Catalan walk

I've just finished a multi-day walk in the Catalan (for this is Catalunya, not Espana) countryside. This started in Montblanc and ended at La Vilella Baixa via Rojals, Prades, Cornemella de Montsant and Poboleda - south west of Barcelona. Mostly the walk was through bush of varying density or cultivated areas; away from roads and traffic and urban areas. Very few people are seen. There is a good view over Poblet monastery to the wind farm.

Poblet monastery and a wind farm

The countryside is hilly and steep with great ramparts of limestone plate lifted up then eroded away by streams and rivers - a la the Grand Canyon. There is also a lot of brownish slate lying at all angles but horizontal.

Limestone cliffs

Catalan countryside

There is prehistoric rock art which is apparently visible to those who know about these things but not to me - even with the information boards and diagrams.

Even though this is spring it is dry. Very warm - unseasonably so, according to the locals. The forest is predominately various species of pine, oak and some maple. There are many happy spring wildflowers being harvested by bumble and other bees and various bugs and butterflies.

Spring wildflowers

Some bugs take a liking to my blood. Very common are all shades of flowering rosemary from white through pale to deep blue. Many many small thyme bushes with masses of tiny white/pink flowers. Deep blue/purple lavender too and honeysuckle where there is some dampness. It's hot and I'm perspiring freely - last night's garlic is evident. I am dripping. By putting handfuls of crushed rosemary, thyme and lavender in my pockets my body odour is subdued. I labour along in a cloud of perfumed stench. Life is good.

On Saturday there are rock climbers. Young athletic men and women, all in lycra, are scaling impossibly high vertical and overhanging limestone cliffs. Madness. Self consciously, I lumber by, furtively glancing at the gorgeous female form indecorously suspended, crab-like, above me. Spiderwoman lives!

There are groves of almond, some with curly leaf, hazelnut and olive but nowhere near the industrial scale plantings in southern Spain. The almonds have long finished flowering, the fruit has set and is fully formed ready to ripen through the summer. The olives are about to flower, their bunches of tiny flowers bulging. There are plenty of vineyards - wine is very big here. The vines have sprouted with their fresh bright green leaves and tendrils and miniature grape bunches already apparent.

Catalan vineyard

Two nuns walking

There are practically no farm animals to be seen - a couple of donkeys. Not one goat.

The villages are kept well enough but mostly fairly dreary though several have made a good fist of re-creating Ye Olde Worlde and are quite charming.

A good walk.


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