Sands and Rivers

As a fan of Genesis’s early stuff, one of my favourite tracks is ‘Firth of Fifth’ from the Selling England By The Pound album. The highlights of the track include Tony Banks’ piano introduction, Mike Rutherford’s flute piece and Steve Hackett’s haunting guitar solo which have received much critical acclaim. The lyrics have received less favourable reviews, but they hold a special feeling for me. Especially the last two lines…

The Dune of Pilat is the tallest sand dune in Europe. It is located in La Teste-de-Buch in the Arcachon Bay area, France, 60 km from Bordeaux. It is Europe’s biggest at 377 feet tall in places. The wind shifts the dune as much as 16 feet a year, forcing it to swallow trees from a neighbouring pine forest.

As I was climbing on all fours (stupid idea) up this near vertical wall of sand, each upward lunging foot or handhold would immediately sink back to where it had come from. My heart pounded (pulse 176), my lungs screamed and when I paused to recover rivers of disturbed sand would flow steadily down from above, to exaggerate the futility of this exhausting enterprise. Watching the sand brought the song straight back – The sands of time are eroded by the river of constant change”.

Lesley leading the way – she can’t be serious, it’s near vertical!
Our parking spot (nearly my resting place)
Watching the fishermen near our parking spot – not our most spectacular sunset but the first of the trip.
Time to leave this bonny spot

Gradually making our way south, our general direction was Spain, but also wanting to steer clear of the busy coastal area around San Sebastian (sob, sob we’d just love to call in for some Pintxos). With N10 motorway (mostly) free we made good progress towards Dax and on to an overnight aire at Salies-de-Béarn. Saline water naturally occurs here and our aire was behind the salt factory. 

Salies-de-Béarn – Lesley modelling her Covid-19 mask!
Circle the wagons” or “circle your wagons” Motorhome parked to keep out the Indians at Salies

Useless fact 433 – Did you know, “Wagon trains did NOT form a circle overnight or during rest periods for protection from Indian attacks. It was simply to create a makeshift stockade to stop their animal escaping!.

Leaving France was uneventful, the first sign we had crossed into Spain was the price of diesel at 0.95€. As EU countries there is no obvious border between France and Spain. But the N-135 from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (France) to Pamplona does involve crossing a mountain range and negotiating a few wriggly bits of road!

Pamplona’s San Fermin 2020 ‘Running of the bulls’ was cancelled – I wonder why!
Sunrise on our free overnight parking spot in Pamplona

As we were still right in the heart of the Basque country the signs in two languages continued to challenge us but we eventually shook off Pamplona and headed first for Estella, then up to Baquedano. This small town is in on the southern fringe of the mountain range that is part of the Urbasa-Andia Natural Park.

Getting to the parking spot for our walk involved a tricky narrow road with concrete ditches to the side. Luckily all the traffic was going in the same direction as us and we soon realised they were all going on the same walk as us. We managed to squeeze Margo into the fast filling car park, as the rains continued falling and still there were more families arriving. However, a quick check and we found we’d chosen to come to a very popular spot on a bank holiday Monday! But, if we waited for the crowds to disperse the chances were the rain would also ease.

Astonishingly by the time we set off, all the crowds had disappeared and were well on the way through the 7km round trip to the waterfalls near Nacedero del Urederra. Coming in autumn was just fantastic with the russet reds, orange, green and yellows colours combining with the blues, greens and white of the river beautifully.

The river is astonishingly beautiful, with some section of the river of a unreal aqua blue colour.

In spite of the compulsory mask wearing (when anyone was about) the walk to see the source of the Urederra river was just brilliant. We’d avoided most of the rain and the crowds. It was great to be out and seeing nature at it’s best, watching the water finding its path, falling over the rocks and changing course to find its way around the boulders . The sands of time are eroded by the river of constant change”.

Maybe the title of this blog should have been the ‘The Long and Winding Road’

Until next time, stay safe

Toodle pip, D&L

3 thoughts on “Sands and Rivers

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