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Costa Brava Living - blog area

Walks and other things

Walks on the Costa Brava - click for a larger version One of the joys of the Costa Brava is the variety of landscapes and we like to visit places and walk (a lot), particularly into and around the Gavarres. Sometimes we travel around on bike. In the summer, we swim and canoe.

These then are write ups of walks, hikes and activities that we've done since November 2012, with photos 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.

To find walks by location, click on the map, which goes to a full sized map with links to individual walks and visits. To our surprise, we were listed in the Sunday Times' Essential Costa Brava (Feb 2017).

The most visited walks are:

Calella de Palafrugell/Cap Roig to Castell - classic wild Costa Brava
14 Jan 2013

Bays of Cala Estret on Costa Brava Costa Brava means wild coast, but if all you see are the main bays and resorts Brava can seem anything but wild.

Unlike the French Riveria where you can practically drive along the cliff top and see the coastline, the Costa Brava is a little more hidden and like many places in this area, you really need to get out of the car to appreciate what it offers.

This walk runs from the botanical gardens at Cap Roig above Calella de Palafrugell to the beach at Castell and takes you past some of the classic 'wild' natural unspoilt bays and coves of the Costa Brava.

Cap Roig itself is a 'castle' and gardens built from 1927 onwards by a Russian emigre Nicolai Woevodsky and his aristocratic English wife Dorothy Webster just above Calella de Palafrugell.

The castle itself was designed as their dream house, but they also established the gardens and bought much of the neighbouring woodland which are now part of the Cap Roig-Castell protected area.

Cap Roig Castle itself is situated to the south of Calella de Palafrugell on the cliffs with views to Calella de Palafrugell and Llafranc.

At the time the castle was built, Calella de Palafrugell in the 1920s was little more than a small group of houses by Port Bo - the current heart of the village. However, in order to raise money to build the Cap Roig castle, Woevodsky and Webster introduced an number of other wealthy English aristocrats to the area, in some ways helping to establish the first international interest in the Costa Brava.

View along Cap de Palafrugell The castle itself and gardens are now owned by a public foundation and the public can now pay to access the botanic gardens (or it's free for La Caixa account holders).

The woodland and natural areas surrounding Cap Roig however are freely open to the public for walking, though car access is normally restricted during the main summer months.

If you're interested in music, Cap Roig is the venue for a series of music concerts during the summer and has played host to Sting, Tom Jones, Tony Bennett, Bob Dylan, Kiki Tekawana, Simple Minds, Lady Gaga and a host of other local and world famous artists.

Our walk could start by parking the car in the car park at Cap Roig itself, but this time instead we start in Calella and park just above the bay of El Golfet where there is easy parking just off the road (at least outside the high season).

A diversion down a flight of stairs will take you down to a viewing point over the pebble beach of El Golfet bay, the last of the four beaches of Calella de Palafrugell.

We're keeping to the road though as it snakes up to the upper estates above Golfet.

The road splits at the top of the hill just before the farm on the entrance road towards Cap Roig - left to Cap Roig or upwards to the top estate or a signposted track in front of us.

This particular crossroads point meets with several paths including those from Ermedas and Mont-ras. It makes it a good starting point if you want to explore the fields and masia farms in the hills and plains away from the coast (also see the Ruta del Tren Petit).

We follow the signposted path towards Platja de Castell. At one point we could pass through the Cap Roig car park and reach the path on the other side, but this has been closed off, so the track is the main access to the woods.

View back to El Crit beach We walk following the track past the boundary of the Cap Roig estate - in winter some brave car drivers use the path. In summer it is usually closed off to all but the people who live in the scattered houses in the woods.

We follow the track as it climbs gently into the woods up to a fiveways point, again with a signpost.

To the left we can see two gate posts and a track that winds down the hillside towards the sea. This is the entrance to the Mont-ras bay of El Crit.

We follow the path down the cliffs to a clearing at the bottom just above the beach. In principle, people can drive down, but the path is steep and pitted and we've seen cars that have become trapped at the bottom. unable to make it back up the slope.

Hole in the rocks to follow path at El Crit From the clearing above the beach there is a set of steps and small wooden bridges lead down to the bay. In the bay is a small fisherman's hut/refuge and when we were there we were surprised by the number of families and nordic walkers - normally it's quite quiet, but from time to time the Montrasians make family trips to the beach.

El Crit itself is a sandy beach under the cliffs, but with a rocky bay and just off the bay are some small islands. It's excellent for snorkelling, though for swimming in the bay, some swimming shoes or flippers are recommended to protect your feet.

To the right is a wall of rock, but with a hole in the middle. We go through the hole to the next bay, this time stonier.

Ahead of us is a stairway up the cliff, but the bottom has been washed away, so to reach it we have to scramble up the rocks at the bottom. After this scramble the path is well laid and easy to follow.

We go over the headland and then come down at to another fishing hut which marks the start of a series of sandy bays. These bays are isolated and natural and attract naturists in the summer. Even in January someone was sunbathing naked on one of the bays.

Cala Estret The path then follows the beaches for as long as you can along Cala Estreta  ('narrow bay') and round three or four small sandy thin beaches.

Eventually the path leaves the beaches and climbs into the next headland and then above Cala Corbs. In the bay beneath us we were lucky enough to see cormorants playing in the shallows of the beach.

The path then passes through a car park to meet the track at the back. The footpath climbs to the left up and over the top of the next cliff. It's steep and relatively close to the cliff's edge.

Climb all the way to the top and you are greeted with a view over the ruins of the Iberic village and ahead of you Castel, La Fosca and Palamos.

View to Platja de Castell Costa Brava We descend through the woods to Castell beach and then follow the road past the car park and back. Our aim was to take the wood route back via the view point at Roques d'Ase but we didn't take the first left which we should have and instead continued past the abandoned Mas Canyet and along the track that connects the houses above the bays. The track is OK, but we would have preferred walking the wooded path back.

Neighbouring walks: Mont-ras to Calella de Palafrugell and Llafranc - Platja de Castell and La Fosca - La Fosca to Palamos - Far de Sant Sebastia (Llafranc) to Tamariu - Eulogy to the Ruta del Tren Petit (Palafrugell, Palamos, Mont-ras and Vall-llobrega)

Swimming and canoeing: Beach at Platja de Castell - swimming and canoeing - Swimming and wild beaches of Castell-Cap Roig

Visit: Gardens of Cap Roig - Palafrugell

Walking route Calella Cap Roig to Platja de Castell via El Crit and Cala Estret


Rupia and Foixa
08 Jan 2013

Rupia in the town itself Some times going out for a walk you run into a happy accident. Though Rupia is just off the main route from Girona to Torroella and L'Estartit for us it's not on our normal route home so we rarely go past. And even if you do drive through it's easy just to miss the towns so this was a little bit of an explore for us, but one that turned up a couple of interesting towns/villages off the beaten track.

Santa Maria church The walk started in Rupia. There's easy marked parking just outside the centre. Rupia is a small town with an inner square that, like many Empordan towns, is actually walled in by the surrounding houses for protection so you need to go into the centre to get a proper sense of the town. Consequently the first thing was to walk around the village to find out where everything was.

Having got locations we headed north out of the village back to the main road. The path follows a track marked as a bike path (the brown signs) on the right hand side of the bus stop and the right hand side of the hill in front of you. After a few hundred metres the path opens up to broad open field with views to Torroella in the distance to the right and up past Jafre to the north. The views are very clear at this time of year.

We walked along the track until the cross roads near the pretty, but strangely isolated, church of Santa Maria - that is it's an impressive church built near a masia farmhouse but with no apparent village nearby. The quirkily named village of Ultramort is just the other side of the hill with it's own church. At the cross-roads is a metal cross just as you reach the tarmacked road. Instead of taking the road we turned left and followed the track towards the castle of Foixa to your left.

Foixa castle from below Foixa around the castle The castle is private and stands above the plain and following the track will take you all the way to the top. At the top take the chance to explore the small huddle of houses around the castle before following the path to the village of Foixa itself down to a stream and another cross - stone this time, before gently going up to the village itself. From the village road you have very clear views across the plain of the river Ter below and out to L'Estartit and the Isles Medes in the distance. And across the valley from the church are a number of sizeable old masias.

Being unfamiliar with the village we're not sure if we saw all of it, or the best of it, but we headed up through the centre until the road turned into a track through the woods and we followed the track through the woods. At the end of the track, the path met a tarmacked road. This was a little bit of a surprise as our map still had it as a footpath. The walk is a little dull along the road so there is probably a better route for next time. When we reached the Foixa-La Pera road a brief left followed by a right along by what looks like an airstrip and then over the top of the hill and back down to Rupia.

Crossing the main road again, the path follows a small stream back into Rupia itself.

Neighbouring walks: La Pera, Pubol and around - Serra de Daro, Fonolleres, Sant Iscle d'Emporda - Verges, Tallada d'Emporda and Maranya - Sant Jordi Desvalls, Colomers and Sant Llorenç de les Arenes

Walking route between Rupia and Foixa on the Costa Brava

Gualta, Llabia, Fontanilles and the lake of Ullastret
06 Jan 2013

Gualta church with Montgris behind I've been looking at old maps and photographs of Emporda to get a sense of how the countryside has changed over time. Emporda is an ancient land - it was settled originally by Greeks, then came the Romans and after the Romans came Visigoths, Muslim invaders and then the Franks. Catalonia itself is one of the Spanish Marches - that is a body of land separating two opposing forces as a kind of buffer state. As a result it is a land which is full of castles and towers and fortified villages on top of hilltops.

Ancient bridge over the Daro at Gualta The other feature of Emporda is water. If you look at old maps you will see the coastline changes over time. For instance Pals was once on the sea and Torroella had access to the sea along the Ter. Over the centuries the lowlands and marshes at the mouth of the rivers Ter and Fluvia (and Muga higher up) have been drained and dried out. One intriguing feature on older maps, even to the early 20th century was that there were several inland lakes marked and routes and areas described as Estany - or lake in Catalan.

Ullastret Iberic village standing over the now empty lake or Estany of Ullastret One of the largest of these is the lake of Ullastret - a large (3km long) depression now completely emptied, but in the past a broad body of water between Ullastret (the Iberic village of Ullastret would have stood above the lake), and the hills of Llabia/Fontanilles on the other side. Reading the history, the lake itself was drained mechanically with a steam-engine taking about 30 year to  pump out the water between the 1850s and 1880s. It would probably have been smelly in summer as it dries out - so locals were all in favour of drainage. Apparently in heavy rain parts of this lake can re-appear.

Llabia village with views to Gavarres  The walk starts at Gualta. There is parking near the old bridge over the Daro. The first part of the walk is on the road to reach Llabia - it means walking on tarmac, but the road is quiet with very little traffic. Llabia is a small village on a hill with broad views in all directions and particularly good views of the Pyrenees. We walked through the village and out the other end along the Carrer Major (like many 'main roads' in small old villages it isn't really 'major'). One of the streets you pass at the end of the village is Carrer d'Estany showing how the lake is captured in the place names.

Continue out and Carrer Major turns into a gravel track with what would have been the lake to the right. The lake bed is now a collection of what look like very fertile fields beneath you and across the 'lake' extremely clear views to the mountains. On the other side of the lake you should be able to make out the village of Ullastret and the museum building for the Iberic village.

Fontanilles village with castle of Montgri behind The road continues south past olive groves to a cross roads at the end of the hill on your left. Turn to the left and follow the path to Fontanilles. Fontanilles is actually on the GR92 and looks over the bay of Pals. The village is a little bit tumbledown and unkempt. For me this is less pretty than the view across the lake on the other side of the hill so if you are walking the GR92, you might consider a diversion. Nonetheless, the path from Fontanilles climbs up the hill past the cemetary. At the top is a viewpoint with views to the south to Pals and Palafrugell and to Torroella and the Isles Medes to the north-east.

View to Fontanilles and down towards Pals and Begur across the plain Follow the path down the hill and then turn to the right to get to Gualta. The village has a character to it without necessarily being particularly photogenic. Before the church is an old mill with water conduits that would be used to control the water entering into the bay of Pals. Pals has a large and complex system of irrigation for the rice paddies with water coming from the Daro (via Gualta) and the Ter. Continue past the church and back to the old bridge. You can see the tracks worn by the carts as they crossed the bridge to get to the Torroella road.

Neighbouring walks: Canapost, Poblet Iberic and Ullastret - Palau-sator and PeratalladaTorroella de Montgri castle - Serra de Daro, Fonolleres, Sant Iscle d'Emporda - Torroella de Montgri to Gola de Ter - Evening walk Pals to Sant Feliu de Boada

Walking route from Gualta to Llabia past the empty lake of Ullastret and back via Fontanilles

St Pol de Bisbal and Santa Lucia
06 Jan 2013

Village of St Pol de Bisbal On the walk around and through La Bisbal I had the aim of reaching the hamlet of St Pol but not having a map with me I didn't quite reach the village. So a few days later we went back to find St Pol and walk in the woods to Santa Lucia del Bosque.

View over Cruilles from St Pol de Bisbal St Pol is a small hamlet (about 10 houses) with a small church just outside La Bisbal in the direction of the Gavarres and Calonge. The main street is quite narrown, but there is parking just next to the church. The village itself appears on old maps, though now it is relatively isolated with one drivable road in and out, and it is connected to the GR92 coastal path network which is also usually a good sign.

From the church we followed the road out of the village and up into the woods. At a T junction we followed the road to the left (not the GR92 route) towards Santa Lucia del Bosque. This is actually a drivable track and provides access into the masias in the hills. The path is pleasant with views over Cruilles and to the Pyrenees in the distance, though it is largely a typical wood trial. About three quarters of the way along, an signpost indicates a split - a small walking track to the right or the main road. We followed the track down into the valley and then out up the other side through the woods. At the other side another sign points to the Font de Santa Lucia - a small fountain with drinking water, then it's a rough climb following the path up to the chapel of Santa Lucia at the top.

Chapel at Santa Lucia del Bosque Again, avoiding the GR92 we followed the main drivable track past the chapel and back down into the valley then up the other side to the large masia that stands over the valley. Climbing up and then past the masia, we took the next lefthand path around to the next valley (note there is a signpost 50m ahead of you for a different path - we didn't take or reach the signposted path).

The track curves around the valley head giving views across the plain, then turns to the left and along back out to the St Pol village.

Neighbouring walks: La Bisbal, Vulpellac, Castell d'Emporda, Fonteta - Cruilles, Monells and Sant Sadurni de l'Heura - Madremanya, Els Angels, Sant Marti Vell

Walking route from St Pol de Bisbal to Santa Lucia chapel

Mont-ras 'boar' walk
06 Jan 2013

Frog pond on Mont-ras woods walk Mont-ras is our neighbourhood, so we start and finish a lot of walks in the village. Fortunately there is a wide variety of walks available with lots of different paths - we can go up into the Gavarres or out across the plain towards the sea or the towns. As a result we pretty much walk in the Gavarres two or three times a week and we're still finding new routes.

One of the things we've found is that there are a lot of tracks and smaller routes in the hills that aren't actually marked on the maps. The tracks aren't just used by walkers - there is a great deal of mountain biking through the woods.

The main walk on the maps is a round trip circling Puig Cucala - a hill with an electricity pylon right on top (with great views, but it's a steep and rough climb up and down to the top). This 'recommended' route is a fairly decent Sunday afternoon stroll up into the hills with views to the sea on broad paths.

Mont-ras woods walk The following walk is a more interesting variation taking you down through the woods on a smaller more wooded path, criss-crossing a small stream. Unfortunately wooded paths don't really photograph well - it just looks like a path in the woods - so you'll have to try it to see why we like it.

We used to call it the frog walk because towards the bottom the stream forms a pool of water and on one occasion in spring we walked past to the loud singing of a full blown frog chorus.

It got renamed in the summer when our dog got spooked by loud rustling in the undergrowth and the appearance of wild boar tracks. We didn't see anything but are pretty sure the boars (senglars in Catalan) were rooting about in the undergrowth.

In summer the senglars have litters of young and you are warned not to get too close as the parents (who are normally shy) can get aggressive to protect their young. There is also no hunting allowed during this period.

In the winter the hunting season starts again and many of the tracks are used by hunters looking for the animals.

Fork from the Puig Cucala Mont-ras path down to the boar walk The walk starts from Mont-ras church and heads up to the top of the hill. There are a number of routes up. In this case we take Carrer Major into the woods, but almost immediately turn left and head up the hill past the top two houses of the village.

Keep going up until the path flattens out right at the top. You'll pass a field on your left and the path splits.

Take the left hand path around the field. This meets the next path at a T junction.

Take the left path (part of the Puig Cucala route) past the red and yellow stripped water indicator and Bosch de Dalt house.

In front of you the path splits. Instead of following the main Puig Cucala route, take the right had split into the woods of the next valley. This path runs down to a clearing that looks out over the sea through the trees.

The path continues past the clearing and you just head down into the valley - there are a few spur paths, but basically you keep left and head down.

Some of the path gets rocky and then suddenly you're on a narrow muddy footpath towards the base of the valley. As you walk you'll find yourself following a small stream and the way the path goes (still keep to your left) you'll cross the stream about three or five times. The frog pool is down towards the bottom.

At the end you emerge at a broad track road and follow the path towards the houses of the Molines urbanisation. Again keep to the left and follow the road back through the older part of the Mont-ras village.

Neighbouring walks: Mont-ras to Calella de Palafrugell and LlafrancMont-ras Fountain walkLlofriu, St Llop and Torrent - Eulogy to the Ruta del Tren Petit (Palafrugell, Palamos, Mont-ras and Vall-llobrega) - Mont-ras to Fitor and on to Fonteta and Vulpellac

Walking route for Mont-ras into the Gavarres Costa Brava


La Bisbal, Vulpellac, Castell d'Emporda, Fonteta
04 Jan 2013

La Bisbal dEmporda church and castle seen from river Daro La Bisbal d'Emporda is the principle town of Baix Emporda and former seat of the Bishops of Girona. Situated inland, when you drive through for the first time it's easy to think of the town as just one long stream of ceramics/pottery shops on the way to the coast. In many ways this view comes because the main through-route for the town (linking Girona to Palamos) runs perpendicular to the main interest/historic axis. If you stopped in the centre where the road crosses the river Daro and went along the river either to your left or to your right you would have a completely different view of the town. La Bisbal was an important religious and political centre which is reflected not just in the town, but in the villages around.

Vulpellac village main street The walk itself starts in the village of Vulpellac just outside La Bisbal. This is a historic medieval village complete with small castle by the church and stone houses that are found in all the villages around La Bisbal. There is plenty of parking just off the roundabout at the entrance to the village. We walk through the village and out the other side, then into the fields along a track. A Tramuntana wind was whipping through the vale on this particular day. The Tramuntana is the northly wind that blows down from the Pyrenees to the coast and so can be quite cold (the southerly wind that blows cool off the sea in the summer is the Garbi). However, it also clears the air and in winter gives fabulous visability.

view to Corsa with snowy Pyrenees behind from rise above La Bisbal sports club on the walk After a while the path turns up towards the woods and we follow a track to the top of the hill. The hill itself is like a finger pointing out from La Bisbal so there are views on either side. At the top you reach the first row of houses of La Bisbal, but instead of going into the town, turn to the right and keep along the top of the finger. After about 200m you should see a sports club below the path and the first views out to the mountains. In this particular case the Tramuntana had also left a little more snow on the peaks so not only was the view extremely clear, the mountains were also shrouded in white. Keep along the ridge until you see a set of gates below you. The path curves down to the gates. This marks the entrance to Castell d'Emporda.

Castell dEmporda from the fields below the castle Castell d'Emporda itself sits on the end of the finger giving it a broad sweep of a view over the lands to the north and west. The castle itself has been turned into a luxury hotel, but retains the original building as it's centrepiece. Follow the road below the castle and turn to the left along the street with the no entry sign marked viens (neighbours) - we're walking so it doesn't apply. You find yourself in a narrow street of old houses that would have been the original hamlet for the castle. On old maps Castell d'Emporda is marked as a distinct place - it is not bound up with La Bisbal. Walk down the street and at the bottom turn left and the path takes you down off the finger to the fields below.

La Bisbal dEmporda with castle and old bridge over the river Daro At the bottom double back slightly to get to a track to cross the fields in order to reach the path that runs along by the river Daro. Although the riverbed is broad, in practice the Daro is an occasional river. Unlike the neighbouring Ter or Fluvia which take their water from the Pyrenees, the Daro rises in the Gavarres so in winter there will often be a steady flow of water, in summer the river can be dry (in Catalan there is a distinction between a Riu - a river that runs all year round, and a Riera which is a river that is dry in summer; there is also a Torrent which is a river that flows only after a downpour).

La Bisbal dEmporda Palace-Castle of the Bishops of Girona We follow the river along the riverbank. On the other side of the river are ceramics factories and across the view of the town ahead there are the occasional high chimneys, remnants of La Bisbal's most important industry. Although the industry has declined relatively speaking, there are still a number of potteries in La Bisbal and the town also has a Terracota museum. Most of the clay is dug in pits on other side of the town, but you would really have to know where to go to be able to see them.

The first view of La Bisbal will also give you a view of the main church but also one of the most ill-placed blocks of flats on the Costa Brava - a great bleugh of a building that is both too high (by about eight floors) and terribly placed sitting right in the centre of the town. You can't help but see it and it ruins the skyline and dominates over the more interesting and important historic buildings in La Bisbal. Unfortunately the building craze in the 60s and 70s left a few of these monstrosities across the Costa Brava. Fortunately building standards in the 1980s and onwards have much better protected the townscapes.

convent in La Bisbal from path close to Fonteta with mountains in the distance We follow the path into the centre of town. You can take the path on either side along an avenue of plain trees. It's worth exploring the centre a little.  The old centre is to the left as you walk towards it but you might want to keep to the right then cross the Daro at the ancient stone footbridge. Ahead of you is one of the old town gates and going through the gate is a networks of small streets, arches and small squares. On market days (Fridays) the whole centre seems crammed full of stalls selling produce, clothes and almost anything else you can think of. You will also find the old palace-castle of La Bisbal - former residence of the archbishops of Girona (La Bisbal means bishop).

After looking around the centre cross the river at the stone bridge once more and continue along the footpath following the river upstream and out of town. Cross the main bypass (it's not too busy) into fields and then cross the river again at the next ford. Even if the river has water there is normally a dry crossing possible. This takes you into an older part near the open-air swimming pool. Continue walking along the river past the swimming pool and out of the town. At the next junction go left. Cross the road and head into the fields. The aim is to circumnavigate the town from the back.

Fonteta village On the hill you'll see the Convent standing proud. As Bisbal is a former religious centre the convent is large and dominates the space around it. Some of the older streets and more interesting historic places are those that link the convent to the main town centre. Technically, I had the aim of trying to reach St Pol - a small hamlet a little further on, but I neglected to take a map and found I couldn't connect the paths to reach the village. So in this case we follow the footpath around the back of the convent. You'll find signposts and we follow them to Fonteta.

Fonteta is another small village that winds up a slight incline towards the entrance to the Fitor road on top of the Gavarres. From Fonteta, it is a flat walk back around to Vulpellac.

Neighbouring walks: Canapost, Poblet Iberic and Ullastret -Corça, Casavells, Matajudaica - Clots de Sant Julia (Vulpellac) - St Pol de Bisbal and Santa Lucia - Cruilles, Monells and Sant Sadurni de l'HeuraMonells and Mont-negre - Palau-sator and Peratallada - Mont-ras to Fitor and on to Fonteta and Vulpellac - Madremanya, Els Angels, Sant Marti Vell - Canapost to the medieval fair at Peratallada

 Walking route from Vulpellac to Castell dEmporda, La Bisbal and around the back of La Bisbal via Fonteta on the Costa Brava


Regencos to Pals via Quermany Gros and Petit
01 Jan 2013

view of Pals Peratallada and Pyrenees from Quermany Costa Brava Pals is the most famous inland village on the Costa Brava, often frequented by coach trips from the bigger resorts like Tossa or Llorett to the south. The village is medieval and stands on a low isolated hill surrounded by levels (used for growing rice) and consequently stands proud above the surrounding countryside.

The village itself is a collection of narrow streets and arches that wind their way to the church and lookout tower at the top of the town. There are quite a few recommended restaurants in the town and nearby and every year Pals holds a festival de arros (rice festival). The levels around the town come about because at least until the middle ages, much of the surrounding area was either sea, or a sea-etang/marsh area. These have been drained, or the sea has receded, to leave rich fertile flat plains with plenty of available water from the river Ter.

Regencos from Quermany walk This walk starts in Regencos. Regencos is also an old village of about 50-100 houses and a church. Most people would follow the road as it bypasses the village heading towards Begur and never stop in Regencos itself. Behind Regencos is a small hill called Quermany (pronounced Querman) which is only about 220 metres high, but because of it's position above the levels gives fabulous views up and down the coast and out to the Pyrenees.

There is parking in Regencos, then it is a simple walk following the obvious track up the hill to the top of Quermany Gros. The path splits at the water-deposit and you take the left fork onto a smaller path that winds you around the hill to the top.

The path itself is not special (and on the way down will be rocky so it needs good footwear), but as you start to reach the top, the landscape around starts to unfold to give great views towards Begur, then the Isles Medes and up to Roses/Cap Creus, then across to Torroella and Montgris. Then Pals and the villages of Peretallada, Palau-sator and Torrent and out to the mountains, and looking south across Palafrugell to the high-rises of Palamos and St Antoni de Calonge. All of the photos here were taken on the walk from the various viewpoints available.

View from Quermany Gros towards Montgri and Roses Once you've finished admiring the many views from Quermany Gros it's time to continue onwards. Below you, towards Pals, is another hill - this is Quermany Petit. As you head down follow the path signposted towards Pals. There are quite a few routes on the way down so diversions are possible, but it's also easy to take the wrong path and end up behind rather than in front of Quermany Petit. The route we took went to the left and then down to the campsite. As you pass the campsite - almost at the campsite edge with caravans below you - a path heads back up to the right. This takes you to Quermany Petit.

The reason for going to Quermany Petit is because this gives the best view of Pals. If you judge the day right you get Pals standing off the plain with the snow on the Pyrenees directly behind the village.

The path off Quermany Petit actually ends at the main roundabout on the way in to Pals village. This can be quite busy to cross. An alternative is to follow the path by the farm to the right which will wind around a little more until it meets a road that passes under the main Pals bypass and saves crossing the road.

Pals village in the Costa Brava with snow on the Pyrenees behind taken from Quermany Petit Obviously you can also stop and visit Pals, but on this occasion we carried on with the walk. To the south of the village is a broad gravel track which is used as a bike path (marked with brown signposts). It's an easy flat cycle if you want to explore the neighbouring villages. We follow the signpost directions towards Palafrugell which takes us down to the main Torrent-Pals road by the waterworks. This is also busy so care is needed crossing. On the other side you pass open fields and a couple of pig farms before turning towards a farm and a cross-roads. At the cross-roads Regencos will be sign posted and you can walk back to the village.

Neighbouring walks:Masos de Pals, Begur, Sa Riera and Platja de Pals - Evening walk Pals to Sant Feliu de Boada - Palafrugell, Tamariu, Begur residential and Esclanya - Llofriu, St Llop and Torrent - Pals beach to Gola de Ter

Walking route from Regencos over Quermany to village of Pals Costa Brava

Pals beach to Gola de Ter
28 Dec 2012

Pals beach lifeguard hut near Delfin Verd Platja de Pals is a huge long beach that stretches for several kilometres from the main holiday urbanisation past Masos de Pals and all the way up to L'Estartit and the Isles Medes in the north. From the southern part of the beach you can reach the hidden Platja del Roca beach and round to Sa Riera which is technically part of Begur.

driftwood on Pals beach The beach itself is the basin for the outflow of the river Ter. Away from the two ends it's quite flat and in the Middle Ages when sea levels were higher much of this area is marked as being a large sea lake. Now the same flat fields and wide availability of water means it is a prime rice growing area full of rice paddies. Until the mid 2000s, the beach itself was the location of a number of very large radio masts used for broadcasting propaganda into Russia. These have been dismantled giving much of the beach a wild natural feeling.

We walked this in winter which is the best time of the year for beach combing. Drift wood washes up on the sand and the wind half buries it leaving spooky white branches reaching out of the sand. Along the edge of the beach are dunes and sand grasses and people are far and few between.

view across Gola de Ter on Pals Beach towards Estartit There are really two options for the walk. You can start at the bottom by the main Platja de Pals restaurants (usually shut up in winter), and then have an extra long walk, or you can short-circuit it and start higher up the beach by the Green Dolphin Campsite (Delfin Verde). Since this is pretty much an up and back type of walk we tend to start at the Delfin Verde.

The walk is easy. Head north towards L'Estarit. The sand isn't too soft to walk on and our dog just loves the freedom of running on the sand (ok in winter, not ok in summer). If it's windy you might find kite surfers on the sea. On a clear day the Isles Medes and Torroella de Montgri will be clear to see. Eventually you reach the Gola de Ter - the mouth of the river Ter as it cuts across the beach to reach the sea. Behind the mouth a huge fresh water lake builds up in winter often with reeds and birds.

Unfortunately you can't cross the Gola without getting wet. In summer when the river is lower you can swim across - it's only a few metres wide. In winter it's too cold and that bit wider.

Of course another option is to start at L'Estartit - that would be another walk though.

Neighbouring walks: Masos de Pals, Begur, Sa Riera and Platja de Pals - Torroella de Montgri castle - Torroella de Montgri to Gola de Ter - L'Estartit to Cala Pedrosa and Cala Ferriol - Sa Tuna, Cap de Begur, Begur

Swimming: Swimming at Platja de Pals and Platja Illa Roja

Walk on Pals beach to Gola de Ter

Mont-ras Fountain walk
28 Dec 2012

church in Mont-ras Mont-ras is our local neighbourhood so we do a lot of walking from here. One of the things we really enjoy is the variety of walking - one day we can be walking through the fields and farm land, the next up in to the Gaverres in what feels like total isolation.

The area behind Mont-ras up into the hills is effectively a protected park - (a space of special natural interest). It broadly consists of wooded valleys that wrap around the hills. As you go higher you get a view out to the sea and across the Empordan villages below.

The woods themselves are used for mountain biking and hiking, and there are isolated Casitas among the trees, and on the top towards Fitor there are a handful of very large scattered old masia farms and open fields.

The way the valleys fold means it's relatively easy to find yourself in almost total isolation in the middle of nature.

view over Palafrugell from Mont-ras walk The walks and paths themselves aren't particularly well marked on maps. The maps tend to show the larger routes suitable for 4x4s or mountain bikes, but there are many other smaller tracks for walking that link across these paths - and are relatively well used by walkers, forestry or people out hunting.

Although it is possible to feel lost on the small tracks, in practice it is difficult to get completely lost. At some point you hit a larger route and can always find your way down to civilisation.

The paths themselves vary and one path may go from soft sand one minute to rocks the next. Broadly most paths will be a mixture of sand and rock so it's worth having shoes with proper soles.

You won't find the soft peaty-type paths that you typically find in UK woods so it can be harder under foot. The paths can climb and drop but are always walkable (so no scrambling or steeper climbs).

view to Regencos from Mont-ras walk This walk we call the fountain walk because it runs down to Font de la Teula - a fountain spring in the middle of the woods. It doesn't appear on the general maps but is easy to find and to follow with a variety of options for short- or long-cuts. In particular you can use it as one route to Llofriu, the next village around.

We start at Mont-ras church. There's a car park next-door, or if you prefer there's more parking (and a bar to come back to) down by the roundabout over the C31.

The path heads up and bears to the right to a sandy track called Carrer Major (to which someone has added an exclamation mark as it doesn't really look like the main street).

Font de la Teula Follow the main path - after about 2-300 metres it forks near some beehives - the shorter, steeper route is to the left, and meets the straight on route higher up.

Basically you want to always be heading upwards. Towards the top the path becomes flatter and sandy - keep going straight with views over Palafrugell and Regencos to your right and you'll reach the 'Col de la Boqueta'. This is a confluence of several paths one of which is the main double-width sand track for cars driving up to Fitor at the saddle-point as the road passes from one side to the next.

Follow the double track as it goes upwards gently. After about 50m to the right a (currently fallen down) signpost marks the direction to the Mont-ras Mirador - a viewpoint over the plain below.

Continue along the road a little further. You should see another signpost on the lefthand side of the road with a wonky pointer.

On the opposite side of the road (to the right) is a track running into the woods. This track to the right is the one to follow.

Although flat initially it quickly starts to run down a valley - where you come to junctions keep bearing left. The path runs through a couple of high sided gulleys where water has lowered the path level relative to the ground and the gulley walls are now more than a metre high.

The path runs down through the woods until it reaches the Fountain (Font de la Teula) at the bottom.

Llofriu village looking towards Montgri From here there are two options.

The route to the right broadly brings you back to Mont-ras via La Pedrera - a former quarry now picnic site.

The route to the left goes deeper into the woods. You can follow this path for a long way if you wish and it would eventually curve around to run back towards the Col de Tramuntana and Mas Torroella one of the farm houses at the top of the hill that is reached by the double-track road.  This would be a long route, so the first time you see a left turn (almost seeming to go back), follow it and this will eventually take you out towards Llofriu.

As the track leaves the woods, it splits in two - the left side runs past a large imposing Masia (Roma) and then on into Llofriu itself. The right side is on the other side of the stream and will take you around the back of the village.

Llofriu itself is very pretty being a bundle of old houses around the church and stream. It's off the main road and the only way in or out by car is the one road.

Along from the old village are a collection of houses actually on the main Bisbal-Palafrugell road with three restaurants that always seem popular.

Assuming you take the right-hand track like the map, follow this until it meets another main looking road. At this point you turn right, again almost back on yourself, towards the farms.

Follow this path past the farms (the fields often have donkeys). When you see the rusty windmill/pump where the path splits, take the left path back into the woods. You can then follow the path along and past the Pedrera picnic site and back into Mont-ras.

Neighbouring walks: Mont-ras 'boar' walkLlofriu, St Llop and Torrent - Mont-ras to Calella de Palafrugell and Llafranc - Mont-ras to Fitor and on to Fonteta and Vulpellac

Walking route Mont-ras fountain walk in the Gavarres to Llofriu Costa Brava

Girona and Castell de St Miquel
28 Dec 2012

One of the times I didn't have a camera, but the walk is good. You'd be surprised at just how easy it is to get out of Girona and into countryside. The motivation for the walk was driving along the N II (N2) past Girona - much prettier than the autoroute. As you pass the city midway into the hills you get a completely different sense of the city.

The walk starts in the northern part - the area called Pont Major. We actually parked near the prison, but there's a lot of space. The walk is then broadly straight up in to the hills. The road is signposted to Montjuic and passes under the railway line and for the first 4-5 minutes you need to walk along the road. As the road curves in an inverted U, the path heads up along by a stream. Keep walking up (past the cement factory). On the right of the path is a field with what looks like the world's most dangerous electric fence. Then as you get to the top, the path enters the woods. Keep going up past the farms and you'll reach a T junction. To follow this path go to the right. If you turned left though you'd get to a different castle (at one point on the walk you'll be able to see three - St Julia de Ramis, Castell de Campdora and Castell de St Miquel. The last one is more of a ruin than the other two).

Follow the road to the right past a farm. The first left that you can go down (a broad drivable track) takes you down to a bridge over the main N II road. Across the bridge take the first right and follow the track up - it's quite steep in places. At the top of the hill you'll find a smaller track that winds up to the ruin of the castle. It's quite tumbledown and overgrown. From here you can make your way down via the main signposted path - follow the sign post to Barri Vell. As you come out of the trees you suddenly see Girona laid out in front of you and the Cathedral between two hills. As you go down the valley you pass under the N II this time, close to a large white sculpture. The path opens out and you follow the stream down. It takes a while to reach the outskirts of the city - there is no building until you reach the old monestary of St Denis then it follows old streets to the back of the Cathedral.

We completed the walk by immediately turning up the hill to Montjuic. This is a modern estate now but at the top you can find the ruins of the old Girona Ciutadella. This is a large castle or fort with very big earthworks and walls as defences. Built for the wars between France and Spain around 1610-1659 - part of the extremely complex Thirty Years' War and the Catalan Reapers War (Catalan Revolt). These Ciutadellas can be found in the main Catalan towns (Rousillion in France was Catalan until 1656) - Barcelona's was in the Park de la Ciutadella, Girona, but also Roses, Perpignan - the Palais de Rois de Majorca - and as far north as Salses castle.

Neighbouring walks: Roman fort at St Julia de Ramis (Girona) - Celra, Juia and the Castle of Palagret- Girona valley of Sant Daniel - Gavarres Montnegre and Montigalar - Ruta del Carrilet - Girona cyclepath to the coast - Bescano, River Ter and free-style kayaking - Girona and Castell de St Miquel - Roman fort at St Julia de Ramis (Girona) - Girona - Festa Major of Sant Narcis

Walking map for Girona to Castell de St Miquel and St Denis valley

Visit to Besalu and Banyoles
27 Dec 2012

Bridge at Besalu Besalu is a medieval town on the way into the mountains. It consists of a grand stone fortified bridge and a town full of curiosities and small crafts shops. The town sort of tumbles down to the river through the old historic jewish quarter. While around the church and main square it's quite common to have flea markets.

View down the river at Besalu - you can walk along the river bank Through the narrow streets are oddities like chairs on the walls and from almost every quarter the bridge dominates. The bridge itself is a rennovation - the original was blown up during the Spanish Civil war - you can still see the old stong in the river below. In the summer you can walk along the river and see hops growing wild.

Banyoles lake in winter with the Pyrenees behind On the way back we called in on Banyoles. Banyoles is a famous town and fresh water lake just outside Girona. The lake itself can be walked around in a couple of hours and has a many boathouses on jetties stepping out into the water. You can swim in the lake but only in summer - the rest of the year is mainly for rowing.

Other visits: Arbucies autumn walk - Caldes de Malavella - Visit to Roda de Ter and Espinelves - Visit to Setcases - Canet d'Adri - Olot - capital of Garrotxa

Swimming: Swimming at Lake Banyoles

Mont-ras to Calella de Palafrugell and Llafranc
22 Dec 2012

Calella de Palafrugell view across Port Bo from the promenade Calella de Palafrugell and Llafranc are two of the prettiest fishing villages on the whole of the Costa Brava with great restaurants and are almost totally unspoilt with no high-rises or other monstrosities.

As resorts they are chic and upmarket. Llafranc for instance has a Michelin starred restaurant. (Quick warning - don't mix up Calella de Palafrugell with the uglier Calella on the relatively feature-less Maresme coast on the way to Barcelona ).

There is an easy headland walk between the two villages that, in the summer has a steady flow of strollers and holiday makers enjoying the view of the cristal clear water.

This time though we take a longer version bringing in more of the surrounding countryside (this version is about 12km in length). It's relatively easy to take shortcuts if the thought of a longer walk is too much.

Mont-ras from the Ruta del Tren Petit path Instead of starting at the coast though, we start in the older part of Mont-ras just off the C31.

Mont-ras is a little known village/district bridging the gap between Palafrugell and Palamos, but offers an excellent range of walks and cycle routes from flat and simple to adventurous in the Gavarres.

From Mont-ras walk out across the fields initially along the route of the Tren Petit  (La Ruta del Tren Petit). The path was established in the areas of the route of an old small-gauge train line that used to run from the mainline railway at Flaca through La Bisbal to Palafrugell and then to Palamos.

Palafrugell church and Mas Roig from Ruta del Tren Petit path The line was discontinued in the 1950s or 60s, but is fondly remembered by older locals. The train itself was very small - so small they say they passengers had to get off to allow the train to climb the rise through Torrent/Llofriu. Famous local Catalan writer Josep Pla wrote of the amazement on visitors faces when they first saw the size of the train.

Now the Ruta del Tren Petit is a very pleasant path and cycle way through the fields that joins Palafrugell, Mont-ras, Palamos and Vall-llobrega to the beaches of Calella, Golfet, Castell and La Fosca.

We walk and cycle this area very regularly as there is such a variety of landscape within such short distances. The path is flat and quiet and we follow the path to the junction at Mas Roja - an imposing large farmhouse with a tower glued to one corner.

At the crossroads, the main Tren Petit route goes to the right. This time instead of following the Tren Petit route too far, we continue past Mas Roja to meet a tarmac/concrete road at the next crossroads.

Hamlet of Ermedas Following this to the right takes us down to the hamlet of Ermedas, a small hamlet in the plain with old farmhouses and a small chapel and field with horses.

Just before the chapel in the village between two houses is a turn to the left towards the woods.

Follow the path across a small stream (which is dry in summer and has water in winter), then a gentle climb into the woods past hidden houses fenced in and surrounded by cork trees.

Keep going through the woods and eventually you reach the top of a small hill and the outskirts of Calella village and the first houses, and the first glimpse of the sea.

Fields at the back of Ermedas Even in winter, out of season, Calella retains its charm, though it can be very quiet in winter. The houses mostly have gardens and flowers like Bourgainvilla continue to bloom through the winter months and the village remains spotless and litter free.

Follow the road/footpath as it takes you down the hill and into town - you can see the church in the centre from the top of the village.

The path should take you past Moby Dick's Campsite, still not entirely empty even in December and down to Port Bo.

Take the time to admire the view from Hotel Mediterranean before taking the promenade along the cliff then down to the restaurants and fishing boats in the tiny bay that is used for the Festival of Haverneres (Sea Shanty) in summer.

There are three or four restaurants here and even in December there are a few people taking coffee in the sunshine and enjoying the warmth of the sun.

Calella de Palafrugell beach of Canadell from the footpath to Llafranc We now follow the classic coastal route to Llafranc keeping close to the sea-line.

Firstly, going past Canadell beach (excellent for snorkling in the summer as the beach is sandy, but the bay is rocky with loads of fish in the water), then up the steps and around the headland.

In winter there are few people about. Two or three people are in swimsuits basking in the sun on Canadell beach, but except for them the village feels empty.

We are always amazed at how few people stay in Calella or Llafranc year round. If it was the Italian lakes it would be bustling with people all year long.

From Canadell beach (Calella) we round the headline and get our first view of Llafranc then walk down the long flight of steps into town.

Some brave soul is swimming in the bay while others watch from the restaurants by the water's edge.

Llafranc village from the headland walk The beach in Llafranc is bigger than in Calella and the bay has a sandier bottom. At about the location of the tourist information booth, you'll see a dry river (probably looks like a grass channel with bridges across it).

Turn up by the empty river and head out and back towards Palafrugell walking beside the road out past the diving centre.

The road itself is more of a back way into Llafranc and it's quiet even in summer and we only see a couple of cars pass us before we reach the turning to the left just before the Llafranc tennis club marked in the direction Palafrugell.

Off the road the path turns to a track again and we walk past the courts and farm houses.

Placa Nova in the centre of Palafrugell At the junction close to the last edge of the tennis club if you take the left hand fork up a small rise, you can get a view of the Pyrenees behind Palafrugell.

There's not much snow on them at the moment so they don't show up well in the photo, but it's amazing to realise you can see snow and sea on the same walk.

Going back to the main route we head into Palafrugell past the police station before cutting up into the centre.

Palafrugell itself is not so pretty. It was a working town making corks before tourism came in, and during the long Catalan lunch hours (about 1pm to 4pm) it can seem as dead as a dodo.

It comes to life though in the mornings and evenings. In the mornings there are regular markets and on Sunday a big market that snakes from the main Placa Nova out through the town. And then from the centre back to Mont-ras.

Update to clarify the route in Ermedas (see comment below)

Emerdas turning between houses View down the track
The route in Ermedas to Calella de Palafrugell is a turning between two houses about 30-40m before the chapel.

Though it looks a little like a driveway, the track leads though the woods to the back of Calella de Palafrugell. The photos show the turning and what the track looks like as you approach it.

Neighbouring walks: Calella de Palafrugell/Cap Roig to Castell - classic wild Costa Brava - Far de Sant Sebastia (Llafranc) to Tamariu - Mont-ras 'boar' walk - Mont-ras Fountain walk - Platja de Castell and La Fosca - Palafrugell, Tamariu, Begur residential and Esclanya - Eulogy to the Ruta del Tren Petit (Palafrugell, Palamos, Mont-ras and Vall-llobrega)

Swimming: Swimming at the beaches of Calella de Palafrugell

Walking route from Mont-ras to Calella de Palafrugell and Llafranc on the Costa Brava and back via Palafrugell

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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
24 Feb 2014 17:25
Glad you're enjoying it. We have recommendations for maps in our 'Advice and FAQ' section
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

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
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