For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Nature In The Raw

Steven and I headed from Sarrance up the ever-narrowing cleft of the Aspe valley - which was dominated by dark, misty mountain peaks. Sometimes we clung to narrow, sloping paths high above the river gorge. You had to be careful as the fallen leaves at our feet concealed all sorts of potential pitfalls - such as rocks or slippery mud. My Leki trekking poles were a great boon. Here I am trying to look focused and nonchalant at the same time...


And here I am again examining a Big Drop (note the white-on-red GR blaze or balise on the protective stone wall)...


We came upon the scant remains of a squirrel - the tuft of a tail and some bloody entrails. Evidently a hawk or some other predator had been scouting the path just before us. Steven gleefully tucked the furry tuft into his hat band...


Quite soon after that we encountered another dead animal - this time there was slightly more of it left. And this one, as you can see, was attached to a house...


We passed through several villages and hamlets...


... and by derelict water mills and a shed full of sheep in stalls waiting to be milked (Pyrenean ewe's cheese, or brebis, is indisputably one of the best French cheeses - I know, because I ate some, and it's formidable). In Bedous we took a break in a bar, drank coffee with cognac, and chatted to the English owner (he'd got completely brassed off with the English Midlands and now owned 2 properties in the Pyrenees). We entered and left the village of Eygun...



... as the showers became more and more frequent...



... though these cows did not seem to mind the rain:



A huge red and brown fork-tailed kite landed on the branch of a tree in front of us. A tiny, bright green and yellow warbler (I fondly hoped it was an icterine - but it could easily have been a chiffchaff) fussed and preened on a nearby bush. Above the high cliffs to the west, 26 griffon vultures soared effortlessly on the thermals. And, not long before Borce, our resting place for the night, we spotted the seated figure of a green man cut out of the hillside's ferny vegetation:



2 comments:

Dominic Rivron said...

Good photos. I too stick maps, guidebooks, etc down the front of my rucksack's waistband. It always seems to be the handiest place - yet I always expect things to fall out and find it slightly annoying.

You don't think the boar charged the gable end from the other side??

The Solitary Walker said...

It may have done - trying to escape the French huntsmen in hot pursuit! Wild boar/deer/anything that moves hunters were very much in evidence in France & Spain in October.