Due to a bit of a mix up Miquel had to collect us and drive us to suitable point a short way along the route. The beginning of Monday’s walk was to be along a quiet but tarmac road but he dropped us in the central square of a village on the outskirts of Les Preses. We were soon on a stony track climbing quite steeply through woodland.
Joanetes to Santa Pau: Easy paths enter the Natural Park of Garrotxa passing Romanesque churches in picturesque woodland settings. Continue through beech forest between dormant volcanoes before reaching the medieval village of Santa Pau, an ancient barony with a castle founded in the 11th century (11.8 miles, 6 hours).
The Route Booklet sums up the walk in more detail.
“This walk leads you along country lanes and then into the Natural Park of La Garrotxa. It takes you into the heart of the volcanic region and you will notice a change in the variety of flora and fauna and in the landscape generally. On the walk you pass through the Fageda d’en Jorda (the beech forest) and pass several extinct volcanoes. This probably the hardest of the walks due to several steep ascents; however the majority of this day’s walk is on fairly level tracks and well-signed paths.”
Steps at the Beginning of the walk
Typical dense woodland walking
The Ermita Sant Miquel del Corb church is one of the oldest in the Garrotxa. According to the information board it could even be pre-Romanesque.
A mile or so from Sant Miquel we found the Romanesque church of Sant Marti del Corb …
… near an old farmhouse and barn
Around lunchtime we arrived at La Fageda Yogurt Factory. It’s lovely place and we had brought a lunch from the hotel so we sat in the shade to eat it. The factory has a small cafe serving drinks to staff and they gave us a Greek natural yogurt to try. The place is run on similar lines to The Camphill Village Trust giving work and a valued position in society to local people with learning and other disabilities. We ate Fageda yogurt at breakfast at all the hotels. Everyone was happy to support this worthwhile business.
Later we came across our third church of the day The Ermita de Sant Miquel Sacot. Originally Romanesque, the church was restored after an earthquake in the 15thC. For €1 coin we could peak through a grille to see the interior illuminated and listen a commentary in Catalan, Spanish and finally in English. I made a little recording but I’m unable to add it here.
Sant Miquel Sacot
Not long after the second Sant Miquel we were well into the volcanic landscape and took a detour from our path. It was quite a climb towards the end of the day but we couldn’t resist taking a peep at the chapel of Santa Margarida built right inside one of the extinct volcanoes called Volca Santa Margarida.
Santa Margarida a restored 14C chapel
If we had opted to do the 8 day trip we would have stayed two nights at Santa Pau and visited the church on a one day circular walk. We were also surprised to come across a cross section of the Roca Negra volcano.
Here is a cinder cone made of fragments of lava or pyroclasts. The fragments contain very small holes made by gas being trapped in the magma.
At last Santa Pau came into view and we had been instructed to contact Miquel who would come and give us a lift to our accommodation for the night – the quirky but comfortable Can Batlle.
The centre of Santa Pau
Cool arcades in Santa Pau
Due to being dropped off a couple of miles into the walk and being picked up for the last couple we totalled about 10 instead of 15 miles but it was certainly enough and we were pleased to relax on arrival at Can Batlle.