This year my time in Navarra has been much cloudier and wet than last year : in fact it’s been exceptionally wet. But yesterday was a cheerful day of clear skies, warming sunshine, and – if barely above freezing, it was defnitely dry. Perfect for a day out exploring : I’ve scarcely more than a week left before I must return to Scotland.
I headed to the far north east of Navarra, about an hour’s drive away, a land of jagged sierras, soaring viaducts, dry barancos, narrow twisting gorges, vultures, circling overhead, roads switching sides across roaring mountain rivers, Basque symbols and slogans, villages set high up on rocky outcrops, snow-capped mountains, of sheep and cheese made with their milk, hair-pin bends and switch-backs – and thankfully very little traffic, and traditions of naviagating rafts of timber down the rivers, and the witch-hunts of the Spanish Inquisition.
And, at Castillo Nuevo, as I made my way around the village, almost devoid of people during the week, I slowly collected cats, until I had fifteen of them following me back to my car (the last photo excludes those around my feet!). I made the mistake of breaking up some cheese I had into little nuggets and throwing them down on the bare rock by the car: that possie of cute fluffy moggies suddenly turned into a maelstrom of fur and fury. But when they saw me making my escape, they changed character again : masters of deceit and deception, tricking their way past my defenses, into the car – first via the open back, and then leaping over my lap into the front passenger seat.
Thinking of the the Hitchcock film The Birds, I sought my escape by the way I had come, by the twists and turns of the narrow road back down to the gorge of the river Esca. But, casting my eyes up to the horizon, I caught sight of snow-capped mountains.
I was determined that I would make the snows of the high passes my last destination for the day. Running out of daylight, I made do with the tortuous road (thankfully completely free of traffic – except for a flock of sheep and two cows) to the border with Aragón, rather than with France, but the Pyrenees, all the same.