Barcelona isn't all about beautiful architecture, great football and drunken British holiday makers, you know. It's a fantastic base for walking, with plenty of Munro-height mountains within an hour's train ride and the Pyrenees within 2 or 3 hours.
The Federació d'Entitats Excursionistes de Catalunya (FEEC) has produced a list of 308 'emblematic' mountains of Catalunya. This includes many of the giants of the Pyrenees like Aneto, Pica d'Estats and Puigmal, but also includes some tiny foothills like Montgat. Rather than doing them all, the aim is to climb just 100.
I'd originally intended this walk report to include a few other peaks like La Mola and Matagalls, but unfortunately Covid-19 has more or less ended my plans. These are the ones I managed before the lockdown.
Tibidabo (512 m)
Tibidabo is the hill that overlooks Barcelona, to the North. Take the FGC metro (S1 or S2) to Peu de Funicular from Pl. de Catalunya and you can walk from there or get the funicular. If walking, there is a long flight of steps that leads up to a dirt track. Turn right and you'll eventually end up at the top funicular station.
About halfway up I found myself face-to-face with a wild boar (Senglar in Catalan). These animals are well known in the woodland surrounding Barcelona, but occasionally venture right down into the city, almost as far as Sagrada Família.
Advice from the fire brigade:
You need to take this track. I missed this and took a much more circuitous route via the main road.
Montserrat (described next) from the summit of Tibidabo:
The Sagrat Cor church:
Montserrat (1236 m)
Montserrat is simply one of the most bizarre and sensational mountains in Europe. I'd first seen it from El Prat airport in Barcelona the first time I visited. I could see a strange looking mountain in the distance through the haze, but couldn't work out if the jagged edge was big trees or rocks. On further investigation back home I was delighted to find it was indeed rocks I could see, and that Montserrat is actually pretty high at 1236 m. Montserrat is a massif comprising dozens of individual peaks, five of which are on the FEEC '100 Cims' list.
The highest point is Sant Jeroni and is an easy hike. Most people get the regular railway from Place de Espanya to Monistrol de Montserrat, then take the mountain railway (cremallera) up to the monastery. I wanted to climb the whole thing, all the way from the valley. The easiest way to do this is to cross the bridge and follow the signs for the GR5 long distance path, which is clearly marked all the way up to the monastery.
After a while the tracks climbs steeply up a set of concrete steps:
Once at the monastery, head straight down the street in between the last two buildings. From there, a path leads up through a gorge, then through a wooded area towards San Jeroni.
The final climb to the summit is up a set of steps. When I visited the wind was extremely strong, with gusts threatening to blow me over the edge. I held on to the railings with white knuckled fists all the way up. Remarkably, it had taken me only 2 hours to reach the summit, all the way from Monistrol.
From here, I'd intended to retrace my route all the way back to the monastery. I was aware, however, that the views were much better than I'd remembered from the way up. At first I assumed it was just a different perspective, but after a while began to realise I'd taking a wrong turn. Still, the views were fantastic:
Back down at the monastery, I'd originally intended to get the railway back, but decided to walk it instead.
Montserrat is actually the remains of an ancient river delta that was lifted high and dry then eroded, so the rock is like concrete. Some of the other mountains in the area, like La Mola (named after the Indiana Jones villain) are similar, though not as impressive.
Tagamanent (1058 m) is another of the FEEC 100-Cims and is a very easy hike from Figero. Despite this, the vast majority of 'climbers' drive their car almost to the summit, then walk the last hundred metres or so to the top.
The Pyrenees are easily visible from the hills around Barcelona, and vice-versa
Turó Gros (759 m)
Although Turó Gros is a rather unremarkable hill, this was one of the more memorable days out in the Barcelona hills. I was living in Canet de Mar at the time, and to reach Turó Gros I needed to climb over another smaller hill called Creu de Canet, then descend to the small town of Sant Iscle de Vallalta.
I didn't have a map and had instead tried to memorise the complex route from Canet de Mar (about 14 km to the summit). I got as far as Sant Iscle de Vallalta OK, but then got lost. I found my way to the edge of a forest, but the track was chained off and looked it off limits. As a considered what to do, a car drove up and the driver told me the chained off track was indeed the right way to get to Turó Gros. This started off fine, but after a while the track began to split up. I repeatedly followed a track, came to a dead end and retraced my steps before taking another track. Eventually, after almost giving up, I found my was onto a bigger track, which then led to the other side of the woods and a main road.
From here, the main road leads up to a village, then a dirt track leads to the summit. I'd love to give a more detailed description, but truth is I didn't have a clue where I was going
The summit is covered with trees, which completely obscure the view. There is, however, a viewing tower, although it's not supposed to be open to the public. The gate at the bottom was open and the tower promised great views, so I went up. The views were indeed fantastic but I felt very uneasy despite the railings and was keen to get back down.
There were clear views of the Montseny massif to the North, which is coming up next.
Turó de l'Home (1706 m, some sources say 1712 m)
The Montseney massif is on a completely different scale to anything else in the area. The highest point is called Turó de l'Home. The other peaks include Les Agudes (1705 m) which is joined to Turó de l'Home by a very shallow col, and Matagalls (1697 m), which is a much more independent peak.
Any sensible person would get the bus from San Celoni train station to Sante Fe monastery at about 1100 m, then walk up the easy track through the woods to the summit. But I'm a superhero purist mountaineer and I turn my nose up at that sort of thing. I prefer to climb the whole thing, then sulk at the sight of the lazy day trippers who drive their car most of the way and claim they've 'climbed' the mountain.
It is possible to climb Turó de l'Home all the way from San Celoni, but it's not easy. You can follow the main road for about 8 km, then follow a complex zigzagging tarmac road leading to just below the summit.
The road winds it's way up, traversing the mountain more than climbing it. Every so often, a track led off the road, promising a short cut, but often leading to a dead end.
Eventually I became fed up, and decided to go 'off piste', following a dry stream directly up the mountain. After a while I reached the main road again. It was a bit of scramble but much better than following the road. Encouraged by this, I went off piste again, up a similar looking stream bed. This became increasingly steep, while the vegetation became thicker and spikier.
It was just awful. At one point I got completely entangled in rose thorns and other spiky branches and had a minor tantrum before managing to free myself. Up ahead, I could see a road barrier and a family of day trippers behind it. I climbed up over a small rock outcrop and onto the road. I must've looked ridiculous, with bloodied hands and probably covered in thorns and bits of tree branches. It just felt completely absurd to go through all that effort and suffering to find a car park 15 minutes stroll from the summit.
The summit area itself was crowded, worse than La Rambla in peak tourist season. The only thing missing was a bunch of guys selling fake sunglasses and handbags . Maybe it's quieter on a weekday though. I made the mistake of climbing Turó de l'Home on Saturday, so I shouldn't complain.
Matagalls is a little lower than Turó de l'Home, but I assume it's less crowded as there's no road to just below the summit. I've been meaning to climb it but doubt I'll get a chance now
In addition to these, I also managed to climb a few of the Pyrenees, so will write a report for those when I find the time
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