Thursday, October 20, 2016

Sant Lleïr de la Vall d'Ora - Gironella

GR1 Sendero Historico day 42.
Distance: 32.4km (1230.2km), time spent: 10:19.
Waymarking: Good most of the way.
Weather: Some clouds in the beginning, then wonderful.

At the end of today’s walk, another larger place is awaiting me, Gironella, which will be the largest place I have been to since Graus, with the exception of Oliana that I just passed through a couple of days ago. In Masia el Pujol, they looked a little odd at me when I said that I planned to go there, they probably regarded it as a long walk. Which it really is as well, the guidebook also splits the walk to Gironella in two parts, but I wish once again to kill two birds with one stone and therefore bypass L’Espunyola. This would provide me with a great first part on a nice walk on a ridge, and a boring second part through a flatter forest- and fields- landscape.

View down towards cliffs and valley bottoms from the ascent after Sant Lleïr de la Vall d'Ora.

The breakfast was large and when I had finished eating it, I ventured out into the clouds, like yesterday they lay and covered the blue sky. To the south, it was also even slightly pitch black. The beginning of the day looked a lot like the beginning of yesterday, up from Sant Llorenç de Morunys. Like then, it was the clouds that dampened most of the mood, but got brighter during the upward journey. The ascent consists of an even part path and an even part untidy gravel track, which winds itself up by the side of the mountain to sudden viewpoints over the cliffs in the valley below. On the way up, it is as if the sky wakes up and tries to shake off the clouds, light are released upon the mountains.

Sunrays through the trees in the woods on the way to Taravil.

When I am finished with the nice climb up, a beautiful walk through a forest awaits me. The sun has now awaken from its morning hibernation and through the trees the leaves and branches filter the sunrays. It is an exquisite illumination, with the natural spotlight shifting location as I go. I emerge out to a meadow that looks almost white in the light from the sun. Up here, the sky is blue and the ground is green, in the valley bottoms below lies the clouds.

View north from Serra dels Tossals.

Up at Taravil, the woods are teeming with mushroom pickers, so many that I wonder if it is the national mushroom day or something like it, I met a few of them yesterday also on the way down from Sant Pere de Graudescales. From Taravil, Sendero Historico bears up into a mountain ridge above, Serra dels Tossals. This time, the trail will keep to the height for a while. The only thing that I whine about a little in the beginning is that you walk on the south side of the ridge, where the view is not as exciting as towards north. In the south, there is a flat area that limits the view some.

Serra dels Tossals.

Nevertheless, the walk is of the kind that makes you light at heart. With touches of the urge to climb to the top of certain cliffs and hills that the route passes by. After a while with the eyes turned towards the south, I get what I want; the trail turns over to the north side to views of mountains and valleys. I try to see if I recognize the route from yesterday, but I am not able to. The path continues across the ridge on an open stone meadow with wrinkled and distorted trees.

Santuari dels Tossals.

GR1 never passes any place that is really exposed, but towards the end of Serra dels Tossals, the trail passes over the only exposed section, at least according to the guidebook and even that describes the passage in a slightly ironic way. Last year, on the Lycian Way, I become slightly disappointed when I came to the so-called difficult descent between Kaş and Liman Agizi. Today I seriously doubted that I would get any problems on this traverse. And I am correct; the exposed part can barely be called exposed. The walk across the ridge is finished when I arrive at the ruins of Santuari dels Tossals. A church high up on the spur of the ridge, below are the clouds crashing into the hillsides like waves.

Barranc de Salt Sallent.

To come down to Capolat feels kind of coming to the same place that you came from (Taravil). Also here there are mushroom pickers at large. It is a short, tranquil and peaceful walk before the route descends from the mountain again. The highlight on the way down is Barranc de Salt Sallent, a waterfall that runs out from a cliff wall. Little water there at this time, but it is cool anyway, and the view is nice. At L’Espunyola you are down at the lowlands again, the last section down was a rather painful walk. Before I have even begun on the next stage, I notice the distinct change between the next section and the previous. I eat lunch at a restaurant in the village, which is actually really stupid; I have forgotten the baguette that I carry with me in my backpack. The bacon and cheese tostada does taste good anyway.

On the path to Avia.

From the very beginning, it is clear that the second part of the trip to Gironella will not be nearly as nice as the first part. To change the surroundings will provide variations, but not always to the better. As now. A lot of walking through woods and cultivated land, which can be nice, but not so very exciting now. The nicest part was when the route passed by a small terraced waterfall where the water flowed down into a small pond. Nice light and a row of trees guided the little river to the waterfall. A little oasis. I come to Avia, which I just passes straight through.

A small oasis on the way.

It does not become any better from Avia, my feet least of all, they are beginning to hurt. Small, quick and painful stabs to the sides of them. Some small chapels pass by, both known and unknown, like Sant Vicenç d’Obiols. For a while, it feels a little like I walk and walk, but without getting any further. A short section next to the river before Gironella is the most exciting part on this side of the walk. A small path, of the forgotten type, going through both natural and unnatural tunnels in the vegetation, underneath a gate made of out something that once was a building. Then the short-lived joy is interrupted by a walk through and worn and dirty industrial area. I walk past something that appears to be apartments, which appears miserably.

On a forgotten path next to the river before Gironella.

Arriving in Gironella, I am tired and my feet hurts, it does not become any better that I take the wrong turn when I look for Hostal 1888, my place for the night. I get to see more of the town, like the church and the height above the rest of the town, but that is not what I foremost wish for now. I spend a long time locating the place, even with the aid of others. And in addition, it takes a while before the hosts arrives and opens up for me, but when I am first is inside and has got a shower and relaxed a little, things are better. I stumble up to a bar to get a beer, where they look funnily at me where I walk in my bath shoes, something I care little about.

In Gironella.

I eat tapas for dinner in a restaurant, which suits me perfectly today. I think maybe I would have experienced Gironella as nicer, if it were not for the fact that I am so tired and have pains in my feet. Great first part, boring second part. It takes its toll, so long hikes as this.

Brief description of the exposed section on this part of the GR1:
The section is about 10 metres long. It starts off with a narrow walk with some cliffs on the left side (if you walk towards L'Espunyola) where the drop is mostly covered by vegetation. It then goes along a path, about half a metre to one meter wide if I remember it correctly, here there is a drop to the right side of it, but the path should have plenty of space so that one doesn't need to walk right next to the drop. It then goes up a short cliffside, requiring some easy scrambling to get up.

The part of the exposed section going next to the cliff at the beginning.

The path going next to a drop.

Section where you have to scramble up a small cliff.

<- Sant Lleïr de la Vall d'OraLluçà ->


  1. Tarjei, I am reading your blog with interest as I intend to walk the GR1 next summer/fall. Could you possibly be a bit more descriptive about the "exposed" section on Oct 20....Do you remember how narrow the path is at that point? Any advice you have about the walk, I would love to have!

    1. Hi Victoria. Sorry for a little late answer. I've been out walking again.

      Don't be too afraid of the 'exposed' section (at least not to rule out walking the GR1, there are ways around it). The section is about 10 metres long. It starts off with a narrow walk with some cliffs next to your left side (if you walk towards L'Espunyola) where the 'drop' is mostly covered by vegetation. It then goes along a path, about half a metre to one meter wide if I remember it correctly, here there is a 'drop' to the side of it, but the path has plenty of space so that you don't need to walk right next to the drop. You then have to scramble up a short cliffside. I will update the blogpost with some images of this section.

      My greatest advice about the walk is to get a GPS track of the whole trail, given the bad waymarking at times.

  2. Thank you so much for your reply and advice. I will continue reading your blog for any other tidbits that would be helpful and just for the pleasure, of course! And I will be on the lookout for the photos.


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