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Mont-ras to Fitor and on to Fonteta and Vulpellac

Fitor church on the Gavarres Costa Brava The Gavarres hills are the major inland geographical feature of the Costa Brava. These are hills that rise to about 500m at the extremes and stretch from just behind Girona to the hills at Mont-ras, just behind Palafrugell. The hills are a protected natural area with a great number of tracks and paths, almost totally accessible to the public. The terrain is mostly wooded with cork and alzina oak trees, but with lots of hidden valleys and streams with occasional ancient masia farmhouses. As a natural space, the Gavarres are wonderful for walking and exploring with views to the coast from all directions yet feeling almost completely separate from civilisation as the hills are only crossed by road in three places - at Els Angels, between Sant Sandurni and Cassa de la Selva and between La Bisbal and Calonge. There are other gravel tracks and forestry routes into the hills but these are only really suitable for 4x4s with good ground clearance. As a result it's a fabulous area for walkers and particularly mountain bikers.

In the hills directly above Mont-ras/Palafrugell is a small isolated church at Fitor from the 10th Century. As you skirt the hills from below, you'll often find a Cami de Fitor referring to a path that climbs into the woods and take you to the church. For many people here, walking to Fitor is something of an annual pilgrimage to reconnect with the Gavarres and local history.

Gavarres view over the woods to the sea We've walked up three or four times. The first time we did it was pretty much straight up and down, but as it's a relatively long way up to Fitor (about 6-7km) and because from Fitor you can walk down in any direction, now we tend to walk to the church, then down to one of the other towns in a different direction. This means it's a linear walk so we have to arrange transport back.

This time we're just in the middle of September and it's time for our annual visit. Temperatures are still warm but there is a freshness returning and the air is becoming clearer so the views to the distance are returning. We're starting in Mont-ras with an aim of walking over the top to Fonteta just outside La Bisbal. There are a myriad of routes up into the hills and even though there is good signposting, it's very easy to get waylaid without a map - Google just doesn't show enough routes.

Fitor farmhouse of Cal Carrony We start at Mont-ras church and walk up into the hills along the track with the misnomer of Carrer Major. We walk this area a great deal and there are numerous routes up to the top at Col de Boquera - including the route take on the Mont-ras Fountain walk. We take one of the easier paths that winds its way up the side of the hill. At Col de Boquera, we're on the 'road' - a wide gravel track that is suitable for vehicles and is used as an access to the farms on the top of the hill. The road is always a little too broad and a little too dusty so we don't take it too often, but its the main connecting route to Fitor. It runs along a saddlepoint. and through the trees on one side you can look out to the coast at Pals, and then a few minutes later on the other side you can see the sea in the direction of La Fosca with the valley of the 'Mont-ras boar walk' down below.

Fitor farmhouse at Mas Plaja The road runs all the way up to the farm-houses on the top, which is where we're aiming to reach, but we prefer smaller tracks, and half way along the part of the road with views to La Fosca, there's a track that runs up the side of the hill to the right. This is a narrower path only suitable for walking or biking (it has lots of bike tracks in the dirt). This path climbs around the hill in amongst the woods and trees and we just have to remember to take the left hand fork at the only point the path splits.

Eventually (15-20 minutes) it reaches the top road signposted to Llofriu down, or to the left around the top to Fitor. We head towards Fitor and can see Mas Torroella on the other side of the hill - the road passes what is a very sturdy looking masia, but we won't reach that far. Following the road, we pass Can Carrony - a large orange painted masia that stands on the crest with views out across Begur and Calella to the sea. The farmhouse is quiet, but we've passed when there have been great gatherings of visitors taking lunch outside.

The farmhouse also sits in a flat area of fields. It always seems a little surprising that coming out of the dense woods below, at the top it's open with fields. Historically though, this is an area that has been farmed for centuries and for the group of farms on the top, Fitor was their church.

Fitor just in view in the Gavarres We take the road between the fields, still in the direction of Fitor and come to a crossroads. A motorcyclists on a track bike is buzzing across the road - the area is also popular for off-road moto too. At the crossroads the main signs point to the left along the road to Fitor, but look out for a darker green pedestrian sign which indicates straight-on. The left hand road is broad and runs along the top, but is a longer route to Fitor. The footpath is shorter and prettier so we head straight on looking out for yellow-white flashes, which aren't always that easy to see.

The path runs into the woods and then through to more fields. We're heading to Mas Plaja, but an arrow to the left points to Fitor Viens (Fitor neighbourhood). It takes a while, but we find the yellow-flashes on the right hand path and continue down to Mas Plaja, an old masia festooned with flowers.

Again we lose the yellow-white flashes and have to check on the map. At Mas Plaja we have to take a left along a track that seems to run past their horta (vegetable garden). It's then across a stream - there's water up on the Gavarres even at this time of year - and up to Fitor.

You can see the church at Fitor standing isolated in among the fields from the track as you get closer. It's been renovated in the last two or three years, but it retains a charm and character, not least because the small tower isn't quite vertical. The church sits next to a small old house which is used as an occasional shop for refreshments, but then that is it - no other village or buildings nearby at all.

Gavarres stream bed As we come to the church we pass a car parking area, so it is possible to drive up the tracks if the walk seems too much. Normally we would also see mountain bikers at Fitor, taking a break on the picnic tables, but this time there is no-one about. From the church itself a number of different tracks and paths run off in different directions - to Calonge, or to Palamos or down to Vall.llobrega and Bell.lloc castle.

We keep on the yellow-white route in the direction of Fonteta and just as we leave Fitor we meet another person coming up the other way. The track runs downhill and then splits at Can Cals. We take the left fork and then take the next track to the left down and across the valley, but it seems that the paths would have converged. Around Can Cals, a small stream is still within the rocks, but still has water it and over the next little while the path follows the stream down until we reach another set of rock-pools underneath a small rocky outcrop. As an explore we walk along the rocks of the stream, disturbing lots of small frogs who jump back into the water as we pass. In winter with full rain, it looks like the stream could easily be a torrent through here.

Back on the path and we get the first sight of Mas Anguila a very large impressive masia sitting on top of an isolated hill above the valley in the process of being renovated. The path takes us in a semi-circle around the Mas so we keep catching glimpses of it as we walk. The path continues over the Pujada Rossa and to La Creu dels Frares. At La Creu, we can look out across the Empordan plain out to Torroella and the Isles Medes in the distance.

It's not long now, and we come down the hill emerging past a riding school before finally getting onto tarmac and into Fonteta. We walk through the centre, then out to Vulpellac for our lift home.

Neighbouring walks: La Bisbal, Vulpellac, Castell d'Emporda, FontetaMont-ras Fountain walkMont-ras 'boar' walk -
Calonge into the Gavarres - Bell-lloc and Castell de Vila-Roma (Palamos) - St Pol de Bisbal and Santa Lucia - Santa Susanna de Peralta and Sant Climent de Peralta - Romanya de la Selva to Puig d'Arques

Walking route Mont-ras to Fitor and Fonteta over the Gavarres

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