Friday 26th & Saturday 27th October 2018
Friday morning we woke all set to go off climbing again but, as I explained yesterday, this campsite, far from the tourist factories on the coast, far from the great whites, is home to a different breed of over-winterer (did I just make a word up?).
As we idly munched on our muesli and contemplated the sunny day ahead we are visited by a chap from England who is staying here till March. He and his wife are the vanguard of a group of like minded folk who spend the winter here. Let’s stick with convention and call him Mr S.
Mr S says (I do hope he will forgive me for paraphrasing): “Would you like to join me for a walk?”
Mr P: Oh, yes please. Where’re we going?
Mr S goes on to explain a 27km circuit taking in a visit to some donkeys (Mrs P is immediately sold on the idea), a look down a big hole, a visit to a Refugio (refuge/hut/elaborate garden shed. Call it what you will) and a scramble down a gorge.
He then says: “How fast do you walk?”
Mr P: “Eh?”
Mr S: “How fit are you?”
Mr P (thinking, ‘This man is 12 years older than me!’) stifles a derisive laugh and says; “Well, we just spent 3 months in the Alps.”
“Good.” Says Mr S, “See you at 10.”
Now Mr S is a sexagenarian (late sexagenarian at that. Oh, ok, he’s 67. But don’t tell him I told you), dynamo powered, (like the Duracell Bunny), speed demon. He certainly isn’t powered in the conventional way. You know, food, water, that kind of thing. In 7.5 hrs I think I saw him eat 2 fig biscuits and drink a thimble full of water. Mrs P and I can’t go more than 3 hours without recourse to numerous snacks, a proper lounge by the trail lunch and, of course, something sweet to take the taste away.
We set off at a rate of knots little known in our stop every few minutes to take a photo, change layers, point at things, answer a call of nature, world.
Along the way we whiz past some great views and visit a few interesting sights like a donkey sanctuary…
I know, it’s a goat but, in my defence, he was way more photogenic than the donkeys.
The sinkhole apparently leads to a short series of squeeze tunnels and then into a huge underground cavern. The above link has some great photos.
After the first ascent I develop a ploy to slow Mr S down, or at least arrange it so I don’t have to speak and walk at the same time. At the beginning of each climb I ask him questions like, ‘précis your last 6 holidays’ and ‘Name your 100 favourite films. In alphabetical order’.
Our journey along the Barranc de L’Infern was spectacular and we got in some great scrambling and general messing around.
All in all the hike was 27k (16.2 miles), over 7 hours, with 1,457 metres (4,781 feet) of ascent and descent and all done at an average pace of 600 kph (373 mph). It was a great walk, a great day and great company. We cannot thank Mr S enough for dragging us along in his wake. All hail!
Saturday 27th and I was overjoyed to be visited by Mr S who popped by to tell us that his legs ached after our outing. Result!
We use the inclement weather (temperatures dropped by 10 degrees overnight and there are rain showers all day) as an excuse to relax for the whole day. We visit the coffee shop, the bakery, clean Gandalf and watch a film.
The previous and following photos are the Gandalf version of one of those before and after shots where the before shot shows an overweight, unsmiling, badly lit, unattractively posed person and the after shot shows exactly the same only they are better lit, smiling and have been allowed to wear underwear appropriate to their stature.
GRATUITOUS ADVERT: Use GLEAMO cleaning fluid for that sun shining through the window look!
Yes, you heard right by the way. We watch a film. Some DVDs have been left behind in the communal area of the campsite. The place where paperback books go to die. We fire up the laptop and watch our first film, tv or anything of that ilk for more than 3 months. Feels weird. The film is called Wakefield. A dark drama. Mrs P and I can recommend it.
Clocks go back tonight. Extra hour in bed. Tomorrow we drive South. Heading for warmer climes and climbs.