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Saturday, 16 July 2016

Saints and Cynics Day 2: Maslacq to Navarrenx

 Maslacq to Navarrenx 22km (43km cumulative)

It's a little known fact that, back in the early nineteen-eighties, North Hertfordshire's cult supergroup, Noggin the Nog, never quite got round to recording their first album. I'm afraid to say that, in a quite un-rock 'n' roll like fashion, the quintet drifted off to university (or, in the case of the lead singer, the fruit and veg shop on Eastcheap, Letchworth Garden City) before recording their first album.
I'm sure you'll agree that the world's a lesser place for it but it solved one problem: 'The Nog', as they liked to call themselves, with the pretentiousness of youth, never had to face the eternal problem of the 'difficult second album'. 
That good old rock 'n' roll cliche applies equally to the pilgrim and/or long-distance hiker. The first day is usually, but not always, a bit of a jolly; clean boots and panties and oodles of energy after a couple of days in the ferry and train. You're out of the traps like a greyhound, as if there's no tomorrow, forgetting that there are many, many more tomorrows; in the case of Saints and Cynics, another 44.
But the second day can be a bit of a bastard: stiffness, niggles, aches and pains and sometimes, just sometimes, an existentialist angst: what the f*** am I doing here.

But I'm pleased to report that day two of Saints and Cynics didn't turn out that way. Maybe it's because, a bit like Joey Tempest, I'm a bit of an old hand - bit of an old lag more like. But just because I've been there, seen it, done it, doesn't mean I don't wake up every day of the hike wide-eyed and restless. Listen, honey, I could walk forever and never, ever get bored.

Another cool night, dew on the grass and fresh feel to the morning: perfick as they say. The Camino left Maslacq via this rather Scooby Doo-esque maison then rolled out across endless fields of maize towards the river Gave whence it proceeded in a generally undulating fashioned towards the Pyrenees.

Path of the Day. Most of the day's walking was on asphalt, country roads with little vehicular traffic, so it was nice to get off the tarmac and follow this lovely little path through nooks and crannies to the Abaye de Sauvelade, below.

Looking back to where I'd begun. Arthez de Bearne is now about 30km away, in the distance. The land is becoming more uneven - or maybe less even; maize giving way to bracken and pasture.

 Maize and mountains, mountains and maize

Morning passed into afternoon, hour by hour the heat increased, the ups became upper and the downs deeper and deeper. In the post-prandial silence I lagged, move sloth-like whenever I climbed but on the last leg, into Navarrenx, I got my second wind and sailed into the bastide town. Photos of Navarrenx tomorrow, promise.


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