The Border

Looking back to the Pyrenees from Spain

On  The Border

The fishing boats go out across the evening water
Smuggling guns and arms across the Spanish border
The wind whips up the waves so loud
The ghost moon sails among the clouds
Turns the rifles into silver on the border

With Al Stewart’s, ‘Year of the Cat’ playing (with the only track I could think of about the Spanish border!) and no ghost moon or ships in sight, I started my descent down through the foothills on the southern slopes of the Pyrenees.

The geology is that of vast sedimentary deposits, uplifted, contorted and sheared when the Iberian landmass collided with the European plate, but now giving rise to a landscape with more rolling hills than on the northern, French, side and break-aways resulting from water erosion. A landscape with echos of the ‘Badlands’ of the Albertan prairies.

The temperature was also noticeably warmer than in France, with a distinct scent of wild rosemary on the air and even a few bees actively foraging by the time I’d descended towards Naval. It can be seen however, that the vegetation has to have deep roots to survive the summer heat and aridity.


The village of Naval sits atop a small hill and in 1274 was granted a monopoly on salt sales across the whole of Aragon. Today several saltwater pools have been reinstated as health spas for therapeutic treatment of conditions such as psoriasis and arthritis. The salt water has a greater salt density than that of the Dead Sea. Historically the village was also renowned for its pottery and in recent years several potteries have been restarted.

And finally onto the main road from Barbastro to Huesca – all to myself!


Saint Lary-Soulan in France, via the Aragnouet – Bielsa Tunnel, to Huesca in Spain. Approximately 180km/125miles and from about 700m up to 1821m and back to about 500m




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