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I’ve just been back to the Albères, and discovered some more traces of Manel, the extraordinary shepherd who lived there in the 19th century. This time I was walking with the Club Rando-Montagne of Lézignan-Corbières. We started in Saint Martin, following the GR10 to the Refuge du Coll d’Ouillat (open for drinks even on this cold, very windy Sunday in December).
The beech leaves had blown into deep drifts of gold. Higher up, the ground was white with flakes of frost fallen from the trees: icy woodchips scrunching under our feet.
The wind is invisible in the photograph, but nobody wanted to climb the last few steps to the summit for fear of being blown away.
The circuit continued along the French-Spanish frontier to the Coll Forcat and then down the valley back to St Martin. We stopped briefly at the font de en Manel.
Just before the village I found an inscription I haven’t seen before, enigmatic, this one:
And finally, his tombstone, in the cemetery at the entrance to the village, with his favourite icons: a heart and a stylised Lac Léman (an anagram of his name).
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