An Active Holiday in the Catalan Pyrenees
The Catalan Pyrenees offer some fabulous hiking opportunities, spectacular scenery and are just a short journey away from the delightful resorts of the Costa Brava as well as the cities of Barcelona and Gerona. For tourists looking for something more from a Spanish holiday; what better way to explore and absorb the scenery than to combine some light walking and excursions into a packed 7-day programme organised for groups by Traditional Tour – a Spanish receptive operator.
You will be accommodated in the hotel Camprodon in the pretty mountain village of Camprodon. There is the beautiful, 12th century stone bridge "Puente Nuevo" over the river Ter to be admired, and the over a thousand years old church of San Pedro.
Puente Nuevo, Camprodon
For the first walking tours we head off to the village of Sant Pau de Segúries, where we pick up almost immediately the Roman road of Capsacosta, a branch of the main coastal Via Augusta that was built to connect the coast with the mines in the area above Camprodon. We first climb gently through pastures and pine forests, before beginning the descent along the best preserved part of the road, where the guttering, drains, milestones and original paving are all beautifully preserved. In spring the butterflies and orchids are abundant on this stretch and there is always the chance to see Short-toed Eagle, Firecrest and Bonelli’s Warbler amongst the birds.
After picnic lunch, we make a quick trip down to the waterfall and the basaltic columns of the lava flow below the town of Sant Joan les Fonts, where we begin our look at the region’s fascinating volcanic history. From here, we move into the heart of La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park and visit the famous volcano Croscat. This is the youngest and highest volcano in the Iberian Peninsula, and we enter into a former quarry and get to see the very entrails of the volcano itself and the different layers of volcanic material.
The next day we drive down to Barcelona, the lively capital of Catalonia and second-biggest city of Spain. Throughout the day, we discover many of the astonishing architectonical landmarks, like the never-ending construction site of the magnificent Sagrada Familia, the Park Guëll with its fantastic views over the city and other buildings made by Antoni Gaudí.
In the Barrio Gótico, the old quarter, we let the narrow streets, churches and hidden squares tell us their stories, while the Ramblas show us the hustle and bustle of the Catalonian way of life.
But don't think that this was already the highlights of this trip! On the third day, we leave Camprodon sharply at 8 o’clock to take the rack-and-pinion railway from the town of Ribes de Freser up through the dramatic Núria gorges to the sanctuary of Núria at 1950 m high up in the eastern Pyrenees. This railway was built in the 1920s and, other than on foot, is the only way of reaching the sanctuary at Núria.
From here, we have two options: for those who want to stretch their legs, there is the descent from Núria to the village of Queralbs along the old paved pilgrims trail – quite steep in parts –¬ that brought the faithful up to worship at Núria. Along this walk you will have close up views of the river gorge and its waterfalls and might have a chance to admire some of its most spectacular plants such as the yellow Turk’s-cap (or Pyrenean) lily. Once down in Queralbs there will be time to visit the delightful Romanesque church of Sant Sebastià.
The easier option walks up from Núria towards the rocky pastures which, depending on the time of year, might even be covered by snow patches. Birds that you might be able to see include Citril Finch, Ring Ouzels and the magnificent Lammergeier, while there is also a good chance of seeing marmots and chamois. We walk back along the same track and catch the 2 o’clock train and meet the walking group at Queralbs at 3 o’clock, heading off together back to the coach waiting for us at Ribes.
Back on the coach, we drive homewards, stopping off at the Romanesque monastery of Santa Maria in Ripoll, where we visit above all its spectacular sculpted doorway and interpret its many famous Romanesque carvings.
In order to pause our tired legs, the next day we head off the Costa Brava where we first visit the former fisher village of Roses, now in summer a bustling beach resort thanks to its long, sandy beaches.
We stroll along the beach promenade and explore the village before we continue our trip to Figueres, birth town of the famous artist Salvador Dalí. The Dalí museum is renowned internationally and we won't miss a visit in order to get a little insight of the fabulous and fascinating work of this genius.
On our last day we leave the hotel on foot and head straight up the narrow path to the little church of Sant Antoni perched on the eponymous peak that dominates the town of Camprodon. The path winds up quite steeply, but after a while we reach the pastures just below the peak, where we can rest and enjoy the views, the orchids and the myriad butterflies. A final effort will take us up to the peak itself, from where there are wonderful 360º views of the eastern Pyrenees, still partially snow-capped even in June.
After time to contemplate the views, we wander back down and picnic in the meadow, before walking back down to Camprodon along a broader track through mixed oak and beech woods, stopping at Font del Boix to refill our water bottles at this wonderful natural spring. From here, it is a gentle stroll back down to the hotel in Camprodon, where we enjoy a free afternoon before we have to pack our suitcases again and get ready for the trip back home the next morning.
For more information contact : www.traditionaltours.net