Today was a short 12k day. We were glad of that after a few long and arduous ones. Now I’m well over 60 I’ve developed a new formula for walking which works well on the continent. In the past I considered a day’s walk with a pack to be between 15 and 20 miles. Keeping to this principle I now happily keep to the 15-20, but now in kilometres! Problem solved without loss of face. Try it.
We had desayuno in the Spanish bar where we were made most welcome and given home made cake with our coffees – delicious. I suspect that English walkers in shorts are not that common here and we got a great send off. Little did they know we would be back!!
Walking down the street we came across a wholesale fruit ‘shop’. Peering in we witnessed the old man of the establishment cracking almonds with some Heath Robinson machine. [you can see why modern mechanisation has taken over] Soon we each had a handful of almonds to nibble on, 5 minutes of his work – I’d swear they were the freshest and tastiest I’ve ever had. We bought ourselves a large bag of clementines for very little and enjoyed them through the day’s walk. Saved the Pieman pilfering them from the wayside.
Eventually, on our way out of town at about 11am we retraced our steps to the bridge where we stopped to consult the map for our continuation. Would you believe it but within 30 seconds our legs and arms were covered this time with mosquitoes – and they bite!! Being close to the river we had to don full waterproofs to protect us from the attacking hoards [Just like Glen Brittle in August]
Lovely walk along the River Ebro and over a col.
From here there were wonderful views down to the orchards and the winding Ebro.
Wasn’t much fun in the heat with ‘anti mosquito’ trousers on. We wandered through old olive and almond groves, not wanting to stop because of being eaten by the dreaded mosquitos. Arrived at the small town of Rasquera. Could not find any obvious accommodation here so we had to head back to Benifallet. We got ourselves to a bus stop for the 15.20 bus, had time for a coffee.
Within minutes buses started to arrive from all directions, we jumped onto each one. At one point we were being driven back to the centre because we were on the wrong bus, thank you, Mr Driver! Eventually, on the third bus we were heading back to Benifallet. Have you noticed how quickly motorised transport takes you back to a place it has taken most of the day to walk from!!
Next thing we were having a beer in the bar we had left in the morning — I think they were pleased to see us as they gave us more extra helpings of homemade tapas. Peering at my arms and legs I realised how badly I’d been bitten, my legs were particularly red and swollen. Local opinion was that I should see a doctor.
On our way back to our hotel we looked into an olive oil mill. This one utilised traditional granite stones to crush the olives and the fabric filters for the product were on display.
Back again at the Hotel Pepo applied creams to bites, hoping they would be better tomorrow. We had a wonderful dinner and an even better breakfast. Our next problem was to get back to Rasquera for our last day’s walk of 20K to Tivissa, the 7am bus had already departed. The helpful owner of Hotel Pepo summoned us a taxi and within minutes we were sat there drinking morning coffee. Leaving Rasquera took us through cultivated flat land on tracks with distant views of another range of hills, they looked too distant to be tackled today.
We just followed the way-marks even when they seemed to be heading in completely the wrong direction. Before we knew it the range of hills was in front of us and a beautiful winding valley took us into their folds.
We ended up climbing to a hidden pass on a well constructed, ancient, zigzagging mule track. This brought us in close proximity to Pena-Roja crag, the obvious half dome in the photo. There is some hard climbing on this cliff.
A col at about 600m gave us our first view of Tivissa our destination for tonight. This had been a beautiful afternoon’s walk.
A winding route took us past the Sant Blai hermitage and on between good looking climbing areas [Will have to check them out for a future visit] to the outskirts of Tivissa with lots of barking dogs. Booked into the only hotel and had difficulty getting a twin, rather than a matrimonial, room. What must we have looked like?
Supper in the bar was enlivened by the Barcelona v Celtic Champions League match on TV – needless to say we were the only ones cheering, quietly, for Celtic. Good game, Celtic unlucky to lose 2-1 with a last-minute goal. Despite the mosquito bites itching I slept like a log.
Nobody at the hotel had a clue about buses out of the town so we opted for a taxi after breakfast to take us down to the coast. A quick train ride brought us to Tarragona with its Roman heritage. More important on a hot sunny day was a trip to the beach for a swim in the Med. Invigorating.
Sunbathing over, a Catalan buffet meal inside us, some dodgy bus trips and we were back at Reus Airport for our flight to Liverpool. Can’t wait to get home to the dark nights and cold weather….. Still itching from those bloody mosquitoes.