Days 122 & 123 – The Stuff That Legends Are Made Of & The Long and Winding Road

Tuesday 13th & Wednesday 14th November

These days Siurana is a popular tourist village on top of a 737m escarpment in the municipality of the Cornudella de Montsant, Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain.

Siurana. More than just a climbing venue

Siurana is also legendary. For 2 reasons:

1. In the autumn and winter of every year it is inundated with climbers from across the globe. There is some seriously hard climbing to be done here (there’s also some easy stuff that Mrs P and I can play on)

Let’s play, ‘Spot the climbers’

2. A Saracen Queen once rode her horse off the cliffs (and not even by mistake).

The legendary Saracen queen Abd al-Azia

Well, today (Tuesday 13th November) is our last day here and we have decided to walk rather than climb. We have never really seen Siurana town or the surrounding countryside, just the climbing.

It is therefore, time to check out the legend

Back in the day (the day being 1153 – 1154) high upon a colossal cliff, dominating two rivers stood Siurana Castle. The last Muslim enclave in Catalonia. When Christian Knights arrived at the gates the Saracen Queen, Abd al-Axia, rather than be taken prisoner, tied a blindfold round her horse’s eyes and rode off the cliff (apparently this is something many Catholics have considered doing in order to avoid attending Sunday mass – Am I going to Hell for that one?)

After that the castle was used, mostly as a prison, until the 13th Century when Felipe IV ordered its destruction following a Catalan revolt.

The town allows only local vehicles and even they avoid entering the town itself, instead leaving their cars at the edge of town and walking in.

My favourite/the only coffee shop in town

The town is surrounded on 3 sides by vertical cliffs which makes for some spectacular views.

Mrs P contemplates Queen Abd al-Axia’s final view
The streets of Siurana. Not a badly parked car in sight
Mr P, unable to ride a horse, simply gurns at the camera in defiance
One of many cats sent to distract Mrs P
Beware of the Pantomime Cows

So, having done the legend bit, the town bit and even the coffee bit, we head off for the walk around the cliffs below the town bit. First we have to get down to the valley floor which involves some lovely, airy paths…

…and takes us past some of the climbing sectors…

Will he make it?

Where some of the climbers play to the camera by, yes, you guessed it, falling off…

No

His first words on coming to a halt about 6 metres down where, “Another week and that will be easy.” It begs the question, which will be easy, the climb or falling? He seemed to have the falling bit down to an art form, no screaming or anything, so we can only assume he means the climb.

About 200 metres below the town the beautiful clear Siurana River runs towards the modern day reservoir.

The crystal clear waters of the Siurana River.

The limestone cliffs that support the town of Siurana are themselves supported by a huge band of sandstone. A very stark and unusual contrast.

Life on Mars

A great little walk. Just a few hours. Then back to our campsite ready for the remainder of the long drive North in the morning.

Wednesday 14th of November we drove just over 420 km (260 miles) to the North coast of Spain in readiness to catch our ferry home on Saturday. It was a bit of a melancholy drive, truth be told.

Mrs P trying to work out how to do the washing up without actually moving
Our mascots, Jean (as in jean Claude Not Jean Jeannie) and… erm… funny cartoon van

Still. Two more days of fun to be had. I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

ASIDE: There was a lovely house for sale in Siurana. Very tempting. Rent it in the summer while travelling in Gandalf. Live in it in the Autumn and winter and get some good climbing done. What do you think?