Walking in Costa Brava

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Landscapes of the COSTA BRAVA and BARCELONA: walks and car tours

by Michael Lockwood and Teresa Farino

This is the 12th review I have done on the Sunflower Landscapes series of books. I have been a devotee since I bought my first guide in 1995. Every one has been a winner, and this one is no exception. This book will open up a whole new side of Spain to you. The car tours are wonderful too. It’s all there for you in this compact book. You really do not need to go and buy detailed walking maps yourself as the maps included for each walk are more than adequate. Don’t leave home without it. (AL, Amazon)

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Description

Costa BravaThe Costa Brava — literally the ‘rugged coast’, in reference to the rocky, inhospitable nature of much of the shore — runs from the French border southwards towards Barcelona. Behind the coast lie the Serralada Litoral and Serralada Prelitoral. These ranges include such varied landscapes as the extraordinary conglomerate pinnacles of Montserrat, the dormant volcanoes of the Garrotxa and the subalpine heights of the Montseny. It is this very variety, coupled with its proximity to Barcelona and the coastal towns, that makes walking in the Costa Brava hinterland so attractive.

The authors describe the best walks in this part of Catalonia, be they the classic routes that form part of the repertoire of any self-respecting Catalan walker, or some of their personal favourites way off the beaten track. A special feature of this guide book is the focus on the enormous variety of wildlife on offer, and the authors, keen naturalists, urge you to carry a pair of binoculars and the appropriate field guides.

Area covered: from Portbou, Colera, the Serra de l’Albera and Port de Llança in the north down to Barcelona in the south. The book does not cover the Costa Dorada (which is south of Barcelona).

Best months for walking: September to June.

Where to stay

Good bases are Barcelona, Olot, Girona and Figueres — depending on the area in which you intend to walk.

Edition/contents etc

6 car tours, 18 short and easy walks for motorists, 23 main walks + many variations, picnic suggestions
136 pages + touring map; large-scale (1:50,000) topo maps
3rd ed, 2011; ISBN 978-1-85691-406-2; UK retail price £12.99 / USA retail price $17.99

Table of contents:

Preface 5
Acknowledgements; Useful books 7

Getting about 9

Short walks and picnic suggestions 11
Countryside code 12

TOURING 13
Car tour 1: NORTH OF BARCELONA 15
(including Short walks 1-3 for motorists)
Car tour 2: EL MONTSENY 21
(including Short walks 4-6 for motorists)
Car tour 3: LA GARROTXA AND EL PLA DE L’ESTANY 26
(including Short walks 7-10 for motorists)
Car tour 4: THE BAIX EMPORDÀ 32
(including Short walks 11-14 for motorists)
Car tour 5: THE ALT EMPORDÀ PLAIN 40
(including Short walk 15 for motorists)
Car tour 6: THE ESSENCE OF THE ALT EMPORDÀ 45
(including Short walks 16-18 for motorists)

WALKING 50
Maps 50
Waymarking 51
Where to stay 51
Weather hints 52
Clothing and equipment 53
Dogs – and other nuisances 54
General advice to walkers 55
Language hints 56
Glossary 57
Organisation of the walks 58

THE WALKS
1 Mare de Déu de Bruguers · Castell d’Eramprunyà · Puig de les Agulles · La Morella · La Pleta · Garraf 59
2 Baixador de Vallvidrera · Font Groga · Sant Medir · Can Borrell · Sant Cugat 63
3 Monestir de Montserrat · Pla dels Ocells · Sant Jeroni · Pla de les Taràntules · Sant Miquel · Monestir de Montserrat 66
4 Coll d’Estenalles · La Mola · La Barata · Camí Ral · Castellsapera · Coll d’Estenalles 69
5 Riells del Fai · Sant Miquel del Fai · L’Ullar · Sant Pere de Bertí · Cingles de Bertí · Sot del Bac · El Figaró 73
6 Santa Fe · Font del Briançó · Les Agudes · Turó de l’Home · L’Avetosa · Font de Passavets · Santa Fe 77
7 Collformic · Coll Saprunera · Matagalls · Pla de la Barraca · Collformic 80
8 Sant Aniol de Finestres · Font dels Sòcals · Les Medes · Puigsallança · Santa Maria de Finestres · Castell de Finestres · Sant Aniol de Finestres 83
9 Coll de Bracons · Font Tornadissa · Rasos de Manter · Puigsa-calm · Rasos de Manter · Font Tornadissa · Coll de Bracons 87
10 Sant Privat d’en Bas · Mare de Déu de les Olletes · Santa Magdalena del Mont · (Puig Corneli) · Salt de Sallent · Sant Privat d’en Bas 90
11 Olot (Parc Nou) · La Moixina · Fageda d’en Jordà · Sant Martí del Corb · Sant Miquel del Corb · Volcà del Racó · La Moixina · Olot (Parc Nou) 94
12 Can Serra · Fageda d’en Jordà · Volcà de Santa Margarida · Volcà del Croscat · Can Serra 98
13 La Bisbal · Riera de Pastells · Sant Cebrià de Lledó · Puig de Sant Miquel · Riera de Cantagalls · Molí d’en Frigola · La Bisbal 101
14 Palafrugell · Tamariu · Cala Pedrosa · Far de Sant Sebastià · Palafrugell 105
15 Torroella de Montgrí · Casa de les Dunes · Montplà · Castell de Montgrí · Coll de la Creu · Torroella de Montgrí 108
16 L’Estartit · Cala Pedrosa · Cala Ferriol · Torre Ponça · L’Estartit 111
17 Castelló d’Empúries · Estany Europa · El Cortalet · La Massona · El Cortalet · Castelló d’Empúries 113
18 Les Torroelles · Estany de Vilaüt · Vilaüt · La Torre del Vent · Les Torroelles 117
19 Montjoi · Cap de Norfeu · Montjoi 119
20 Port de la Selva · Sant Baldiri · Cala Tavallera · Prat de Romagós · Cap de Creus · Portlligat · Cadaqués 122
21 Sant Quirc de Colera · Coll de la Plaja · Puig de la Calma · Puig d’en Jordà · Coll de Pallerols · Sant Quirc de Colera 126
22 Requesens · Coll Forcat · Puig Neulós · Collades de Parmal · Castell de Requesens · Requesens 128
23 Mare de Déu de la Salut · Ermita de Santa Magdalena · Coll de Vellís · Ermita de Santa Magdalena · Mare de Déu de la Salut 130

Index 133
Illustrations of flora and fauna 135
Fold-out map/Transport timetables 136

Guidebook index

Les Agudes 21, 22-3, 24, 77, 78, 79
Agullana 40, 41
Aiguamolls de l’Empordà 5, 43, 44, 45, 48, 49, 54, 57, 113, 115, 116, 117, 118
Avetosa 22-3, 77, 79
Baixador de Vallvidrera 63, 65
Banyoles 26, 28, 29, 30
Banyuls-sur-Mer 127
Barcelona 5, 6, 9, 10, 13, 15, 20, 21, 50, 51, 58, 59, 63, 66, 69, 73, 136
Begur 32, 37, 105
Besalú 26, 30, 31
La Bisbal d’Empordà 32, 34, 101, 102-3, 104, 136
El Brull 21, 25
Cadaqués 45, 47, 122, 124-5, 136
Cala Fornells 48
Cala Jóncols 120
Cala Montjoi 47, 120, 121
Cala Pedrosa
east of Palafrugell 105, 106, 107
north of L’Estartit 111, 112
Caldes de Montbui 15
La Calella 35
Calella de Palafrugell 32, 37
Camí dels Matxos 90, 91, 92, 93
Camí Ral 69, 70, 71
Can Casades 22, 23, 77, 79
Can Serra 27, 28, 94, 95, 98, 100
Cantallops 40, 42, 128, 130
Cap de Creus 40, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 112, 119, 120, 122, 123, 124-5
Cap de la Barra 35, cover
Cap de Norfeu 119, 120, 120-1
Cap Roig 32, 37
Capmany 40, 42
Casa de les Dunes 108, 109, 110, 112
Castell de Montgrí 36, 108, 109, 110, 112
Castell de Requesens 40, 42, 128, 130
Castell de Santa Pau 28
Castell de Sant Salvador de Verdera 10, 17, 46
Castellfollit de la Roca 26, 31
Castelló d’Empúries 10, 40, 44, 49, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 136
Castellsapera 69, 70, 71, 72
Centelles 15, 17, 18
Cingles de Bertí 73, 74-5
Coll de Banyuls 40, 42, 43, 126
Coll de Bracons 87, 89
Coll d’Estenalles 18, 19, 20, 69, 70, 71, 72, 136
Collformic 21, 24, 25, 80, 82
El Cortalet 45, 49, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117
La Costa del Montseny 21, 25
Coves del Reclau 30
Coves del Toll 15, 19
La Creu d’en Cobertella 47
Cruïlles 32, 34, 36, 101, 103, 104
Darnius 40, 41
Daró River 35, 101, 102-3, 104
Empordà 5, 32, 34, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 101, 109, 113, 118, 122, 127
Alt Empordà 40, 43, 44, 45, 47, 49
Baix Empordà 32, 34, 37, 38, 39, 101, 109
Empuriabrava 114, 115
Empúries 49
Ermita de Santa Magdalena 131, 131, 132
Espinelves 21, 24
Espolla 40, 42, 43
L’Estany 15, 19
Estany de Banyoles 26, 29
Estany de Vilaüt 117, 118
Estany Europa 113, 114, 115
Estanys de Canadal 40, 42
Estanys del Matà 114, 115
L’Estartit 32, 35, 36, 111, 112, 136
Fageda d’en Jordà 26, 27, 28, 57, 94, 95, 96, 98, 99, 100
Far de Sant Sebastià 32, 37, 105, 106
El Figaró 7, 73, 74-5, 76
Figueres 9, 10, 13, 38, 40, 42, 43, 44, 45, 47, 49, 52, 58, 136
Fluvià River 30, 31, 43, 49
Font del Briançó 77, 78, 79
Font Groga 63, 64, 65
Font Tornadissa 87, 88, 89
Garraf Massif 5, 59, 60, 61, 62
Garriguella 40, 42, 43
La Garrotxa 6, 9, 26, 29, 30, 51, 52, 58, 83, 86-87, 94, 95, 96, 98, 99, 100, 117
Les Gavarres 101, 102-3
Gavà 59, 60, 136
Girona 9, 10, 13, 23, 26, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 39, 50, 51, 52, 58, 80, 81, 83, 136
Gola del Ter 36, 57
Granollers 136
Illes Medes 36, 108-9
Joanetes 4-5
Llafranc 32, 37, 105, 107
Llagostera 32, 39
Llémena River 83, 84, 85
Llobregat River 19, 20
Madremanya 32, 34-5
Manresa 9, 17, 20, 71
Mare de Déu de Bruguers 59, 60, 61, 136
Mare de Déu de la Salut 40, 41, 131, 132
Mare de Déu des les Olletes 90, 92, 93
Mas Ventós 45, 46
La Massona 113, 114, 115, 116
Matagalls 21, 23, 24, 80, 81, 82
Moià 15, 17, 19
La Moixina 94, 95, 96, 97
La Mola 64, 69, 70, 71
Monells 32, 34
Monistrol de Montserrat 20
Montcau 18, 69
Montgrí, Massís de 32, 35, 36, 108-9, 110, 111, 112, 132, 136
Montjoi 45, 47, 119, 120, 121
Montplà 108-9, 110
El Montseny 6, 21, 22-3, 24, 25, 38, 51, 52, 75, 77, 78, 79, 80, 82
Montserrat, Muntanya de 6, 9, 14, 15, 19, 20, 52, 66, 67, 67, 68, 69, 72; Monestir de Montserrat 20, 66, 67, 68
Muga River 40, 41, 44, 115, 116
Mura 2, 14, 15, 19, 20
Navarcles 15, 19
Olot 10, 13, 26, 28, 30, 31, 52, 58, 83, 87, 90, 94, 95, 97, 98, 136
Orlina River 40, 43
Palafrugell 10, 32, 37, 39, 105, 106, 107, 136
Palamós 32, 39
Palau-saverdera 43, 117
Pals 32, 36, 37
Pantà de Boadella 40, 41
Pantà de Santa Fe 21, 22
Pas dels Francesos 67
Rabós 40, 42, 43
Peralada 40, 44, 113
Peratallada 32, 34, 35
El Pla de L’Estany 24, 26, 29
Pla de les Taràntules 66, 67, 68
Platja de Pals 32, 36
Platja del Castell 32, 38, 39
Pont de Can Prat 28, 29
Porqueres 26, 29-30
Port de la Selva 10, 45, 47-48, 122, 124-5, 136
Portlligat 47, 122, 124-5
Púbol 30, 32,
Puig Corneli 4-5, 90, 92
Puig de la Calma 126, 127
Puig de les Agulles 59, 60, 61, 62
Puig de les Cadiretes 32, 38-39
Puig d’en Jordà 126, 126, 127
Puig de Sant Miquel 101, 102-3, 104
Puig Neulós 128-9, 130
Puig Ventós 24
Puigsacalm 4-5, 52, 87, 89, 90, 91, 92
Puigsallança 83, 85, 86
Pyrenees 6, 8, 23, 38, 52, 68, 78, 82, 85, 87, 100, 132
Rabós 40, 42, 43
Requesens 40, 42, 128, 129, 130
Riells de Fai 73, 74-5, 136
Riera de Santa Fe 22, 25, 78
Roses 10, 42, 43, 45, 47, 49, 113, 114
Bahia de Roses 113, 115
Salt de Sallent 90, 91, 92, 93
Sant Aniol de Finestres 83, 84, 85, 86, 136
Sant Baldiri de Tavallera 122, 123, 124-5
Sant Cebrià de Lledó 101, 102-3, 104
Sant Celoni 21, 25
Sant Cugat 63, 65
Sant Feliu de Codines 15
Sant Feliu de Guíxols 32, 39
Sant Grau 32, 39
Sant Jeroni 66, 67, 68
Sant Llorenç del Munt 15, 18, 19, 51, 52, 64, 69, 70, 70, 71, 72
Sant Marçal 21, 23
Sant Martí de Centelles 15, 17, 18
Sant Martí del Corb 94, 95, 95, 96
Sant Miquel del Corb 94, 95, 97
Sant Miquel del Fai 15, 16-7, 73, 74-5, 75
Sant Miquel Sacot 99, 100
Sant Pere de Rodes, Monestir de 10, 45, 46
Sant Pere Pescador 45, 49
Sant Privat d’en Bas 89, 90, 91, 93
Sant Quirc de Colera, Monestir de 40, 43, 126, 127
Sant Segimón, Monestir de 81, 82, 82
Sant Tomàs de Fluvià 45, 49
Santa Caterina, Muntanya de 36, 109, 110
Santa Fe de Montseny 21, 22, 23, 25, 77, 78, 79, 136
Santa Helena 46
Santa Magdalena, Muntanya de 131, 131, 132
Santa Magdalena del Mont 90, 91, 92
Santa Maria de Finestres 83, 84, 85, 86
Santa Pau 26, 28, 86, 94
Serinyà 26, 30, 31
La Resclosa de Serinyà 26, 30
Serra de Collserola 63
Serra de Finestres 28, 83, 84, 85
Serra de l’Albera 40, 42-3, 126, 128-9, 130
Serra de Santa Magdalena 4-5, 87, 89, 90, 91, 92
Serra d’Obac 69, 70
Seva 17, 21, 25
Talamanca 15, 19, 69
Tamariu 32, 37, 105, 106, 107
Taula dels Tres Bisbes 23, 25
Terrades 40
Terrassa 9, 15, 20, 69, 136
El Tibidabo 63-64, 65
Tona 15, 17, 25
El Torn 26, 28, 127
Torre de Collserola 63
Torre de Norfeu 121
Torre del Vent 117, 118
Torre Ponça 111, 112
Torroella de Montgrí 32, 36, 108, 109, 110, 136
Les Torroelles 43, 117, 118
La Trona 74, 75, 76
Sa Tuna 32, 36, 37
Turó de l’Home 21, 22, 23, 24, 57, 77, 79, 80
Ullastret 32, 34, 35
Vall de Sant Daniel 33
Vallvidrera 64, 65
Verdera, Muntanya de 117
Vic 17, 23, 24, 87
Vilabertran 40, 43, 44
Viladrau 21, 24
Vilajuïga 40, 43, 45
Vilaür 49
Vilaüt 43, 117, 118
Volcà de Santa Margarida 27, 98
Àrea de Santa Margarida 27, 28, 98, 100
Volcà del Croscat 26, 27, 98, 99, 100
Volcà del Racó 94, 95, 97

Current update

Costa Brava and Barcelona, 3rd edition (2011), updated 31/3/2016

Updates for walks and car tours (drives) in the Costa Blanca region given below supplement those provided in the guidebook. It is vital that this Update is read in conjunction with the text of the book, but note that the Update applies only to the edition stated and not to any earlier editions. (If you have an older edition of this book you can “upgrade” to the latest edition at half price.)

Information has been forwarded to us by users of the book, and Sunflower Books offers the data in good faith but cannot be held responsible for any misleading or inaccurate content in the Update. Unless indicated otherwise, what appears here has not been verified by the author or publisher, so please allow due caution when new or amended routes are suggested. Each piece of information is dated; bear in mind that some of the older observations may have since been overtaken by events or further changes. If, during your holiday, you are using the current edition of the guide and are able to provide any additional updating to add to this page, we will be pleased to hear from you. Please send information, preferably by e-mail, to info@sunflowerbooks.co.uk.

Car tour 3, Short Walk for motorists 8: You may now have to pay to enter into the volcano of Croscat, which is being turned into an open-air museum. (Sunflower, 2013)

Car tour 4, Short walk 15 for motorists:  We tried this walk on 10/07/2014. It is no longer possible to turn immediately right along the bank of the Pantà de Boadella on the far side of the dam because the end of the path has been fenced over to prevent access. As far as we could tell (we did not go as far as the descent to the lake) the only option now is to follow the walk in the reverse direction as far as you wish to go, and then return the same way. Also, the toilets in the car park have been closed, permanently by the look of it. But it’s still a beautiful lake, and a lovely place to visit. (User, 7/14)

Car tour 5: We attempted this itinerary 23/3/2016 but got into a whole series of difficulties. After visiting Cantallops the guide takes drivers on to Capmany. They are directed to retrace their route back down the G1601 towards the N11 to a “soon to be tarmacked road signposted Conjunt Megalitic Dels Estanys” on the left leading to Capmany.
(1) Whatever the circumstances at the time of the authors original survey the track has certainly not been tarmacked since, as they suggested it was about to be. We think it must have deteriorated considerably and far from being upgraded it has seemingly been de-rated by the authorities.
(2) The guide’s “Conjunt Megalitic” sign pointing left off the G1601 has gone and has been replaced by small footpath signs where the footpath crosses the road at that point. The footpath is in fact the old track and still passable by cars, (for a kilometre or so), but the turn off from the road took some finding, nevertheless.  In fact the “Conjunct Megalitic” sign appears to have been repositioned at a track junction a few hundred meters in from the road proper, and as we found to our cost, now points entirely and dangerously in the wrong direction.
(3)  Once off the G1601 drivers are confronted with repeated junctions along the dirt tracks with no vehicle direction signs to assist. The road surface is definitely for high axle/four wheel drive vehicles and not the average conventional hire car. (I have driven two wheel drive vehicles on un-metalled road all over the world).
We got back to the G1601 alright but in this regard the specific reference to the suitability of this “un-surfaced road”  on page 13, whilst, no doubt, well intentioned at the outset, may now be misleading and actually dangerous. (User, 3/16)

Walk 5: The reference to the Short walk turning right at the 1h30min point is unnecessary and incorrect. (User, 5/15) + Short walk: “…Turn left on this track and, having ignored two left turns, continue as far as a junction just below El Soler de Berti”… We counted only one left turn, some reforestation is taking place. Actually the phrase is unnecessary, ‘proceed to a small farm’ may be a better instruction… “Turn left below this semi abandoned farm”. The junction is not below the farm. The farm is being restored and will not always be semi-abandoned. There is no way of establishing that one is at a place called El Soler de Berti. A better instruction might be ‘Just above the farmhouse arrive at a T-junction. See a painted direction on the rock wall opposite “To Centelles”. Turn left in the direction away from Centelles’. (User, 5/15)

Walk 6: This walk isn’t really working. At the start of the walk there is now a metalled walkway/footpath for disabled access or kids on roller skates. This has obliterated your introductory access instruction… At the 30min-point there are some red blobs marking the next stage but they quickly fizzle out. There is no sign of the way up the hill as any path is completely obliterated by leaf fall. Setting off on this route that is so steep it seems improbable using a compass bearing the other waymarks or land marks in the description do never appear. The map on the guide is good and finally making our way within 100m or so from the peak Les Agudes by eventually following cairns, we picked up a single small deep red paint mark pointing the path to the final ascent. This was so steep it would have been a climb/scramble not a walk and although within sight of the top we just gave up. I think this whole walk probably needs reappraisal. (User, 5/15) + Unlike the previous user, I completed the walk in roughly the times stated. I think the problem at the start can very simply be resolved along these lines: After crossing the bridge(s) follow the newly paved pathway to the left until reaching the entrance to wood. ( I saw no brick ruins.) Enter the woods slightly to right of the paved path on a woodland path that eventually takes you to the convent building. Ignore any cross-tracks or deviations on the way (30 mins or less)…. After crossing the road as directed there were red paint splashes on trees all the way to the ridge, there were even some new wooden posts and some marked with a cross to show wrong way etc. Another thing that may be very recent is the abundance of these new wooden posts but colours were not as indicated in the guide. For example the route along the ridge had posts and all were showing green signs. Similarly on the way down from Turo De L’Home (which had newish posts all the way down, obviating the need for much else in the way of directions) they had Santa Fe on one side for going down and Turo De L’Home on the other for the way up. These too were all green with a red band around the top. This route is probably better way marked now than when the guide was published! (User, 5/15)

Walk 7: Excellent walk. Only one snag: Page 81. “At the first junction (40min), turn left by a GREEN METAL POST”. There is no longer a metal post! (User, 5/15)