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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.
 

Most Viewed

Cadaques and Port Lligat
24 Mar 2014

Cadaques view of the town from the Cami de Ronda - Costa Brava Cadaques is one of the most famous coastal villages in Catalonia and was where the surrealist painter Salvador Dali lived and worked in his coast-side house at Port Lligat. The town is on the Cap de Creus penisular and is really quite isolated separated by 12km of winding narrow roads over the hills from the neighbouring towns of Roses or to Port de la Selva. The remoteness, the narrow streets - some less than a metre and a half wide - and white washed buildings and arid hills behind makes Cadaques feel unique. In some ways it is almost more like a Greek Mediterranean village than Spain. It's this remoteness and uniqueness combined with the pure light of the coast that lures people to Cadaques

Cadaques island For us this is only our second visit so we're not aiming for a complex route - something simple and straightforward to get a feel for the area is perfectly fine for us, so this is just a standard easy-to-follow Cami de Ronda route.

Arriving in Cadaques by car there are big signs about the general lack of car parking with the advice that cars should park in the main paying municipal car park which we did, but it's a little expensive - close to 3 euros an hour. If you are walking, we discovered there is free parking out towards Port Lligat and the cemetery which is far enough out of town to be a good 10 minute walk to the centre and would have space out of season.

Cadaques Port Lligat Bay The old part of Cadaques sits on a small hill with the church at the top. The main car park sits just behind this hill, but lower down, so to start we head up the hill towards the church, through the very narrow streets lined with terraces of white-walled houses that give Cadaques its distinctive look. The streets themselves have a stoned surface, though unlike cobblestones these are narrower more slate-like stones with edges upwards in diagonal or herring-bone fashion and in places the road itself is actually the raw rock of the hill.

Cadaques northern bays The church, being the high point of this part of the town, has views from its small courtyard in the front towards the sea and along to the cliffs and lighthouse in the distance on the right. Taking our fill, we head down towards the sea through the lanes passing by houses with plant pots outside their windows and pots lining the street edges.

At the beach, the town suddenly seems busier. The beach at Cadaques is a rock and shingle beach - people generally wouldn't come here for a beach holiday - the town has much too much character for that, and the area is generally rocky and stony, with the sedimentary layers of the rocks occasionally turned vertical and eroded and sharp, but perfect for diving, fishing or water sports. The beach itself has plenty of people even for March, though wrapped in coats against the wind. Around the beach area are restaurants and bars and a central statue of Dali looking back towards the town.

Port Lligat fisherment boats We continue across the beach and then around the Cami de Ronda. To begin with the path shares the road as it runs next door to the sea. We're on the leeside of the bay so the wind has dropped and each time we turn back we get another picture postcard view of Cadaques.

Towards the end of the bay we cross another small rough sand beach and take the path around the outside of a house as it runs around the top of the final set of rocks that have views back to town. Across the bay we can see the cliffs and an isolated lighthouse. There is more walking in this area including routes to Roses about 16km away - too far for a family round trip.

Dali Museum heads at Port Lligat Around the house and the headland, Cadaques disappears and the scenery changes - becoming bleaker with much more rock stringing out into the sea. Across from us is a small island with a house and a watch tower on it. From behind it looked like another headland, but we can see now there is open water between the beach in front of us and the island.

The path continues around any number of rock headlands - perfect for hunting crabs in the summer or for skimming stones from the beaches. The sea in the distance from us is stormy with white horses, but close to the bay the water is smoother. Just inland from the sea front are newer houses and modern architecture villas that seem a little out of place from the wildness of the coast.

At the end of the headland we cross a rise and get the full blast of the wind in our faces. The sea below us is much more open to the elements with waves crashing against the rocks, but with a deep blue sea that we can see all the way to France.

Cadaques street We follow the road down past a row of seaside houses that seem to be snuggling next to each other to keep out the wind. The headland is more like a spit so we have to turn around. Fortunately we see the Cami de Ronda sign which takes us down a narrow track into the woods and a scramble down to the bay between the spit and the main land. In front of us we can see a wild, almost Scottish landscape with the huddle of houses of Port Lligat in the distance, but no other buildings nearby.

We cross the beach in the bay and follow the track along the side of this new bay. Above us are ancient looking terracing for olive or vine cultivation that look as if they could have been on the hill since Roman times. The path is still narrow and 2-3 metres above the sea. At one point we have to cross sloping rocks that seem to want us to make us slide into the sea.

And then we arrive in Port Lligat, a handful of brightly coloured fishing boats on the small quayside and then around the corner at we're at Dali's house. We're not visiting the museum and from the port side it looks like a large traditional Catalan house, but with white walls with a few neighbouring houses. We take the chance to enjoy the view and the location then take the road up the hill. As we go up we can see the Daliesque touches like ceramic eggs on the roof and two silver heads, but it is much more subtle touches than Figueres for instance.

Then back into town, cutting into the confusing network of small lanes to see if we can navigate our way back. We arrive at the main square with trees wearing knitted sleeves and navigate through more streets and back to the car.

Neighbouring walks: Cadaques to Roses - Roses and Roses Ciutadella - Roses - Canyelles beaches to Cap Falconera - Port de la Selva - Sant Pere de Rodes - Llança

Walking route for Cadaques and Port Lligat

And now an earthquake...
19 Mar 2014

Having just had a large forest fire on the Costa Brava, now we've just had a small (3.9 Richter Scale) earthquake with an epicentre just off the coast between Palamos and Palafrugell. It's quite unusual - the Costa Brava is definitely not an earthquake zone - and the size was nowhere near large enough to cause any damage, but enough to shake the house a little and raise a few eyebrows. We have building work next door and had assumed it was connected to the builders digging out foundations creating some ground movement until we saw the news that confirmed it was a genuine seismic event.

Fire on the Costa Brava
17 Mar 2014

Fire at Vall.llobrega Costa Brava from Quermany A big plume of smoke rising out of the Gavarres at about 2.30pm yesterday put our walking plans on hold as a huge forest fire had started in Vall.llobrega which is about 2-3km from us. Forest fires are relatively common around the Emporda area but still quite devastating when they happen and one reason for being very careful not to start fires in the woods. For March to October, fires are banned from wooded areas or their vicinity because of the risk of a large scale incident and ironically yesterday was the second day of this year's no-fire season.

Forest fire at Vall.llobrega Costa Brava The second major factor in the bigger fires is the northerly Tramuntana. wind. This is usually a very strong and very dry wind that blows from the north and yesterday's coincided with a very dry hot day with temperatures reaching 27C in March. The wind whips across the woods and helps the flames to spread. Thankfully we were just to the north of the starting point for the fire, so the smoke and flames were heading away from us an area that we frequently use for walking and exploring.

We did sneak a trip down towards Palamos and could see both the smoke and flames in the trees just above Vall.llobrega which, from where we were sitting, looked dramatically close. However, though around 400 people were evacuated, reports suggest the fire didn't reach houses. The fire though subsided in the evening, though there are still fire crews around and reports that it is not yet completely extinguished.

We postponed our planned walk and instead went to Quermany - the hill behind Regencos on what was a fabulously clear day (the views from Quermany across Pals and Peratallada to Canigou in the Pyrenees are spectacular) and watched the fire and helicopters and planes from the safe distance.

Gavarres Montnegre and Montigalar
10 Mar 2014

Montigalar summit in the Gavarres close to Montnegre Montnegre (black mountain) is a name that is found several times in Catalonia but for today refers to an area in the heart of the Gavarres above the town of Quart and not too distant from Girona. It's possible to cross the Gavarres north to south by one of four roads - over Els Angels from Girona to Madremanya, over the centre from Cassa de la Selva to La Bisbal, across from Calonge to La Bisbal, and the area we're exploring today which is the route from Quart to Monells - though this is only tarmac for the Quart side of the mountain.

The central part of the Gavarres is quite large, mostly wooded, but with masias, churches, the occasional modern villas and surprising hidden fields from time to time. We're visiting an area we haven't really explored before so rather than start at the base, we decided to bring the car up as it would add about 16km up and down to the walk if we were to start from Quart. The roads up and across the Gavarres though are famed as cycling training routes for professional cyclists, and it is possible to cycle up - the gradients aren't too bad, it's just the 8-10km of climb that makes it a challenge.

Sant Matteu de Montnegre church We decided to start at the church of Sant Matteu de Montnegre. This is a small church perched on a promentary with huge views across the Gavarres to the Empordan plain to the north and the Girona plane to the south. There are routes down into the valley to the left and right and but our goal though is to find the hamlet of Montnegre on the neighbouring promentary, and unfortunately that means following the tarmac road that links the two. There should be crossings through the valley, but even with a map there are no clear paths for crossing the valley.

From Sant Matteu we pass a number of houses - despite the relatively remoteness there are scattered modern houses in a sort of extended urbanisation with more infrequent older farmhouses around. The road is modern and done up and curls around the ridgeway that connects the two promentaries.

It's March, but warm and there are lots of hunters out who have driven up with dogs. It's always slighly unnerving to see someone cradling a rifle as you walk past and as we're dressed in green jackets (the hunters wear orange) it's slightly worrying for when we come off the path into the woods just in case they don't see us. The object of the hunters quest are wild boar - senglars in Catalan. The Gavarres teem with them and anywhere you walk you'll see signs of disturbed earth where the boar root around for food. To hunt, dogs are used to locate the boar - dogs with bells or wireless transmitters are let loose in the undergrowth to sniff out the animals - the bells acting so the hunters and locate the dogs later. When the dogs find the boar, they start barking so the hunters know where to go.

Views across the Gavarres from Montnegre We leave the road and head for the viewpoint at the top of Montigalar. The path cuts into the woods and from the voices and ringing bells we can hear, but not see, the hunters in the woods to the left and right. We can also see the hunters cars some of which must have driven up the narrowest paths to find somewhere to park.

Our route though takes us up the hill until we reach the top which is marked by a triangulation point and the Estrellada Catalan Flag. At the bottom of the flagpole is a small pessebre nativity scene to mark the spot. The views are glorious out across Monells and La Bisbal, or across the folds of the Gaverres in the other direction.

We take a moment to wait until the encroaching hunting noises including the sounds of several shots echoing through the hills, start to recede and continue down around the bottom of the hill beneath the viewpoint. At the bottom it joins with the path that we had taken from Monells up and then links to the tarmac road. We could turn right strat back to Sant Matteu, but since our objective was Montnegre we go left for the few hundred metres it takes to reach the small hamlet of houses. There's a small church/chapel here and we walk down the lane to find it, but it's not clear if there is public access.

Instead, we turn round and follow the road back, seeing a couple of road cyclists making their first ascent of the day. The sun is out. It's warm and we have the first butterflies in among the wild hyacinths so it's a shame we have to walk the same road back as we'd taken out.

Gavarres walks: Girona and Castell de St Miquel - Calonge into the Gavarres - St Pol de Bisbal and Santa Lucia - Monells and Mont-negre - Celra, Juia and the Castle of Palagret - Madremanya, Els Angels, Sant Marti Vell - Romanya de la Selva to Puig d'Arques

Walking route Gavarres Sant Matteu de Montnegre to Montnegra via Montigalar

Sant Jordi Desvalls, Colomers and Sant Llorenç de les Arenes
24 Feb 2014

Sant Jordi Desvalls Costa Brava The river Ter is the main river that runs from Pyrenees through Girona to the coast of the Costa Brava by L'Escala and Torroella de Montgri where it feeds the rice paddies around Pals. The Ter has water all year round and is broad by the time it gets past Girona making a natural barrier that has to be crossed to get from the southern towns like Palafrugell to the more northern towns like L'Escala and there only a limited number of crossing points, with bridges at Verges, Torroella de Montgri and Girona.

Sant Jordi Desvalls centre However, there is a hidden extra crossing close to Flaça and this is actually a raised ford rather than a bridge. When the river is low, the water runs under the ford, but if it gets higher water will run over the top. From our walk near Colomers we also discovered from signposts that there is another crossing for bikes and by foot close to Colomers. This walk then creates a loop linking the two crossings and the neighbouring villages, starting on the hill of Sant Jordi Desvalles.

River Ter by Colomers We parked on the outskirts of Sant Jordi Desvalles which stands above the Ter and looks over the levels of Flaça across to the Gavarres. The village has a medieval heart arranged n circle of terraced streets for defensive reasons, and many of the old buildings in the centre are built on a large jutting base that would have added strength and fortification. Many of the houses have been renovated and from the Plaça underneath the church, the village has the feeling of a relatively well-to-do village with good access to Girona.

View to Colomers Our route though is taking us out into the fields along Carrer Mas Mato. We're on a road but it's almost unused as it just connected to a neighbouring cluster of farm houses at Mas Mato. On the other side, we pass under the railway - this is the route from Girona to Port Bou - the main connection to France until the recent AVE road was built through the Pyrenees. As such it's quite busy with trains with both passengers and freight.

River Ter flood barrier and crossing point near Colomers On the other side of the bridge we head towards the fields that fringe the river. We can't see the water as the path is too far away from the edge, but we can see the line of trees that flank it's banks. The road we're on comes to an end with a T-junction with signposting pointing right towards Flaça. We take the unmarked left route though in the other direction towards Colomers.

Sant Llorenc de les Arenes close to river As we get closer to Colomers, we also get closer to the GI-633 road. The road is sort of a rat-run connecting the AP7 and N2 to the north of Girona through Colomers, Jafre and on to Torroella avoiding the busier C66 on the south side of the Ter - it's not that busy, but it is popular with people driving quickly.

So because of the geography, just outside the village, as we get our first close glimpse of the river as it follows a big right hand bend, this also makes a pinch point where the road and the river run side by side and, unfortunately, there is no easy footpath to avoid the road so we have to follow the road and walk behind the crash barriers.

View to Flaca church and old quarter Around the corner, the walking is easier again and we can walk past the Colomers Kayak and Canoeing centre where you can rent boats and canoe down the Ter as far as Verges. We've walked this little bit before (Colomers and Jafre walk) but in reverse, so we know we have to stay by the road to start then take a right into the fields again following the bike path towards Foixa. It was seeing the signpost previously that made us realise that there's a crossing point for the river here.

Factory mill close to Flaca We follow the road down towards the river and then round behind an old water works and we reach a large mechanical flood barrier that spans the river. From our walks around the upper part of the river at Roda de Ter, we know that the Ter can flood as it brings water and rain down from the Pyrenees to the sea. The barrier here is presumably to protect the downstream towns of Torroella.

We cross the barrier - it's fully open and the river looks very benign as it runs over the wier and rocks. On the other side it's just woods and the occasional field with no sign of habitation. We're on a track through the woods and have to be careful to take the first right we come to up a small hill and then another right on the other side which brings us out to the first houses of Sant Llorenç de les Arenes - a hamlet of older houses with gardens that feels quite isolated. We can also see the river now beneath us on the left. The path is road once more and we continue through the heart of the hamlet and then out the other side past more renovated farmhouses situated above the river and we could almost be walking along the Dordogne with the French sense of a route along a gentle river valley.

Ford over the river Ter by Sobranigues The road turns away from the river for a while and we pass under another railway bridge and on past an old factory mill house with a castle-like tower and palm trees in the garden. We reach the road that takes us down to the ford at Sobranigues that connects Flaça to the other side of the Ter. It's popular with locals as a connection so there are a few cars that pass us on the road. At the junction we can see the old church and village at Flaça in the distance. Many visitors only see the new area around Flaça station, so don't realise that the town also has a well-preserved and slightly separate older part.

The ford itself takes the form of a low bridge with water passing underneath. The first time we found this route there was more water and we had to drive through the river as a proper ford.  We find it at lower water, with the river passing underneath the ford into a broad pool under the rocks as it curves to the left beneath the village. It's a very pleasant place to stop and there are places to explore the shore line and river beaches along the river nearby.

After taking a break we follow the road up to the houses of Sobranigues and then take a track to the left that curls around the hill, past a couple of farms, and we find ourselves back in Sant Jordi Desvalls.

Neighbouring walks: Colomers and Jafre - Rupia and Foixa - Madremanya, Els Angels, Sant Marti Vell - Bordils and the tree plantations of the Ter - Celra, Juia and the Castle of Palagret - Cervia de Ter - Roman fort at St Julia de Ramis (Girona)

Walking route for the river Ter Sant Jordi Desvalls, Colomers and Flaça on Costa Brava

Bordils and the tree plantations of the Ter
24 Feb 2014

Bordils church from a distance Bordils is one of the towns on the northern C66 route from Girona to the Costa Brava via La Bisbal that tracks the river Ter. From the main road the impression of Bordils is of a string of buildings along the main road, when in actual fact the town, like many of the towns on this route, sits a little way off. In Bordils case this is about 1km into the plain marked by a very large impressive church.

Bordils village centre We're actually back in Bordils to watch a handball match so this is a short exploration of the town and the area around, but because of the match we start at the sports stadium and then follow the road in towards the main church. Most of this area is an estate of large modern homes and it's not until we get closer to the centre that we get to see older buildings and a more classic nucleus.

From the size of the church and the style of the buildings the town itself looks as if it was a wealthy farming community. The church is tall with a apse flanked by two pointed towers, but the heart of the village is relatively small apart from a number of larger masias.

Bordils tree plantations After circumscribing the town centre we head out into the farm land and trees. Mostly the trees are fruit trees growing in the fertile soil and ample water from the river Ter, with large birch or beech plantations. The morning is fresh but in bright sun so even though the trees are without leaves the light adds sharpness and depth.

The road is empty apart from a cyclist and there is nothing around apart from the trees and two or three very large masias, and it's not just fruit trees - there are also specialist plantations of palms and decorative trees for garden centres. The road turns naturally to the left and we pass between two old masias and then start to approach the main road and industrial area. One of the masias was an old mill and still has water passing underneath, though it's now waiting for renovation.

We follow the mill stream back through the large warehouses of Girona Fruit and back across the fields to the sport centre.

See also: Girona and Castell de St Miquel - Roman fort at St Julia de Ramis (Girona) - Madremanya, Els Angels, Sant Marti Vell - Celra, Juia and the Castle of Palagret - La Pera, Pubol and around - Sant Jordi Desvalls, Colomers and Sant Llorenç de les Arenes

 

Walking route for Bordils

Llagostera to Sant Llorenç
17 Feb 2014

Llagostera town from Sant Llorenc Costa Brava Llagostera literally stands above the roads that connect Girona and Barcelona to the Costa Brava and as such is one of the markers that the coast is not far away. Because of it's position at the head of the Aro valley, it is a town with a lot of history and interest, even though many people will just go straight past on the way to the coast, or back to the airport.

Llagostera hill to the castle walls We park on the Caldes de Malavella side at the bottom of the hill that leads to the castle. From this side, a steep road runs up to the top just outside the castle walls. The area has been restored and there are rings of streets that would have been part of the town walls. We're exploring at this point so our route is haphazard up and round in rings until we eventually take the stairs from a lower square up to the main castle and church level. Unusually there's a little bit of rain - normally even in winter we walk in dry conditions as it's unusual to have more than two or three days rain on the trot.

The church is large and imposing with a Baroque facade standing in a large plaça that would have been the main courtyard for the castle with towers looking out from the hill top. The views are extensive along the dead straight road to Cassa de la Selva and on to Girona, or across to the hills of Gavarres and L'Ardenya. Our route down is also haphazard, turning when we see something that looks interesting, like a water fountain with a big handwheel to pump the water.

Llagostera castle walls The town itself is quite large and well kept with many interesting buildings and practically a commuter town for Girona. The last time we were in Llagostera, there were people in home-made carts and buggies rolling down the hill from the castle in the annual cart-race which sees people dress up and make creatively decorated unpowered vehicles run down the streets. This time Llagostera is quiet and we only really see people as we walk past the old Casino social club - a 1920s building by the side of a large modern square.

Llagostera Casino social club Heading out, we find the town rambla and then reach the outskirts and the route for the Carrilet - the viaverde bike route that connects Girona to Sant Feliu. We follow it north a little way to find our path out via the Mas Gottara estate and into the fields and farms. The road we're on turns to a dirt track and we head out towards the C35, stopping to admire the view from the low hill.

Our path though, runs through a tunnel under the road and out towards an old Indiana-style estate house on the other side. The tunnel has a surprisingly long echo which entertains the children.

We did want to get to see the state of the Indiana house - from the C35 dual carriageway (it's the arm that goes towards Barcelona) we pass this way and the house looks intriguing. Unfortunately the only way to approach it from our path is on a private road and we're discouraged from visiting by a neighbour in his garden.

Llagostera indiana mansion by the C35 Instead, we continue on through the woods and past another enormous masia before reaching the road at the bottom. There's a little bit of a zig-zag here, we have to turn left, then right along the road looking for our next target - the chapel of Sant Llorenç. We pass a farm with sheep in the field - this is rolling farm country with a few wooded valleys in the distance. The chapel is on the small hill to our right and we find a small track that takes us up to the top. The chapel is more like an old stone barn with a bell on top so not so ancient but not particularly architecturally interesting.

Llagostera chapel of Sant Llorenc We take the track that runs down the hill from the chapel and then across the road to find our first signpost and we start to head back towards Llagostera. The rain has stopped and the day is brighter, but we follow a muddy track along the side of some woods with an enormous renovated masia complete with covered swimming pool to our right. We emerge back in the fields, but rather than continue towards Llagostera we go up the hill following the Carril Groc to see more views across Llagostera. Unfortunately the day is cloudy, but on a clear day we would be able to see the Pyrenees.

We then continue across the top of the hill, taking a left past a masia with a collapsable wind-turbine before rolling back down the hill to the road and a bridge back to Llagostera close to the access route to Mas Roure - a large restaurant that stands by the side of the dual carriageway.

Still dodging the main town, we take the track up to the picnic area and then around the back of Llagostera to the main through road and back past the castle to the car.

See also: Caldes de Malavella - Romanya de la Selva - Gavarres Montnegre and Montigalar - Tossa de Mar north to Cala Pola - Tossa de Mar to Cala Llorell - Sant Grau and Cadiretes near Tossa de Mar - Ruta del Carrilet - Girona cyclepath to the coast 

Walking route Llagostera to Sant Llorenc

Sant Feliu de Guixols Pedralta
10 Feb 2014

The hills to the back of Sant Feliu de Guixols are an area we don't know very well. Unlike the Gavarres they are somewhat more arid and rocky and feel more barren. This was a walk we took because it looked interesting on the map as it takes in two bits of the GR92 and a viewpoint. Unfortunately it was also a day that I forgot to take my camera...

This part of the GR92 links Tossa de Mar and Sant Feliu on the one hand, and has a branch of the GR92 that runs up to Romanya de la Selva. The actual connection between Tossa de Mar and Sant Feliu doesn't run close to the coast - though there is an extremely bendy coast road between the two towns.

Our starting point is in the Urbanisation of Pedralta which are a collection of villas spaced out among the hills just off the road which runs up from an industrial state just outside Sant Feliu. It would be possible to start at Sant Feliu, but instead we're about three-quarters of the way up, and we park in a small no-through road (Carrer Roure) just below the point at which the road and path up the hill separate. This is a very quiet area so there would be no problem taking the road up, but we follow the path which runs parallel to the road as we climb up the hill.

The hills around Sant Feliu are more arid and rockier than the Gavarres where we normally walk. The ground underfoot is much sandier and the alzinas more spread-out and despite rain recently, the ground is fast draining and quite dry. As we walk there are views out across to the sea at Sant Feliu and then the coast along Platja d'Aro and up even towards Begur. The path curls away from the road for a while and we can see across the valley of the river Aro across to Sant Cristina d'Aro.

Eventually the path we're on meets back up with the road. We turn right and follow the road way for a few hundred metres until we reach a broad clearing with signposts. There would be parking here and the road up is in good condition having been resurfaced recently, so it would be easy to drive up.

Taking a route through the clearing we pass, firstly a small chapel and secondly a large boulder which looks unsteady balancing on an outcrop to which a cross has been added. There's also a large pylon and then continuing to follow the path, we reach a viewing area with metal railings that is Puig Mirador. The view is spectacular, with a deep drop separating the viewing area from the hill just across. Behind us the hills are threadbare with expanses of yellow-orange rocks and promentories that limit the number of trees. To the left up the valley we can look towards the hills and mountains of Montseny and across the valley are the tops of the Gavarres. To the right, the sea view and the high-rises of Platja d'Aro.

We double back and head straight on across the GR92 up a small incline, and then follow a line of pylons. On this side of the hill, it is almost all rough hills and trees with no habitation visible and just a few tracks running into the hills. According to the map we are running parallel to a lower stretch of the GR92 as it comes up from Tossa de Mar, so we're hoping for an unmarked route or scramble that we can taken down in order to be able create a loop for the walk. It takes a while but we find a path to the left. It's a little steep but one that other people have used so steady going.

At the bottom we're back on the GR92 again. The path though is still a small track and it wends it's way around the side of the hill. We just have to follow the path, and except for one moment under a pylon where someone has scrawled Pedralta on the base suggesting a second path, we follow the track down to a split point (Tres Camins).

Instead of taking the Sant Feliu branch we take the Romanya direction behind one of the villas and around the top of a sparsely built estate to get back to the road up to Pedralta, and as it's very quiet we head down the road and back to the car.

See also: Solius, rocks for climbing and ruined castle - Tossa de Mar north to Cala Pola - Tossa de Mar to Cala Llorell - Sant Grau and Cadiretes near Tossa de Mar - Platja Sant Pol to Sant Feliu de Guixols - Via Ferrata at the Gorges de Salenys

Size = 420 x 407

Castello d'Empuries
03 Feb 2014

Castello dEmpuries Cathedral Basilica de Santa Maria Costa Brava Castello d'Empuries was, until the middle of the 14th Century, the capital of the county of Empuries which encompassed almost the whole of the Emporda region and was a rival to the counts of Barcelona. Castello d'Empuries itself sits slightly inland on the Muga river as, in the Middle Ages, this was an area of lakes and sea-marshes (aiguamolls) that were progressively drained or silted up. In recent times, these areas have been converted into the wetland bird sanctuaries of the Aiguamolls d'Emporda and d'Alt Emporda for the visiting flamingos, storks and other migrating and native birds.

However, an area of the wetlands was drained in the 1960s and converted into one of Europe's largest residential marinas - Empuriabrava - a network of linked canals with houses, where each house has it's own mooring space. For tourists, it's easy to see the somewhat overblown Empuriabrava and miss the much more interesting and historic neighbouring town of Castello d'Empuries behind it.

Castello dEmpuries old town walls We want to visit for the history as much as anything. Castello d'Empuries is the only town in the Emporda region with a Cathedral (actually a Basilica) illustrating it's former importance. But for walking, because of the previous lake, much of the surrounding area forms a flat plain crossed by ditches and drains that mean relatively few circular paths. As a result we're playing it by ear to see what we find, rather than having too strong a plan of places to go - we just know we're not heading for Empuriabrava today.

We park at the sports centre. In Catalonia, practically every town with more than 2,000 inhabitants has some form of Poliesportiu Municipal mostly used by one or two particular sports clubs, like handball, basketball, football sala, but also more exotic sports like roller hockey or roller dance - so mostly organised sports and often much more a simple community facility than the professional 'leisure centre' in the UK.

From the sports centre we walk into the centre of town in through older traditional stone terraced houses. Being a Sunday everything is closed, but walking through the streets, Castello d'Empuries shows it's medieval heritage with large buildings and ornate stone window dressings. In the early part of September each year, Castello has a Festival of Troubadors - medieval singers - with the whole town reliving it's past with events like jousting.

Sant Joan de Sescloses and ancient lake bed After zig-zagging through the streets we get to the Basilica de Sant Maria - known as the Cathedral of Empuries. When Catalunya first emerged as a buffer state between the Franks and the Moors in the 9th century, it consisted of a set of semi-independent counties - literally areas ruled by a count. As time passed and the counties became more established, rivalries grew up between the different counts resulting in a series of skirmishes/battles between the Counts of Empuries based in Castello and the Counts of Barcelona who were the dominate ruling family in Catalonia at the time. Eventually the rivalries were settled by intermarriage between the leading families (these unions by marriage eventually leading all the way to the unified Spanish monarchy of Ferdinard and Isabella) which then saw Castello diminished in influence as Barcelona became the pre-eminent centre of Catalonia.

View to the mountain of Canigou from Castello dEmpuries We take the road to the right of the Cathedral and emerge outside the old walls of the town by a river/moat. Historically, the area we can see from this point between Castello and Roses was a lake until about the 16th century providing both fishing and protection for the town. Gradually, as with many of the shallow lakes that were close to the sea, the area was drained and converted to fields, but with very low levels of habitation due to the risks of flooding, so the old town stops at it's old walls on this side.

We walk along the river/moat and back into the city at the next gate. Though it's not marked as such this actually takes us up and through a restaurant garden. We continue back through the old part of the city past noted buildings with plaques and information on them, and past the Cathedral where a crowd has gathered. The bells sound and there is a flurry of rice thrown in the air as a newly married couple leave the church.

We loop around back through the older section back to the river/moat and follow the water course as it narrows and then becomes a steady mill stream above the height of the farm land below. The area around is very flat with views out to Roses, the Albera Massif (which separates Spain and France between La Jonquera and the coast), and round to the snow on the Pyrenees to the west. Though the area nearby is flat with horses and stables directly below us, there are few marked footpaths, and little in the way of circular walks through the fields and Aiguamolls, so we stay close to the millstream and continue out into the countryside.

Panorama of the Pyrenees from Castello dEmpuries It would be fair to say, that for me, walking on the flat lacks variety and that would be the case here. The scenery and views are great, but it doesn't change so much as we walk. The flat area also has a sharp wind blowing across the plain, so we decide just to walk to the hermitage of Sant Joan de Setcloses marked on the map. It's just a small white fronted chapel next to a large old masia and a farmyard with what look like Aberdeen Angus cattle, but it acts as a focus point for the walk.

From the chapel we walk across the fields and over a small ridge which gives and magnificent view of the mountain of Canigo and the Pyrenees, covered in snow rising above the plain. We turn back, through the fields and along the ridge to Castello d'Empuries. As we enter the town, we find some walking information for a path that follows the Muga river. We follow the path to the Muga as it wends it's way around the outskirts of Castello heading towards Empuriavbrava. The path is a broad passeo and passes an old bridge just behind the sports centre where we originally parked.

Neighbouring walks: Aiguamolls d'Emporda (Empuriabrava) - 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

Walking route Castello dEmpuries

Begur, Ses Negres and Sa Riera
03 Feb 2014

Begur castle about the town Costa Brava Begur is a popular area for people who come to the Costa Brava for walking. The town is on a hill which forms part of a headland that juts out into the Mediterranean leading down to a series of bays and beaches, such as Sa Tuna, Sa Riera or along to Fornells. It is possible to walk the entire headland in one go, but as we mentioned in the walk for Sa Tuna to Begur, our preference now is to make smaller loops, partly because the walks tend to be quite up and down.

We've included Begur twice so far - the walk from Masos de Pals to Sa Riera via Begur, and the walk from Sa Tuna to Begur and back. This is effectively the missing bit of the triangle and takes us down to the coast along the Ses Negres Maritime Nature Reserve before returning via Sa Riera.

The first part of the walk to the Mirador de la Creu is largely a flatish walk from Begur centre into the woods and then gives fabulous views over the coast up towards L'Estartit and Roses, the Pyrenees and over the bay of Sa Tuna/Aiguafreda.

We start in the municipal parking just by the Parc d'Arbreda below the main part of Begur town, then wind our way through the back streets part some of the old mansions built by returning Catalan tobacco and sugar barons who had made their fortunes in the Carribean, to the start proper at the second junction of the circumval.lacio road that runs around the bottom of Begur town, just below the castle. Being the start of February, the weather can get cloudy and we have an overcast day, but despite that the views from the top are spectacular and we can still see all the way along the bay of Pals and Pals beach, beyond Montgri and up the coast to Roses and to the left we can just see the snow on the Pyrenees peaking out from behind the clouds.

Begur view from Mirador de la Creu The walk we're taking is marked with green-white flashes and is one of the routes that is included on walking maps of Begur from the tourist information centre (senderismes). Having said that, a signpost would still be useful at the start and return points as you do have to look out for the green-white flashes.

Leaving the town and the first small urbanisation we are quickly into the woods on a broadish track with an easy relatively level walk. The woods have signs of quarrying and stone extraction, but just make for a pleasant wooded walk. The flashes take us along a smaller track and we emerge on a quiet road by the first signpost. We have the option of going down towards Sa Riera, or a gentle upward slope to the Mirador de la Creu.

We go up to the Mirador to start, knowing that we will have to double back down. The mirador itself has parking nearby for those who aren't walking, and consists of a rocky outcrop on top of the hill which requires a half-scramble to get up. The views extend around almost 270 degrees, with Pals Beach and onwards to the North and the back of Aiguafreda/Sa Tuna beneath us to the south.

Begur Ses Negres coastline Having taken our fill of the view, we return along the road we came up, but this time we continue down towards the coast past the scattered holiday villas that have been built along the road. Bizarrely though the road is practically empty, there are old broken and rusted street lights all the way down. At the bottom we run into more houses and have the option of either heading down to Aiguafreda and Cap Sa Sal, or continuing around the hill to Ses Negres and we opt for the second option.

The road continues to curl downwards along the side of the hill and though we are walking on tarmacked road, it's quiet with no vehicles at this time of year. As we get lower, the green-white flashes indicate a side road to the left which at first glance looks like a dead-end. In fact there's a set of stairs that run past a house being built (technically the path was closed, but we ignored it - it'll be open again by the summer).

At the bottom of the stairs, we are on a concrete path with a small wall that runs above dark red/black rocks that stretch down to the sea 10-20m below us. These are Ses Negres - the black rocks - an unusual colour and shade for this part of the Costa Brava and almost orange like the Algarve in places. The area is a maritim nature reserve and we can see cormorant fledglings sitting on the rocks with their parents. We can see the Isla Medes up the coast and right across the bay we can see the Isla Roja and Platja de Pals.

Begur Sa Riera small beach in winter The path curls around the coastline, then returns to the road just behind some large sea-side villas with infinity pools looking out to sea. After a short bit of road-walking, the path returns to the rocks - you have to take care to look out for the green-white flashes as the signpost has been knocked down - and loops around to a small sandy bay by the side of the main Sa Riera beach. It's winter now and Sa Riera is largely closed up, but in summer the beach has dozens of small fishing boats lined up on the sand and holiday makers on the beach.

We walk through the couple of streets of what was a small fishing village before heading up the road past the newer holiday homes that have been built. We're looking for the footpath by the stream back up to Begur, and it's not very well marked unless you know what you're looking for (it's the same path we came down for the Masos de Pals-Begur walk). We have to head out on the road as if we're going out and then the second track to the left has the green-flash on the stop sign. This takes us along a track to the back of some houses and we continue up the steps at the end and across what looks like someone's garden - don't worry this is the right way.

Begur Sa Riera stream path to Begur After the garden we have the stream to our left and the path follows the stream all the way back up to Begur with a series of small cascades and rockpools as we go up. At various points there are steps and the occasional deep well shaft for when the river runs dry. The only complication is crossing the road a couple of times, where you have to look for the green-white flashes to know where to continue - basically still along the stream.

The route is up all the way, but it's a steady climb so not too arduous and being by the stream there are trees and grass areas, though it is quite long, emerging at the top by Parc d'Arbreda again.

Neighbouring walks: Fornells and Aiguablava walk (GR92) - Sa Tuna, Cap de Begur, Begur - Masos de Pals, Begur, Sa Riera and Platja de Pals

Swimming: Swimming and beach at Sa Riera (Begur) - Swimming and canoeing at Sa Tuna (Begur)

Events: Begur - Festa d'Indians

Size = 650 x 617

Perpignan (and rugby)
22 Jan 2014

Perpignan centre - Le Castillet Perpignan is the closest French city to the Costa Brava and is reachable in about 80 minutes from where we live. In distance terms it's closer than Barcelona which means that when we want something special, travelling to France is another possibility.

Perpignan itself was originally an important Catalan town, part of the old Catalan county of Roussillon and only became French in 1659. As a result modern Perpignan and the local area style themselves as being part of Catalunya Nord with signs in both French and Catalan (not Spanish) and there is a strong affinity for Catalonia. However, it also has a strong French feel and there is definite change when you cross the border.

One of the visible changes is that you see rugby posts in the sports fields. Like many places in the south of France, people around Perpignan are fanatical about rugby and Perpignan itself has not one professional rugby team, but two. For rugby union there is the USAP (Union Sportive des Arlequins de Perpignan) who play in the French premier rugby league (Top 14), and for rugby league the Catalan Dragons who play as the only non-English club in the Super League for rugby league.

Perpignan Place de la Republic Coming from the West Country, I was brought up on rugby rather than football and as it happens Gloucester, which used to be our local rugby club was playing Perpignan in the pan-European Heineken Cup competition so this was a chance to get to see my old home team once more.

Unfortunately on the Spanish side of the border, rugby is still very much a minor sport in Catalonia. There is only one club for the Costa Brava - Senglars in Torroella de Montgri, and there is one in Girona. Barcelona has more across the city, and is trying to increase participation with help from USAP, and about four years ago, USAP came down to Barcelona to play Toulon in the Heineken cup at the Olimpic Stadium with 55,000 spectators, much to the city's surprse.

Perpignan Palace of the Kings of Majorca Before we watched the rugby, we took a brief walk around the main town. It's actually a place we visit reasonably often. The shopping is different from the Spanish side of hte border - many French products don't make it across the frontier and there is generally a better selection of produce, and a different selection of goods and a different style and range and though prices tend to be a little higher in France, there are still some bargains for cross-border consumption.

We parked near the rugby stadium (Aime Giral) which is to the south of the city and about a 7-8 minute stroll to the city centre. As we were walking up into town, lots of cherry-and-white Gloucester supporters were walking towards the stadium the other way. One tradition with many rugby teams, and USAP is no different, is that there is hospitality for visiting fans through the morning and the stadium itself has a number of bars and lounges for eating around the bottom for members and visitors.

Perpignan Palace of the Kings of Majorca inner court yard Our route took us over the river (the Tech) and then into town in front of the Castillet. This is a large red-brick castle/town gate that marks the entrance to the old city area. This is just across the canalised river Basse. From this point a network of old streets and buildings form the heart of the old town, most of which have been converted to plush shops or restaurants. There is plenty to explore, but we walk through the older section to emerge by the Place de la Republic, a large square with a merry-go-round in it and bars and restaurants all around.

We then head upwards in terms of height in among the smaller streets of houses. Unfortunately the houses and area is a little run down and there is dog-mess all over the pavements (a problem we found all over Perpignan). Going up we reach the outer walls of the great Vauban fortification that surrounds the Palace of the Kings of Majorca - another ciutadella or fort construction built as a response to the annexation of this part of Catalonia in the 17th century.

River in the centre of Perpignan The walls, like the other forts in Catalona - Salses, Figueres, Roses, Girona, are massive and we skirt around the outside to find the entrance. The scale of the building is surprising - particularly as it took us several visits to realise it was there. But it doesn't stop. A gate passes through the outer walls and a broad flight of shallow steps runs up inside the wall emerging at an open level giving great views over the city and out to the mountains of Corbiere towards Narbonne, and to Canigou and the Pyrenees.

But we're not finished. Another shallow set of steps reaches the top and we reach the topmost building - the Palace of the Kings of Majorca - a much older Catalan castle/palace built when Jaume II King of Majorca (and son of the King of Aragon) made Perpignan the capital of the Kingdom of Majorca in 1276. We go inside just to take the picture, but we're on a schedule for the rugby so we don't have time to visit more thoroughly this time.

We walk back down into the old city and out past the Palais de Justice and along the canalised river back towards the stadium. Being a Sunday a few food places are open but all the main shopping is closed. On a Saturday this is a thriving shopping area with all the standard French high-street stores like Fnac.

And so to the rugby. What might be surprising is that USAP's club song is sung in Catalan, a Lluis Llach standard that our children learnt in school here. The game is good natured with calls of USAP matched by the sound of visiting supporters chanting Glo..st..er in the long west country accent. Gloucester won 18-36.

See also: Andorra La Vella - Figueres and Castell de Sant Ferran - Girona - Festa Major of Sant Narcis - Puigcerda and Bourg-Madame - Cadaques and Port Lligat

Also in France close to the Costa Brava

White water rafting in Quillan (France) - Collioure (France) - Villefranche-de-Conflent and Mont-Louis (France) - Elne (France) - Ceret (France) - Andorra La Vella

Corça, Planils and Cassa de Pelras
16 Jan 2014

Cassa de Pelras church Costa Brava Corça is one of the Costa Brava villages from La Bisbal d'Emporda in the direction of Flaça (for the train station) and on to Girona. The old village is set back from the road and it would be easy to miss just our full of charm and character it has as you rush past in the car. We've walked from Corça on the northern side of the village (Corça, Casavells, Matajudaica). This was an opportunity to fill in a gap out towards Pubol and Flaça.

We start on the Sant Cristina side of the road and park by the Sala Municipal. In contrast to the old village on the other side of hte main road, the Sant Cristina side of Corça is a residential area mainly made up of modern housing in a mix of terraces and detached houses on a small hill with views back to La Bisbal and up to the Gavarres above Monells so not too much to see. We head to the top of Sant Cristina and then onto a track that runs past a football field. At the far side of the football field we take a left following the diret track that is signed as the bike route for Pubol. (For most of this walk we found ourselves on bike routes, but mostly off road).

Fortified masia farmhouse in Planils We wander down the track with a field on one side and woods on the other before crossing a small stream on stepping stones. The path then emerges at a small tarmacked road by a farmhouse. The road is very very quiet so there is no problem following it along a small stream past fields and the occasional copice of birch trees. At one point we see a deep shaft just by the side of the road and looking on the map it seems this was once an area used for mining - though there is little other evidence.

The road is rural and quiet and we reach a collection of three or four large masias that make up the hamlet of Planils, first two next to each other, then a third which looks older with towers like a castle a little further on. We're still on tarmac and just after the last masia a dirt track goes to the left and the map shows a more off road route. So we follow the track and then head into the woods a little further on.

Corca view to church We continue through the woods for about a kilometre following sheep tracks in the soft soil, until the track reaches a tarmac road again where we turn right. We go down and then up the other side of a valley to the first of the masias of Cassa de Pelras. The masias here are large in a slighly darker stone with few windows to the road so they look quite intimidating. At the masia we turn left, then take the next right - again a track - which takes us to the cluster of buildings around the church.

The church is small and there is a slightly odd bank of three stairs separate from the church (made in 1908 according to the plaque on it), that would have been used by musicians for village fesitvities in older times. It's worth walking around the church as there are two small plaças in an area that only has about three buildings. Cassa sits on top of a ridge which separates the valleys of the river Daro (La Bisbal's river), from the valley of the river Ter.

From Cassa we head slightly north to meet the main C66 road - this is to reach another footpath and avoid walking along the busy road. We reach the bus stop and cross then take the path to the right of the house in front of us. We're in fields again and there are views now to the north across the Empordan Plain and across to Montgri.

Corca village square outside old walled centre As we approach an old farmhouse we notice on the map that our next path is actually very close, so we try cutting through the farmyard to make the connection. Unfortunately we can't find a route through, but some neighbours walking dogs show us a route that involves jumping over two walls to reach the path and road on the other side. On our map, we'd recommend taking the genuine dotted line path.

We are now back on a cycle path and a gentle down hill  walk through a mix of fields and woods down to Corça, emerging at the main C66 a little ahead of the village just by the Mas Pastor restaurant. However, we don't have to walk along the road as there's a separate path back to the village that connects to a small road towards the older heart of  Corça.

We've described the older part of Corça before, but it remains an interesting and intriguing village of terraced houses and an inner walled centre. On the side of the village closest to the road is a delightful square with plane trees just by the river and restaurants and cafes (quiet when we went past).

We cross the road via the underpass under the school and get back to the car.

Neighbouring walks: Corça, Casavells, Matajudaica - La Bisbal, Vulpellac, Castell d'Emporda, Fonteta - Rupia and Foixa - Cruilles, Monells and Sant Sadurni de l'Heura - La Pera, Pubol and around - Madremanya, Els Angels, Sant Marti Vell

Walking route - Corca, Planils and Cassa de Pelras

Total found: 188
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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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