you look straight towards Montsec de Rùbies in the horizon. In the northern cliffs, there are some peculiar rock formations known as Les Encantades.

A magical view from Pla de les Guardies in the afternoon, Montsec de Rùbies still visible in the background when the sun is trying to burn through the clouds.

Further upwards, the trail follows the top of some dome shaped cliffs called Pla de les Guardies. It is slow going, I run out breath, not because I feel out of energy and gets breathless, but because the views takes my breath away. In the sky, the sun is about to burn itself through the layers of clouds. I am whistling satisfied by my decision to walk all the way to Cambrils, I was lucky in that way. I am so happy that I walk straight past where the path takes off steeply down towards Cambrils, and continue for a short walk in the wrong direction on a path that goes up to the top of el Pedró. It has begun to darken when I stand and look down upon Cambrils from the ruins of the castle above, Castell de Cambrils.

View from Pla de les Guardies back towards where the route came from.

When darkness has descended and I am down at the bottom of the valley, I feel tired. Now I feel the forty kilometres in my legs. And to get across the valley to where Bar Fonda Casanova is, at first I does not locate the path, it looks like I have to walk around the valley on a road, but after some guesswork in the dark I manage to find the small path across. I enter into the light of the bar almost overjoyed. Outside, it is now pitch black. I share the guest list with another person, a cyclist.

Castell de Cambrils.

It has been an altogether wonderful day, but truth be told, I would have experienced the magical sky and views if I had camped somewhere on the ridge on the way to Cambrils also. To take longer bite of the route does however feel good. And Bar Fonda Casanova are delivering the goods. They have just one type of beer here, but that goes a long way now. I does not do much in the evening but relaxing and having a larger dinner. Tomorrow day 40 of my walk awaits me, I wonder if the long walk of today has made any mark.

<- MassanèsSant Llorenç de Morunys ->

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