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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:

Canapost, Poblet Iberic and Ullastret
02 May 2013

Church of Sant Esteve in Canapost Costa Brava The weather in spring is usually a mix of a day's rain followed by 4-5 days of sun. The last weekend though we had almost four-five rainy days on the trot. It doesn't stop us walking, but it does mean we keep the walks shorter and closer to home, and the wet weather doesn't help with photos. To make up for the rain, May Day was back to glorious blue sky and sunshine, and combined with the wet ground meant that it almost felt like we could see the grass and flowers growing. In places it was like an impressionist painter had thrown splashes or yellow and red paint across the fields.

Canapost is a small village not far from La Bisbal and Peratallada, and like Peratallada it is built of the rich golden stone of the area. It's not big - about two or three streetsworth of houses, but it has a delightful small church (Sant Esteve). We parked in the centre of the village. Some local children were trying to profit from the sunshine by selling lemonade along the street in a little hand-made stall. The path though takes us out across the Peratallada road and out towards the Bobilla (brickworks) factory.

Outer wall of the iberic village at Ullastret The wet weather meant both the fields seem to have grown 10-20cm in the last week. What was burgeoning stalks are now ears of wheat and barely waiting to be sun dried. Along the edge, hundreds of poppies make blush red edges to the field, alternating with the mauve flowers of borage and the bright yellow of a host of other flowers.

The path splits and we take the right fork, the left heading towards the brickworks and the factory disappears behind a hill. The map is not clear as to whether there is a connecting route so we're taking a little bit of a chance and as we carry on, we're met by a gate and driveway entrance for a house directly in front of us. There's a path to the left that seems to skirt the house's paddock and looks as if it's used for biking or bmxing.

Archaelogical remains of Iberic village at Ullastret The path continues up the hill behind the brickworks, practically to the top, but with no obvious fork in the direction we want to go. Eventually it stops at the wall of a bank. Having no where else to try, we scramble up the bank and find a new path along the ridge of the hill. It's by no means clear if this is a legitimate path, but something or someone does use it and we continue across the ridgetop to a field which has views out to the coast and the Isles Medes and all the way up to Empuriabrava and Albons in the distance. From the field we join what seems to be a more valid track out past an olive grove. The birds around seem to be in full conversation. In the quiet location, it's almost like being serenaded by a songbird choir.

View over Ullastret The path emerges close to Ullastret. Our intention is to go into the village, but first to take in the Poblet Iberic (Iberian Village) of Ullastret which sits a little way off from the current modern village. So instead of taking the road into the centre, we head the opposite direction past some houses, before finding the first track that takes us to the left towards the Poblet, across a bigger road and then out towards the hill on which the Poblet stands.

From the track you don't see anything of the Iberian village until you get to the end, and see the car park. The gates were open and entry was free (at some times of the year you have to pay to go in).

Tower on village wall at Ullastret with restaurant The Ibers were Bronze age peoples of Spain (hence the Iberian peninsula) before the Romans and around the Empordan region there are a number of Iberic ruins. For example just above Platja de Castell and at the Farde San Sebastian lighthouse above Llafranc. The village at Ullastret is built on a hill, which would have been above the lake of Ullastret (see the walk from Gualta). From the entrance you walk past an impressive defensive wall, which according to the signs was built in around the 6th and 7th Centuries BC - though it looks medieval in layout and stonework. The main part of the Iberic village is a little higher up), though all that remains are the foundations and building layout. It has views in all directions and a museum (closed when we were there) and it is worth visiting just for the views and to take in the location.

Ullastret From the Iberic village we walk along the road and into Ullastret. As you come into the heart of the current village the first things that greet you are the old buildings of the medieval hospital and the stone wall complete with two towers - one square and one circular that would have guarded the inner houses, and inside the village walls are a nestle of streets and a romanic church - another of the very pretty villages that surround La Bisbal.

We head out of the village on the Cami de Castell d'Emporda. The route which would have taken ancient travellers towards the castle of Emporda and then onwards to La Bisbal. The road is tarmacked, but very quiet with views to the west to the Pyrenees, still carrying snow, but getting hazier as the days turn to summer. The road passes a small hill to the right, then there are the first views of the Castell d'Emporda on its promentary point, but the view is marred slightly by the pig-farm and the sound of squealing pigs. Along the road we get to a junction. We're going left back towards Canapost, but just to the left is the small chapel of St Marti de Llaneres.

We return to the path and past the fields and an old masia. Canapost is nestled in the hill ahead with the Gavarres to the right and we return to the car. Homemade lemonade would have been wonderful as we were low on water, but unfortunately the children have packed up for the afternoon.

Neighbouring walks: Gualta, Llabia, Fontanilles and the lake of UllastretClots de Sant Julia (Vulpellac)Palau-sator and Peratallada - La Bisbal, Vulpellac, Castell d'Emporda, FontetaCorça, Casavells, Matajudaica - Serra de Daro, Fonolleres, Sant Iscle d'Emporda - Santa Susanna de Peralta and Sant Climent de Peralta

Walking route Canapost, Poblet Iberic and Ullastret

L'Escala Riells to sea cliffs and viewpoint of Montgo
22 Apr 2013

Main beach at Riells (Escala) on the Costa Brava This is a walk for cliff lovers with some fabulous views across the Gulf of Roses and across to the Pyrenees, but it is challenging underfoot with an uneven rocky terrain and a path that runs very close to the edge of the cliffs around the bay of Montgo (with no barrier). It's a different, dryer type of cliff path to other coastal paths on the Costa Brava. Trying to do the walk in flipflops or other flimsy shoes is not recommended. The final viewpoint (shown on the map) though can be reached easily by track if you take the inland path.

Pebble beaches towards Montgo from Escala The start point is L'Escala by the beach at Riells. L'Escala is a town in two parts. The older fishing village is at the north end of the town, while the bulk of the Riells area consists of lots of streets of holiday houses and villas from what looks like a big building spree in the 60s and 70s, which can look a little jammed in and careworn in places. Even though some houses have year-round inhabitants, many of the businesses around Riells are seasonal. At this time of year in mid-April, the holiday makers are returning and shops and cafes are starting to re-open, with the first people appearing on the beach, though not in the water yet.

We're starting at Riells so as to be able to walk the coast to Montgo from l'Escala, but if you're just interested in the wilder parts of the walk you might just start in Montgo, to save the walk through the estates and town on the way back.

Sandy beach at Montgo near Escala We park near the beach. In summer the roads around Riell beach can be packed, but in spring the streets are relatively empty and parking is easy. Riells beach itself has great views across the Gulf of Roses to Cap de Creus and Empuriabrava. The beach is northerly facing and open to the wind. To prevent sand being blown off the beach during winter, there are nets strung across the beach creating undulating mounds of sand, that children are playing on.

Cliffs and coves by Montgo We walk along the promenade past the rotisserie shop which has a long queue outside waiting for whole flame-cooked roast chickens to take away for Sunday lunch. This is something of a Spanish tradition. Most food on the Spanish coast is thin cut for frying or grilling (in supermarkets it's almost impossible to get a 'joint' for roasting). The story we were told was that traditionally Spanish houses didn't have an oven. Instead if there was a joint or a piece of meat for a celebration, they would take it to the local baker to cook it in the bread ovens. The roast chicken seems to be a continuation of this.

The route runs past the port, and we get the first glimpse of a snow-capped Canigou mountain rising up behind L'Escala and the port. At the end of the port the path cuts behind a boat yard and into the rough scrub land behind. We're on the GR92, so keep an eye out for the red-white flashes. Just around the corner are two former gun emplacements from around the time of the second world war, that look up the coast and across the bay to Roses.

Across Montgo bay The path snakes around a few headlands above a couple of very pebbly and rough beaches. Ahead of us is the promentary of Mont-go with it's watch tower at the top, flanked by a small estate of whitewashed holiday homes and villas. The ground is rocky and stony underfoot with the angle of the stones making the ground harsh and uneven.

At the estate of Montgo, we cut across the estate and down to the main Montgo beach. There's a small collection of shops and supermarket that have just re-opened and the first handfuls of tourists in the few bars and restaurants around Montgo. The beach itself is broad and sandy and looks out over a semi-enclosed bay. The water is crystal clear turquoise blue, but still much too cold for swimming.

We walk past the beach and follow the signs into the woods above the cliffs. There are a few other walker around and the narrowness of the path means we have to do a little dance to let them pass. The route climbs over cliffs with sharp jutting rocks underfoot all the time, so walking is slow and as we climb, the edge of the cliffs seems to get closer. We are on a GR92 route and from the wear marks on the stones it is well used, but the route is challenging, particularly if you have a dislike of heights and sheer drops. At various points it passes through gorse and low shrubs which can catch your legs if you're in shorts. Compared to other walks, it's relatively slow going, certainly slower than expected.

Viewpoint above Montgo with views over Escala to Pyrenees on Costa Brava We continue up and down a few small coves, with fabulous views back towards Montgo and across the Gulf. The path down to the last cove is a proper scramble with the path very close to the edge that takes some care to negotiate. Then from this last cove the path climbs up past a refuge hut and up along what is almost a scree path and into the woods where the footway becomes much easier.

It's a steady climb up to the top and the viewpoint above the high cliffs. There is the remains of another gun emplacement - large concrete groundworks that would have supported a gun. From the top the view extends across the Empordan plain to the mountains to the west, and northwards almost up to the French coast.

Off from the viewpoint is a large track - it would be possible to drive up here - and we follow the track back into the forest, then down into the neighbouring valley and a roadway. The road has a few cars on it, but is otherwise quiet among the trees and relatively unremarkable scenery. We walk down past an as yet unopened campsite and back into Riells heading for the beach and an ice-cream.

Neighbouring walks:Escala, St Marti d'Empuries and beyond - Sobrestany, Montgri and Bellcaire d'Emporda - Aiguamolls d'Emporda (Empuriabrava) - L'Estartit to Cala Pedrosa and Cala Ferriol - Empuries Greek and Roman remains

Swimming: Swimming at Cala Montgo (L'Escala) - Swimming and beaches at L'Escala

Size = 642 x 801

Corça, Casavells, Matajudaica
21 Apr 2013

Castle just on entrance to Corca Just outside La Bisbal d'Emporda on the main road towards Flaça and Girona is the village of Corça. As is common with Catalan villages around the Costa Brava the main road skirts past the village so it's possible just to see the traffic lights and miss the rest of the village. Though from the Flaça direction, you would see the Castle of Alberca to your left as you come towards the village, a castle that looks more like a gentile country house than the rougher older romanic castles of other Catalan villages (but it looks as if it is in private hands, with much restoration work still to be done).

Corca church from inside the village Parking on the main road we walked towards Corça village itself crossing a small stream to be greeted by an open plaça shaded by plane trees. The houses for the village started on the far side of the plaça, built in the customary catalan stone. To orientate ourselves we walked through the narrow streets around the centre to find the church and the old village walls. Like many of the villages around La Bisbal, the village heart is unspoilt and retains its medieval and period charm.

Corca village on the Costa Brava After exploring the centre, we head out to the north. The path is marked by a bikeway sign in the direction of Casavells and we head out into the country side. The initial part of the walk is on road, but at the first junction, the tarmac road turns to the left and we continue on a track through the fields (the signpost was missing when we walked - good to have a map).

Casavells church Mid-April means the wheat is growing quickly in the fields and with about one day of rain a week through spring, the fields are lushious verdant green. Along the path are the bright yellow flowers of rapeseed that escaped from a previously year's harvest, interspersed by the red of poppies. Many of the plants and flowers in Catalonia are a few weeks ahead of the UK. There are also swallows and swifts skimming across grass playing in the sun.

Matajudaica The path reaches a T-junction and we turn to the right with a view across the plain in all directions. The rain from the previous day has cleared the air and there are clear views to Els Angels on the Gavarres, out to the castle of Montgri and even as far as the villages in the hills behind Roses to the north. We cross the main road (take care cars drive very quickly on this road).

View to Castell dEmporda Casavells is just a couple of hundred metres off the main road and as the name suggests, it's a collection of old houses around a small church. It doesn't take more than a four or five minutes to circumnavigate to have a look around.

The road between Casavells and Matajudaica is tarmac again, but as we walk to the left suddenly we're greeted by the site of the mountains standing clearly in the bright spring light, their majestic white sides standing out against the vivacious greens of the plain.

We reach Matajudaica, another hamlet similar in size to Casavells. The name is particularly intriguing since Matajudaica seems to suggest some dark past history (mata=kill and judaica suggests jews?). We're not far from Ultramort or from Verges (known for it's dance of the dead). Unfortunately, Wikipedia and Google give no further clues or reasons for the etymology, so it will have to remain interesting speculation.

View to the mountains from Casavells Costa Brava From Matajudaica, we walk to the river Riussec. As the name would imply, this is often a dry river, but at the point the path meets the river, there's water rushing over a small weir. As we follow the river upstream, the water level slowly drops, and when the path crosses the river further upstream, the bed is dry. Crossing the river though means we can see Castell d'Emporda sitting on it's outcrop above the plain, with tractors tending to the fields below.

We continue by the side of the river. We ignore the first signpost back to Corça and carry on, following the footprints of sheep along the path then down and along the river bed. About 150m along the riverbed, a path can be seen to the right and we follow it out past a farm. The sheep are fenced in to one of the barns, with dull khaki-brown looking fleeces they look quite dirty.

We walk across another small stream - this one with water and stepping stones, then take the walk through underneath the busy road we crossed before and head back into Corça itself. Families are starting to gather in the restaurant and bar by the plaça at the village entrance.

Neighbouring walks: Canapost, Poblet Iberic and Ullastret - Cruilles, Monells and Sant Sadurni de l'Heura - La Bisbal, Vulpellac, Castell d'Emporda, FontetaSerra de Daro, Fonolleres, Sant Iscle d'Emporda - Rupia and Foixa

 Walking route Corca, Casavells, Matajudaica

La Pera, Pubol and around
07 Apr 2013

La Pera village and church The village of Pubol is known as being part of the Dali triangle, named after the famous surrealist painter Salvador Dali. Pubol is the site of the Castle of Pubol, the residence of his wife and muse Gala, who allowed Dali to visit her when she wanted. Dali himself lived in Port Lligat close to Cadaques and the third point on the triangle is the Dali Theatre-Museum in Figueres created by Dali himself at the site of the town's theatre and now world famous for its collection of Dali works.

Riuras While the theatre-museum is extremely extravagant in the Dali style, Pubol remains a small Catalan village built in traditional stone with the castle itself a relatively plain catalan village castle and not particular striking with high walls with few windows. From the outside the only signs of the collection with Dali are a white statue that is just visible from a distance above the walls of the castle, and the Dali souvenir shop next to the church and the bus loads of tourists that appear from time to time. Somewhat disgracefully, we still haven't been inside the castle itself to see what the interior looks like.

View near Riuras across the burnt and cleared woods The aim of the walk though was to come past Pubol on the way back as we decided to start in the neighbouring (and grander) village of La Pera. The area itself is off the beaten track - it's neither in among the Gavarres, nor on the way to anywhere. Instead the area is rolling countryside alternating between woods and fields, interspersed by large masia farmhouses, and the occasional hamlet, and makes for very pleasant walking.

We parked and started at La Pera. The first part of the walk is on a tarmacked road, but it's very quiet as the road only connects La Pera to the neighbouring hamlet of Riuras. The road passes through green fields and the first real signs of leaves returning to the trees can be seen, with a collage of greens.

We get to Riuras and find a small collection of houses, one built with an arch over the torrent path. Continuing through the village we run into woods and a stream that carves its way down the hill to our right. The sun has brought out the first butterflies in creams and yellows flitting amongst the growing grasses.

Chapel at Pedrinya In the woods, the path turns to the left and half a couple of hundred metres on the woods break into a mass of stumps and lumber across the side of the hillside. A forest fire ripped through the area in August 2012 leaving blackened branches on the floor, but most of the trees themselves have been collected and cleared leaving a broad open expanse with views across to Flaca and Celra.

At the first left we turn up the hill through the remains of the woods. The path is muddy underfoot and great bundles of tree trunks lay stacked up to the side in dark piles. The burning must have been very extensive as it continues for 2-3 km. However, the dead trees constrast with the vivid greens of the grasses and meadow flowers growing in the light. The loss of trees also means you can see the remains of terraces and we speculate that in the past this might have been an area of vineyards before the woods took over, possibly after the phylloxera  devastation in the 1880s-1890s.

Pubol We arrive close to the hamlet of La Vilosa and pass a family out gathering wild asparagus. The path takes a left hand turn (it's the second left as you pass), past a house with an enormous long sloping roof and enough space for it's own private basketball court. By now we're back in green woods and the trees alternate with fields, with a sea of bright yellow rapeseed in flower and views up to Els Angels monestary on the Gavarres.

The path continues down the hill and emerges at the chapel and three or four houses of Pedrinya. A small brook runs past the chapel with a vegetable garden (horta in Catalan) in verdent growth. We could take the path back to La Pera here, but cross the road and back into the woods, before turning left up and around the side of a low hill. At the end we emerge to the sound of tennis just outside the municipal sports ground.

The road is tarmac again, but still quiet though there are two or three cars heading to the football ground for a Sunday afternoon match. The road runs down the hill with views over Pubol and La Pera. La Pera's grand church standing over the plain in constrast to the more modest church of Pubol.

 Pubol village itself is small with a small courtyard in the centre. From the courtyard, you turn up to the Dali-Gala castle and the church next door. From outside it is not particularly remarkable. Only the ticket office and the souvenir shop across from the church indicate that there's anything special inside.

And from Pubol we walk back along the road to La Pera. There's a pavement next to the road. In La Pera families are enjoying the sun sitting outside the cafe by the church in a classic village setting of narrow streets and clustered houses.

Neighbouring walks: Rupia and Foixa - Celra, Juia and the Castle of Palagret - Madremanya, Els Angels, Sant Marti Vell - Monells and Mont-negre - Corça, Casavells, Matajudaica

Walking route La Pera, Riuras, Pedrinya, Pubol

Verges - Dansa de la Mort
01 Apr 2013

Size = 280 x 197 In both Spain and Catalonia, the Catholic church is a very important part of the history and culture of the region. Around Easter many places in Spain have processions which tell the Easter story. And in towns at Easter you'll find people dressed as Roman soldiers and disciples acting out the story of the crucifiction.

Size = 259 x 280 In the Costa Brava area, the most important of these traditions is the procession which takes place at night in Verges. Known as the Dansa de la Mort (Dance of the dead) as it includes a dance of skeletons as part of the procession. This is so famous that it attracts thousands of visitors to see the spectacle.

The evening has several parts. During the early evening, a re-enactment of the life of Jesus takes place in the village centre (a ticket only event). Then at midnight, the procession starts and slowly winds through the streets under the light of burning torches fixed to the buildings.

Size = 280 x 210 We just went for the procession and the place was absolutely crowded, though the centre at the heart of the village was closed off to all but ticket holders. Not knowing where to go or what was going to happen, we found a place which seemed to be on the route and waited.

According to the programme, the procession left the village centre at midnight, but it was almost 01.00am before it passed our location, which according to the route plan was about half way round. The procession itself was very long - it took 45 minutes to pass us. Firstly a troop of Roman soldiers marching in formation beating drums, then a group representing Herod, followed by a Simon figure carrying the cross with Jesus ahead of him being berated and taunted, followed by the other crosses. Behind them, the women (Mary), then the disciples and group of children in the classic spanish pointed hoods. This was followed by five skeletons dancing - the main iconic image of the Verges procession. After which came groups carrying or pushing the sacred icons and statues  from the church.

We left after the procession had passed us, but it still had about another half to go, before a final ceremony back in the centre of the village.

Neighbouring walks: Verges, Tallada d'Emporda and Maranya - Colomers and Jafre - Vilopriu and Valldavia - Serra de Daro, Fonolleres, Sant Iscle d'Emporda - La Pera, Pubol and around - Parlava, Rupia and La Sala

La Fosca to Palamos
01 Apr 2013

Castle of St Esteve from La Fosca beach La Fosca is Palamos's 'hidden' beach, on the other side of the town to the main Palamos bay that runs down past St Antoni de Calonge. And in total contrast to the main beach, La Fosca is a gem of a beach formed by two crescents of sand under the ruins of the castle of Sant Esteve.

La Fosca is the beach with the softest sand and, because the water is shallow for a long way out, it's both great for children and as the best beach for an early summer swim at the end of May or start of June, as the shallowness helps the water temperature.

In fact La Fosca is so close to Palamos that it'll seem a little odd to describe a walk between the two. Most people will know the road route. In fact the footpath runs over a small headland that is sufficiently high to give excellent views along the coast to Castell and across the countryside up towards Palafrugell, so it is good as a shorter evening walk as the nights become longer.

View over La Fosca from headland To start we parked just outside King's Campsite - a campsite popular with British visitors and children on PGA adventure holidays. Walking around the back of the campsite, we reach the sea just ahead of the Castle of St Esteve.

The castle was an important outpost in the fortification of the area and though ruined now, it's scheduled to be renovated at least to the point that visitors can have access.

From the castle, we follow the steps down to the beach and then walk across the beach. Beach volleyball players were just packing up. As the beach has the best sand and is relatively broad with good access, it's the perfect local beach for volleyball players.

At the back of the beach are a number of older Indiana-type houses (built by returning Catalans who had made their fortunes in tobacco or sugar out in Cuba), but the area has been tastefully developed and feels like a graceful place for holidays.

From the second half of the beach we have to take the walk a little way, before following the red-white flash of the GR92 past the boat houses and then round the edge of a house and up onto the headland.

The path climbs quickly above a crag in the rocks, with views back to La Fosca and the castle across the bay. At the top of the headland is a vantage point where you can look up the coast to the Formiga islands and the bays along past Platja Castell.

Palamos and Palamos marina from La Fosca direction On the other side of the headland, the marina at Palamos is in front of us, with the first evening lights coming on and the town church standing on top of the end hill of the town.

Walking off the headland, is a final treat - a small hidden bay tucked off the path. Then we're on the road towards Palamos.

Instead of going all the way into Palamos, we cut through the houses. These are small streets of terraced houses of working people, far from the holiday villas you find elsewhere.

Palamos was once a royal port and garrison and has a harbour large enough for cruise liners. It's also renowned for its fishing - in particular Palamos Prawns, a speciality of the area which are feted by chefs across the world (with prices to match).

The tangle of streets emerges at a roundabout opposite one of the other campsites in the area. We walk along the lane with the evening closing in and return to the car.

Update 2021: The path from up around the headland as you leave La Fosca has been updated, and the path greatly improved at the back of the port, with a wooden walkway off the cliffs to avoid the road making the path much more attractive and giving a much better connection to Palamos without the diversion through town.

Neighbouring walks: Platja de Castell and La Fosca - Calella de Palafrugell/Cap Roig to Castell - classic wild Costa Brava - Mont-ras to Calella de Palafrugell and LlafrancBell-lloc and Castell de Vila-Roma (Palamos) - Eulogy to the Ruta del Tren Petit (Palafrugell, Palamos, Mont-ras and Vall-llobrega) - St Antoni de Calonge, Torre Valentina to Platja d'Aro (almost)

Swimming: Swimming and beach at La Fosca

Walking route La Fosca to Palamos

Mediterranean International Cup - football
24 Mar 2013

This is just a marker to note that the Football Mediterranean International Cup (MIC) is on during Easter. MIC brings the junior and cadet teams of professional football clubs (and local teams) in a tournament organised by age group. It's the chance to see top players for clubs like Manchester United, Liverpool, Inter Milan, Barcelona, Real Madrid while they are still juniors (from under 11s up to under 19s) . Players like Messi, Neymar, Fabregas, Marcelo, Pique have taken part in the MIC. It's spread across the local clubs in the Costa Brava with different age groups in different geographic areas and entry and matches is free.

St Antoni de Calonge, Torre Valentina to Platja d'Aro (almost)
24 Mar 2013

Sant Antoni de Calonge Platja d'Aro and St Antoni de Calonge (which runs into Palamos, so is sometimes referred to as being part of Palamos) are two neighbouring package-holiday type resorts, both with big flat beaches and high-rise hotels and apartment blocks. Neither look too inspiring for walking. But in actual fact between the two, around the cape of Torre Valentina are a series of small sandy bays (cala) and rocky headlands including some of the most photographed beaches of the Costa Brava. This is also part of the GR92 path.

Torre at Hotel Torre Valentina Sant Antoni de Calonge We start in Sant Antoni de Calonge. There is an older heart to Sant Antoni, but it's now dominated by the more recent buildings and we actually park out towards the supermarkets (and tourist office) close to the main roundabout that links the Calonge road to the main Palamos to Platja d'Aro road. We head straight for the beach and there is a steady stream of people and families out for a Sunday stroll, some of them carrying palm-leaves for Palm Sunday. And though it's the start of the Easter holiday, there are relatively few foreign holiday makers about.

Tower of Torre Valentina The passeo route along the beach in front of the hotel and apartment blocks passes over a metal bridge then on and past the Hotel of Torre Valentina. Around the hotel you can also see two original torres, one in the grounds of the hotel and the other on the headland. With all the modernity around, it's easy to forget that in the 1500s this was an area under frequent attack by the Barbary pirates (part of the Ottoman Empire navy that dominated the Mediterranean sea in the same epoch that the Spanish were dominating the Atlantic to the Americas) . Watch-out towers and defences were essential against the raiders.

Platja de Roques Planes Costa Brava As soon as the path turns past the hotel it climbs over the headland and its character changes completely. Instead of the vast holiday-sand, there are rocky coves with pebble beaches that run into crystal clear water. The path follows the headland and then passes the tower Torre Valentina itself. The tower is connected to the hotel and has been restored, but access is only possible from the hotel itself.  The path turns under a small road and head is the first of the many little bays and beaches. This starts with a series of flat rocks that stretch out into the water (Roques Planes), with a small sandy beach. We cross the sand to reach a series of steps and another small headland. Then again another sandy cove.

Access to Platja Torretes Costa Brava Eventually we reach the first of the larger sandy bays. Along the path are a series of sandy bays and beaches. The beaches themselves are all linked to campsites (these are Treumal, Calonge International and Cala Gogo) and we see the first campers, mostly in caravans or motorhomes in the choice spots close to the beach. In the summer there is limited parking near to the beaches except for the campsites, so for the most part the beaches are used by campers or those willing to walk a little to find a better beach.

Platja of Cala Gogo Platja dAro At the end of the third bigger beach we run into the first problem. The GR92 path is closed due to landslides and storm damage. This happens relatively regularly, but often by the time Easter comes the path is renovated and passable. On this path at several points where the official path is closed, it can be possible to work your way around the headland over the rocks, but the sea has a swell and we don't want to risk it. Instead we follow the alternative path back up to the main road and then look for the next connection to the next beach.

GR92 route near Platja dAro This means passing Hotel Cap Roig - a hotel with direct access to the bay. We find the path down and find ourselves on the absolutely empty beach. The beach itself is one of the most photographed on the Costa Brava as it has a small red island/presque isle at one end which means a beach with two sides. With the sky overcast and the chance of rain, the beach itself is totally empty.

Platja de Belladona Platja dAro Costa Brava We check the path back to where we should have come from, and railing are missing and the sea swell is pounding against the rocks. So instead we try to continue to Platja d'Aro along the beach. In theory it's just another couple of small bays along, but once again the path is closed due to rock falls/storm damage.

Instead we find the stairs out which take us up and out by Hotel Sant Jordi - the second of the fabulously well placed hotels on this stretch.

The one downside to this route is that it's pretty much a one-way route - the route back is either along the road, or back the way we came along the bays. For completeness and speed we take the road route which means you can see just how big the three campsites are. Calonge International even has it's own bridge over the road. By Treumal we come off the main road and through the backstreets of modern apartment blocks and holiday homes.

Neighbouring walks: Platja d'Aro and S'AgaroCalonge (Cami de Molins and over Cabanyes)Calonge into the Gavarres - La Fosca to Palamos - Platja Sant Pol to Sant Feliu de Guixols

Swimming: Swimming at beaches between Platja d'Aro and Sant Antoni de Calonge - Swimming and beach at Platja d'Aro - Swimming and bay of St Antoni de Calonge

Update: Some parts of the walk that were closed have been repaired and re-opened (July 2014) with a new walkway in the parts that washed away, so it should be possible to complete the walk without having to go back up to the road.

Update 2: The final final parts of the walk that were still closed are now fully open (October 2016) with the path in a much better condition between Cala de Pi and Platja d'Aro. One little detail is that at the end of Cala Belladona beach the path is still a little confusing as there look as if there are three potential sets of stairs out of the beach - two straight ahead and one to the right. The ones straight ahead are closed - take the one to the right it leads to a path around the headland to the next beach.

Size = 635 x 838

Calonge (Cami de Molins and over Cabanyes)
24 Mar 2013

Calonge view to the church The road from Calonge up to Romanya de la Selva follows a small stream up the valley. Along this stream is a path known as the Cami de Molins which runs at the bottom of the Cabanyes urbanisation just outside Calonge. This estate seems to fill the whole hillside as you drive past on the dual carriageway and isn't immediately that inspiring as somewhere to walk.

Ford near Calonge In fact, the urbanisation is both mature and well maintained and sensibly spaced out, though it still suffers as most urbanisations in Spain do, from being too separate from the main old historic centre of Calonge. The buidling of estates in isolation, means they have relatively few facilities such as shops or bars, while the old town centres fell into a little bit of decay as the population moved out into the newer more luxurious houses in the surrounding estates, but then have to rely on driving to reach even the most basic amenities.

Cabanyes urbanisation The walk though, mostly passes along the fringes of the estate running along the stream and then into the Gavarres and over the top, only coming through the estate for the last part of the loop. We parked on one of the estate roads and walked along the main Romanya road (not much walking space) to a clearly marked footpath junction (we're following yellow-white flashes). The path was more of a gravel road and passed through a ford. Unfortunately we've had some rain recently and the ford lacked stepping stones - so crossing meant taking shoes and socks off and walking through.

We then walk along the stream past houses and a few tarmac roads before the path turns into a proper track only suitable for walking. We're at the start of spring and we saw the occasional asparagus hunter in among the trees by the stream. The first leaves were budding on the trees and meadow flowers were coming out.

Cami de Molins near Calonge As the path runs beyond the final houses of the estates it runs past a series of brick wiers with water gushing over into mill ponds. The path runs up and over the valley of a tributary before rejoining the main stream passing through fields and then an old mill.

From the old mill it turns up to the main Romanya road and we cross the road and start upwards into the hills. It's a typical Gavarres gravel road with deep water tracks gouged out of the surface making them only really suitable for high-mounted 4x4s. We walk past a couples of renovated masias and an old farm with peacocks sharing a paddock with donkeys.

At a junction at the top we follow the signs towards Calonge. We keep going up, but finally reach a flattish path across the top. The trees are too high to give us any views, but there is a viewpoint marked and we scramble onto the top of some flat rocks to look out over the valley below and parts of Romanya in the distance.

View from path above Cabanyes over Calonge The path continues and we come to a block in the path - a chain across the direction we should go. This isn't that common particularly on officially marked paths, but it does happen - there are infamous cases of foreign buyers putting up fences to walkers, in one particular case on the GR92 leading to local officials cutting the fence and leaving notices. So we double check both on the map and for the yellow and white flashes. Despite the barrier, the path does go on. It takes us along past some vineyards then along past an old masia on top with fabulous views out towards Palamos across Calonge. The path becomes the masia's drive and we continue out and down the hill. A big gate is in front of us, but space has been left to let us past. As if to double confirm it is the right route, the yellow-white flash has been painted right next to the gate and 50m further down the road is another official waymarker sign.

We now continue down the hill all the way until it reaches the first tarmacked roads of the estates then navigate through the estate finding a series of stairways down through the zig-zagging roads.

Neighbouring walks: Romanya de la SelvaCalonge into the Gavarres - Bell-lloc and Castell de Vila-Roma (Palamos) - St Antoni de Calonge, Torre Valentina to Platja d'Aro (almost) - Castell d'Aro and estate of Mas Nou

Walking route calonge, cami de molins and over Calonge

Update 2021: We returned to walk this path in reverse, this time taking in the Torre de la Creu de Castellar. The signpost markings still look like they are being deliberately removed at the top in the Can Mont area, and despite knowing the route from the other direction, we couldn't find the right path around Can Mont, which stupidly led to us having to traipse around their farmyard looking for the right way out. Clear signing would help everyone, and protect the property!

Romanya de la Selva
18 Mar 2013

Romanya de la Selva When we first moved to Catalonia, we had never visited before and knew practically nothing about any of the places.  Like most people our impression was much more of coming to Spain, than coming to Catalonia. We started in Barcelona and the first year we were here, we took a holiday up in Val Repos - a meandering urbanisation just outside Romanya de la Selva. Our impression from a few summer days was that the Gaverres was hot, arid and easy to get lost. Now we've been here a while, it is true that in the heat of summer, the Gavarres can see an unbroken stretch of cork trees and dusty roads, but there is a lot more to explore and particularly in the wetter months, the Gaverres becomes a great playground of muddy tracks and hidden views.

The Gavarres are also surprising because of how quickly the landscape and terrain changes. At the lower levels of the hills at the bottom of the valleys, it's common to find meadows, streams and fields and farmhouses. As the path rises through the valley it typically gets a little steeper, then turns a corner and suddenly you're in unbroken woods with stones and rocks around.

Romanya de la Selva is a small hamlet with a church and some old pretty building at the top of the Gavarres with a grand vista looking out across the Vall d'Aro and a number of popular restaurants. We were a little limited for time so the walk is relatively short - a little over an hour in length (we'll come back to do more). The aim was to walk up to Puig d'En Ponç. Puig means hill in Catalan, and Ponç (ponce) - is the name of numerous counts of Emporda (a long stream of Ponç and Hug I, II, III).

View from Romanya path The walk runs through the village past the chapel - go to the courtyard for the views. The path to the Puig is very clearly marked (yellow-white stripes) to start with on the road, then running down into the valley into the woods. The path is pleasant, but not really photogenic - wooded paths are always difficult to capture with a photo. Occasionally there are views out towards Palamos and the sea in the distance. After descending for a while, the path turns back up the hillside and climbs up - for long enough to make you puff. At the top it meets a road (this feels quite surprising given the feeling of remoteness in the woods. Following the path again, we go up the path to the top of the Puig. And now we're disappointed. The peak is marked as a viewpoint and it has a triangulation point on top, but though there is a clearing on top, the trees all around mean it is impossible to see anything of a view - even climbing on the triangulation point doesn't help.

So we wend our way down the route we came and turn to the left down the road (very quiet). The road actually has better views than the path we were on. It runs along a ridge with views down into the wooded valley on one side, and out into the more open developed valley of St Christina d'Aro on the other side. In front of us is a radio mast and we take this road to try to get the best views. Then follow the track into the urbanisation. We get slightly stuck as it seems the only route is to go through the garden of an empty house. Then it's a simple urbanisation road back to Romanya de la Selva.

Neighbouring walks: Calonge (Cami de Molins and over Cabanyes) - Solius, rocks for climbing and ruined castle - Romanya de la Selva to Puig d'Arques - Castell d'Aro and estate of Mas Nou - Romanya de la Selva to Platja d'Aro via Golf d'Aro Mas Nou - Llagostera to Sant Llorenç

Walking route Romanya de la Selva

Llofriu, St Llop and Torrent
18 Mar 2013

Church at Llofriu Llofriu is a small village that sits just off the main road between La Bisbal and Palafrugell. The main road passes through a small collection of restaurants - this is La Barceloneta of Llofriu, while the main older village heart of Llofriu is set a little way off the road. On the hill above the Llofriu-Torrent roundabout is the small chapel of St Llop. It's visible from the older village, but I don't think you can see it from the main road. The aim was to try to see the chapel.

Now technically (and on the map below), we actually started in our neighbourhood of Mont-ras and then walked to Llofriu, but for practical purposes most of the places we wanted to see were in the Llofriu-Torrent area, so you'd be better off with the smaller walk on the map. The long route from Torrent back to Mont-ras is fine as a bike route, but as a walk you find yourself walking a little below the height of the fields to the sides, which means there's not so much to see.

Chapel of Sant Llop outside Torrent/Llofriu We start just outside Llofriu old village between the main road and the village itself. Next to the large individual house is a track that runs to Llofriu Barceloneta allowing us to reach the nest of restaurants without needing to go on the main road. As we approach the back of the buildings and the first houses, the path splits to the left by a field towards the gate of a house. We follow this path along the field, then at the gate a bigger path takes us into the hills. A little way along it forks again and we take the right hand fork eventually reaching a line of electricity pylons with a road track and path under the pylons up the hill. It's a steady climb and eventually at the top we reach a fiveways point.

Llentiscle tree of Torrent Now one problem we have with both Llofriu and Torrent is that the maps don't mark the paths very well. From Llofriu many paths aren't on the map, and around Torrent there are lots of paths and tracks, but it turns out when you try to walk them, many are closed or private. So at the top it wasn't entirely clear either where we were, or which path we should take. After a few minutes orientation, we take the road-like track to the left. This climbs up and when we reach the crest of the hill we can see a radio mast ahead of us. The track runs along the top of a ridge and has two houses taking the views - on one side to the sea and out to the Isles Medes and on the other side across to the mountains, full with snow.

We walk past the radio mast continuing straight-on (on the footpath, not on the track) and it winds off the hill. There are glimpses of views through the trees in all directions but no single clear spot  to stop and admire the view.  The footpath runs down until it meets another track. Again we're not entirely sure where we are but we know the chapel is near. After exploring we realise the chapel is to the right next to a farmhouse - it wasn't clear if public could go along the road to the farmhouse.

The chapel is quite plain and there is a board outside which explains that St Llop became venerated as a saint against the plague (black death). Like England the plague wiped out a large proportion of the population in the 1300s devestating medieval Catalonia at the time of its ascendency on the Mediterranean. (Also as in England, Catalonia suffered against the in the 1600s the time of the Great Fire of London).

View across Torrent and Pals to the Costa Brava coast We follow the track down past the chapel, past an odd curved ball-type house and down to the main Torrent-Llofriu roundabout. Across the road are the vineyards of Mas Oller - one of the vineyards of DO Emporda - with large vats outside. We cross the road and head up the old, now disused, roadway that would have been used before the new main road was instigated. On this road is a tree with a sign (which is also marked on the maps) - but we're not entirely sure why it's celebrated. Reading later it is the Llentiscle of Torrent. Llentiscle is a tree that produces a mastic gum which was chewed in ancient Greece and Rome.

From the old road are excellent views across Torrent towards Pals and beyond, but there's no easy link to the proper footpath below so we scramble down a slope under the electricity wire to get to the path. We now head along the path - we thought there was a connection directly to Torrent, but again the map is deceiving. Instead we have to carry on to the north, then find the roadway back. The roadway itself is a little odd as it's marked by pillar-lights of about four feet high all the way down to the Torrent Hotel at the bottom (there's actually an exclusive estate at the other end of the road). The hotel itself is also pretty exclusive - another inland wonder for those in the know.

Archway at Placa Major in Torrent Torrent is another small medieval village, though with some modern stone houses in the centre. It feels well manicured as villages go, though it's main point of interest is the Museum of Confiture (yes, a museum of jam) just outside the main square. We pop our head round the door, but don't go in. It looks as much a shop as a small museum.

To make the loop we head out of the village to the main Pals road and have to walk along the road for about 100m before crossing to find a track through the fields opposite the Paint-ball centre. This cuts across to a masia and then meets with a road-track that would head towards Llofriu and complete the loop.

The route we take to get to Mont-ras is a bit longer. We cross the road and follow the path, firstly past a renovated masia and across a field, and then into the woods. The aim is to meet the Pals to Mont-ras path which we eventually get to after a couple of mistaken diversions. This is a good cross-country route, especially for bikes as there is no traffic and it avoid the main roads which can get busy, but for us it was a bit of a long-way round. We join the main Pals-Palafrugell route near the orange masia. At the next farm in the woods, the path forks - the right hand path runs along a dry stream bed before forking to the left off the streambed down to La Fanga. This route isn't particularly noteworth - the path sits below the level of the fields so there's not so much to see. (If we'd take the fork to the left by the farmhouse, we'd have come through the woods to the industrial estate by Esclanya which is much nicer).

At the bottom it emerges back to a main road by the farmhouse of La Fanga. This is also the name of the new shopping mall and cinema complex which is just in the process of being built just outside Palafrugell which is just across the road. Our path crosses the road and continues along the lane that runs past Mas Pla - the former house of Joseph Pla who is the most famous Catalan writer from here. The lane comes out by the dogs home Rodamon which was where we found our dog. Rodamon is a refuge for abandoned dogs and they are always looking for homes or, if you're on holiday, for people to walk the dogs. This last stretch is quite long, so if you just want to see Llofriu and Torrent, do just take the shorter route marked on the map.

Neighbouring walks: Evening walk Pals to Sant Feliu de Boada - Mont-ras Fountain walk - Mont-ras 'boar' walkPalafrugell, Tamariu, Begur residential and Esclanya - Regencos to Pals via Quermany Gros and Petit - Santa Susanna de Peralta and Sant Climent de Peralta - Mont-ras to Fitor and on to Fonteta and Vulpellac

Local blog in Catalan (suggested from a comment):

Walk Llofriu, St Llop and Torrent (from Mont-ras)

Palafrugell, Tamariu, Begur residential and Esclanya
11 Mar 2013

Ancient tower/castle in Esclanya Palafrugell is the main town for many of the coastal villages and unlike the coastal villages it remains busy all year long. On Sundays there is a big market with fruit and vegetables plus clothes and ancillary items. This walk starts in Palafrugell and takes the old road down to Tamariu (Cami Vell de Tamariu). It would have been the main access route to Tamariu in the early 20th century and though the top half to the Boblia (brick factory), past the deixillaria (tip) is tarmacked, the lower section is a sandy track barely wide enough for one car. It's difficult to imagine the route as a main road.

We start in Palafrugell and head out on Carrer Begur to the new apartment blocks by the new school, turning down past the school to meet the road to Tamariu. Around the back of Palafrugell are a number of tracks and hidden roads and hidden estates in among the hills and farmlands between the main town and the coastal villages. To start with the path follows the road and is more of a country stroll. After the factory we bear to the left to follow the main track down towards Tamariu. Tamariu itself is in a hollow, so whichever way you approach the village you have to go down, and in converse, getting out means climbing out of the hollow and depending on route this can be quite steep.

Cami Vell to Tamariu The sandy road seems to have been cut into the hill with big banks on one side, then the other with occasional glimpses over the fields when the banks disappear. There are trees around and nearby we hear the ratatatat of a woodpecker. The path gets a bit steeper (not so great if you're thinking of cycling up) before reaching a clearing in the woods. A small footpath forks off to the left along by a stream. We follow the footpath past an ugly font, then down the stream, criss-crossing over stepping stones as we go down. Eventually the path reaches a meadow and we continue following the track and it emerges by the side of Tamariu Campground. There's a chain across the path, so we're not entirely sure if the path we just came down is private, but there were no signs and it seemed well walked.

Meadows outside Tamariu From the campsite we walk down in towards Tamariu. We could visit the town and go to the beach, but this time we follow a left hand road back up into the estate to the left above the village. We've included the walk from Tamariu to Sant Sebastian which has more about the village. Tamariu also has a route via the GR92 to meet up with the Aiguablava-Fornells walk but we're not so keen on the path between the village and Aiguablava.

The path up through the estate follows the roadway right to the top where the road ends and a small narrow path heads into the woods. We run along the top of the ridge with the main route from Tamariu to the Palafrugell-Begur road to the right beneath us (this is a gravel road, surprisingly untarmacked, but not so good to walk along). We meet the broad gravel path and walk up to the house by the junction, then across the main road towards Residential Begur.

View from Begur residential Now we are on hard footpaths by the road of the estate. We miss the path we would have liked to take towards Esclanya and instead walk in among the houses. At the brow of the hill we are greeted with a view over the Pyrenees in full snow-capped glory. We follow the roadway through the estate. Though we guess the estate was originally built as a holiday area, most of the houses have permanent residents. Many are out in their gardens enjoying an early spring day. The road heads down before turning into a gravel track down to Esclanya. In summer, the gravel tracks can get very dusty, particularly if you're passed by a car.

Esclanya In Esclanya we reach a T junction and take the left-hand direction towards the old part of Esclanya. Esclanya dates back to Roman times and the old hamlet of no more than 20 or so houses has a very pretty church and castle. The main part of Esclanya consists of more modern estates with a small school as a small commuter village for Palafrugell.

Rather than head back towards the newer part of Esclanya, we cross the main road again towards Blanquers/Cemeterie. This road also peters out into a track and we follow the track at the back of the woods to find our way to the back of the new apartment blocks and from there back into Palafrugell.

Neighbouring walks: Mont-ras to Calella de Palafrugell and LlafrancFar de Sant Sebastia (Llafranc) to TamariuFornells and Aiguablava walk (GR92)Regencos to Pals via Quermany Gros and Petit - Eulogy to the Ruta del Tren Petit (Palafrugell, Palamos, Mont-ras and Vall-llobrega)

Swimming: Swimming at the beach at Tamariu

Walking route Palafrugell, Tamariu to Esclanya

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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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