It turns out that Catarina, our hostess at Hostal El Forn, is the 4th generation running the hotel. Her Grandma is still alive, and lives upstairs (and can be spotted sitting by the window, keeping an eye on the comings and goings of the village – which, like so many in Spain, is largely empty until the summer influx of visitors). And her brother was a champion swimmer for Spain, at one time holding the record for the 200m butterfly event – skills he obviously did not learn in Beget, as the only water is the rocky river that runs through the centre of town. A painting of the family and the townsfolk adorns one wall of the bar.
After a hearty breakfast it is time to set off, and I’m afraid I did not rub the Girona lion’s bottom hard enough as the morning has dawned cloudy and damp. Optimistically we set off wearing just our raincoats but within 200 metres are stopping to don our waterproof pants as the rain steadily increases – and continues, often quite heavily, for the remaining 13km.
We follow the river out of town and then start the 300 metre climb out of the valley over into the Oix valley. We are still following the red and white markers of the GR11, a comforting sight in the rain. Our path up takes us through moss covered stones and trees, dripping now in the steady rain.
The problem with climbing in the rain is that the combination of exertion and full wet weather gear results in the creation of a sauna like effect inside your rain jacket, and, every time you stop to catch your breath, or check the map, your glasses fog up and you can no longer see the track. Which, after an hour of climbing, does not make for particularly comfortable walking. We are, however, tramping through a beautiful landscape – what we can see of it. As so often happens on our walks, we were not afforded a breath taking view upon reaching the summit, merely our breath was taken by the effort.
Our descent towards Oix is through a quite spectacular stoney gorge (apparently in the 19th century soldiers were thrown to their death from this point by soldiers from an opposing army). Our final destination is the rural home stay of Can Pei, on the outskirts of Oix. We stagger in, wet and a little chilly and are grateful to see the fire in the sitting area burning bright. Now, after divesting ourselves of our wet gear, we can sit down and enjoy the picnic lunch Caterina made for us!