Foothills of the Pyrenees

Leaving the Abbot Oliba Route, we head east walking for a week in the foothills of the Pyrenees through the volcanic zone of La Garrotxa (“Rough Land”) to visit the small, isolated medieval villages. With a rainy climate in the autumn and daily 5pm storms the forest flourishes and the countryside is bright green.


Camprodon to Beget

Camprodon to Beget: 16.2km, 5 hours, 400m descent.

In parts this was the finest walk we’ve ever done.  In other places, tough going with missing waymarks.  Published as a 4 hour walk, it took us 5. Two lovely Romanesque chapels along the way were a bonus.

There was no road to the medieval village of Beget until the mid-1960s. The pueblo consists of 30 houses, 2 bridges across the stream and a beautiful 13th century Romanesque church, all made of stone.

Camprodon to Beget – the most beautiful path

Isolated Santa Maria de Bolós, 11th century Romanesque

Inside the Church

Volcanoes of La Garrotxa

Sant Valentí de Salarca, 12th century Romanesque with two 18th century bells

Beget, 30 stone houses grouped around the stream

San Cristóbal de Beget: bell tower a magnificent example of Lombard Romanesque

We’ll leave Beget over this stone bridge

Beget to Oix

Todays walk started with a pretty path out of Beget but after an hour deteriorated into a narrow track, washed out by rain and seldom used, going uphill forever. About 12km, 3½ hours.

We stayed at the La Soleia d’Oix camping near Oix (PRON “Osh”). Surprise, surpise. Our good friends Raul and Mayra had left an excellent Empordá (NE Catalunya) wine in our room for us. Felt better right away!

We leave Beget on a fine path that soon deteriorates

Chapel Sant Andreu de Bestrac, 12th century Romanesque, near to the old path from Beget to Oix

It’s mushroom season in the mountains

Descending to the pueblo of Oix

Romanesque Sant Llorenc d’Oix, consecrated 1017

The Church has few windows for defensive reasons

Surprise! A good Empordá (NE Catalunya) wine from Raul & Mayra in our room!

Oix to Castellfollit de la Roca

Oix to Castellfollit de la Roca: a pleasant and easy walk – 11km, 2½ hours.

Oix to Castellfollit de la Roca, pleasant and easy walking

Castellfollit de la Roca is located on a narrow basalt cliff 50 meters high and a kilometer long. The old town dates from the Middle Ages, with narrow streets and buildings constructed from volcanic rock.

Castellfollit de la Roca

For lunch Patatas de Olot, again – potatoes stuffed with meat and fried, delicious

Olot to Santa Pau

From Castellfollit de la Roca we took the bus to Olot and started walking to Santa Pau through the La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park: ~12km, 3½ hours. A lovely walk along quiet country roads and paths through Fageda d’en Jordà National Forest.

Olot, a town surrounded by volcanoes

A wonderful walk: La Fageda – 20m-tall Beech trees growing in lava

We didn’t do the hot air balloon but this is what we would have seen – Volcán de Santa Margarita

Fesols (local white beans) have a unique taste, growing in the rich volcanic soil and so …

… a degustation with fish, pork and wild boar for lunch

Engraved stone lintel of an 18th century Santa Pau house

Main Plaza, Santa Pau

From our balcony – the 16th Century Gothic Church and the 13th Century Santa Pau Castle

Santa Pau to Besalú

Santa Pau to Besalú: 18km, 5+ hours; a nice enough walk but harder than we expected. Now we are in jungle, nothing like the “Spain” we know.

We departed Santa Pau at dawn to avoid the heat and rain

A nice part of the walk

We thought of taking a taxi for 5km or so but then we would have missed this

12th Century San Vicenc de Sallent, 21st Century hot air balloon overhead!

Sant Fruitós d’Ossinyà, 12th Century – restored 1996

Besalú, with its 12th-century L shaped Romanesque bridge was designated as a historical national property in 1966. The town, expanded during the 10th & 11th Centuries, goes back to Roman times.

Been dreaming of the bridge into Besalu which probably dates from the 11th Century

The Besalú Bridge with a statement for Catalunya independence

Bridge reflected in the Río Fluviá at dawn

Street of the 3 Arches

Sant Pere, Besalú founded 977

Street in Besalú

Animal figures on the entrance to the old hospital