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Calonge into the Gavarres

Castle in Calonge This time we have a walk that didn't really work out. The aim was to walk from Calonge up and over the first ridge of the Gavarres and then down to the ruins of the castle of Vila-Roma above St Maria de Bell-loc. We've walked to the castle before from Vila-Roma (just outside Palamos) and it's a very pleasant spring or autumn walk through the woods up the valley. In principle, it's also possible to reach the castle from Calonge, or from Vall-llobrega going over the hills at the side of the valley. Unfortunately we've now not managed to complete the path from either side. On the Vall-llobrega side we spent so long trying to navigate the housing estate that we ran out of time and now, on this walk, it felt like we were almost blown off the hill by the Tramuntana wind which was gusting at 60+km/h. And I don't know if it was just the wind, but once into the woods, the path just seemed a little dull up and down.

Obviously we knew there was a strong wind before we started, but we had decided to start from Calonge to be on the lee-side of the hills, hopefully having a little protection. It worked in some places but the wind was a problem. In reality we shouldn't have attempted a walk in the woods in a strong wind.

Vineyards for DO Emporda Calonge wine Calonge itself is a town I find a little odd. The old heart of the town suggests that at once point it would have been quite a prosperous place - it has a castle, a large prominent church with ornate carvings around the door and used to have a historic hospital from pre-industrialisation times. Unfortunately, though there has been restauration for some of the properties, in the centre there are still delapidated buildings and a faint sense of disrepair. The area around Calonge though is covered by urbanisations of villas all across the hillsides, all slightly disconnected from the town itself. And at the sea is St Antoni de Calonge - another area with large amounts of development. The presence of 'Indianas' - that it houses built towards the end of the 1800s and early 1900s by returning Catalans who had made their fortunes in Cuba, is another indication of how desirable this area once was (the most prominent Indiana house on a small hill above the plain can be seen from the C66 dual carriageway looking towards the sea). Despite this investment the village nucleus itself feels neglected and some of the estates and building projects feel badly planned with little thought to their overall visual impact.

The walk then starts in the centre of the town. Next to the front of the church, a small archway leads through to the castle, once one of the largest in the area. The castle is from the 12th Century, and can be considered with the Castle at Castell d'Aro and the castle we were trying to walk to at Vila-roma. The port of Palamos was also a garrison town and naval base.

Urbanisations near Calonge from walking path Head out along Carrer Major which becomes Carrer Pompeu Fabra. We're following a green-white local route, but it isn't marked with signposts until you're out of town a little, so it was a little confusing to get the first directions. Once out of town we head towards the hills past a farmhouse with a big wine-barrel outside it. The lower part of the walk is through vineyards and Castell de Calonge is one of the DO Emporda wine appellations (others include Mas Oller near Torrent and areas to the north such as Peralada).

The path is easy to follow and quite broad with rolling countryside and views towards St Antoni to start with. Eventually the path turns up into the woods and into the hills, but seems relatively unremarkable - there are nicer bits of the Gavarres to walk. There are views towards Palamos and it's port and high-rises, but it feels more like a city viewscape. On this day though the sea looked extremely choppy, even from the hills. At the top of the path you come to the ridge. At this point the wind was gusting strongly and the children weren't too happy so rather than add to the length by going down to the former convent of Santa Maria de Bell-loc and the ruined castle, we turned up the road for a shortwhile until the next farm then came down to the left on the lee-side of the hill. The path down has views over the southern Gavarres and across to the estates (eg Mas Pere) around Calonge. The path winds through the woods, on occasion getting quite stoney underfoot. On a different day it would probably have been more enjoyable - but we were feeling a little wind-swept. At the bottom you come back down to the vineyards and an easy stroll into town.

Neighbouring walks: Calonge (Cami de Molins and over Cabanyes) Bell-lloc and Castell de Vila-Roma (Palamos) - Mont-ras 'boar' walk - Mont-ras to Fitor and on to Fonteta and Vulpellac - Romanya de la Selva to Puig d'Arques

Walking route from Calonge into Gavarres and Bell-loc

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