La Seu d’Urgell – Andorra.
Yet again a beautiful dawn for my last day. Didn’t have great expectations for the quality of today’s walk as it looked hemmed in a narrow valley with a very busy road up to the border with Andorra. Getting out of town was easy even though there didn’t appear to be any waymarks. I was soon on a quiet country lane through farmland. The track soon became grassy and passed a ruined hermitage which still exhibited some lovely stonework.
I had one of the worst experiences of the whole of the GR7 a few hundred metres further, how ironic that it was the last day. Walking past some open barn doors two loose dogs suddenly rushed me. One was an aggressive Boxer and the other a snapping ‘healer’ type. For this mornings leisurely stroll I hadn’t bothered with my walking poles and they were on the back of my sack. I kept backing away from the growling Boxer ignoring the little one’s snaps at my heals. This had no affect and he or she kept coming at me. As I was trying to retreat backwards out of their yard I fell down a 4ft embankment back into trouble, how I stayed on my feet I don’t know but thank heavens I did. The dogs showed no sign of calming and I was relieved when a lady appeared, no doubt alerted by all the barking. Unfortunately she had no control over the dogs at all but the slight diversion allowed me to back further up the track. By now we were all shouting or barking! The Boxer would not retreat but at least I got a safer distance away from the farm and had time to grab a rock which seemed to slow him down, the woman was useless. Having made my escape I calmed down and planned a route well clear of the farm as I could still hear the barking and suspected the dogs would be loose. Not nice.
I came unexpectedly to a small hamlet and then to a large church. Work was being done inside so I was able to gain access. A leaflet explained this was the site of a 9th century monastery, a new church was built in 1040 but closed in 1592. There has obviously been much restoration over the years and it remains an impressive building. The two builders inside were erecting some wobbly, unsecured scaffolding which looked in danger of toppling over every time a new level was added. Time to go.
The track was now by a river in the valley bottom and various water channels connected to a nearby power plant. The sound of flowing water was everywhere. Guess who I bumped into again making their way up to the border…..
The main road had been invisible all this time, partly in a tunnel. However after a grassy track section I emerged onto the busy route at a bridge which I had to cross. Safely over I escaped the highway and took to the old abandoned road. This took me further up the narrow valley to link up with a path on the other side. There were a few views to Andorran hills at the head of the valley but these were limited.
Before long I was back on the road and at the Spanish – Andorra border post, a customs man waved me through so I took a couple of steps into Andorra and then retreated back to Spain, much to his amusement.
The GR7 through Spain has been completed. The 2000k has taken me six years in bite sized pieces each year. I will post a resume of the whole route with my thoughts once settled back home. I am trying to ignore where it goes next through Andorra and across France!
The cafe near the border that I’d hoped to celebrate in was closed so I caught one of the regular buses back to La Seu d’Urgell and by mid afternoon was on an express bus for a 3 hour journey to Barcelona… see next post for pictures.