Excellent mountain roads without tarmac. Short quiet tarmac lanes at each end.
We got the 05:40 train from Cerbère to Salses. Our alarm was set for 03:40. We realised that with less wind, the day would be hotter and we were right. We got most of the walk finished before the heat of the day.
From Salses station, the walk headed through orchards towards bare looking hills. This bareness is deceptive. Between the rocks there were diverse plants and nice specimens. We were following a road made during the installation of a gas pipeline. The road was not tarmac coated and it was very straight. However it rose and fell with the terrain. There was an older road that followed the contours but this would have taken us too long. None of the gradients was too excessive. The views were extraordinary. While we were in the Pyrenees, we could not really see them. On this high ground, the whole range was visible from Cerbère and fading into the distance towards Bilbao. There were more fine views over the marismas and the sea. There were many wind turbines. These, in our opinion, did not detract from the views at all.
This walk was one of the nicest ones we have done.
Today we got the 5.40 train. The machine was broken so we looked for the controleur on the train. I thought it was a lady in a blue jacket and made my approach. She asked if I was looking for the controleur and she said he's in there (a little compartment right at the front of the train). He put his head out looking rather bleary and said Oui? I waved a 20 euro note at him and said la machine à Cerbère est en panne. He seemed quite bemused. I had obviously given far too little information. Eventually he asked where we were going and I took a minute remember white he suggested Perpiganan and Narbonne as possible suitable detinations. By this time I had remembered we were going to Salses le Chateau. He said he would come and see to it. Just go and sit down. I did. I expect he and the driver set themselves up with a fierce carvar and ten minutes late le controleur came down the train to sort us out. First he got out a book of fares. It was dated 2007. He showed us the date and said he hadn't got anything more up to date. Then he got out a book like check book with a blank ticket formulaire on them. He filled these in one for each of us and charged us the 2007 price. He did not give me a reduction. I think you don't get them on Fridays. We were en règle and he had a nice little chat with us and asked what we were doing. He had visited Liverpool and London and said we would enjoy Italy when we eventually got there. He reminded us about the castle in Salses but said he had never visited it. He retires in eight months and I can tell he's going to enjoy it. Neil thinks they were waiting for IT support at Cerbère to sort out the machine. He thinks all it needs is switching off and switching on again but all they have done is switch it off. He had already looked behind to see if he could switch it off and on again. At Salses we headed for the chattock and passed it. Then we headed uphill towards the turbans. Most were still as the wind had dropped. We saw yellow dianthus miserabilis, yellow phlomis, allium pink and white and purple globular. At our first break I discover I have left the chocolate behind. Neil waits a considerable time and until I had offered healthy bar instead before producing it and saying are you looking for this?
We see white scabious and man type orchids plus a big pink and brown and yellow bee type orchid. I collect a few apricots on the way up as we have only one orange between us. One tree in the orchard had much smaler fruit then the others but was ready. The walk swings up and through rocky gardens of flowers. Once we get high there is a stunning view over the marismas and the still snowy peaks of the Pyrenees as a backdrop. It is hot today. We are right not to walk in June. Once we have passed most of the turbans we begin our descent – still very lovely and now we were facing towards the marismas.
At the station there is no cossack but the sign says present yourself to the controleur. We do this and get tickets made with a little sheem and printed on a different little sheem.
We have to change in Perpignan but luckily our connection is behind us. We are retrarsed but still have time to get an ice cream. We have also got tickets so we have been en règle all day. At Cerbère, we get off but our train is one of the very few which goes to Port Bou and a whole posse of policemen get on. We go through the subterranean passage to the beach and have lunch there. I have a cold bottle from the station cossack. Then we walk back along the road, the railway and the cliffs. We have fixed a time for our checkout.
Then we wait for the shop to open and fill in the time looking at at Grand Bleu brochure. They do have houses near where we want to be but never near enough to the station – a pity because the accommodation is very good with none of the frills we resent paying for.