Sunday, 13 December 2015

A bronze age dolmen and a confusing hike

I have been feeling a bit under the weather for the past couple of days so
The Dolmen Siureda 
today's 10.5k took much more effort than it should have done. We started from the historic commune of Maurillas-Las Illas. This area was important during the Second World War with Las Illas especially being an escape route for people fleeing France. It's history goes back much further though with repeated wars between French and Spanish armies over the preceding centuries. We caught a glimpse of the huge bell on top of Saint-Martin-de-Fenollar - a pre-Roman church that also boasts amazing twelfth century frescoes. We didn't see them as our walk took us straight out of town and into the cork woods. Today we attempted No 8 in the Little Guide of Hiking - the Dolmen Siureda.

I saw this persimmon tree right at the start of our walk. These trees are
Persimmon tree 
eyecatching because of all their bright orange fruit, but otherwise at this time of year they appear pretty much dead. There aren't any leaves at all. We haven't found any ripe persimmons in the shops yet - the few I have noticed have been rock hard and we know from experience that they can't be relied upon to ever ripen nicely! Hopefully we will get lucky before the winter is out because I love persimmons.

Hike No 8 pootles around the edge of town for a while and we managed to lose our way briefly early on. We found the yellow route markers again, but this set the tone for the rest of the walk as we took a couple more wrong turns later on as well. We ended up doing an out and back route rather than the mapped lasso shaped one in the book. It was still good though with pretty woodland, far-reaching views, and the bronze age Dolmen Siureda pictured at the top of this post. As dolmen go, Siureda is on the small side and not as well preserved as the ones we saw near Antequera, but I think it was our first since Carnac. Some wag had thrown a number of large bones into the Dolmen Siureda. They didn't look old and the real bone fragments discovered there are now in the archaeological museum in Ceret together with pieces of an ancient vase. I would like to see the modern art museum in Ceret and hope we might take in the archaeological one too.

Snow on Canigou (still!)

Of course, part way round we saw the almost obligatory view of snow on Canigou. I guess you must all be getting fed up of this view by now so I will stop posting photos of it (unless we actually get there!), but it does still feel magical to turn a corner on a dusty track under blue sunny skies and suddenly see snow glimmering in the distance. It's about the only thing that feels remotely Christmassy around here! The shops are doing their best with decorations and festive music, we saw the outdoor nativity scene model in Ceret and several town centres are decked out with lights. However, warmth and sunshine just don't make for the traditional British Christmas atmosphere. I'm not swapping them though! Instead, I'll try to be festive by ending this post with Rebecca Pronsky's new song, Snowing Sideways ...

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