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Forgotten Churches and Fossils

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Offline Dave

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« on: August 29, 2008, 12:58 PM »
Hi All
Last weekend, after recovering from my wounds, we took a gentler walk from Montealegre, to the church of San Juan de Montealegre, now sadly in ruins, but originally part of a monastery and Hospice. The group consisted of Myself, Maria, Julio and Carmen, and a very sprightly 70 year old, from Montealegre, called Pepe, who knew the way. It was a beautiful day, but luckily, with a cooling breeze and so we set off, just outside the village, Pepe took us to see an old Roman settlement or Castro, which has never been excavated, and was only discovered when laying some water pipes, bits of tile and pottery, are just lying among the rubble, and Julio is intending to take a metal detector up there one day, to see if there are any finds. Shortly after leaving the Castro we came across two foxes, who immediately fled into the undergrowth, it is still quite rare for me to see mammals here, because they have so many places to hide. Foxes here tend to be almost black, unlike the classic english red fox, although they are exactly the same species. After this we began to drop down off the fairly arid hill top, when Maria found a fairly large (6 inches) wall lizard, Pepe captured it and offered it to me as a pet, I declined and he let it go. After this we came across a building which a group of workmen were renovating, as a refuge for hunters, or for rent to anyone who wanted to hire it.
We finally got down to the Church, which in it´s day must have been quite beautiful, but now sadly little more than a ruin with the end wall and bell tower still standing, a very sad lonely sight, but set in a beautiful wooded area, with many of the monastery garden walls marking modern day huertas (allotments) . Pepe then took us too see another sad sight, high above us runs the A66 motoraway, and apparently some of the chemicals used in the concrete, leeched into the local river, poisoning it and turning it the colour of milk, apparently it used to be full of trout, now it is completely devoid of life, and due to the constant leaching of the chemicals, is unlikely to recover. He then took us a little further on where a completely clean river joins up with the polluted one, the join is quite stark going from crystal clear to white in a couple of inches.
One thing I haven´t mentioned was the abundance of Grasshoppers and butterflies, that we encountered on the walk, the grasshoppers constantly leapt out of the wayas you walked through the grass, the variety of Butterflies was amazing, with dozens of different sizes and species, i wish I could have identified all of them but even with my book with me it was difficult, because butterflies nearly always rest with wings closed, while books nearly always show them with wings open, except when the difference between species is only identifiable with wings closed.
And so we started back to Montealegre, which took another hour or so, the whole excursion took around four hours, but after lunch we had another excursion to fit in.
The area arond Torre and Montealegre is full of fossils, i already had a few, but Julio had promised to take Maria and I to where they were hundreds. The walk was once again just outside Montealegre, and was the first part of my ill fated walk of the previous weekend to La Gorgora. After a short walk he started showing me fossils, and in truth there were hundreds if not thousands, just lying at the side of the path, in the end my Rucksack was bulging, and weighed a ton. The fossils are mainly of ferns, but also a few grass or reed stems as well as branches and what look like flowers. I have stuck the smaller samples to an old roof tile, from Marias grandfathers house, and fixed it to the house wall, and though i say it my self it looks quite good.
After the walk we had a Barbeque at Julio and Carmens house at Montealegre, before finally leaving and going back to Torre to sleep.

Offline lucy

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« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2008, 21:59 PM »
Dave, sounds like you had a lovely day - in a fossil-hunters paradise! Foxes around Barcelona are quite black too.

Offline judith

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« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2008, 13:31 PM »
Don't you just love days like that? Sounds like a paradise for peanut re. the fossils, but also hell re. the river. Did you ascertain how high up the river the pollution was or how much lower down it's course is affected? Hope you go on another trip soon, it makes really good reading!
Regards Judith