Friday, January 6, 2012

A roam with a view

For today's walk we revisited the trail that leads off from above the town towards the ruins of Sant Baldiri de Taballera. The first part of this track is open to vehicles and we had thought to drive part way. But we had forgotten what the road was like and gave up on this idea very quickly. We began walking. At Mas Puignau - a ruined farm building now night quarters for 500 goats - we turned onto a new track signposted for els Llaures. This took us past more signs of the extensive cultivation that took place here in the 18th and 19th centuries.

In the late 19th century the phylloxera epidemic destroyed most of the vineyards for wine grapes in Europe, including this part of Spain. While many wine growing regions recovered, it seems that in these hills the growers left and never returned. They left behind the stone remains of walls, terraces, waterways, storage buildings and dwellings, which provide an erie setting for our walk. We were particularly fascinated by numerous intact stone shelters called 'baraccas.'

Our track ended high on a bluff that gave uninterrupted views up and down the coast. Here we found signs of more recent human activity in the form of a little network of observation posts dating from World War II. Although Spain was neutral during that war, Franco apparently feared invasion by the Allies, and built thousands of bunkers, observation posts and shelters along the coast.

On our return trip we spotted across a gully something black loping along another trail. Our imaginations briefly got the better of us but it turned out to be one of several dogs belonging to the goat herder we met on our last visit. Minutes later we began to hear the faint tinkling of bells. The herd, having spent the day munching and strewing the path with their little pellets were returning to their pen for the evening. A reminder that we too need to be getting home. It is Three Kings night and there will be much excitement in the village.

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