A travel moment in the Pyrenees


The evening was drawing closer as we drove towards our hotel in the Pyrenees. We pulled off the long and winding main road and into a side road. Marked as an A-road on the map it seemed to be a suitable route to take. Encouraged by the seemingly early arrival time that had appeared on our sat-nav, we pressed on. As we turned the corner onto the road, it seemed surprisingly narrow, and in a moment of hesitation we checked the map again to make sure we had taken the right turn. Assuming that before too long it would widen out, we drove on further, but the road simply became narrower and even twistier as it ascended towards the southern portion of the Pyrenees.

The sky was becoming increasingly filled by patchy shades of grey, and the evening light was beginning to fade, as the clouds and mist rolled in from the mountain peaks. Below the road, twenty or thirty feet down, lay a slow-flowing, trickling stream. The gentle splatter and splash from when it collided and then flowed over the pebbles was the only sound in an otherwise eerie and ghostly landscape. The same stream flowed for a distance that seemed endless, with its full beauty obscured
by a thick blanket of trees.

As we drove deeper into the hills, the crumbling rock faces on one side of the road became taller, and the sheer, unguarded drops on the other side became steeper. The rock faces stood as jagged, uneven lumps, overhanging the road, and their position left you in amazement at how
they were still standing.

The rain began to fall, starting off as merely drizzle, and only adding a light coating of dampness to the surroundings. Before too long, the rain came down harder, pounding on the roof of our car and creating a deafening roar. Streams of water were flowing across the road, bringing mud, shingle and shards of rock with them. The winds picked up and started violently throwing the trees from side to side.

The rain began to fall, starting off as merely drizzle, and only adding a light coating of dampness to the surroundings. Before too long, the rain came down harder, pounding on the roof of our car and creating a deafening roar. Streams of water were flowing across the road, bringing mud, shingle and shards of rock with them. The winds picked up and started violently throwing the trees from side to side.

As the rain reached its heaviest, we began to descend to a lower level to meet one of the main routes that goes through the Pyrenees and into France. A series of tight, treacherous hairpin bends led us to the sides of a huge valley. Columns of muddy water were cascading down the rock faces from the hilltops. As we peered over the sheer drop beside us we saw the road snaking down from the hillside, doubling back on itself several times. The view was spectacular. As the evening sun emerged from behind the clouds, it bathed the valley in a sea of pale yellow, and caused a twinkle of light reflecting from the falling rain drops. The waterlogged road glimmered in the sun, as the rain died away to a mere drizzle.

J Ellis

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