Monday, October 16, 2017

Spanish Pyrenees Walk 6: El Sallent to Besalú

parents in El Salient

The morning dawned overcast and cool. Our first day with weather anything other than clear and warm. We understand that this part of Spain is experiencing something of a heat wave. Average temperatures should be considerably cooler than we have been feeling. Today I doubt it really got much above 70F until the sun eventually did break through the overcast and the clouds moved away. But at the outset of our walk things were much cooler at least compared to what we had seen. 

Our taxi dropped us off just outside the village of El Sallent where we joined the GR2, walked past a house with what seemed to be an exuberant and maybe dangerous dog before joining a paved road that we would follow for several kilometers to the hamlet of El Torn. The road wound through farmland but was pretty uninteresting. El Torn is quite tiny though large enough to have a church and civic center. But beyond the couple of tiny dogs we saw no people in obvious evidence. We continued on more gravel roads which were rather uninteresting.

In time we joined a mountain path that took us up and over hills that were full of scrub forest and briars and brambles. We met a fellow, with his two dogs, doing some  pruning. He has lots of work to do. The trail continued to be rather uninteresting. The forest was scrub bushes and small trees with little distinctive character like the dark woods we climbed through on walk 5.

It wasn’t a hard walk just unexciting. The rocky dry streambed we had lunch at was a nice place. But after that we returned to a winding gravel road that would eventually take us past the church of St. Fruitos which is a couple kilometers outside of Besalú. More road walking and then narrow woods trail and then road into town. Besalú is certainly the high point of the walk. By now the sun was out and it had warmed well into the 70s and we found hundreds of cars and camper vans parked outside of town. It’s clearly a town with a thriving tourist industry.  Most visitors probably from Barcelona about 140 km away. 

This is another distinctive hotel just outside the town walls and on the east side of the Fluvia River and is a little worn but nice enough. We joined the throngs of people strolling through the town to explore a bit. The L-shaped bridge with portcullis is certainly a standout feature. We couldn’t really see the old Mikva which is one of 2 or 3 still in this part of Spain (though not used I think). Jews that once thrived in the town were forced out in the 15th century in just a couple of decades.  We also saw a bit of an artisan market. Besalú has a population of some 2,000 people but it is clear that tourists come to visit though we aren’t quite sure why as the town isn’t near the sea or mountains. 
River Fluvia in Besalu

evening on the Besalu bridge

A not terribly exciting walk but a very nice town.

Distance:  14.4km
Ascent: 240m
Descent: 429m
Total time: 6:10
Break Time (not moving): 58 minutes (bit surprised by that amount).

1. Mom and Dad in El Sallent.

2. After dinner at the restauraunt the hotel recommended where we had a pretty good meal in a very elegant setting we walked back across the L-shaped bridge which is wonderfully lit at night.

3. Looking east from the Jewish quarter towards the river Fluvia and the 13th-century bridge. 

4. The bridge over the Fluvia not long after sunrise the following morning.

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