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Costa Brava Living - blog area

Walks and other things

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

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

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

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Olot - capital of Garrotxa
07 Apr 2017

Olot rambla Heading towards the mountains from the coast past Banyoles and then Besalu, the first major town is that of Olot located on a plain surrounded by extinct volcanoes and home of the recent winners of the Pritzer Architecture prize, so a place recently in the international press. We've passed by many times on the way to Vall d'En Bas, Rupit or Campodron but as is normal with Catalan towns and villages, it is very easy to drive past on the way to somewhere else without actually seeing anything of the town itself. So to make up, we took a day walking in and around the town to try to get to know it better.

Olot church of Sant Pere The first thing to note is that the Garrotxa is a rich and fertile area, so it's quite green and verdent. We were visiting at the end of Spring and in the background behind the volcanic hills, we kept catching glimpses of the snow on the Pyrenees in the near distance.

We parked nearish to the centre, but were immediately struck by the hills and the temptation to head high to get a panorama was too tempting, so rather than head straight to the centre, we took a footpath up towards the remarkable church tower of Sant Pere Martir which stands on Montolivet in among an estate of houses with an enormous sculpture of a head embedded on the tower looking down at the town.

Olot statue in front of French style house We hoped to be able to follow a walk from the church around the woods and so to follow the outskirts of the town, but after tracking a few footpaths, we decided the only route was to head in towards town. But wanting to leave the town centre to last, we turned out towards Vall d'En Bas and were amazed to see what looked like French architecture at Placa Manuel Malagrida. Now obviously Catalonia neighbours on France and, at various points in its history was assimilated into France in one way or another, but in general there are relatively few buildings in a grand French style.

Olot Museu del Volcans Our next surprise was that behind the pavillion the streets led into an area of 1920 villas arranged as part of a garden city. The estate is laid out like two spoked wheels with vistas and ramblas along the diagonals and one long passeo that joins the middles and heads out to the park (Parc Nou) and the Museu dels Volcans. The museum is in one of the villas (Torre Castanys) in the centre of the Parc's landscaped gardens. We didn't visit the museum itself, but just looked around the park.

Olot hobbit house From here we followed our nose on the outskirts. We were actually looking for an unusual 'hobbit' style house that was being built on the road towards Santa Pau, and to see if we could see any of the architecture which won the prize.

Our route was a little haphazard as we passed the main bypass road and a large blue sculpture like a picture frame, and then across the fields towards the area of Sant Cristofol de les Fonts, past a memorial to Francoists shot during the early part of the Spanish Civil War.

Olot old town by church The hobbit house was in development and looked to be private, but consisted of a very organic piece of architecture of curves like a rabbit warren. When it is finished, it's quite possible it won't be as easy to see from the road, and there was no way of visiting to see more. From the house we could look back to the city and see the snowy mountains behind the town.

But we decided that it was time to head back to the centre to see what Olot really has to offer in the centre.

Olot Modernista building The town itself is a traditional mix of squares and old high narrow terrace streets of shops. Being a Sunday it was quiet as the shops were closed, but the amount of commerce suggests that it gets busy when everything is open.

By the main church a wide rambla heads away from the centre and on the rambla is a delightful modernista house. Continuing on, we pass the slightly daunting very modern architecture rust-steel covered building of Sala El Torin.

In the end we didn't quite see the architecture of RCR Arquitectes, the prize winners - though we have seen their buildings in Besalu and Ripoll, but all in all a very interesting town to see. And as we got back in the car, we noticed one of the restaurants offering Olot Potatoes - a speciality of the town with potatoes stuffed with meat and fried. Next time...

Nearby: Mollo (Camprodon) - Pyrenees to France - Sadernes and river pools of St Aniol d'Aguja - Sant Esteve d'En Bas (Olot) - Rupit - Serinya and Illa del Fluvia - Ribes de Freser and skiing at Vall de Nuria - Banyoles lakeside walk - Puigcerda and Bourg-Madame

Olot Frame Sculpture on outskirts

La Bisbal d'Emporda
25 Feb 2017

La Bisbal dEmporda bridge over the River Daro with water Spring rains on the Costa Brava have come, and what are often dry riverbeds now have water, the most noteworthy being the River Daro at La Bisbal d'Emporda where its old stone footbridge into the old town has a chance to show its purpose.

The villages around La Bisbal d'Emporda are some of the gems of Costa Brava, small stone-built medieval villages of narrow streets, cobblestones and vaulted central squares like Monells, Peratallada, Corca, Mandremany, Vulpellac, and Fonteta. La Bisbal itself is often overlooked.

La Bisbal dEmporda Bishops Palace For tourists, it is easy to take the main road through La Bisbal or to take the ring-road around outside and to see it as just a line of pottery and ceramics shops on the way to the coast. But, in fact, the central older town of La Bisbal, that is not visible by car has a lot of charm and history. Being the main town for Baix Emporda and a seat of the Bishop of Girona, it hides a classic continental market town with squares and passageways and its own original Jewish Call.

La Bisbal dEmporda main square The name La Bisbal means "the bishop" and comes about because the town was ceded to the Bishops of Girona from the 11th Century. La Bisbal and the surrounding villages were important both religiously and politically, with the neighbouring Baronia de Cruïlles being one of the important controlling families in the area, with their influence eventually taking in Peratallada and out to Begur and Esclanya, and with some family members becoming bishop of La Bisbal.

La Bisbal bisbalenc The history of medieval Catalonia is a little confusing, because unlike the burgeoning kingdoms in the north of Spain, that eventually became the kingdoms of Asturias, Leon, and then Castille, in Catalonia there were continuing tensions between the counts and ruling families. Overtime the Counts of Barcelona established primacy over the other counts of Catalonia, including the counts of Empuries who somewhat confusingly alternated in name between Hugh and Ponç. But at the same time, the Bishops of Girona sought influence over the Basilica in Castello d'Empuries (Catalan wikipedia link gives more details). The struggles between the various Counts in Catalonia seems to be one reason Catalonia as a territory never became a kingdom with regular power struggles sometimes leading to full on conflict (eg Aragonese Crusade or the Catalan Civil War in the 15th century) often with the help of the French.

La Bisbal dEmporda hidden corners Over the centuries, the Emporda region has seen regular flow of Spanish-French conflicts and intrigues, the last being during the Napoleonic Penisular Wars when La Bisbal was the site of a battle when the very Spanish sounding Henry O'Donnell took La Bisbal from the French (the Imperial army was commanded by the very French sounding Jacques MacDonald). As an indirect link, the Hotel at Castell d'Emporda has what they say is the largest scale model of the Battle of Waterloo, for those interested in Napoleon's time.

La Bisbal dEmporda new vaults More recently La Bisbal is best known for its ceramics and terracotta - hence the shops along the main road and the presence of the chimneys through the town. The town has both a terracotta museum and a school for ceramics for what became the most important industry for the town.

In current times, except for market day when the streets throng with local people, La Bisbal can feel quite quiet, undiscovered and undisturbed but there are lots of nooks and crannies to explore. If there were a few more cafe terraces it would be perfect as a place to sit and enjoy the history.

Neighbouring walks: La Bisbal, Vulpellac, Castell d'Emporda, FontetaCanapost, Poblet Iberic and Ullastret - Palau-sator and Peratallada - Santa Susanna de Peralta and Sant Climent de Peralta - Llofriu, St Llop and Torrent - Mont-ras to Fitor and on to Fonteta and Vulpellac - Canapost to the medieval fair at Peratallada

 

Castell de Montsoriu
25 Feb 2017

Monsoriu from below If you take the AP7 from Barcelona to Girona, as you leave the Valles Oriental towards Hostalric and you find yourself passing the last heights of Montseny, then you will see a castle standing isolated on the top of its own peak looking across the valley towards Hostalric and the sea. This is the castle of Montsoriu.

Monsoriu Castle walls We came this way in November (so I'm being a little slow in adding the content) to revisit the castle after our first trip several years ago. The castle itself in that time has been subject to a lot of renovation work, but nothing can change the fabulous views from the top looking out to Girona, or across to the distant sea. Our day wasn't the clearest, and the views will be best on a colder day in winter when the air is fresh and clear and the Pyrenees are capped with snow.

Monsoriu view from castle The castle is just off the road from Hostalric to Arbucies and well signposted. There are two places to park, one at the bottom of the hill next to the turning for the road up, or two separate car parks at the top, though to get to the castle itself you still have to walk up the final stretch.

We didn't know about the upper car parks, and the lower one was full so we actually parked off the road midway and then walked up through the woods. There are a number of paths but because the castle is right at the top, all directions up get to the castle.

At the top we were surprised by how much renovation work had been done since our previous visit. If I remember correctly, previously we had been able to explore the castle freely in its more tumble-down state, as the castle has been updated, they have also introduced an information centre and access to the main part requires an entrance fee. And in Autumn the castle is only open Thursday to Sunday with the option of a guided tour.

We were visiting on a Monday, so couldn't access the castle itself, so had to stick to the exterior and the walls. The castle was built in the 10th century but was abandoned in the middle ages with the last work being carried out on it in the 14th century.

Nearby: Palafolls castle- Hostalric stroll - Lake at Sils - Castell de Montsoriu - Santa Coloma de Farners - Brunyola - Arbucies autumn walk - Volca de la Crosa - Sant Dalmai (Girona Airport) - Visit to Roda de Ter and Espinelves

Waterfall at Les Escaules (Boadella)
28 Oct 2016

Waterfall at Les Escaules by restaurant Over the summer we went back and re-explored some the Catalan gorges for swimming, along the way we came across details of The Salt de la Caula which is just by Les Escaules, north of Figueres, a little way into the hills by the Muga river. We also read that the gorge was no longer suitable for swimming, but we thought we would take a look and, eventually, found ourselves at a restaurant almost sitting under a 30m waterfall.

From what we read the gorge was thermal water and it is still listed as being open in some places, though it's not clear if this is the river above the waterfall, or further downstream. However, at the restaurant, the sign said that there had been a rockfall in 2010 during heavy rain which dropped a lot of rock and stone into the gorge leaving a very pretty waterfall, but taking away the space for swimming.

However, before we got to the restaurant we paid a short visit to the castle above Les Escaules and the village itself having actually driven past the waterfall and restaurant parking (just before the turn to the village). We also got a little stuck driving into the village looking for parking - the roads get very narrow with little space to turn around, so if you do visit, park outside and walk in.

The most remarkable part of our visit was the landscape which becomes quite dry and barren and what trees are around seem to have been blown over leaving hillsides of low scrub and rock. We parked just outside the village and walked up to the ruins of the castle above the village and the fallen trees are all around, and it seemed odd then to see such a great flush of water coming from the waterfall when we finally found it.

The village is a long narrow medieval village with a small church and square situated above the Muga river below. At the lower part of the village by the bridge you can get access to the river for paddling.

But to get to the restaurant we had to double back and then could see the waters cascading off the cliff and the noise of the water that we hadn't been able to hear from the car. The restaurant has tables and seating almost directly underneath next to the little stream fed by the water. We sat and waited for a drink (and waited and waited) enjoying the view and the strange sense of such a lot of water in such an apparently dry area.

Returning, we carried on the Boadella and then up into the almost Provencal hills to Torrades. Again another surprise and new landscape.

Nearby: Serinya and Illa del Fluvia - Banyoles lakeside walk - Sant Miquel de Fluvia - Bascara - horses, fords and lost - Esponella and River Fluvia - Espolla to Rabos - La Jonquera to Fort de Bellegarde (France) - Ceret (France)

Begur - Festa d'Indians
06 Sep 2016

Begur Festa dIndians night view of town under the castle At the first weekend of September Begur holds what is one of our favourite festivals of the year - the Festa d'Indians which celebrates Begur's connection with Cuba and the Caribbean. The town's small streets become jam packed with people dressed in white wearing straw hats, drinking Mojitos and rum cocktails with music and the sounds of the samba and rumba on every street corner.

The festival is Begur's Festa Major and runs over three nights of the weekend with a lilting relaxed family atmosphere with people of all ages (many of them in their 'jubilacion' - retirement) dancing, chatting, eating and drinking with sidestreets with market stalls and bars liberally making cocktails. The special fact that everyone gets involved, people make an effort and dress up with white shirt and cotton trousers for men, or white lace cotton dresses for women gives it a very unique feeling, as if you're transported back in time to 1920s Cuba.

Begur Festa dIndians Streets Begur Festa dIndians whites and hats It's called Indians because the festival draws its inspiration from the many of the Catalan entrepreneurs of the nineteenth century and made their fortune in the tobacco and sugar trades of the West Indies, and in particular Cuba, came back to settle in Begur with their houses (Indianes) built in the South American style contrasting with the traditional Catalan village houses and leaving their mark not only on Begur, but also on other coastal villages where you'll find the Indianes almost as the first villas-by-the-sea.

Begur Festa dIndians dancing in the street Being night and dark, capturing the spirit in photos is difficult, but if you happen to be among the chic villages of the central Costa Brava for the first week of September, the Festa d'Indians is strongly recommended.

For local walks see: Begur, Ses Negres and Sa Riera -  Sa Tuna, Cap de Begur, Begur - Palafrugell, Tamariu, Begur residential and Esclanya - Masos de Pals, Begur, Sa Riera and Platja de PalsFornells and Aiguablava walk (GR92)

Swimming: Swimming at the beach at Aiguablava - Swimming and canoeing at Sa Tuna (Begur) - Platja Fonda (Begur) - Sa Riera (Begur)

 

 

Meetup Group for Web and App Developers
02 Sep 2016

A brief change to our normal walking and events blog. For anyone in the Costa Brava or Girona area we're trying to start up a Meetup group for Web and App Developers. There's loads going on for internet start ups and internet companies in Barcelona, but relatively little happening in this region.

We're lucky enough to have been offered the use of a meeting room at Cinc Business Center in Girona (http://www.cinc.es) and have an aim to have a talk at least every month on some aspect of Internet technologies. Cinc offers serviced offices and space for co-working and business meetings if you are looking to start up a venture in this area.

Update 2018: The location is shifting to civic centres in Girona with help from Girona Empren. If you want more information, either use the meetup page, or contact us via this site.

See also information about the Internet Community in the Girona and Costa Brava area

 

Mollo (Camprodon) - Pyrenees to France
15 Jul 2016

Mollo church We were visiting Camprodon recently and saw a number of walks up into the hills/mountains up to the French border. The distance from Camprodon itself would have meant a two day walk, so instead we travelled a little further up and decided to make the walk from the village of Mollo via Espinavell which was more of a 4-5 hour hike.

Before getting to the walk, I should mention Camprodon as it's one of our favourite towns in towards the mountains. It's relatively small but has a real mountain feel to it with the sound of cowbells, the smell of fresh grass and a number of small streams running through the centre with crystal clear mountain water - almost a complete change in geography from the sea and coast. There's an old peak-arched bridge and nestle of old greystone houses with the odd modernista building. If you're lucky you'd be able to go into the town museum (it has no formal timetable) which houses a collection of articles, posters and artifacts from the civil war and WWII, from when the region was one of the escape routes for downed British airmen fleeing occupied France.

Mollo countryside Our walk however, started from Mollo which is the next village up, about 7km up the valley towards the pass into France. Mollo itself is a small village with a church, a square and a few paved stoned streets, but we saw several walkers while we were there.

To go up we follow the marked footpath. The route is a GR and so marked by red-white flashes and mostly signposted and easy to follow. To begin with we follow the path out of the top of the village out into the fields with the valley running below to the right tumbling away behind us. In early summer the weather was cooler than at the coast but still warm and with lots of water around, there was a classic feel of vitality and verdent meadows.

As we continued the path ran through some woods and we could hear the sound of animal bells. Expecting to see cows, we were surprised to be greeted by horses in the woods and on the path ahead of us taking water at one of the streams.

Mollo to French Border village of El Retort

As we got closer to Espinavell some of the directions got a little more tricky. The GR took us along the top of a terrace wall in the woods lined with stinging nettles on one side and a 1-2m drop on the other side. We're not so used to stinging nettles as they tend not to grow in the drier areas by the coast and so were unprepared just wearing shorts and low socks.

The terraced path eventually reaches a stream and the marked route is in the water of the streambed down to the road for Espinavell.

Hills and cows in Pyrenees in summer

At Espinavell we ran into mountain bikers coming downhill from the pass up above on the route we were wanting to take up. Some had called in at the local cafe for a break. Espinavell itself has a small church and a set of rough hewn houses that look back down the valley in one direction, or up to the yellow gorse covered mountains behind. The roads in the village are very steep, lined with stones carefully laid in a pattern. And by the time we had climbed out of the village to the path at the top we were seriously puffing.

The path then tracks upwards into the gorse, some of which was high and dense and we were guided by the route marked for the mountain bikers. At the top we were met by the border marker and the sight of clouds coming up to the ridgeway from the French side and so didn't get the views of Canigo we were expecting.

The area on top is open grass covered and apart from the border stone at Col Pregon, no visible sign of a border so we followed the path on the French side over a couple of small hills that took us over 1600m and watched by French cows in the fields.

Coming down we could have taken the route back to Espinavell (there's a clear and easily marked path), but we wanted a little more of a loop so aimed to take a path down from Puig Sec and the Basses de Fabert where there was a small pond.

French Border above Mollo

However, this created something of a problem in that though the path is marked, it turned out that it was very well covered with vegetation and so finding and tracking the route down through the grass was much more difficult than we expected and we lose the path on various occasions. Fortunately we know the direction we were heading and just about manage to find our way to the proper route, only to lose it a little later as it zigzagged down a meadow.  Fortunately there are no cliffs and it's open countryside, so nothing dangerous but it would be easy to get lost among the stream valleys running off the mountain, so do have a map.

Eventually we cross a number of streams and passed water pools with baby salamanders resting in the water under a small waterfall and reach the hamlet of Fabert. In theory from Fabert there is a marked route along the stream valley but when we tried to follow the path it was so overgrown from the new summer nettles that it was practically impossible to follow and we had to turn back and take the paved track back going down to the main road. The main road is busy so we climbed a little higher to find the route through the fields back to Mollo feeling our legs a little.

Nearby: Sadernes and river pools of St Aniol d'Aguja - Sant Esteve d'En Bas (Olot) - Ribes de Freser and skiing at Vall de Nuria - Olot - capital of Garrotxa - La Jonquera to Fort de Bellegarde (France) - Villefranche-de-Conflent and Mont-Louis (France) - Puigcerda and Bourg-Madame

Approximate walking route from Mollo to France

Webcams for the Costa Brava
01 Jul 2016

We've added a few links to local webcams - for when you want to see how busy the beach is or if the sea is smooth or choppy. Click on the link above, or go here.  I'll add more as we find them, or make a suggestion in the comments....

Cervia de Ter
30 May 2016

Cervia de ter Monestary now ajuntament Cervia de Ter is a village on the northern side of the river Ter not too far from Girona. We headed to Cervia de Ter almost just to tick a box as it was one of the few villages we haven't visited, and then, like many places on the Costa Brava it surprised us.

As with many villages, the main road skirts the fringes and its only by stopping and walking do you find the real character of the place. Our surprise was to discover this was a town with a monestary and a castle (in ruins), part of the Ruta del Santiago from Sant Pere de Rodes and so formerly more important than the current sleepy unknown village it is today.

Cervia de Ter clock tower A monestary and a castle means an older town centre with nooks and crannies to be discovered almost like a rough unspoilt French village transplanted into Catalonia.

Cervia de Ter Town Gate We park near to the school on the east of the town and then walk through towards the centre. The first building we come across is the old monestary and church, now converted into council offices (adjuntament). Inside are cloisters, though we didn't visit this time around.

Cervia de Ter ancient doorway From here we take a bit of a haphazard route through the streets to explore passing through one of the old town gates along cobbled stone streets. On a Sunday, as with many Catalan towns, the place is quiet and sleepy dormant in the spring sun. A carved lintel above an old doorway has a series of three figures marking one of the important town houses.

We find a route marked towards the castle and come to a tower with a clock that marks the route up to the castle and the line of the town wall above the street. Trying to get to the castle we find narrow streets that end with old in-town farm houses with geese and chickens in the yards and hapazard buildings. These are the types of ancient rural living that would be perfectly in place in the Dorgdogne or the centre of France.

Cervia de Ter caste ruins under restoration The road up to the castle is blocked due to renovations, so we walk back into the village and then follow the road up the hill to the castle from the back. The castle stands above the village with views across the roof tops and out tot he valley of the river Ter.

To make it more of a walk than a visit we carry on up the hill past the castle and out into the woods and fields at the back. As we go up the views become better with vistas across to the hills around Girona in the distance. The road is easy to follow as it just loops around and fields of wheat and barley are turning from green to gold in the sunlight, dotted with red poppies.

Cervia de Ter Town viewed from castle The road turns past a couple of farms and we turn into the woods not quite knowing where we're going, but trusting that the track is taking us back to Cervia as the map we have has Cervia just on the merest corner. Fortunately the tracks are broad and easy to follow through the woods and we emerge by a farm at the bottom of the hill with the Ruta de Santiago signs (a scallop shell) marking the way back to Cervia.

Banyoles lakeside walk - Bascara - horses, fords and lost - Palol de Revardit to La Mota - Serinya and Illa del Fluvia - Roman fort at St Julia de Ramis (Girona) - Sant Jordi Desvalls, Colomers and Sant Llorenç de les Arenes

Girona Temps de Flors
09 May 2016

Girona Temps de Flors - Cathedral steps In May, Girona has its Temps de Flors (time of flowers) festival where the city has a floral festival with displays of flowers, and installations in many of the buildings in the heart of old Girona and out in the parks. We visited in the rain which we thought would keep crowds away, but the Sunday was extremely busy with people, the restaurants and cafes looked full and streets packed with umbrellas. Below will be some photos of some of the things that were on. There's too much to see everything, but it's a perfect time to visit the city - even the rain didn't matter too much.

The exhibits are very varied. Street decoration could be very simple with flowers lining the steps, or hanging displays, or some very large installations, including, for this year, a large display with a sword harking to Girona's recent use as a location for the "Games of Thrones" series.

Girona Temps de Flors - Blue chairs and flowers In contrast to the exterior street displays many of the buildings and museums in the old city were open and had various displays - often very artistic in nature. As a time to explore it would be perfect with the city itself acting as a backdrop, but with the chance to sneak a peek in some corners of the city that otherwise might not be accessible.

The only slight problem was the crowds which made everything quite busy. The rain was encouraging people to go to the interior displays perhaps more than might happen in better weather, but in some ways it added to the atmosphere with crowds still eating outside, but underneath the arches or under umbrellas outside the restaurants.

The crowds though weren't combing very well with bringing our dog Zina with us. So we didn't visit too many of the interior displays and instead headed out through the old city gates towards the Sant Daniel area underneath the cathedral. In this area more of the displays were in the gardens with a little more space than in the confines of the streets. These were also more garden type displays filling the space with colours.

We walked out along the valley for a breather, before coming back into the city at top, just under the walls at the quieter Jardins dels Alemanys to find more exhibits.

Girona walks: 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)

Nearby: Figueres and Castell de Sant Ferran - Olot - capital of Garrotxa - Banyoles lakeside walk - Visit to Besalu and Banyoles

 

Girona Temps de Flors - Palm and strings

Girona Temps de Flors - Game of thrones sword Girona Temps de Flors - Matches

Girona Temps de Flors - Sant Daniel

Ulla to Canet de la Tallada and civil war remains
09 May 2016

Canet de la Tallada house and church Ulla is a small village just outside Torroella de Montgri, set slightly back from the road behind the warehouses for the Costa Brava fruit co-operatives. Our walking routes have taken us to Torroella de Montgri along the Ter, and into the Montgri hills at the back of Ulla, but we'd never gone the other way heading upstream towards Canet de la Tallada - a place we'd not visited before, so this was a little bit of an unknown explore.

Canet de la Talada snails waiting for a ride Unlike the dry lower slopes of Montgri behind Ulla, the area along the Ter is a flat plain of espalliered fruit orchards and, in May, of ripening wheat and other crops. We park in Ulla and cross the busy C31 that connects to Verges and L'Escala, heading into the fields. There are strong notices on the way in that going in among the fruit trees is strictly prohibited so to stay to the path.

The orchards are mostly apple with the last of the blossom just disappearing, leaving small burgeoning fruit buds in their place. The walk is fine as a stroll in the sun along the gravel agricultural track,  which eventually opens out into more fields and views of the trees lining the unseen River Ter.

It's only as we reach one of the farm houses that we see an unusual-shaped building just to the side of the path, a long concreate structure with two open door ways. From a distance we take guesses as to what it was for - it looks like a defensive fortification. As we get closer we can see a sign which explains that the area we are walking was used as a large airfield for the Republican (anti-Franco) Spanish in 1938. The building we're looking at was a large air-raid shelter for the military personnel. What's more the area we're walking provides a tour around several of the sites related to the airfield.

Canet de la Tallada civil war air raid shelter As we walk around the Costa Brava and Emporda areas we keep coming across these types of historical sites. The ebb and flow of wars and attacks from civil wars, wars with France, Napoleon, attacks from Ottoman pirates reflect a land with a turbulent history. When refugees are coming into Europe from the East, Catalonia still bears the scars of the last exodus of Spanish refugees within living memory.

Illa de Canet on the Ter Finding out about the airfield piques our interest and we continue following the marked circular route. The first part links to the Illa de Canet - an island in the River Ter formed where a weir holds back the water leaving a large semi-lake of water full of waterfowl. It feels like an area that is rarely visited it's so quiet, but the path and riverside have been carefully tended with a steel wall that can be used as a hide for watching the birds.

We follow the path into Canet de la Tallada looking out for the curiously shaped farm/castle-cum-church. The houses in the village are spread out and feel as if they are spreading out their gardens like wings taking in the afternoon sun.

Ulla village centre Our route back follows the same marked track up to the point that we divert to the next historic shelter. Instead of following the prescribed route we walk out to a large buildings warehouse on the main road, hoping to find a track back through the fields on the other side of the C31 back to Ulla.

Unfortunately there are no crossing points and no obvious routes to take, so we are forced to follow the C31 by the side of the road. This is seriously unpleasant. The road has no verge or footpath, just a ditch to each side and we are forced to walk towards the rapid oncoming traffic hoping that the cars take notice of our vulnerability. Eventually we find a small bridge and can cross to the other side of the ditch and totter along the edge of the field slightly further away from the road. As the road passes another set of orchards, the walking gets easier but there is still no sign of a footpath. Eventually we come in towards Ulla - forced back on the road to cross a stream with a bus looming at us, and then back into Ulla. If you are taking this route do stick to the pre-marked route - we didn't see any real alternatives to get back to Ulla.

The village itself is a small stone-built medieval village, a little sleepy, off the beaten track. A short walk to the church and the centre for photos and then back.

See also: Torroella de Montgri to Gola de Ter - Torroella de Montgri castle - Gualta, Llabia, Fontanilles and the lake of Ullastret - Serra de Daro, Fonolleres, Sant Iscle d'Emporda

 

Walking route from Ulla to Canet de la Tallada

Ruta del Carrilet - Girona cyclepath to the coast
02 May 2016

Ruta del Carrilet train The Costa Brava and Girona area is a fabulous area for all types of cycling. Professional cycling teams use Girona as a training base and can be seen riding into the mountains up to Vallter 2000, or doing climbs up to Els Angels or Rocacorba, or tracking around the coastal route between Sant Feliu de Guixols and Tossa de Mar. Others take mountain bikes up into the Gavarres, or out into the hills of the pre-Pyrenees.

For less arduous cycling, a number of old railway routes have been converted into easy flat cycles paths or green-ways (Vies Verdes), that can also be walked. Close to the coast between Palafrugell and Palamos is the relatively short Ruta del Tren Petit, but for something longer the Ruta del Carrilet (http://www.viesverdes.cat/CA/54/RUTA-DEL-CARRILET-II.html) runs from Olot down through Girona and then to Sant Feliu de Guixols via Cassa de la Selva and Llagostera - a total length of 93km.

Ruta del Carrilet from Girona To provide a taste of the route, I walked the stretch from Girona to Cassa de la Selva while the family was shopping in Girona, getting picked up as they drove back home. Girona to Sant Feliu (or diverting north to Platja d'Aro) is about 39km.

The first thing to note is that this is a route that is really best done by bike than on foot. The path is gravel but fairly broad and solid under foot and it encourages you to speed through the countryside on long straight routes through the fields, with not too many diversions for walkers who might like to explore a little more into the centre of the towns and villages.

Our starting point was in Girona at the Pont de la Font del Rei across the River Onyar in Girona. The Onyar is the smaller of Girona's two rivers, but the one that runs along the old city in the centre before meeting the River Ter just beyond the Cathedral on the way out to the sea at L'Estartit.

Ruta del Carrilet box bridge We could track the river in a couple of directions - there's a path along the channel, or two road routes, one either side of the river. The main bike route stays on the south side of the river, but wanting to explore a little we took the left-bank, north side under the hill with the great radio mast and out along the plane-tree lined road.

At the crematorium (Tanatori) I realised we were making a bit too much of a diversion, so we crossed down to the river across a narrow zig-zag foot bridge and out to the Parc Scientific of the University of Girona. From here we took the Ruta de Carrilet proper into the fields tracking the Onyar against the flow. It's spring with a relatively wet April so the fields are full of wheat and poppies and the yellows of rapeseed and marigolds. The rain seems to have put off the cyclists a little and though we see a few on the route, it's not as busy as it has been in the past.

Ruta del Carrilet station at Quart The path reaches the NII and double backs to pass under the road - there's a split point here and it would be possible to continue straight on to walk to the southern parts of Girona. We take the marked path and then cross the Onyar using a green-box bridge across the water just as a group of cyclists meet us. The rules for the path say dogs must be on a lead, and since the bike go relatively fast, I keep Zina on the lead whenever there are bikes about.

The path continues it's very straight, but slightly uphill passage to Quart, the first small town outside Girona. The runs along a back road through the village, past the quaint old station marked with a model train and then past the small Museum of Terrissa (pottery).

On the far side of Quart the path is back to gravel and runs alongside the main Girona-Sant Feliu road so there's the steady hum of traffic. A yellow-painted metal train sign marks the route for the cars but otherwise it's a steady walk to Llambilles and the next disused station. In the park nearby a collection of bike statues mark how popular the route has become for local cyclists.

Cassa de la Selva Can Nadal We track even closer to the road for a while with more box-bridges, but with almost no-one on the path now. The route deviates a little from the road behind a Repsol station and over the hill we can see the tower marked Inresa in stencil letters of Cassa de la Selva. It's a steady walk past the odd farm house through the fields.

As we reach the outskirts of Cassa de la Selva, the Carrilet path tracks through the industrial estate (poligon industriel) past large grey warehouses, quiet on a Saturday afternoon, but not particularly enticing for walking. On a bike you'd zoom through, but on foot it takes a while before the Carrilet turns up towards the town of Cassa de la Selva.

We go past Cassa's old station and the very ornate Can Nadal before heading out into the countryside again. The road leaving Cassa isn't so well marked so at one point we thought we had lost the path, but after climbing past farms and then over the main road we see we're on the right path as the signposts point across the countryside towards Llagostera.

We're about done though. Shopping has finished in Girona so we leave the Carrilet and take a track to the last Cassa roundabout to wait for our lift home.

Girona walks: Girona valley of Sant Daniel - Gavarres Montnegre and Montigalar  - Girona and Castell de St Miquel - Roman fort at St Julia de Ramis (Girona) - Girona - Festa Major of Sant Narcis - Girona Temps de Flors - Llagostera to Sant Llorenç - Cassa de la Selva

Ruta del Carrilet showing route and part walked

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Comments

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

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

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

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

Warm Regards
Sven
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