Pathway to the Volcanoes

               Pathway to the Volcanoes

Pathway to the Volcanoes (6 nights, 5 days walking)

The route of the Pathway to the Volcanoes begins in Castellfollit de la Roca and finishes in the heart of the volcanic natural park, in the stunning Fageda d’en Jorda.  We walk on average 5-7 hours per day, with a lunchtime picnic every day to allow us to rest and top up our energy levels.  La Zona Volcanic de la Garrotxa is the best example of a volcanic landscape in the Iberian Peninsula, with more than 40 volcanoes and 20 lavaflows.  The geography and climate of the area have produced beautiful forests of oak and beech. Within the protected area, over 1000 flowering plants have been identified and there is an abundance of wildlife.

Please note that the itinerary is a guide only and it may be necessary to modify the route from that described.

Day 1 – Arrival and welcome

You will be met at the airport or city centre and transferred to the first night’s accommodation in the picturesque town of Castellfollit de la Roca.  The old part of the town is built on top of an impressive 40-metre high basalt cliff formed from lava flows.  What better place to start our pathway to the volcanoes?!  We will enjoy a delicious introductory dinner and have plenty of time to get to know one another and talk about the week ahead.

Day 2 – Into the Land of the Volcanoes

Today we begin our exciting adventure, walking towards the volcanoes of Garrotxa.  We climb out of Castellfollit, looking back to Alta Garrotxa and the Pyrenees.  This morning we pass some incredible caves that once were the hide-out of mountain bandits, formed by huge tablets of rock that have fallen one on top of the other.  We also visit a 13th century ‘ermita’ (hermitage or sanctuary) from which we have a wonderful view back to the mountains of Alta Garrotxa.  We pass a pretty hamlet with its 12th century church and medieval bridge, from where we climb to the picnic site and have our first sight of the distinctive volcanic mountains.  We then continue our trail through these beautiful mountains, passing a 12th century ermita along the way, until we enter Santa Pau, a stunning old town with its medieval castle, cloistered square and gothic church.  The town also gives us some spectacular views of the vall del Ser and, on a very clear day, we can see all the way to the Mediterranean, Costa Brava and the Gulf of Roses. 

Day 3 – Ancestral Pathways

We bid a fond farewell to Santa Pau, climbing out of the town with some spectacular views of the distinctive volcanic peaks.  We ascend to a ridge following an ancestral pathway built to be used by mule drovers.  Once at the top, our trail is lined with walls of black, volcanic rock – reminding us of the eruptions that created this landscape.  We catch our breath, and enjoy our picnic, at a stunning viewpoint looking down on the volcanoes.  We carry on, using an ancient track constructed to provide provisions to an 11th century castle built on the ridge.  Our next climb takes us along the edge of a volcanic crater.  As we walk, we have our first views of the incredible mountain ridge formed by the tectonic fault line.  Our destination for the night is the pretty town of Sant Feliu de Pallerols.  The old centre contains buildings dating from the 12th and 13th centuries, medieval bridges and a picturesque main square.

Day 4 - Table Mountain Trail

Leaving Sant Feliu de Pallerols, we enjoy looking back at the route we have walked so far and some panoramic views of the Hostales valley.  This morning's ascent takes us past some charming abandoned fincas (farmhouses), as well as an ermita, first found documented in 1207.  We reach the summit of the ridge and are rewarded with some spectacular views of the landscape created by the volcanic eruptions and earthquakes that took place many thousands of years ago.  We enjoy our picnic on top of the 'cinglera' (cliff) - over 1000 metres above sea level.  We then follow farm tracks along the edge of the cinglera until we reach a stunning waterfall that cascades into the valley below.  Our destination for tonight is Rupit.  The streets and houses of the town date from the 16th and 17th centuries although the church and castle are mentioned in 10th century documents.

Day 5 – Cart-Roads and Cattle-Tracks

We leave Rupit via a route that provides us with a spectacular view of this beautiful town.  We then travel through some open woodland that allows us to see the peaks of Collsacabra and a 12th century church.  We make our way along the ridge until we reach the ancient highroad (the Cami Ral) that took the rich folk of Olot (the main town of Garrotxa) to Vic and Barcelona.  This 600-year old cart-road was home to many bandits.  Our picnic today takes us to the table mountains of Collsacabra with some beautiful views back from where we have come.  After our picnic, we walk through a varied landscape, taking in mountain pathways, a medieval church, cattleherd trails, pastures and woodland.  We make a short detour to visit an ermita, and old fort of the viscounts of Bas, which affords us some magnificent views of the Vall de Bas and the volcanoes of Garrotxa.

Day 6 - Volcanic Realm

To begin our final day's walk, we make our way to the pretty town of Sant Esteve d'en Bas.  Climbing out of the town, we are presented with some exciting views back to where we have been walking over the last few days, reminding us of just how much we have seen and enjoyed.  We travel along the ridge, through a typical Mediterranean forest, until we reach a 'mirador' (viewpoint) of Olot, its volcanoes and the Pyrenees beyond.  Our picnic is at a Romanesque ermita, whose earliest written reference dates from 957.  Refreshed, we continue into the magical Fageda d'en Jorda, with its immense beech and holm-oak trees.  La Fageda is remarkable for its micro-climate, above the lava flow of the Volca dels Croscat, that has allowed the beech wood to grow at an altitude of only 550 metres.  We are reminded that we are in the heart of the volcanic region by the numerous 'chimneys' that spouted smoke and lava when the volcanoes were active.  Fittingly, our trail ends at the Volca de Santa Margarida, the highest volcano on the Iberian Peninsula, and with a base of 950 metres in diameter. We descend into the crater, in the middle of which we find a Romanesque ermita.  From the volcano, we make our way to our accommodation for the night, where we enjoy dinner and share memories of our adventure.

Day 7 – Farewell

After a farewell breakfast, the transport arrives to take you to either Girona or Barcelona airports or to either of the city centres, if you have decided to extend your stay in Catalonia for a few more days

                                          Copyright © 2014


                                         Copyright © 2014