Sos Del Ray Catolico to Torla, Pyrenees, Spain

Distance:  97 miles
Time on bikes: 3.25 hours

It’s Sunday morning and we awake to the sound of singing from the church just outside our bedroom window. They must have the doors open and the acoustics are fantastic. In fact, they go some way to numbing the slight headache I’ve acquired as a result of being dehydrated and topping up with a couple of beers last night.

We remain focussed however and get up to get showered and head out to find some breakfast as this wasn’t included in the 60 euro for the room. As it’s Spain, and also a Sunday, everywhere is closed with the exception of the mobile catering unit in one of the plazas which sell Churos and hot waffles. We have one of each with a hot chocolate and settle on a nearby wall to have our breakfast.

We then return to the bikes which we’ve already packed. Carl is still in go-slow mode, but we manage to make some progress. It’s only 85 miles to Torla where we’re headed, via a small winding road picked out from recommendations on biking websites. This then leads us onto the N260 which is a very popular road for bikes, especially as its Sunday. As Carl is still flagging, he thinks of inventing an electrically operated pop-up waving hand to acknowledge the waves of oncoming bikers.

We’re a bit keen to get fuel as we only had ‘just’ enough fuel to get to Torla and we were expecting all the stations to be closed. We needn’t have worried though as I guess the stations in the area stay open to provide fuel for all the bikes active in the area on Sundays. After filling up, we notice a nice little grassy bank next to a river which runs near the petrol station. We have to ride down a pebbly path to get there, but this is now nothing special for either of us.

We pull the ground sheet out from under the camping kit on Carl’s bike and lay it out by the side of the river. We’ve been blessed by gorgeous blue skies today and beautiful sunshine – which is so appreciated after the rain we’d endured recently. The groundsheet is still soaked from being on the bike but dries in minutes in the heat of the sun. We literally flake out on the ground sheet and wake up over an hour later.

Carl was hoping his head would have cleared by now, but it seems worse than before. He pops a couple of Neurofen and we get on our way as we’re now about 45 miles to Torla and out ETA has slipped to about 3 pm. As testament to Carl’s condition, Bene says she’s having no problem keeping up and even complains that she needs to brake in a few corners. The average speed for the day is only 30 mph, which really sums up our pace.

We reach Torla, which Santi the night before had endorsed as being a fantastic place to go. We pass through the town, which seems to be dead but has all the makings of being a ‘happening’ place when the season gets going. We carry on into the Odesa National Park which leads us up eventually to a large car park which is the starting point for numerous walks into the Pyrenees. Santi had suggested to do the Cola del Caballo walk to a waterfall, which should take about three hours to complete. Carl however was still suffering, collapsing on a nearby rock while Bene studied the walks.

There were a few campsites in the area so we decided to go and find a good one. We knew it could or would be cold in the evening, but the setting with the snow covered mountains around us was so much more appealing for camping rather than being in a hotel.

We followed the sign for a campsite which led us a few miles up a gravel road along a beautiful gorge bordered by snow capped mountains rising to 2,700 metres; a cascading river alongside and huge waterfalls plunging from the towering rockface. When we reached the campsite it had a great setting. They gave us the option of 20 euro for a tent pitch or a refuge room for 27 euro. The price difference meant we had to investigate the latter option but were disappointed to see that it was akin to a rabbit hutch with no view and nowhere to cook or relax and enjoy the surroundings.

So we took the camping option and rode around until we found the perfect spot. They’re just mowing the grass and I’d put money down that we could be the first campers here of the season. It’s about 4.30 pm and the sun is still lovely and warm. We get the outer sheet of the tent out to dry after it was hurriedly put away a couple of days before when we wild camped on the Spanish cliffs. After that little task and a little bit of a late picnic, we flake out again on the rug for about an hour before getting around to erecting the tent.

Our evening is then taken up going for an hours walk further up the gorge and back and then cooking a delicious meal of chorizo with tomatoes and noodles. We follow this up with another walk the other way down the gorge before returning to the tent just as the sun is going down over the mountains to enjoy a hot chocolate whilst typing these notes in the diary. It’s getting cold now and Bene has just got the rug from the tent to wrap around her.

We’ve got most of our clothes available to wear tonight as we’re expecting the temperature to be close to 0 degrees as we’re at nearly 1,400 metres and the forecast for the temperature in Torla was supposed to be 3 degrees. I’m sure we’ll survive – at least we don’t need to worry about wild animals tonight!