Walking in Spain along the Camino Ignaciano from Loyola to Manresa, and the Camino de Invierno from Ponferrada to Santiago de Compostela

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Friday, 14 October 2016

Heading to Montserrat, and nearing the end of the Camino Ignaciano

We have had some wonderful walking through some delightful countryside over the past few days.  Leaving la Panadella Julie and I set off down hill, minus Pam, who had left on the bus an hour earlier.  To save her knees she avoided the steepest part of the downhill run and walked the last third into Igualada.  For Julie and I, there was a consistent downhill grade for about 16 kilometres, all on the road, but fortunately, with very little traffic.
Leaving la Panadella in the early morning light.
Seeing this bank goes some way to explain the rock walls we have seen along the way.  The stones are so symetrical, almost like they have been cut.  They lie in the ground like that and I wonder if some of the teracing we have seen just makes use of the already existing layers of rock.
A little church at Santa Maria del Cami.
The dry stone walls use small AND large stones - these were huge, and we have seen many such walls, both in public places and in private yards,  in recent days.

It was on this leg that we have seen the first autumn leaves, amidst a large conifer forest.  Near the bottom of the looong hill we passed three Korean pilgrims heading up - on fully laden push bikes.  They were huffing and puffing, still smiling, and they were only at the beginning of a 16 km hill!

Just as we entered the town of Igualada we were "bailed up" by a interested group of school girls.  They were cavorting around the play ground, their tartan skirts and white shirts covered by pink tunics to keep them clean over the play period!  Can't imagine our students donning such a garment to go out to play!
We had a lovely "siesta" on the way into Igualada.

We had a bit of a challenge finding accommodation for these past few days and so we booked two nights in Igualada, two in Montserrat, and two in Manresa.  This means we've had a couple of days without packs - bliss.  This has also meant that we have had extra time to explore the place, without getting tired!

Igualada was an interesting town, with a very long (close to several kilometres at a guess) tree lined pedestrian boulevard.  In the town centre the shops were busy, varied, and reasonably prosperous.  By contrast, walking in through the outskirts many shops were closed and had been for some time, there was much graffiti, and generally things looked tired.
The tree lined pedestrian boulevard in Igualada.
Stairs and escalators were common in Igualada!

From Igualada we were able to walk up to Santa Pau de la Guardia pack free.  We left them at the pension to which we would return later that day, and set off along a noisy, busy road, crossing vacant industrial land to keep off the road.  This was the day we had a reasonably steady climb as we planned to go half way to Montserrat.  As the day wore on it was quite exciting to see the mountain appear, or I should say the mountain range, as Montserrat is not just one mountain but a number.  I have always heard it translated as the "saw toothed" mountain, and indeed, in Catalan it translated as serrated mountain, meaning the teeth of the saw that is used by the Catalans.
Our first glimpse of the mountains
We had a couple of bus journeys to get back to Igualada from Sant Pau de la Guardia.  The last one left from el Bruc, on the opposite side of the mountain from Montserrat, the next days journey.

The day began in mist, but ended in a hazy sunshine, though the views of the mountains were through a haze.
Looking back towards San Pau de la Guardia.

After our second night in Igualada we caught a taxi up to where we left off the day before and we set off towards Montserrat, this time with our packs on.  The forecast was for rain later in the day, but we managed to get there without having to put our coats on - half hour later and we would have!  This was a busy day as it was the national Day for Spain, and a public holiday.  The day began with tremendous views, both in front, and behind.  There was not a breath of wind and along the forest path peace reigned.
We are heading to Montserrat, around to the left of the mountain.  From here the path just goes gently up and down from here.......
........though we had a very steep scramble down to the buildings below us.
We had to go through this little tunnel, but the next one we went around.
The last few hundred metres into Montserrat
Montserrat

We have been fortunate to spend two nights here in Montserrat.  We have seen it on a public holiday, with wall to wall people, and at night when there is not a soul in sight.   We have seen it in haze and fog, and today it looks like we'll see it in clear skies.  We have seen the car park empty, but on the public holiday we saw an immense traffic jam so big that we saw many do a u turn and give up.  When we arrived I counted 25 buses, in the bus car park, without counting those stuck in the traffic jam, or parked further down the road, having digorged their passengers.  Yesterday, when we left for our days walk (more on that next time), there were only 4 buses, and half a dozen cars, but many trucks unloading the huge amount of supplies needed each day.

We have heard a small section of the world famous (and one of the oldest) boys choir at vespers.  Today we intend to attend the mass where the whole choir will sing.

Time has been scarce to do posts, but next post I will tell you about us reaching our destination for this Camino - Manresa.


2 comments:

  1. Janet, Montserrat has been one of those very special places that stands out in my memory. I took two day trips here from Barcelona, quite a long time ago now- perhaps in the mid-1990s. Every time I see those conical peaks I think of Gaudi too, and wonder if this is where he took some of his inspiration. I am very glad to see your account of coming here.

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    1. It's certainly beautiful at Montserrat Margaret. We had a clear day the last day we were there so the views were spectacular.

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