I often get asked about the hinterland to the Costa Brava – what landscapes hide behind some of the rather unfortunate building that went on along the coast from the 1960s onwards. And the answer is always the same – within a short distance, this north-east corner of Catalonia has a wonderful variety of scenery on offer for those who want to walk in the Costa Brava and for those who prefer to tour the Costa Brava by car. For example, in my region, La Garrotxa, with its medieval bridges and Romanesque churches, crowned by the medieval village of Besalú (pictured), the walks I know and love and which I describe in Sunflower’s Landscapes of the Costa Brava and Barcelona guide are myriad, yet always offer me something new.
For example, three of the walks in La Garrotxa have been improved for wildlifers. Up at Coll de Bracons on Walk 9, the access road has now all but been forgotten by the traffic, which all now passes through the brand-new Bracons tunnel. As a result, the flowery waysides on the last 1 km up to the pass are a haven for orchids, butterflies and insects in general. On walk 10, the famous beech wood of Les Olletes has been saved from the chop by a stewardship agreement, which will allow its ancient beeches to continue to act as reservoirs for black woodpeckers and a vast number of beetles including the spectacular Rosalia alpina. Lastly, on walk 11 just behind the starting point in La Moixina a new botanical walk has been opened up which provides excellent views (above all in early April) of some of the fabulous ground flora for which these marshy woods are famous.
On a more prosaic note, on short-walk for motorists 8 on car tour 3, you may now have to pay to enter into the volcano of Croscat, which is being turned into an open-air museum.
So, if you’re thinking of touring the Costa Brava by car, or walking in the Costa Brava hinterland, remember that there is a lot to see over and behind those mountains you can see on a clear day!