Category Archives: Pyrenees

Walking in the Eastern Pyrenees and foothills

eastern pyrenees

Sunflower’s guide Landscapes of the Pyrenees is intended for people who want an introductory overall view of the range. The ideal way to use it is to tour the Pyrenees by car, stopping for walks en route. Naturally, covering such a large area, there isn’t going to be a heavy concentration of walks around any single base.

So if you’re heading to a villa or hotel near the Eastern Pyrenees this autumn and planning to stay put for a week or two, be sure to pack a copy of Landscapes of the Costa Brava and Barcelona in addition to Landscapes of the Pyrenees.

You will then have a choice of over 50 walks on the coast and in the hinterland. From the Pyrenees guide there will be nine walks (with variations) within a 50-mile radius of the French coast around Collioure. The Costa Brava guide describes 23 long walks (with variations) and 18 shorter walks especially suitable for motorists between Collioure and Barcelona.

The Sunflower team have regularly ‘road-and-footpath-tested’ both guides in autumn – when the air is sparkling and the temperatures perfect for hiking. Two of our favourite places are the volcanic Garroxta region and the Serra del Cadí not far to the west.

Photo: Pedraforca – the ‘forked rock’ – landmark of the Serra del Cadí

A wild day out walking on the Spanish coastline

Easten Pyrenees wild coast

Now that we’ve finally got our holiday home in Collioure sorted out we’ve been able to make time to enjoy more walking in the Pyrenees. Recently we revisited another of our favourite walks in the Eastern Pyrenees, Walk 2 in Landscapes of the Pyrenees. One important piece of advice. Don’t think of hiking inland in the Albères (the mountains between the coast and Le Perthus) in August. It’s just too hot and there are few water sources. But along the coast is another matter. It’s always a few degrees cooler and there’s usually a breeze.

Mindful of the heat we opted for the shorter version of the walk and took the ferry from Roses to Cala Jóncols, which saves three hours (compared with starting from Cadaqués). The bar right on the beach at Jóncols was just too tempting so we stopped for a drink and the first swim of the day before heading southish for the next large bay, Cala Montjoi. Swim number two.

This is about as wild a coastline as you can find in mainland Spain and the section from Montjoi to the outskirts of Roses is a real gem. The coastal path (the GR92) hugs the low cliffs, winding its way between shady umbrella pines, and dropping down to little coves, quiet even in high season. We passed through Cala Rostella without getting wet but by the time we reached Cala Murtra the sun was almost overhead. Swim number three. By the way, Cala Murtra is clothing optional – whether or not you dare is up to you.

After a couple of hours of hiking and three more of swimming and lounging on the beaches we rounded Punta Falconera and saw civilisation ahead. Buts that’s not the end of the adventure because there are two more great beaches still to go, L’Almadrava and Canyelles, albeit they’re backed by houses and hotels. Back in Roses, as we sipped long, cool drinks by the marina we agreed there could be no finer walk for a summer’s day.

Paul and Chrissie are making their studio in Collioure available to Landscapes readers at a discount of 10%. Just mention Landscapes when making your booking. You can see full details at http://colliourestudio.com

Photo: Looking back to Cala Jóncols from the path to Cala Montjoi (copyright Mike Lockwood, from Landscapes of the Costa Brava and Barcelona)

Back To Collioure

Collioure

Photo: Luc Viatour/www.lucnix.be

We’ve always loved the area where the Pyrenees come down to the Mediterranean. Not only do you get the best of both environments but there’s a very special quality to the light – an intensity you get in few other places (especially after the famous north wind known as the tramuntana has blown through). We’ve particularly liked Collioure, a seaside village featured in Walk 3 of our Landscapes Of The Pyrenees. So when we had the chance to buy a studio in Collioure we decided to go for it. It’s an idyllic spot to be based for any kind of holiday because the area has just about anything you could want.

From our studio we’ve been discovering some great hiking. Of course we’ve retraced the walk we feature in the book, which climbs from Collioure to the old hermitage of Notre-Dame-de-Consolation and the 13th century Tour Madeloc before descending to Banyuls-sur-Mer. That was a great day out with fabulous views all along the Côte Vermeille, capped by a visit to the studio where the sculptor Maillol (1861 – 1944) produced many of his works. So far we’ve discovered two more beautiful walks, and no doubt there are others. The first is an easy stroll along the clifftops to Racou, which is about 4km away to the north. At the little Ouille cove we stopped for a swim (bracing in May) and had a second from the wide sandy beach at Racou before returning by the same route. The second is one of the most exhilarating walks we’ve ever done, blue sky above, blue sea below. We started in Port-Vendres (1km south of Collioure) and followed the coastal path out along the promontory to Cap Béar. From there the path traces the south side of the promontory to the superb Paulilles cove, which really is a gem. The bay was never developed because it was the site of a dynamite factory. In 2005 the General Council of the Pyrénées-Orientales demolished nearly 70 buildings, cleaned it all up and turned the bay into a protected area. It’s as special a cove as you’ll ever find in Europe.

Paul and Chrissie are making their studio in Collioure available to Landscapes readers. Their website for it will be going live during June at www.colliourestudio.com