They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? Well, I am not surprised, especially if like my new found foes they wear bells and try to trample your tent in the middle of the night. I wasn’t sure what was causing the racket at first; the distant clanging like wind chimes soon became louder and louder accompanied by sounds of munching grass. Loud shouts, banging, wolf noises (yes I know) did nothing. Luckily, a half naked Englishman waving a torch around like a demented lighthouse did scare them away.
Water was in short supply on this leg, to the extent that I mopped the moisture from the tent with a neck scarf and squeezed it into my mouth. I wished I remembered to tie a bag around a tree branch. Luckily there was water at next village so I filled up here and also bought a spare plastic bottle. I was grateful for bringing the walking pole when I was chased by three angry dogs in the village.
Most people in this area seem to be speaking Basque and prefer Spanish or English to French (which I speak competently). It’s not only the panoramas that make the view beautiful. I am passing more and more wild flowers growing in abundance including purple orchids. I imagined the Victorian botanists collecting these specimens of alpine plants that we all take for granted now in garden centres. Here they grow in abundance – it’s magnificent.
Sadly there was no accommodation in Larun as one hotel was shut for repairs and the owner of the other was in hospital, so I spent another night in the wild on the ridge above town.
My route today was a long section of walking on Tarmac but also through some beautiful misty woods. The days often start with mist in the morning and then blazing sun by elevenses, and the clouds come back in the afternoon.
I had to remove a tick from my leg after pushing through bracken but I was relieved there were no signs it had started to bite or of infection.Neolithic stone circles and burial mounds added interest to yet more hills.
I have happened across Neolithic stone circles and burial mounds which added interest to yet more hills today.
The HRP in places uses roads, tracks and small footpaths but is often just a vague concept route which is impossible to follow without a map or GPS. Today it crossed the very well marked French section of the pilgrim’s Camino, although I was heading in the opposite direction. As a result I passed many clean and fresh smelling pilgrims (well, much fresher than me). It was a little like the Canterbury Tales with pilgrims of all ages, sizes and groupings all heading in the same direction. I tried to imagine each of their stories and reasons for Camino as I passed them all. There is even a plaque to one Francis Barthe who sadly died on the Camino.
At the top of the hill was a solar and wind-powered SOS phone, although in my current state water would have been more useful. I pressed on.
After passing a Spanish family who stopped their car to chat and advise me to visit the nearby caves, I soon came to a shepherd’s hut which made a pleasant lavender scented spot to spend the night.