The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Day 20 - Amelie-les-Bains-Palalda to Argelès-sur-Mer

Sunday 31 July
23 miles
Overcast start, then sunny, then rain last 2 hours (comedy rain at times)

Last night's hotel was so nice that consideration was given to extending our stay and having a slackpacking day today (i.e. going baglessly) , returning via bus later. The Sunday issue was what ruled that plan out. There are only two busses on a Sunday afternoon, thus we assessed the potential for error as being too great (bags in one place, us in another = not good). So, we duly packed up and made tracks in the relative cool of the morning.

There was nothing remotely exciting about today, but we were impressed to have covered the distance we did with only about a quarter of a mile being on a busy road (and that was on arrival in Argelès).

From Amelie to Le Boulou a 'Voie Verte' cycle way lay largely along the line of an old railway. Yes, it was concrete underfoot, which is one of my lowest choices for walking surface, but being traffic-free was a bonus I hadn't expected when we rerouted away from the GR10. Even when the way took on roads they were quiet back streets, on which barely a car was seen.

We'd been hoping for a coffee break in Ceret, but we weren't routed via a bar or restaurant, so after second breakfast on a shaded bench on we went to the next village: St Jean Pla de Corts. There we found a bakery-come-tea-shop doing a roaring trade. We added our custom and had such a long break that we had not just elevenses but second elevenses too.

At Le Boulou we saw no reason to go into the town, so left the Voie Verte just before it ended, to cross the river and (we thought) to pick up some minor roads to take us towards Argelès-sur-Mer. With our water bottles depleted and no handy source of water presenting itself (a communal tap/fountain or a shop) I nipped into a Pizza place (masquerading as a plant shop), got our bottles filled and bought a couple of cans of pop. The latter turned out to be the lifesaver as the water we'd been given tasted really unpleasant, even with a hydration pill popped into it.

My aim today had been to reach a town about 10km from the coast, through which we would have walked per my plotted route. However, having crossed the river what did we find but another cycle route sign, this one pointing to our ultimate destination.

With the wonders of technology, a minute later I had a gpx file for that route downloaded from Wikiloc. It seems that the D618 (as shown on my maps) has been upgraded to the A9, and a cycle route created parallel to it. It was 18km along that route to the edge of Argelès, which seemed achievable before the day was out.

By lunchtime we were sufficiently confident of making it all the way that as we lunched in the shade of a large tree (it was 33 degrees in the sun at the time) I booked a hotel in Argelès.

The afternoon saw us take one detour. The water from the pizza place was so minging that we nipped the half-kilometre off route into St Genis des Fontaines, where a mini-supermarket provided us with water and more pop.

A while before that detour, rumbling had been heard and a glance over our shoulders had shown a big dark storm behind us. Our optimism that it was going to miss us soon proved false, whereupon the disposable ponchos came into play again. What fantastic things they are, considering they cost nothing, weigh 50g and have kept us (and our packs) dry during two half days of rain.

The rain lasted the whole of the rest of the day, bar about 5 minutes (the only other break we had all day; it was cut short when the next storm hustled in). Some of that rain was comedy bouncing rain.

Eventually we reached Argelès, where people did laugh at our ridiculous appearances (the ponchos may be very functional, but they're not really an 'in town' look) but we cared not as we strode on towards our accommodation.

Our walk isn't quite over. We still have just under a mile to go to reach the sea. That's what we'll do first thing in the morning, before jumping on a train to Toulouse. Thanks to today's long day, we now have a bonus day to be tourists in Toulouse.

The second of two adjacent lakes we passed today was fitted with an aerial waterskiing pull wire, and jumps. The set up was a bit inconvenient for anyone falling over (we saw a couple) who had to swim their way out of the lake to get back to the start.


  1. Well done! Shame I didn't have a chance to set you up with David and Jan in Argeles.
    Enjoy Toulouse and have a good journey home.