Day 4 | Canfranc Station to Villanua
It wasn’t raining when we woke up. We never really prepared for the morning either but we did have a plan. We got up before 08:00 am and we wanted to be gone before 09:00… we made it too! The weather forecast today was still kind of miserable and last night we made a plan… lets skip a couple of stages and move ahead to Spain. The weather in Spain is much better. We’ll come back to catch up on the skipped stages in a few days when the weather improves; we really really want to walk from Urdos to Somport and then from Somport to Canfranc Station… and we need good weather to do that.
We had an appointment before we started at the bakers in Bedous. A couple days ago he promised me a gluten free freshly baked bread. We arrived at the allotted time but he told us it wasn’t baked yet. But he did offer Gerry a french Brioche… so no bread for me but cake for his nibs! It seemed rather appropriate given today is the 14 July and a fete national in France (to commemorate the storming of the Bastille and the start of the French Revolution). So Gerry had brioche and I had to return at 17:00 to collect my bread.
Onwards we drove to the Somport Pass and as has been the norm over the last few days the rain came down. And as with other days Sarrance was worse… Gerry called it the Okehampton on the Pyrenees Atlantique (it rains more in Okehampton than the rest of Devon too 😀 ) We drove by two pilgrims today, again both walking along the hard shoulder of the main road. They looked wet and cold and we felt for them. At least we have the luxury of skipping ahead to make the most of the sunshine. The roads were quiet and we were soon back at the Somport tunnel. We left France in the grey and the rain and we drove out into Spain into blue skies and sunshine. Indeed we could see the cloud hanging there all day!
We had hoped to find a parking spot near the Embalse but instead we found a spot just after it beside the Fusilier Tower. We were surprised to learn that the tower was only built in 1876; we were expecting them to be much older. We had a little wander around the tower before heading off to find the camino. It was blue blue sky and we could see the cloud cover still hanging over Somport but it was cold. We crossed the road and picked up the arrows at the foot of the Embalse. Walking along we were again wowed by the wild flowers that lined the path, it reminded us of the Picos last year as we walked over Fuenta De and the perfume again was sweet and strong. We made slow progress and we oohed and ahhed at the flowers and the river below and the cliffs above us. The sun shone, the air was cool and it felt good to be walking. Our plan today was to walk to Canfranc, stop there for lunch and then onwards to Villanua… and back. We made good time in the sunshine and rambled down into Canfranc to find families with children spilling out onto the streets and small car parks spilling over with day walkers… and a village bar! Gerry enjoyed his first cafe con leche and I opted for a fizzy water.
I ate chocolate last night (as you know) but I’ll let you into a secret… I shouldn’t eat chocolate. So I was paying for it today and water was probably the best option for me! We resisted the temptation to order tapas and instead once we’ve finished our drink, meandered along by the river and discovered mediaeval ruins and an old village church and a good spot for our picnic.
Once we eaten our fill it was tine to head back to the trail. Leaving the village we passed another relic from the medieval golden age of pilgrimage before stumbling upon the biggest flock of sheep I’ve ever seen. They were enjoying a rest beside the river…. in the river… on the banks… on the path… there were so many sheep! They were totally disinterested in a couple of pilgrims. They were huddled together eating grass or just chillin’ in the river. We were so enthralled by the sheep we failed to notice the glorious bridge we were crossing… thankfully on the return walk we spotted it!
Onwards we walked and we found ourselves jumping from tree shade to tree shade as the sun grew warmer… who’d have thought a few days ago we’d be looking for shade! What a difference a day makes…
The path was stony underfoot today. We walked along the trail dodging stones and crossing sections were there had clearly been landslides where rocks had tumbled down the cliffs and onto the paths. Among the tumbled piles of rocks we cooed at the clouds of pink flowers… nature is just a wonderful thing! Gerry said that today’s song should be Eye of the Tiger… why I asked? Because of course it’s so rocky! Duh! We walked and joked and admired the views and loved the moment and the walk… and then the spell was broken. A stone moved underfoot. A little stumble. A little twist of an ankle. Just a small movement. But it was enough for Gerry to cry out and grab me. He fell onto the bank and sat. We had a drink and he thought it would be ok. We carried on walking and said he was fine. It was good for a little while but every now and then his foot twisted again on one of the rocks and he felt a fresh twinge of pain.
We carried on. The trail disappeared under the motorway. The bridge looked so low we weren’t sure we’d fit. Thankful we did! And we could also climb back up the other side. We realised that the river had disappeared from view and we’d climbed up higher so we were walking along the top of a gorge. It was glorious and below us we could see the river and in the distance we knew was Villanua. But Gerry was limping and it was clear that we should stop. We’d come a long way and carrying on would be fool hardy, not least because my fitbit told me we’d walked 9km… and of course we had to walk back.
We turned around and made tracks back. Gerry said his foot felt better going uphill and not down. We slowed our pace and took it steady. He said it felt easier but I could tell he was still limping a little. Onwards and onwards we walked, loving the views and the cool cool breeze. We could still see the cloud hanging over Somport but we had blue blue skies. When we reached the bridge the sheep were still there. We lingered watching them… so many sheep! Before dragging ourselves away and back on the trail. Back to Canfranc and onwards back to our car.
We had a cup of tea. Everything is always better with tea. And… after my mini poll about salted banana… I won and Gerry had to sample the delights of my invention. He’s a creature of habit and trying to change his mind is like trying to turn the titanic… but I made a mini sandwich of salted crisps and a slice of banana. I know he wanted to say yuck… but instead he had to agree… it wasn’t all that bad! HAHA! He’s a convert! He wasn’t such a fan of the crisp bit… but he’s sold on the idea of salted banana… when we’re at home he wants to try some salted banana ice-cream! Go Gerry!
Except Gerry can’t go. We drove home, collecting my loaf en-route. But when we arrived Gerry could hardly hobble back to the apartment. We got in and elevated his foot, applied ibroprufen gel, took some ibroprufen and applied ice. Nothing is broken. We’re sure of that. But it’s a bit swollen and bruised. There will be no walking tomorrow for his nibs. We’re moving home tomorrow and leaving our fabulous base in Oloron and moving into a little house the other side of Jaca. I might meander alone along the trail and Gerry will be the back-up vehicle. We’ll see how it goes for a few days but until he’s better I’ve lost my walking buddy… which makes me a little sad.
He had chocolate when he got home as he’d walked far enough… I also had a little because I was sad… I’ll pay for that tomorrow… but hey… tomorrow is another day!