Formed in a tectonic depression and fed by several springs, L’Estany de Banyoles (The Lake of Banyoles) at 11.42sq.km., with a depth of 62.4m. and a circumference of 7km, is the largest natural lake in Catalunya. Home of the rowing events in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, it still hosts an annual triathlon and other national and regional events. The lake is zoned and all sorts of watersports take place with rowing training on the lake occurring most days except Sundays when the “grockles” appear to take over.
The backdrop is spectacular, the lake being completely encircled by mountains of the not very high variety with the Pyrenees peeking over the tops. (LWD and I will be tacking a fairly low peak sometime later this week.)
Training on the rowing course
The Pyrenees peeking …
Dotted along the eastern and southern lakeshores are over 20 pesqueres, fishing huts, which range from very simple single rooms with a tiny jetty to elaborate houses with a large dock. No two are the same.
We’re here for at least the next 9 days, so lots more exploring to do and explanations for the unexpectedly long stay later.
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Breathtaking views, medieval villages, forested volcanos, basalt rock – the photographs took themselves …
Who wouldn’t pull over to get these views?
Medieval village built on an outcrop of basalt.
St Joan les Fonts
Three lava flows lie on top of one another here – the oldest dated to around 700,000 years ago, the next at 170,000 years and the last at 130,000. Given the lengths of time between each eruption – how can they say the volcano is definitely extinct?
St Joan des Abbdesses
I was a little caught out by the nighttime temperatures here – but then realised the altitude was 786 metres; the heating got switched on and we left after just the one night!
The medieval village here is separate from it’s modern counterpart, something I really appreciated.
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The first town as one enters the Garroxta, Besalú’s history goes back to the ubiquitous Romans but it’s better known for its medieval buildings and bridge over the R Fluvia. The current inhabitants are proudly and fiercely Catalan.
Protest against the imprisonment of Catalonian separatist politicians
Some parts of the bridge date back to the C11th
It’s a good place to wander
I’m now heading into the area of 30 (hopefully) extinct volcanos in the Garrotxa natural park …
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My first impressions of Roses were that it was a little disappointing and I have to admit that I’ve seen many places that are cuter, more picturesque, less concrete touristy and to be frank, just plain better. But there really is something about this place that has got to me. Some of that is undoubtedly the convivial company, I’ve new pals in John, Iris and Graham. And then there is Sue; Sue is one of my regular readers and, bless her, followed my route from Mirepoix, via Argeles to Roses just to come spend a couple of nights here and meet me. She even took the twisty windy route. How fabulous is that? I’ve got a fan … (or a stalker!!) Safe journey home Sue, see you in Yorkshire!
I think one of Roses (pronounced Rosas locally) charms is that it remains a working fishing port and town; it therefore has a heart, unlike Argeles Plage which is pure tourist spot/marina. Roses has a lot of history; its first invaders, long after the Stone Age peoples left their hill-top settlement, were the Greeks. They left their mark with the first harbour. After them it was quiet hereabouts for a few hundred years until the Romans turned up (as they did, everywhere) and built on top of the Greek ruins. All went quiet again for a few more hundred years after the Roman Empire collapsed, until the Moors arrived. The Moors got overthrown by the Christians after another few hundred years. Things then went relatively quiet again for yet another few hundred years and Roses became a quiet, backwater fishing village … until the tourist hordes “discovered” it.
Doing the mending
The “quiet” season
I’m having a good time, thanks to having a social life, my three night stop is turning into three weeks. Current (and as usual, flexible) plan is to stay for a bit longer before heading down towards Barça. I can’t believe it’s only three weeks til the descendants arrive …
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Last week the dental extractions happened, I can’t believe how much better I felt virtually immediately. Having had months of sinusitis and troublesome teeth it’s great to be pain free!!
This week I visited my new Practice Diabetic Nurse. She was all ready to plough through the indoctrination spiel and was heartily glad that she didn’t have to after I gave her my history. She was very pleased that the weight loss programme is well underway, and that my fasting blood sugars are already responding to the weight loss so far; not yet down to normal range but showing an improvement. Go me! As I requested she’s leaving matters to me for the next six months; when I go back to see her on my return, all being well I shall be down to my target weight, and back in remission.
The last few days I’ve been converting my travelling thoughts into hard plans; deciding on places I want to visit and finding Aires and Camper Stops. On the plans are granite granaries, schist villages, medieval bridges, and a lot of twisty windy mountain roads (snow chains and shovel are on board just in case). I’m down to Central(ish) Portugal and week 5 so far. Place your bets, dear regular readers, as to how quickly I throw the plans out of the window …
I’ve made a conscious decision to avoid all large towns and cities unless there is something in one that I really don’t want to miss. Neither Daise nor I like the noise, traffic or crowds so we’ll stick to being country bumpkins. There will be one exception; just before Easter, K and The Smart One are going to a resort just outside Barcelona. I shall find a campsite close by for that week and show them round one of the few cities I actually love.
Next week I’ll be spending a few days with BB at the marina; the lady “what runs it” says I can stay in the car park – if the weather remains this cold I’m hoping she’ll let me hook up for a reasonable charge.
20 sleeps to main engine start …
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So we (LWD and I) continue to investigate our new surrounding in terms of finding suitable off lead dog walking, and I have to report that we are a little overawed by the amount of choice. We have trekked several routes along or near the banks of the R. Parrett, we’ve found a route into town by going around it, and a route on the disused rail line to Yeovil, not that we’ve gone quite that far yet, we stopped at the medieval abbey at Muchelney.
We’ve discovered The Hanging Chapel in Langport, a 15th century chapel built on top of a 13th century archway at the eastern entrance to the old town. It was a fairly common practice in the middle ages to have a chapel at the entrance of a town so that merchants and other travellers could give thanks for a safe arrival or pray for a safe journey on leaving. It is a Grade 1 listed building and a scheduled ancient monument. The chapel is still in use today as a Masonic lodge.
Today we climbed the steep banks of the highest hill in this neck of the woods.
Burrow Mump is a 79 ft high tor standing near the confluence of the River Tone and the old course of the River Cary, joining the River Parrett at Burrowbridge, surrounded by the low lying land, maximum 25ft above sea level, of the South Somerset Levels. Thought by some to have been used by King Alfred, he who according to legend let the cakes burn whilst on watch for Danish marauders, as a lookout point across the levels. Today the views from the top are 360° of drained farmland, in Alfred’s time the views would have been of swampy marshes. A medieval church was built on the hill in the 15th century. The current ruined church on top of the hill was built in 1793. The land and ruin were donated to the National Trust in 1946 as a war memorial to the men of Somerset.
All that and I haven’t even had to unpack the wellies – yet …
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(My regular reader will have noticed my penchant for alphabetising frequently used names; Huish Episcopi being a long-to-type place name will forthwith be added to that list.)
So, we are celebrating our one month anniversary in HE, and what a busy month it has been. I have unpacked and flat-packed, tip runned and charity-shop runned, curtain hung and picture hung, shopped and dropped and finally have come nearly to the end of the list. It has been (mainly) great fun.
We welcomed our first visitors last week J & B came for a couple of nights and gave their seal of approval to the new house and area. Their journey to see us takes half the time it used to.
So with the moving and settling in over with and K and The Smart One about to start at their respective new schools, I can start to explore my new surroundings and decide future plans. At long last I have the new rear corner panel and grey water pipe so that R0X can be repaired. Once that is done she will have a service and MoT, deep clean and de-personalise and be advertised for sale. Hopefully I shall be able to sell her privately, don’t see why a dealer should make a mint out of me just because I’m downsizing. I’ve had a very brief look in one motorhome centre and quite am taken with the Autosleeper Duetto so far, we shall see. Long conversations to be had with The Bezzies methinks, after all they’re the experts on all things campervan.
I’d like to think that I can be back on the road early next year for a quick trip to Spain and then Holland, Germany and Denmark in June.
Meanwhile here are a few more Somerset views …
This sign near the river in Langport reads “The River ends at the Sea with mud flats – which can swallow you up!”; a humorous reminder that where the R. Parrett flows into Bridgwater Bay there are 4 miles of mud flats with the second largest tidal height change in the world. Unfortunately there have been drownings with the unwary being caught out on the flats when the tide comes in. The bay itself has much more ominous and serious warning signs.
Popular picnic spot
HE pumping station and sluice gate
Not for hire!
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