Day 31 GR1 Sant Llorenç de Morunys

After Christine's guest blog it's back to business as usual with me reporting on the first day of the final week of my trudge across northern Spain.

Unfortunately because of insistence on full implementation of the "walking time directive" the day had to finish 10 kilometres before the end. In fairness to Christine, completion would have required a very early start, possibly before breakfast, which would be in breach of regulations. As it was both we and the Hotel seemed to miss the fact that the clocks had changed so instead of 8 o'clock we didn't get away until 9.

Perfect sunny day and the big red cliffs which span the northern horizon of Oliana looked fantastic. Bit of a road walk to start with but I think that was because we missed the beginning of the GR1 which was probably more to the centre of town than we thought.

The countryside by the way has changed completely over the last couple of days. As well as being higher it's now properly "Mediterranean" - more scrub and less arable. The abandoned villages have disappeared and it doesn't look like the land ever supported large numbers of people.
Ermita de Sant Just
Once we got off the road it was a lovely trail, and as we got higher the views went from good to fantastic. Climbing up past the little Ermita de Sant Just we followed and then crossed what turned out to be the first of many ridges.
Tour de France statue at Cal Serra-seca
Perhaps the best views of the day came about 45 minutes later when we got to the top Cal Serra-Seca. To the south-east you could see the strange, profile of the Montserrat range, to the east the huge cliffs we were going to walk underneath later in the day, but the best views were to the west and this massive valley with cliffs on both sides. There is a cyclist statue on the pass commemorating a year when the Tour de France came through and a couple of cyclists were posing against it as we passed.
Views west from Cal Serra-seca
The road to Cambrils may be the faster option but its worth sticking with the route, despite the additional climb because the views are worth it.
On the Serra Seca
Cambrils, where there is a restaurant, was otherwise a pain. We lost the GR1 and ended up following the road around the gorge in an enormous U. It wasn't better after the village where the route takes you above the road into trees only to drop you down steep scree back onto tarmac.

Sala Racó
Staying on the road would have been the best option for the 7/8 kilometres after Cambrils with the route constantly going off road and then returning to it, with the off road bits involving a lot of descent/ascent. I finally worked this out, suggested the road, when Christine decided to be purist and stick with the letter of the GR1 route. Rather than contour around as she had hoped the route took us down a very pretty but very deep gorge and then a painful back up again.

Such choices disappeared as the GR1 and the road went their separate ways. We were still heading east which meant crossing a series of valleys as the rivers ran south from the Pyrenees. The biggest came just after we had passed the little church of Santa Cecilia and involved a steep drop down to a river which ran through a gap between huge towering cliffs. Great scenery but the river took a bit of crossing.

Tricky river crossing
Luckily the climb up the other side was a gentler one, through a tunnel in the pine and ever green oaks. At the El Soler de Baix we realised we were running a bit late, rang our Spanish support desk (Juan) who kindly rearranged the taxi for us - brilliant service.

Ermita de Sant Marti
The last hour's walking was excellent, great light and more huge cliffs to enjoy. We arrived at the little village of Canalda at 6.30. 32 kilometres and 9.30 hours walking though is well outside the walking time directive.

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  1. Wish I'd had a "Spanish support desk" last week in Catalunya!!
    I like Christine's walking directive idea, one has to enjoy ones self. I think nowadays I would cap mine at 26K!
    Enjoy your last week on the route.

  2. At the erimita Sant Marti i slept