On this trip we used the Cicerone Guide – “Mountain Walking in Southern Catalunya” by Peter and Vivien Freakily. Most of the walks are in the Els Portes massif just north of the town of Tortosa. This is a relatively unknown area of dramatic ridges, valleys and peaks of great beauty and I would highly recommend a visit, as it is easily accessible from either Reus or Barcelona. We did 10 walks from the book and my favourites from the trip appear here.
MONTASPRE RIDGE WALK
This lovely walk started from the typical hill village of Pauls on a beautiful spring day. After parking the car we quickly left the village along a series of quiet country lanes through delightful almond, cherry and olive plantations. Apparently Paul is famous for its’ cherries and holds a cherry festival each May. Our route now started to ascend and after a few moments of doubt around an abandoned farm building we found a track and followed it through a band of forestry, eventually emerging into a barren rocky series of barrancs, climbing through Les Ambles of Montaspre.
Following the well cairned route the path eventually ascends a steep gully and emerges on the ridge. From here a short detour left brought us to the summit of La Coscollosa. Here we stopped for lunch and to enjoy the excellent views.
Returning to where we made our detour, the path continues for several kilometres along the main ridge, enjoying extensive views of els Ports, the river plain and the distant sea. Eventually the path reaches possibly the most grandiose, ornate signpost I have ever seen on a walk (see photo gallery) and joins the red way marked GR171 and a steep, cleverly constructed descent back to the valley. From here, in what was by now, high temperatures, we followed a series of farm tracks, eventually turning into lanes, back to the village and a week earned beer.
MONT CARO SUMMIT
RACO D’EN MARCO
RACO DELS CAPELLARS
LE CREU DE SANTOS
We left this as our last mountain day walk – this walk is in the Serra de Cardo – and separated from the other walks in the book – being situated well to the east of them. Although this entailed a longer drive to the start, the location also meant we had the chance to look back over most of the areas we had been to in previous days, from the summits. The route starts at the end of a long road to the abandoned Convent/Balneari de Cardo. Walking from here we soon reached the ruins of the Ermita de Sant Simeo – perched on a rocky crag. From here the track continued to climb through the forest, eventually reaching the ridge. From here a 10 minute diversion led to the summit of Creu de Santos 942m and further away the slightly higher summit of Xaquera. Here we stopped for food and a rest – spending time taking in the fabulous 360degree views.From here the whole length of els Ports stretches westwards in front of you and we were able to pick out several of our routes in that area. To the south we could see the lagoons of the Ebre delta and beyond that, the Mediterranean.
We then retraced our steps and then took a yellow waymarked path, at first dropping through the trees, but eventually re-emerging on the ridge at the Portel del Bou. Again, excellent views opened up -over the el Perello hills to the distant resort of l”Armetlla de Mar and the Mediterranean.
Here the path became very faint, but following the instructions in the guidebook, we moved across open ground (see photograph above), eventually finding a fallen signpost to the Rifugi i Font de Teix. As we turned northwards around the mountain it was fascinating to note the change from Mediterranean vegetation (garrigue) to grass and woodland. We reached the font – an impressive construction – and the beautifully situated rifugi. Unmanned, we opened the door and found a spotlessly clean and charming interior – it would have been great to have stayed overnight in this lovely spot – though I doubt whether the others waiting for us at the car would have approved! From here the path continued to contour the hillside before descending to reach a pass – the Portell de Cosp. The car was about another thirty minutes walk down from here through beautiful woods. On the way we passed two further Ermitas – the second one had attached ruined stables where you could still see the names of the horses marked on the walls. A great walk in a beautiful, wild and unfrequented area.
Photo gallery of the trip can be viewed HERE