As we approached the Pyrénées, we drove through increasingly remote areas, with ancient towns and villages perched impossibly on crags and ridgesAmazingly the roads were still 2 lanes and with a good surface. The scenery was lovely, and we stopped at the charming town of Ainsa for supplies. Tuesday is market day, and we bought some very fresh and tasty fruit and veg, as well as local sheep’s cheese. The supermarket had a novel way of selling wine… Waitrose, take note! Then we climbed the hill to the charming old down, which dates from the 11th century. The doorways were particularly striking as many still had an original oak arched door. At the top of the town was a wonderfully simple stone church, with a very irregularly shaped cloister to fit the available shape of the hilltop.
We then climbed the tower for panoramic views all around. We were at the level of the bells, and rather hoped they didn’t chime while we were there!
Next we drove up the valley. It went up a gorgeous gorge(!) but eventually the road got twister and narrower so we decided to turn back. High above us was the striking sight of Griffon vultures circling on the thermal air currents.
After a picnic in a very scenic spot, we drove on towards the Ordesa National park. En route we parked in a viewpoint and walked along the old road down towards the river. It was so peaceful, with dramatic views at every turn.
Then we drove on to Thorla and camped at Rio Ara campsite which is excellent at just 15 euros per night. Finally we climbed up the valley to visit the old town of Thorla. Very pretty again, but with a really Alpine feel…including geraniums in window boxes and the Hotel Eidelweiss!!
Tomorrow we must start early as we are planning a walk in the National Park.
September 9th 2015
Up early….and as we are camped at 3,414 feet above sea level it is just 6 degrees here this morning. Layers will be required as it should get up to 26 degrees by the afternoon!
We head for town to catch the bus… the only way to get into the Ordesa National Park. Lots of very keen hikers all planning routes of varying length and precariousness!
Our route was to follow the river up for a few miles to see some rather dramatic waterfalls. It was a wonderful walk. We climbed up to nearly 5000 feet, but the Pyrénées make a sheer wall in places, rising to over 9000 feet around us.
We also saw a few new birds, including a really pretty, and hard to find, wallcreeper.
As a reward for the early start and our walking exertions, we had booked a table for a late lunch at El Duende in Thorla. It was recommended to us as serving excellent local cuisine.
Wow, what a meal.
Olives and local meats as nibbles
2 glasses of wine
Mineral water and bread
All superb. How much? £17 per person!!! Unbelievable.
We dragged our rather full selves back to Boris and decided to drive on to the next valley, of the River Tena, to look for birds of prey. We were rewarded with more stunning views, plus sightings of red kite and Booted Eagle.
From this point, the day took a nose dive. We decided to continue the drive east towards Pamplona. This is well off the main tourist trail. We had got some places in mind for overnight stops, but on arrival they had disappeared. One location was now under a mountain of aggregate where a new motorway is being built. The excavations for the motorway are immense and are making a real scar across the landscape. We drove on, and as it started to get dark we were despairing of finding a place. Eventually I located a site in Lumbier, a place where we had earned a possible walk, so we headed there. There are only a few other people here but it is peaceful and we can stop for the night!