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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:

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 Gola del Ter (Pals/L'Estartit) or L'Estartit

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

Torroella de Montgri castle
22 Dec 2012

Castle at Torroella de Montgri The Torroella de Montgri mountain is one of the distinctive features of the Costa Brava region. The mountain stands isolated and can be seen from as far away as Figueres. In the autumn when the birds are migrating south, they seem to use the mountain and the castle as a reference point before continuing their journey towards Africa.

Torroella itself has an historic centre and at one time was an important port on the Ter, but as the bay of Pals silted up and land was reclaimed, contact with the sea was lost. Now you have to go to L'Estartit to reach the sea. The mountain itself separates the bay of Pals to the south - a long long sandy beach that stretches down to Begur, and to the north the bay of Roses/Escala.

Montgris itself is a very rocky mountain and to reach the tower on the top you have to walk (I once tried to drive and got the car stuck because I had to reverse down the narrow gravel lane that I thought would go all the way up). The walking though is relatively difficult - the mountain is dry and the large stones slip and roll under foot or penetrate all but the sturdiest soles (of the shoes). It's definitely not a walk for flipflops.

The walk itself starts by St Gregory school - this is a private Catholic school in Torroella which apparently has a good reputation and is popular with ex-pats. The path is sign-posted and you immediately climb off the road and onto the path above. The walk is hilly and steep. It broadly has two parts the first part up to a ridge past a hermit's house. At the top of the ridge is a small cross. On one side you can look South towards Palamos and Platja d'Aro in the distance and to the other side look North towards Figueres and the French border. 

The main path up to the tower is something of a long scramble from the ridge to the top - even more rocky that the lower part of the walk. The path zig-zags up and at time is difficult to keep track of what is path and what is just scattered rocks. Eventually it reaches the top and plateaus out. The tower itself sits on a broad flat area but with little vegetation. There is the remains of an old cistern cut into the rock to try to provide water but it is generally dry and barren. If there is a wind blowing you will definitely feel it since the area is very exposed. The climb up can make you quite hot and sweaty, but outside warmer parts of the year take a jacket to keep out the draft.

You can go into the tower and climb the walls, though there is little here apart from the walls themselves. The plaque describing the tower's history says it was abandoned before being fully finished. The views though can be amazing. Ideally pick the clearest day you can find. You can look across the plains towards the Pyrenees in the distance.

The walk down is pretty much the same as the walk up. There are alternative routes but be aware that if you do walk down the other side, it's a relatively long way to reach a main road to get back to Torroella.

Neighbouring walks: Montgri Massif from Les Dunes L'Estartit - Sobrestany, Montgri and Bellcaire d'EmpordaL'Escala Riells to sea cliffs and viewpoint of MontgoGualta, Llabia, Fontanilles and the lake of Ullastret - Pals beach to Gola de Ter - Torroella de Montgri to Gola de Ter - L'Estartit to Cala Pedrosa and Cala Ferriol - Bellcaire d'Emporda, Tor and Albons - Torroella de Montgri and Ulla

Walk to the castle of Torroella de Montgri on Costa Brava

Platja de Castell and La Fosca
22 Dec 2012

Platja de Castell Costa Brava This is another classic Costa Brava GR92 coastal walk between Platja de Castell and La Fosca, just north of Palamos.

Even though we do other walks, sometimes just walking by the sea is just right. Particularly in winter when the sun is out, it's warm but the beaches are empty and there is no noise except for the waves breaking on the shore.

This walk starts in Platja de Castell - an isolated but large sandy beach that has been left deliberately unspoiled.

Access is along a lane from a junction off the C31 and there is plenty of parking at the bottom of the road.

You can walk in either direction from the beach - either into the hills towards Cap Roig (for another day), or head South around the costal path towards La Fosca.

Fishermens houses in the bay between Platja de Castell and La Fosca The walk itself is easy and flat around a couple of headlands where fishermen's huts snuggle into the bay hidden except to walkers.

Above the start of La Fosca beach are the ruins of the Castell de Sant Esteve de Mar - a former seat of the lords of this area.

In the water beneath the castle, the snorkelling and diving are excellent though it would be too far to swim from the main La Fosca beach.

Beach of La Fosca near Palamos La Fosca itself is Palamos's hidden gem. Two sandy arcs reach into the bay separated by a solitary rocky presque-isle.

Behind the beach are low rise residential buildings laid out tastefully without disturbing the scenery including older modernista buildings.

If your impression of Palamos is more of the high rises along the main St Antoni beach then La Fosca is a complete contrast - a gentle cultured location with people playing boule by the beach.

In summer the water is shallow making it an excellent beach for children, though at times in the height of the summer the water can be clouded by harmless but naturally occuring algae as the water termperature reaches a maximum.

For the walk back we head out of La Fosca to the top road. A signpost points back towards Castell passing around Kings Campground.

The walk passes the back of some old beach-side mansions before crossing into fields and then a small wood with a bridge crossing the stream that feeds Castell. In summer in the stream is usually dry, but in winter particularly after heavy rains, the stream is strong enough to divide Castell beach into two parts.

The footpath joins the bike path (part of the Petit Tren route from Palafrugell) and then back down to the car park.

Neighbouring walks: Calella de Palafrugell/Cap Roig to Castell - classic wild Costa Brava - Mont-ras to Calella de Palafrugell and Llafranc - La Fosca to PalamosBell-lloc and Castell de Vila-Roma (Palamos) - Eulogy to the Ruta del Tren Petit (Palafrugell, Palamos, Mont-ras and Vall-llobrega)

Swimming: Swimming and beach at La Fosca

Walk between Castell and La Fosca on the Costa Brava

Monells and Mont-negre
21 Dec 2012

View from the walk from Monells looking back towards Sant Sadurni and Roses in the distance It's probably fair to say that the prettiest villages in Catalonia can be found around La Bisbal d'Emporda. La Bisbal is the 'capital' of Baix Emporda and seat of the bishops of Emporda. In the Middle Ages, this area was fertile and rich in farms and being inland was less open to attack from the sea by the pirate raiding parties.

The villages however kept their basic defensive structure of a continuous terrace of houses acting as a defensive wall that encloses in a central town or village square. However this means if you want to see the real ancient heart of the village you have to get out of the car - modern roads skirt the villages leaving the gems of gold-coloured stone houses and cloisters hidden inside, out of view from the road.

Monells is exactly one of these types of town. The main road passes through past an unprepossessing church and a tourist office for the Gavarres. Driving through it doesn't look anything special. But if you get out of the car and cross the river into the centre of the old village all of a sudden you are met by restaurant tables spilling across a cobbled town square with alcoves and arches providing shade from the sun.

Our walk (c10km) starts in Monells and follows the river out of town towards the Gavarres. To begin with the walk is relatively flat past open farm countryside with old Masia farm house and patches of woods. The walk is pleasant if not spectacular. In the woods the main drive-able path stops and the climb up starts in more earnest. The path is broad but stoney, so good shoes are advised. As you climb the views across the plain of the river Ter come into view. On a clear day Roses and the Pyrenees are visible. The vegetation changes from broad woods to something more sparse as the Alzinas thin out. Towards the top the path switches from one side of the ridge to another giving you views in all directions. Mont-Negre at the top can be reached by car from Quart, but as one of the girls wasn't feeling well, unusually for our walks we came straight back down the way we had come.

Neighbouring walks: Cruilles, Monells and Sant Sadurni de l'Heura - La Bisbal, Vulpellac, Castell d'Emporda, Fonteta - St Pol de Bisbal and Santa Lucia - Corça, Casavells, Matajudaica - Celra, Juia and the Castle of Palagret - Madremanya and Millars - Monells spring walk in the woods

Walking route from Monells up towards Montnegre in the Gavarres with views over Costa Brava

Fornells and Aiguablava walk (GR92)
18 Dec 2012

Fornells village looking back to Aiguablava on the Costa Brava Fornells and Aiguablava are small coastal locations in the municipality of Begur heading out towards Tamariu.

Aiguablava, where we're starting, is a small sandy beach under a Parador (a particular type of historic Spanish hotel) and is an archetypical sandy bay beach with turquoise sea under rocky cliffs, and is the main beach used on the adverts for Begur and its blue Mediterranean waters.

At the other end of this walk is the village or hamlet of Fornells (not to be confused with the village of the same name just outside Girona) is right on the coast and almost tumbles into the sea with a small pretty harbour cut into the rocks and two older Costa Brava hotels.

This is a walk we do regularly out of season, taking in one of the luxurious hidden corners of the Costa Brava past a variety of large houses and villas that seem to nestle into the sides of the hill above the sea between Fornells and Aiguablava.

If it was summer, Aiguablava's car park and small exquisite beach would be  full, but in December, when we are walking, it is empty, with practically no-one around.

This is one of the joys of the Costa Brava. Once the holiday season is over you pretty much have the place to yourself with the most beautiful spots shimmering in the winter sun, empty of anything but sand, sea and scenery.

The walking route we are taking follows the GR92 coast road (marked with red and white stripes on the paths). We tried the walk last spring (2012) only to find a rock fall had closed the path above the Aguablava end. This winter the path has been replaced with a short bridge over the gap.

Tiny sandy bay at Fornells So we start at the Aiguablava car park. The actual path, like many others here, might not be found on Google Maps - some times Google misses connections so it's not so good for walking off the beaten track, however, the route and GR92 is marked on walking maps and when walking the GR92 is marked by red and white flashes. The maps we normally use to check out routes are the Emporda Costa Brava 1:30,000 series, but even on these maps you'll find routes that aren't completely marked.

From Aiguablava (blue water) we follow the beach to the left and up steps over the cliffs to the next bay, full of large pebbles and rocks in complete contrast to Aiguablava. Being winter and so a bit wetter here, a small stream tumbles through the pebbles down to the sea and a small pile of whitened driftwood has washed to the back of the cove.

From the bay, the path then goes under a covered walk way beneath a luxury villa up a tunnel of stairs before emerging higher up just outside fields and an olive grove.

The path is larger and turns down into a pocket of terraced fishermen's cottages of Fornells so closely packed it feels like you're walking in people's yards. The red and white stripes of the GR92 are a reassurance you're on a genuine path.

Below the cottages, the path reaches a tiny little bay with barely enough sand for a sandpit and traces the rocks under the village before turning more cottages and up to the harbour and hotel above.

If you keep walking around the harbour you can continue across the rocks to another narrow cove where the rocks are in a chessboard of dark and light.

You then run into a natural looking 'infinity' pool (Es Cau) that uses the natural rocks by the sea with hidden wall to give the contrast of the still pool water with the sea beyond (it's a private pool).

Finally head up to the road and back out past the pristine gardens of the larger houses here. The final bit of the walk runs along the main road. Not so pleasant but not busy at this time of year.

Update: If you're walking this in reverse - Fornells to Aiguablava, someone has removed the signposts just below the orange houses as you leave Fornells. The path runs up the stairs and through what looks like the yard of the house.

Neighbouring walks: Sa Tuna, Cap de Begur, Begur - Palafrugell, Tamariu, Begur residential and Esclanya - Far de Sant Sebastia (Llafranc) to Tamariu - Begur, Ses Negres and Sa Riera

Swimming: Swimming at the beach at Aiguablava

Events: Begur - Festa d'Indians

Walking route between Aiguablava and Fornells near Begur on Costa Brava

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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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