Sue and Martin's Big Adventure
Day 25 - Thursday 19 August 2004 - Stage 20
Barroude to Bielsa
Nice morning going downhill, then a rainy road – 6.25 hours, 17 km, 300m ascent
The sun rose beautifully red against the great wall of Barroude this morning….shepherd’s warning! There were still gales after a windy night. Just as well our plan was for an easy walk down to Bielsa. We arrived in a storm at 2.30, after a nice walk until lunchtime. For the second time in three days we had to spread solid butter onto solid baguettes softened only by the driving rain (and of course the mackerel in mustard sauce). Then the walk along the road to Bielsa was especially horrid when we went through a dark tunnel. At least it wasn’t raining there. Then Sue did a superb job by finding the last available room in Bielsa. Our room for three resembles a laundry but doesn’t smell so nice! But it’s now picture postcard clear outside, and we are hoping for some sun tomorrow.
Diary Entry (by Martin)
The tent withstood the night's buffeting, which continued during breakfast. Opening the tent brought the unexpected view of the wall of Barroude lit deep red by the rising sun. A most impressive sunrise, but it soon passed and was replaced by a grey, overcast day.
We had aimed to be away by 8.30, but were ready to go by 8.15 and climbed quickly to the Port de Barroude (2535 metres) from our camp at 2370 metres.
Looking back to the Wall of Barroude and the Refuge de Barroude
Julie then started the descent to Bielsa whilst Sue and I found suitable places for ablutions. The wind made burning the toilet paper very difficult.
We spotted deer on the port, and izards on the Spanish side. The path descended pleasantly, and the weather held good. A brew up at 2000 metres succeeded after the first pan of water fell over. We had just enough left for Sue and me to enjoy hot brews. Julie doesn't do brew stops.
Soon afterwards we met some Spanish day walkers bumbling about, not sure where they were or where they were going. I asked to see their map so that I could help. They didn't have one. I told them to go back down and get proper equipment. Sue was more polite! And so, we headed on down, finally by a pleasant track through woods with huge flat mushrooms and some chunky yellow mushrooms looking enticingly edible, to the end of the track, which then joins a main road.
At the end of the track was a notice sternly requiring walkers to be properly equipped - that made me feel much better about being rude to the Spaniards.
At 12 noon it was just too early for lunch despite being a pleasant spot. So we headed off down the A138 towards Parzan and Bielsa. It soon started to rain, and waterproofs were donned for the second time today. I swapped my recently donned trainers (used for road walking) back to boots. The rain intensified, but just before Parzan it eased and we stopped for lunch in the rain. For the second time in three days I found myself spreading solid butter onto solid baguettes, in rain, with fish roe and mackerel in mustard sauce to spread on them. Quite tasty actually, and much nicer than the effort on the way to Héas, which was horribly cold and more torrential.
Soon afterwards we splashed our way to a welcomingly dry tunnel. But the footpath here was very narrow and the traffic and fumes were horrid. It got dark and the pace slowed. None of us wanted to trip off the kerb into the path of a juggernaut. Eventually the light reappeared and we emerged into even more torrential rain, finally leaving the main road to negotiate a 'river' road into Bielsa village. Deluge. Julie and I sheltered in the very spacious church porch whilst Sue spent half an hour finding the last room in Bielsa.
And so.... washed and clean we restocked for three days then adjourned to La Tarrazeta for an excellent meal. A late night - after 10 pm. Bielsa - nice little holiday village.
Stats and route (Viewranger):
18 km, 300 metres ascent, 6.25 hours