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Costa Brava Living - blog area

Walks and other things

Walks on the Costa Brava - will be updated as more are added - click for a larger version This is our blog about living in the Costa Brava. We like to visit places. We walk (a lot) particularly into and around the Gavarres. Sometimes we travel around on bike. In the summer, we swim and canoe.
 

The walks have been walked since November 2012, and we originally added one or two a week but have slowed down now as we repeat walks, but we add updates if any important details have changed. The photos are straight from the original walk or activity. We like to make circular walks and our walks range in length from about 4km (an hour) to around 16km (four hours) - but probably about 2 1/2 hours on average - though if you want to reduce the length, there are usually shortcuts. The map on the right shows where the walks are and will be updated as we continue to add more. To our surprise, the blog was also mentioned in the Sunday Times' Essential Costa Brava (Feb 2017).

The entries on swimming and beaches also start from Summer 2013. Unlike the walks which are reported as we did them (including photos), for the swimming and beach articles we're planning to update the details and pictures over time.
 

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White water rafting in Quillan (France)
29 Jun 2015

The days are getting hot and summer has just about reached the Costa Brava. For us, that makes it a good time to travel north out of some of the heat and so we took the chance for an overnight camp in Quillan, a small town just south of Carcassonne on the river Aude and close to spectacular gorges as the river comes out of the Pyrenees.

I wasn't originally going to write it up in this Costa Brava blog, as it doesn't seem that close, but in fact it is just over two hours drive from here - so closer than Andorra or skiing in Ribes de Freser, and we had such a great time doing white water rafting with Sud Rafting from their base near Axat that we just had to add it yet another possibility for people who live in the Costa Brava.

For holidaymakers who are starting to flock here for the summer season, it might seem strange that as the temperatures rise, we might look to places further north, after all summer on the Costa Brava is why most people come to visit. But we have the advantage of being able to pick and choose, and so while the beaches are filling with sunbathers it's also a time to take a few days here and there to escape the heat and hordes of the high season.

Quillan White Water Rafting Quillan is a small town in the Cathar region of France tucked into the foothills of the Pyrenees and the rivers that have carved deep gorges coming off the mountains. The Cathar region is famous for the Cathar Heresy and as the location of the Albigensian Crusade in 1208 with the remains of strong castles built on isolated peaks and hilltops that led to later legends of secrets and myths, that modern times have added to and transformed including the story of the Holy Grail and the Da Vinci code which draws on Rennes Le Chateau.

For a weekend, it's relatively easy to throw tents in the car and head into rural France without needing to book and taking advantage of the cooler weather compared to the heatwave on the coast. So we took the road to Perpignan, turned left just past the airport and headed out along the dry landscape of Roussillon towards the mountains and valleys south of Carcassonne.

The countryside becomes greener and more wooded as the roads head inland reaching the river Aude at Axat, a small valley village at the head of the tourist train route (Le Rouge) that runs up the from Rivesaltes just outside Perpignan. The first day we spent touring, but we called in on the tourist office and were informed that rafting needs a reservation, so we booked for the next day and so found ourselves on one of the white water raft trips with five guys from Southampton and Julien, our guide. The experience was fantastic - eight of us on a rubber inflatable boat going down a fast moving wide river running into rapids and falls and drops and lots of white water.

Of the eight on the raft/boat, all but one had never rafted before, so the first stage was to get going and get instructions. We were on the longer route, so we started about 6km above Axat - taken there by minibus all kitted out in wetsuit, life jacket and helmet - and through the early parts of the journey and lots of tumbling into the water we were shown through a series of jokes, deliberate calamities and practical demonstrations, how to get safe on the raft, how to stay on the raft (mostly, or at least when Julien wanted us to stay on) and a variety of practical ways to cope in the fast moving water. So as the boat moved through the more advanced rapids and ran into rocks or bounced off the gorge walls we'd have some idea of what to do.

Over the course of the next two hours we travelled some 13km down the river paddling when Julien said paddle, stopping when he said stop and falling in the water any time he wanted to prove a point. He steered and seemed to know every rock and pool of the river.

Along the way, we got thrown out of the raft a few times, jumped off rocks into the river and swam across the stream, flipped, spun, slid forwards and backwards and bounced across the waves, occasionally scraped a hand on a rock, or took in water from a sudden unplanned disembarkation. And then considered tested and ready we ended on some big category four drops and rapids for the last two kilometres of the gorge. It was just such good fun out among the elements, wet (but not cold in the wetsuit), and having a real natural roller coaster ride with moments to enjoy the wagtails tracking us down the river below the 100m high walls of the gorge, before the rush of another rapid bouncing the raft off rocks as we bobbed down the river.

The Aude also offers other forms of white-water sports including canoing, hydrospeed. The area is also obviously also very French, which means a complete change in landscape and culture to the one we find in Catalan Emporda with the more open French-style towns and broad rivers and the raft of French produce and wine sold by the roadside.

For white-water rafting on in Spain, we would need to go to Sort - towards the Val d'Aran - to have the same type of opportunity, which would be more like four hours drive from here, so sometimes we need to look laterally to find other ways to get into the mountains.

Also in France close to the Costa Brava

Collioure (France) - Villefranche-de-Conflent and Mont-Louis (France)  - Perpignan - Elne (France) - Ceret (France) - Andorra La Vella - Puigcerda and Bourg-Madame

Walking by the border

Mollo (Camprodon) - Pyrenees to France

La Jonquera to Fort de Bellegarde (France)

Corça fields and views
02 Jun 2015

Corca central square Corça is a little bit of a hidden gem situated just outside La Bisbal d'Emporda. This is the third or fourth walk from Corça for our blog, but it's still a super-charming village off the beaten track as far as tourism goes, with honey-stone houses, archways and nooks and crannies that wouldn't look out of place in the Cotswolds or the Dordogne. Yet it's so easy to miss. As is so common here, the main road, full of travellers rushing from Girona to the coast, skirts by leaving no impression of centre.

So we're back to fill in a little gap heading towards Rupia with views across the plain to the neighbouring villages and out towards the Isles Medes in the distance.

The entrance to the older part of the village is just off the main Bisbal-Girona road where from the rush of traffic on the main road, we emerge in a village placa shaded by plane trees with a children's playground just besides a small stream. There's some parking here, but we normally park just outside on the main road and walk in past the seemingly sunken cottages and school.  The playground is buzzing with the noise of children and mum's but the small main bar is quiet and empty.

Cow in the fields near Corca We're mainly after the walk today so we skip the centre of the village and navigate along the lanes by the old village defensive wall crossing in and out of the old gate arches. At the top of the village we follow the sign towards the Camp de Futbol along a road of stone terrace cottages that look as if they could be twinned with Bibury. The road reaches a small chapel and we turn to the right up the road along a small track climbing gently.

The noise of music and a marquee tent tell us we're just passing a colonies house. In Spain, it's extremely common for schools to arrange visits to different parts of the country for casal or colonies with children staying in special centres - usually old farmhouses - in the country with a range of outdoor activities. In summer, with the long three-month holidays, many children get a week or two at the same colonies houses either just for the fun of it, or often taking part in sports, music or learning languages.

Our track continues upwards before turning right past an overgrown field with cows hiding among the bushes. If you're used to walking in England where every route seems to go through a field with cows, you have to appreciate that cows aren't that common by the coast - you see them more in the hills towards the Pyrenees - so it's a little surprising to see them here and hidden in amongst the shrubs.

The track turns to the left and we follow the signpost towards Rupia. From the hillside we can look out and see six or seven villages in the distance - small huddles of buildings nestled around the church - Ultramort, Casavells, Matajudaica closer to us and then further out to Llabia and the church of Palava standing tall. We also get to glimpse the Castell d'Emporda and in the distance we can see the estates of L'Estartit and the tops of the Islas Medes.

The wheat in the fields as we walk is not so dry that's it's almost magnolia in colour despite just being the first of June. The path though continues along the hedgerows towards Rupia, but rather than go to the village itself, we shorten the route past an equestrian centre before meeting the road we took on our last walk in this area.

As we get back to the village it's gone quiet. A dad and his son are racing through the empty streets, but the playground by the placa is empty as Corça goes back to being another sleepy hidden village.

Walking route Corça fields

Rupit
18 May 2015

Rupit view over town and valley Rupit is a small village situated almost centrally between Girona, Vic and Olot isolated in the hills above the barrage lakes like the Panta de Sau of the river Ter. It had been recommended to us several times by different people, however, the relatively remote position - it's about 26km from Olot or about 30km from Vic with one road in or out - meant that we hadn't found an opportunity to visit. Taking advantage of the May sun, we discovered it really is a jewel comparable to the best Catalan villages like Besalu, Pals or Peratallada and well worth the journey.

Rupit suspension bridge We've included the route we walked, though in practice this was more of a visit and explore than an actual walk. However, the area is full of interesting looking footpaths and geography - like the cingles cliffs (escarpments) of Collsacabra and rivers and streams that drain into the Ter, and the extinct volcanoes. The village is at 822m, so relatively high in the hills with cols at 1000m at the entrance and exit to the plain - both cols giving excellent views across the countryside below. The village was also busy with visitors including several walking groups and we noticed there is camping and accommodation nearby for a longer stay.

Rupit village centre The journey really starts in the car and we drove through the valley by Angles, close to Cellera de Ter which marks the exit of the river Ter from the hills with some huge artificial lakes. We knew Rupit was to our right, but it's not until we got to Sant Esteve en Bas, about 4km from Olot that we reach the road up to Rupit. The drive climbs steadily, winding up until we get over the Coll de Condreu (1010m) and onto the top. The road was quiet - one pro-cyclist doing some hill training - so we were a little suprised by the number of cars and buses in the large car park at Rupit village.

Rupit stepped road The first sense of the village was looking to the houses perched under and on rock-sides and the river running clear over sheets of rocks down into the heart of the village. To get to the centre, the access route is over a small wire-and-wood pedestrian suspension bridge that is limited to 10 people at a time, as it sways and bounces as we walk over the small river below.

On the other side of the bridge, step lead up to the narrow main road through the village and rows of old 17th Century houses built in grey stone reminiscent of a remote alpine village. The road only has two or three junctions, so we explore a little, following the path up into the higher parts of the village up steps cut into the rock past houses with geraniums and old wooden balconies sitting underneath a weathered rock outcrop.

Rupit townscape Gently weaving our way back to the heart of the village, the bars and cafes next to the church are filling up for lunch and walkers with proper hiking gear are returning from their morning trip. A number of different paths are marked, but its quite busy, so we follow the quieter route marked towards the Ermitage/Hermitage that can be seen on the opposite side of the valley. The path goes down to the river and a solid stone bridge and the water just tempts exploring, so rather than go direct to the Ermitage, we follow around the river to the right under a dripping waterfall and under rocky overhangs with shallow water playing over the rocks, only to find ourselves on the river underneath the suspension bridge for a different view of the town.

Rupit river through village We return back to the stone bridge and follow the path up through the woods to the Ermitage - a small chapel standing isolated in a field with the best views back over the village and also, from the far side, views to a stunning landscape of escarpment (cingle) cliffs and wooded valleys.

From the chapel we turn to the right taking us away from the village and the path we came up, slowly navigating our way down to the river base below. In amongst the trees we see people sitting on the rocks above a waterfall (a Salt in Catalan is a waterfall) - the Salt de Sallent - which was also marked from the village.

Rupit view to Cingles The waterfall is quite high as we can tell from the sound and the fact we can't see the base from the top. We climb down to see if there is a better view, but though we see smaller falls at the bottom, we don't quite see the full extent of the waterfall (online pictures suggest there is a viewpoint that we didn't find).

We return back through the woods, following the river emerging in the fields at the bottom of Rupit before taking the path through and archway and back into the village. With more time there would be much more to explore in this area. From Girona, Olot or Vic there are a lot of possibilities for things to see. Our drive back via Vic/Roda de Ter was also very picturesque with views of Collsacabra and then grand vistas to the mountains over the Plana de Vic.

Nearby: Sant Esteve d'En Bas (Olot) - Banyoles lakeside walk - Olot - capital of Garrotxa - Palol de Revardit to La Mota - Sadernes and river pools of St Aniol d'Aguja - Visit to Roda de Ter and Espinelves

Walking route Rupit

Spring sea mists on the Costa Brava
04 May 2015

Just back from a walk across to Calella de Palafrugell and there is a beautiful sea mist rolling in from the sea. These early season mists are the result of the hot days starting, but the still relatively cool sea. The water warms the sea water lifting out a soft cool mist into the air.  The can be quite mistical the way they roll in across the hills into otherwise bright sunny days.

Actually in Calella de Palafrugell, the town is wrapped in shroud of fog lifting across the sea into the bars and restaurants by the port. There were some disappointed holidaymakers around and no-one on the beach, probably completely unaware that if they went up to the top of the town, or a half mile inland the weather was completely different - perfect blue sky and one of the warmest days of the year so far.

The best thing about the fogs is that they keep the moisture in the air, so now in May, we have fields of green wheat just about to reach first harvest, and meadows of red poppies and all manner of flowers. So as a hint, early in the season, if the sea mist comes in, then head inland to the villages of the Costa Brava for the abundance of flowers and colour.

Sea mists in May rolling in over Begur behind Palafrugell

Tossa de Mar to Cala Llorell
04 May 2015

Tossa de Mar town centre Tossa de Mar is one of the most popular destinations on the Costa Brava for holiday makers who come for the beach, the castle and old town walls that almost seem to tumble into the sea, and the busy bars and restaurants that run along the back of the two main beaches.

We've walked to the north (towards Cala Pola) and from the south on the GR92 from Lloret. This walk takes us down to Cala Llorell - the next beach to the south of Tossa de Mar.

A grumble for the GR92 from Lloret is the way the path passes across the top of some of the estates away from the beaches and coast itself. This can be for practical purposes, such as a lack of access for a beach framed by cliffs at one end, but also a number of the beaches have almost become private estates, fenced off and with a single point of access from the top with the route for walkers often a dull fence lined path through the hills at the back, without obvious diversions or routes down to the sea. Cala Llorell is case in point, and was one of the few beaches on the Costa Brava we still hadn't visited, so this was a bit of an explore south from Tossa.

Xalet Vermell above Tossa de Mar Our first problem was that Tossa de Mar on a May Day weekend was full of visitors, though the beaches were still pretty empty as we're not quite into swimming season yet. However, it did mean that the car parks were very busy, so not being afraid of a little walk, we parked on the outskirts by the sports centre and walked along the stream path into town.

The roads through town were jammed - fine for browsing and strolling in the spring sunshine, but a little too slow for what we wanted to walk. So instead of taking the route to the old town and the castle and then up over the hidden pretty beach of Codolar and the Cami de Ronda, we nip through the quieter backstreets up to the top path.

Tossa de Mar view over Cala Llorell The top leads to some spectacular views from the Mirador de Codolar high on the cliffs over the town and there were plenty of people making the walk to take in the view. We carried on out though, joining the GR92 through the pine woods as we climb up and away from Tossa de Mar. The path is broad and gravelly and well used.

At a point just after the Xalet Vermell (the Red Chalet) - so called because it's a small red house and the only real feature on the path, the path splits. The GR92 turns to the right and the path down to Llorell continues downhill towards the sea. The path is fairly plain through the trees, but you have to be careful to keep to higher paths to the right - marked with arrows - as the routes down to the left are all dead ends.

Cove close to Cala Llorell Tossa de Mar The path emerges into the campsite of Camping Cala Llevado which takes up a huge part of the hillside. In fact the campsite looks excellent with large amounts of terraced spaces and some quite luxury looking wood cabins around. To get down to the beaches though you have to walk on the roads through the campsite. In May this is not a problem, but in the height of summer, access may be more restricted for non-campers - something to check.

For our initial path we just head straight down for the first beach, down a long stretch of steps marked out with wood to a very small (and in summer naturist) beach at the bottom. All the way back up and then around the road to the pretty double-bayed beach of Cala Llorell. This beach is backed by a beach-club bar with an estate of houses dotted around the hillside to the back feeling like a private club-type resort. The sand is the same gritty sand of Lloret and Tossa and is split by a rocky outcrop in the middle. We could see a third smaller beach at the far end with a walkway around the cliff, but didn't go that far around.

Cala Llorell beach near Tossa de Mar Coming back we took the main campsite road up to the top and the main entrance (just opposite a rugby ground). This is back to the GR92 which for this part across the top of the campsite follows the main Lloret to Tossa road. On the first path off, the GR92 turns into the woods and after a while we find ourselves back at the Xalet Vermell.

Instead of repeating the route back, we take the first left after the Chalet down into the woods, following the stream making for a very pleasant descent through the woods with new leaves on the trees. Above us we can see the Torre de Moriscos - the Moor's Tower. The path emerges at the back of the main car parks for Tossa close to the bus station and would be an option for walking avoiding the centre of Tossa and the route by the cliffs.

See also: Tossa de Mar north to Cala Pola - Lloret's Platja de Boadella, Platja de Santa Cristina and The Fence - Blanes, Lloret de Mar, Tossa de Mar by GR92 - Sant Grau and Cadiretes near Tossa de Mar - Llagostera to Sant Llorenç - Sant Feliu de Guixols Pedralta

Swimming and beaches of Tossa de Mar

Walking route Tossa de Mar to Cala Llorell

 

Roses and Roses Ciutadella
27 Apr 2015

Roses modern town boulevard Roses is the main tourist town of the northen part of the Costa Brava sitting with one half of the town reaching into the Cap de Creus, and the other side stretching around the beach of the long bay of the Gulf of Roses to the modern marina-towns of Sant Margarida and Empuriabrava. With easy access to Figueres and the French border, the town is extremely popular with French visitors, or overland travellers from Germany or the Netherlands.

Roses Costa Brava Ciutadella The location is fabulous with a big town beach, hidden chic beaches at Canyelles, views down the bay to the south, a large port, and views (on a clear day you can see the Pyrenees). However, the modern town itself though a bustling holiday town, can feel a little uninspiring if you are looking for nestling fishermen's cottages and historic wending streets. But there is a reason for that, which is deeply entwined with the history of the town and the more you know the history, the more intriguing the town becomes.

The reason why Roses lacks a medieval type centre is because the town moved in the 17th and 18th centuries. The remains of the medieval town of Roses can actually be found completely inside the fortified walls of the Ciutadella of Roses - the large fort that you pass on the way into the town from Figueres.

Roses Ciutadella from inside looking across the Greek town to the Medieval town Roses actually has a history that stretches back to the Ibers, then as a Greek colony, linked to Empuries further south, before the Roman's moved in. The Roman's built at Roses, but also left a defensive fort above the town. In medieval times Roses became more important as a centre of trade and grew with a full town wall with defensive towers.

Roses defensive position made it an important strategic location and as pirate raids increased in the 16th Century as the Ottomans, known as the Barbary pirates, under Barbarossa, it became clear that the medieval walls were no longer considered adequate to safeguard the town from cannons on land or from sea.

Roses Costa Brava Ciutadella view over Medieval town So instead of starting again, the town was enveloped in the massive earth and fortifications that can now be seen at Roses Ciutadella. Completed in 1553, the medieval town remained with streets, houses and still with it's original walls but now completely within the fortress. In actual fact the fortress is about double the size of the town inside, which should give a feeling of scale both of the building as it is now, but also the enormous effort needed to create the fortifications.

Roses Costa Brava Ciutadella outer wall The Ciutadella was part of a wider defensive network of towers and castles that can still be seen around the town. The Ciutadella didn't just house the town, it also held a garrison for soldiers and progressively parts of the population moved outside the town walls.

The Ciutadella became part of the ebb-and-flow of the wars and power struggles between France and Spain. Starting with the Catalan Revolt when Catalonia became independent under French protection), and ultimately into the War of Spanish Succession, revolutionary France, and then into the era of Napoleonic conquest. At the end of the Napoleonic era, the Ciutadella and the town inside were destroyed, leading to the full development of modern Roses along the bay.

Ciutadella wall damage The evidence for this remarkable history is through the town, though it means the modern centre feels functional rather than pretty. The fortifications and older buildings can be seen dotted around, such as the Castell de la Trinitat above the port or various towns situated on the hills at the back of Roses (Puig means hill).

However, inside the Ciutadella walls, it is still possible to see the remains of the old Roses. Archeologists have discovered the remains of the Greek and Roman Roses - also inside the Ciutadella, but outside the Medieval town, while parts of the Medieval walls and towers still exist within the Ciutadella itself.

Visiting the Ciutadella costs €4 for entry which includes a small museum with artifacts from Greek and Roman times. For visitors, it's worth going to the museum first to get a sense of the multiple layers of history and how they overlap within the same site. Entering into the Ciutdella from the front, the old town is to the left, with walls and towers still visible and a clockwise tour around the walls will give an ample overview of the scale and sense of what it would have been like to live in a town with a wall going up around the outside.

Neighbouring walks

Llança - Cadaques and Port Lligat  - Port de la Selva - Sant Pere de Rodes - Figueres and Castell de Sant Ferran - Roses - Canyelles beaches to Cap Falconera - Cadaques to Roses - La Jonquera to Fort de Bellegarde (France) - Peralada - Castello d'Empuries

Dia de Sant Jordi in Palafrugell
24 Apr 2015

Roses display for Sant Jordi in Palafrugell Sant Jordi (Saint George's day) on the 23rd April is probably my favourite Catalan festival. Unlike England, which shares the same day, a Catalonian Dia de Sant Jordi is a celebration of love and literature.

The tradition is that a man gives his partner a rose, and she gives him a book. In practice everyone gives each other books and roses. The book part is relatively new - only started in 1929, but comes about because the 23rd April commemorates Shakespeare's and Cervantes birth day and, now for locals, the death of probably the most famous modern Catalan writer Josep Pla (of Palafrugell...). In 1996 23rd April became the first international book day.

The combination of literature, roses and romance is delightful. Sellers put stalls out on the streets decorated with the yellow and red of the Catalan flag and it seems to be a day that everyone is smiling. Much better than the sickly sweet Valentines day with it's excess of chocolate and bad taste.

Roses and books on sale for Sant Jordi Palafrugell The other famous Catalan festival (besides the commemoration of the Diada in September) is the Nit de Sant Joan - a hugely noisy festival of fireworks and bangers for the midsummer's night (23rd-24th June). I'm afraid I always found this too noisy and wild, particularly in Barcelona where the bangs continue all night,

Palafrugell itself, is the central town for the municipality that includes the coastal towns of Calella de Palafrugell, Llafranc and Tamariu. While the coastal villages are tourist heaven, Palafrugell itself is a working town, once the largest cork producer in the world and the active centre for locals from many of the villages including Pals and Begur to the north. It has character without being pretty in itself and a huge Sunday market that stretches through half the streets of the town to the north. It can feel strangely quite dead during lunchtime for the long mid-day break, but very busy in the evening with bars and occasionally music and sardanes in the evenings. Visitors will probably see the supermarkets on the road that runs around to beach-side villages, but it's worth visiting to get a taste of real Catalan life, though the one way system can be a little confusing for newcomers trying to find the centre.

Gardens of Cap Roig - Palafrugell - Begur - Festa d'Indians - Mont-ras to Calella de Palafrugell and Llafranc - Palafrugell, Tamariu, Begur residential and Esclanya

Tamariu - Aigua Xelida
21 Apr 2015

Tamariu Aigua Xelida view of the bay On the north side of Tamariu in the direction of Aiguablava, the hillside is filled by an estate of luxury villas and a private mini-village that runs down to the tiny beach of Aigua Xelida. Recently they have improved the paths in the area and it's now easier to walk close to the cliffs above some of the tiny rocky bays with some spectacular scenery. Be warned, there are lots of steps on this particular walk - more than 200 in each of the two upward stretches.

Access is easy from Tamariu following the sign posts to Aigua Xelida (or Gelida?) slightly out of town and up the hill into the estate. At the top roundabout the road runs down hill to an area where it splits in two with easy parking on both sides.

Pool with a view Tamariu Aigua Xelida sea hole The main access to Aigua Xelida beach is straight in front of us, down through the trees on a dirt path full of soft pine needles. However for this walk we're making a slightly different loop, so we take the cutting next to the white house down to the next road. The house itself is a bit unusual - at the end of the cutting and when we look back we can see the glass end of a long thin pool - it must be swimming with a view.

We follow the road around to find the entrance to the cliffside path. This has recently been done up and the paths are now indicated with yellow painted wooden markers. We are actually high above a small bay and a couple of small islands with seagulls nesting on the cliff face. The path curls around the top giving unspoilted coastal views before running slightly off the cliff edge and round a small gully. This small gully is a sea-hole, a long crack in the cliffs that allows you to see down to the sea below, no more than about a metre wide all the way down. With a suitable wind, the gap makes the noise of the sea echo and moan through the gap almost like a voice.

Tamariu Aigua Xelida view from cliffs We now follow the path down to the edge of a small rocky bay and then around a path with low growing pines reaching out blocking our way as fun obstacles to scramble around. Around the back of a fisherman's house we follow the steps down to the main and very tiny beach at Aigua Xelida. The water though is crystal clear. The beach itself has a small natural stream with fresh water running across the rocks of the beach directly into the sea. The first time we visited this bay a while ago, was on a cold January day, and the stream had frozen (Xelida=iced) with icicles dangling from the moss.

From the bay, we now head upwards. It's mostly steps now to the top of the cliff on the north side. The path is good though and well maintained with a small wall for guidance. The path runs next to a private village type estate which means that if you do go up this way, the only walking route back to the start (without retracing your steps), is the loop we're doing.

Tamariu Aigua Xelida beach The views from the path are excellent back to the beach and coves, slightly hidden behind the trees. At the top we meet one of the roads into the estate. This is very much luxury estate territory with big houses in big mature gardens overlooking the sea. The road technically is a dead end, but for walkers there are two options.

The first is to take one of the cuttings to the left down through the houses to a path that runs closer to the cliffs. This is relatively short though and it's 100 steps back up to the top. This then gets added to the next 100 steps as we head up and out on the wooden steps that run between the houses up the hill (next to the red house).

Route taken at the start of the walk At the top we stay with an estate road that curls to a track. At the point the track meets the road there is a cutting down towards Tamariu. But instead we stay on top and follow the road and path back to the car.

See also: Palafrugell, Tamariu, Begur residential and Esclanya Far de Sant Sebastia (Llafranc) to Tamariu - Fornells and Aiguablava walk (GR92)

For swimming: Swimming at Aigua Xelida (Tamariu) - Swimming at the beach at Tamariu

Walking route Tamariu Aigua Xelida

Palol de Revardit to La Mota
20 Apr 2015

Palol de Revardit castle Situated on the way to Banyoles, Palol de Revardit is a small, pretty village/hamlet with a newly restored castle set among the hills behind Girona. Access to the village is from the C66 dual carriageway between Girona and Banyoles.

This walk takes us from the village into the hills and up to the hilltop ridge at La Mota which looks over the countryside to the Pyrenees and out to the sea on one side, and across to Girona on the other. The walk up to La Mota is clearly marked from Palol de Revardit, the walk down is a little less clearly marked.

WPalol de Revardit stream e park by the castle at Palol de Revardit. The village is quite small with probably less than a hundred houses and a small ajuntament, but the castle has recently been renovated and the village is very well kept. After a little explore and getting our bearings, we find the signpost marked for the route to La Mota (4.2km). The first part of the walk is along a small village lane that crosses a small stream before a gentle climb to the hills. Though we're on the road it's quiet as the roads only lead to the hills and local farms.

Being spring, the morning was dotted with rain but as we arrived at Palol, the afternoon broke out into a warm bluesky dotted with clouds and it feels like everything is growing. The trees have that fresh verdent green of new leaves and the flowers are filling the meadows.

Palol de Revardit view from La Mota After a short climb past one of the old farms used for tourisme rural, the sign posts take us of the road and up a broad track into the hills. We have the first sound of a cuckoo to accompany us as we follow the track up through the woods. The ground is drying under our feet as we walk and it's a steady slightly humid climb in among a mix of pines and deciduous trees.

The track is broad and pleasant without having too many highlights and after around 2km emerges at a set of meadows just below Sant Marti de la Mota church, perched on the hill ahead of us. The path splits at this point and we could head directly to Els Refugis de la Mota, but instead take the road to the church we can see, part a newly renovated masia with commanding views over plains below. The road does a down and up, and we emerge close to the chapel/church of Sant Marti. The church, like many more isolated ones, is connected to a farmhouse and we meet the owners who point out the views out towards the sea in the distance.

Palol de Revardi view to La Mota We now follow another road along the ridge at the top of the hill. To begin with all the views are to the north, but as we come close to a small urbanisation the views open up across to Girona, with the cathedral clearly visible from where we are. The views extend all around, to the ancient former volcano above Canet d'Adri and up to the Rocacorba mountains behind us.

As is common with many of these highpoints, there is a dolmen close to the top. The sign says the grave is 5,000 years old, but these ancient burial sites are never quite as impressive a you might expect.

Palol de Revardit church at Sant Marti de la Mota The route down follows a track just behind a small playground for the urbanisation that runs under the urbanisation hill on the right, with a stream or gully turning into a valley to the left. It wasn't entirely clear if the track was the route to start with but it was fine - more surprising was that someone had just driven it from the look of the tracks, despite the mud and heavy pot-marks.

The rain had left the track muddy in contrast to the dry track we came up, and from time to time we have to negotiate slippy puddles on the way down, but again it's more pleasant wood-walking without stand-out things to see.

Towards the bottom we cross a stream on stepping stones and pass a couple of old farms being rennovated before walking past tree plantations in the bottom of a shallow valley. We emerge from the path at the Veinet de Can Padres. We were trying to get back to Palol directly, but didn't see a path. Unfortunately the connection from Can Padres to Palol is road all the way - and a newly refurbished road, but there are only three or four cars.

The road takes us above Palol with views of the village and its surrounding, before turning off and then down back towards the castle.

Nearby: Serinya and Illa del Fluvia - Banyoles lakeside walk - Sant Miquel de Fluvia - Bascara - horses, fords and lost - Cervia de Ter - Canet d'Adri - Celra, Juia and the Castle of Palagret - Roman fort at St Julia de Ramis (Girona)

Walking route - Palol de Revardit to La Mota

MIC 2015 Football Tournament
30 Mar 2015

Easter's back with us and the Mediterranean International Cup has returned with first matches on the 31st March/1st April and finals on Saturday and Sunday (4th/5th April). This is a world-class youth football competition held in the Costa Brava every Easter which attracts the youth and development players of Europe's leading football clubs and clubs from around the globe. Neymar, Messi and a huge bunch of other famous Spanish and other football stars played as part of their development from juniors to senior players.

Matches are organised by age. Full schedule (with locations is here: http://www.micfootball.com/en/tournament/results.html)

Under 19s are playing at Cassa de la Selva, Lloret de Mar, Sta Coloma de Farners and Tossa de Mar.

  • Teams include: FC Barcelona, Villarreal, Real Madrid, Atletic Club de Madrid, Levante

 

Under 16s at Llagostera, Hostalric, Sils, Sant Feliu de Guixols, Vidreres.

  • Teams include: Espanyol, New York, Scarborough, Villarreal, Yokohama, Valencia, Sevilla

 

Under 14s at Palafrugell, Begur, Calonge, Mont-ras, La Bisbal, Platja d'Aro.

  • Teams include: Barcelona, Real Madrid, Porto, Inter Milan, Northern Ireland, Los Angeles (USA), Espanyol, Sydney (Australia), Getafe.

 

Under 11s at L'Escala, L'Estartit, Torroella, Begur and Palamos.

  • Teams include: Barcelona, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Brentford, Ajax, Real Madrid, Valencia, Espanyol, Bogota (Colombia), Getafe, Los Angeles

 

Entrance to the matches is free as far as I'm aware (certainly for the younger categories).

Cassa de la Selva
30 Mar 2015

Cassa de la Selva view to the town From Girona Airport to the Costa Brava for Sant Feliu de Guixols, Palamos and Palafrugell, after passing through the small village of Ruidellots de la Selva, the C66 road skirts past the larger town of Cassa de la Selva. The town is on the flat just under the Gavarres with a fabulous if demanding cycle route over the hills behind to La Bisbal.

Being set back from the road, it's very easy just to drive by looking only at the industrial estates on the outside, but it is a traditional Catalan town with a pleasant town centre. Our aim is a gentle walk into the rolling farmland behind the town itself, rather than into the heights of the Gaverres. The early part of this walk has some views towards Montseny, though it was a day with rain in the air so not clear enough for good photos. The second half of the walk after crossing the GI664 has more expansive views to Girona and the mountains. An unexpected feature was the Park de les Arts Contemporanies - a large open air museum with modern sculpture. Unfortunately it was closed out of season but is a place to re-visit.

To start we park in one of the municipal car parks on the main inner road around the centre of Cassa. Cassa itself has an older part around the church and a more modern (1920s) area situated by the old Casino (a meeting place rather than a gambling den). We're not really visiting the town this time, though we do drift into the centre on the way back.

Cassa de la Selva view to hills From the car park we go to the real start, just by a roundabout on the edge of the town. This is clearly marked with a signpost and we following the yellow-white markers for a local route. Initially we walk past a few industrial units towards farms, before turning up a track into the woods and up a hill. All OK, but not spectacular. At the top of the hill is a small water deposit with views across Cassa and down towards the mountains of Montseny (towards Barcelona). This is farming countryside with fields and woods and large isolated farm houses, rather than the dense alsina forests of higher up in the Gavarres.

We cross the road that links Cassa to La Bisbal. This is a lovely cycling route for those who like hill climbs, rising up to 400m or so with a dramatic change in scenery as you leave the farmlands and reach more isolated and higher levels of the Gavarre hills, before coming down again to La Bisbal.

Cassa de la Selva Art Parc Our walk continues past more farms. It's not completely isolated and in two of the houses, there seem to be family gatherings with lots of cars parked in the yard and the smell of barbequing sausages drifting in the wind. The view starts to open out and we find horse tracks all the path. We have views to the flashing telecoms tower in Girona and a grand vista which takes in Girona airport and the hills beyond. We pass one of the horse-riding centres sweeping under the hills to our right, then start our return journey just a little ahead of the official path, turning down past a tumble down masia into the woods.

Ahead of us the road splits. The signpost to the left says Cassa so we take that and end up at the back of the modern art park, where we can peek through the fence at the curious collection of mechanical and modern art sculptures. To find out more we make a brief diversion to the front, but it's closed at the moment - only open by appointment. Presumeably it will re-open during summer.

We then turn back to Cassa heading straight for the church and the pedestrianised shopping streets that are quiet and closed on Sunday afternoon. A slight mis-direction means that we miss the more modern part of Cassa with the Casino and instead end up at the car.

Other visits: Hostalric stroll - Caldes de Malavella - Via Ferrata at the Gorges de Salenys - Romanya de la Selva - Gavarres Montnegre and Montigalar - Santa Coloma de Farners - Llagostera to Sant Llorenç - Volca de la Crosa - Sant Dalmai (Girona Airport) - Ruta del Carrilet - Girona cyclepath to the coast 

Walking route Cassa de la Selva countryside

Sant Pere Pescador river Fluvia
11 Mar 2015

Sant Pere Pescador town view Sant Pere Pescador is a small town situated between L'Escala and Roses on the banks of the River Fluvia, not quite on the coast itself. The northern side of the Fluvia runs into the Aiguamolls d'Emporda - a vast wetlands reserve for wild birds including storks and flamingoes. The southern side of the river connects to the long broad beach that carries on for about 7km down past Sant Marti d'Empuries. The area is quite flat with lots of campsites and not much habitation otherwise. More inland, the countryside is flat with expanses of espallier orchards and fruit farms.

We parked just outside the town of Sant Pere Pescador, close to a tourist information centre just before the bridge across the river into town. For this visit we didn't go into Sant Pere Pescador itself as we were more interested in the coastal scenery just south of El Fluvia - the north side is the Aiguamolls d'Emporda wetlands bird sanctuary.

Sant Pere Pescador view along river Fluvia The path was then very easy to follow and entirely flat the whole way around. The day was a little overcast and greyish days with low scenery don't make for the best photos. We walk firstly just following the river which is actually quite wide and in fact, with the reeds in the water, the birds and the low trees at times it felt like we could have been walking in the Fens or the East Anglian coast.

The main walk out along the river we could see cormorants on the water and collections of anglers parked and fishing on the other side of the river. A queue of stand-up paddle-boarders on the river was the only sign of tourist type activities, though I guess in summer the area will be much busier and the whole area is full of campsites.

The river path eventually runs past fields of low sandy dunes with beach vegetation of grasses and low shrubs before reaching the beach where the Fluvia meets the sea (the Gola). A small viewing platform allows you to get about 3m above the height of the land and though it doesn't sound much, because of the low level of the ground, the extra height opens up views to Roses and out to the Pyrenees in the background as well as providing vistas back along the river to Sant Pere.

The beach itself is long and broad - it runs 7-8km straight down towards Sant Marti d'Empuries - with soft sand underfoot. The winter weather creates undulations in the sand so as we walk along the beach we're continually going up and down and with occasional soft patches, the walking is harder work than we expected. We're not the only ones on the beach, but it is very sparsely populated. A few other Sunday afternoon walker and, ahead of us, someone testing out motorised paragliders taking off, making a short hop along the beach, then landing before repeating the exercise.

The beach runs at the back of a number of campsites, set back a little from the beach. Now, out of season, they are all closed up, but even in the height of summer, the sand is so broad that it would be difficult to imagine that it would get very crowded.

Sant Pere Pescador sea view We come off the beach and follow a small path a little closer to the campsites, mainly to get off the sand, then by Camping Amfora we follow a strange wide boulevard past an isolated estate of villas back towards Sant Pere Pescador.

The aim was to see if we could connect to L'Armentera via the Bon Relax estates, but unfortunately the connecting path that we were hoping might exist doesn't exist. So instead we wander through the villas and strange set of high rise blocks of the Bon Relax estate. These are the high rise blocks that can be seen from miles away and feel totally out of place in what otherwise is a low-height area. The estate also feels strangely disconnected - it's not by a town or village, it's not on the sea and there are no other buildings or industry nearby.

The path from Bon Relax to Sant Pere Pescador goes along the road for a short while and back to the car. For walking, the stretch from the beach to Bon Relax could easily be skipped, just staying on the path closer to the Fluvia.

See also: Aiguamolls d'Emporda (Empuriabrava) - Escala, St Marti d'Empuries and beyond - Castello d'Empuries - Roses - Canyelles beaches to Cap Falconera - Roses and Roses Ciutadella - Bellcaire d'Emporda, Tor and Albons - Serinya and Illa del Fluvia - Sant Miquel de Fluvia

Walking route Sant Pere Pescador River Fluvia

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Comments

adam@veggingoutwithadam.com
17 Feb 2014 19:46
What a great blog. I am planning a walking holiday in the region and wonder if you can recommend the best walking maps, like UK ordnance survey ones.

I shall be reading more of your walks over the coming days as we plan.

Many thanks
Adam
Saul
24 Feb 2014 17:25
Glad you're enjoying it. We have recommendations for maps in our 'Advice and FAQ' section
Saul
13 Jul 2017 12:46
Sorry I missed the comment, so I hope it's not too late - use the contact box if you'd like to send a message. For the coast, the GR92 is best and if you have driver you can just take it piece by piece. For hikers, around Cap de Creus is great, though it can be dry and hard walking in summer. For us, the stretch between Palamos and Palafrugell and on to Begur is the prettiest part of the whole Costa Brava and really good for walking. I'd probably also take the walk up and over Montgri, possibly starting at Pals, or L'Estartit to L'Escala. And though you said you prefer the coast, don't overlook inland routes as there are some wonderful villages and countryside out towards Girona, La Bisbal, or Olot.
Sven-Gunnar Furmark
24 May 2017 11:43
Hi,

My name is Sven Furmark. I am from Sweden. I plan to go to Costa Brava with some friends (totally about 10 people) for hiking for one week (5 walking days). We are experienced hikers and we usually walk 4-6 hours per day. We prefer to walk along the coast as much as possible. We plan to rent a house and travel to each days hiking with a bus & driver which we plan to book for the whole week. Which five hikes would you recommend for us.

Warm Regards
Sven
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