The Orange Walk

I turned up in the Spanish Pyrenees for five days trekking in the beautiful mountains. A leisurely 84.2km (to be precise). Perfect for my ‘novice trekking’ friend who had suggested the adventure.

Zaher and I met in Barcelona and took off together in our hired car – easiest option to get to the start. The temperature was perfect amongst the clouds at 1,640m as we set out from ‘Refugi di Rebost’. We were glad to be far from the heatwaves well below us.

We were advised to “follow the orange signs”. All fairly straightforward. One step at a time. Breathing in and breathing out. Gosh, we were already above Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain, a mere 1,345m.

Our walks each day, as mentioned, were quite short in distance. But with 5,600m of ascents, there was, of course, quite some clambering down also to be negotiated, as we were to discover. The way was well-marked, as usual now in these walks. I was grateful also for the occasionally required rope to assist in the steeper, gravelly moments we encountered.

I didn’t need to think ‘watch my breath’, the climbs made it impossible to ignore as it became somewhat heavier, mainly of its own accord!

With the steep and narrow paths not exactly conducive to chatting on the way, I walked a lot alone. The mind wandered along on its own track also from time to time…

I recalled the ‘Orange Walk’ I knew of in my youth. Every twelfth of July a parade through the streets. Was just a band, I used to think. Fun as a child to run alongside for a few moments.

This annual parade was actually the march of the ‘Orange Order’ – a group established back in 1798 to celebrate the Dutch king ‘William of Orange’s’ defeat of king James II in the ‘Williamite-Jacobite’ war. Essentially a fight between protestants and catholics some hundred years before it was to be heralded.

The Scotland I grew up in retained a demarcation between these two ‘religious’ groups. As kids, we played in the streets together, the usual games of hide and seek. But from the age of five, at 9am each school day morning, the protestants and catholics went their separate ways.

Scotland still has its pockets of sectarianism, and still, I was surprised to discover, its annual orange marches. But schools at least, for the main, are now integrated. We live in a world of ebb and flow, worse here and better there. But oh there is so much beauty…

The Parc Natural Cadi-Moixero, apparently, hosts 30 habitats and 30 animal and plant species of ‘GREAT EUROPEAN’ interest. I cannot say that I found quite all. I was struck by the beauty of the eagles; the occasional deer; the odd hot air balloon catching the early morning thermals (I assume). I wondered how the cows and horses roaming freely felt about the continuous clanging of the bells tied harnessed about their necks.

A circular route, after five days of fairly tough trekking saw us back at our beginning. The Buddhist prayer flags as we walked the last few steps a heartening symbol of universal peace, also in our midst.

If you enjoyed reading this article and want to follow Barbara’s other walking adventures try         The Nomad                West Highland Way                   Inside Out on the camino             Incredible India

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