I crossed the border from France into Spain on what is called the Route de Napoleon – the French general’s favoured route for getting his troups in and out Spain i.e. the road less travelled, rising to an elevation of 1450m. A day of wonderous walking in the mountains, hospitable autumn weather, congregations of kites riding the thermals & a trio of big lumbering vultures manning the pass at the Col de Benarte. Once over the border it was a steep, running descent to Roncevalles (Valley of Thorns) and a posh bunk for the night at the ‘very nicely modernised, thank you’ monastery albergue. A safe haven for me in 2012 unlike 778 when poor Roland, military leader under Charlemange, was routed by rebellious Basque troups. Little consolation tho it might be for him he became a “pop icon” in medieval minstrel culture and the subject of this rather evocative memorial.