Walking in the Foothills of the Pyrenees – Day 1

We left Girona by bus, heading for the town of Olot. From Olot it was a taxi ride to the little town of Mollo, just a few kilometres in from the border with France, and the starting point of our 6 day walk.

Mollo (pronounced Molyo), although small, occupies a significant place in Spanish history as it was the last village before reaching the Col d’Ares – which was the natural gateway across the border into France. Between January and March 1939 some 85,000 to 95,000 republican Spaniards passed through Molle and up to the Col d’Ares, fleeing the national troops.  At the Col many were forced to jettison possessions and munitions, and even cars, in order to evade the advancing troops. During the deprived years following the Civil War, residents of Mollo sold these abandoned possessions for scrap metal in order to eek out an existence. The pathways around this area are known as the Retirada Paths as a Republican exile is known in Spain as a retirada. 


However, Mollo is now making a claim to fame through tourism and gastronomy. Snow falls in the village (although not last year) but the skiing is a short distance away. Our home for the night was the charming Hotel Calxito, which resembled an olde world ski lodge:


The view from our window was a promise of the hills and valleys to come:


We circumnavigated the village, which took about 15 minutes, including a walk around the church:


The cold wind forced us back to the hotel, where we retired to the bar to await dinner, which turned out to be a complete surprise. We were served by the local stick thin Goth (jet black hair, black clothes, stud …… and braces, bless him), who was a charming and enthusiastic server of the menu gastronomic, which was 5 very yummy courses (although, the photos only show 4 as I scoffed the prawn salad before realising I hadn’t photographed it!). We started with foie gras with quince paste and pickled peaches, followed by the prawn salad, then fish with garlicky potatoes, then small horse cheek and wild mushrooms (that’s what he said), finishing up with strawberries three ways.


Full to bursting we staggered off to bed. Thank goodness I’m walking tomorrow, I certainly need to walk the food of the last few days off.

Today dawned overcast, and true to form we started the walk in light drizzle, but this quickly stopped and we spent the day in grey clouds, but dry, so let’s be grateful. Our walk today was to Beget, a distance of about 13km and mainly all downhill, so a bit of a doddle really. I had plenty of time to say hello to the horses:


and to photograph the plethora of flowers along the way:


We walked through rolling hills, across fields and along the river valley:



Our destination was the village of Beget, which is a photographer’s delight – stone dwellings, adorned with pots of pansies, strung along the river. 


And, as with all these villages, the highlight is the medieval church, which dates back to 979. Beget’s church is famous for the 12th century altarpiece, which we got to see after the old man trudged up to the church with an enormous key and somewhat reluctantly let us in.



And, our bed for the night is Hostal el Forn, whose dining room has a glorious view across the valley. I’m sure we shall sleep well tonight.

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