DAYS TWO TO SEVEN: In resort with three included Trails & Rails walks. Please note: we will pre-purchase train tickets, but occasionally trains can be quite busy for the first 2 or 3 stops.
Please note: All three walks have sections which are more difficult than other walks in this brochure, paths being steep, narrow and rocky in places, particularly following erosion. On all three walks there is an easier option, but on Walk 3 even this is tricky in places.
Walk 1: The Cistercian Route from l’Espluga de Francoli to medieval Montblanc. Coach transfer to l’Espluga de Francoli (45 minutes). After walking through this old wine village you walk gradually uphill towards the sanctuary of the Trinity (coffee stop). You continue through a forested area, on a broad path before reaching St John’s Hermitage and then descending towards the town of Montblanc. 6 miles, 250m of ascent/descent. The easier option (4.5 miles, 70m ascent/descent) misses out the Hermitage and avoids a climb and a steep descent, allowing extra time in Montblanc instead.
Montblanc is a little jewel: a completely unspoilt medieval town with fine ramparts, shady streets and impressive churches and squares – especially the Placa Major, the Main Square. This is the town where St George supposedly fought against the dragon, to save the princess! From Montblanc you catch the train back to the coast.
Walk 2: Priorat. You catch the 0948 train to the little village station at Marça, amid the DOC Montsant wine district, and in the county of Priorat, arriving at 1101. The line is spectacular, especially after it emerges from the Argentera tunnel (completed in 1890). Marça is where the International Brigades (including the British Battalion) massed in preparation for the disastrous Battle of Ebro in 1938. The walk is circular, but the landscapes on the outward section – vineyards and olive groves with a spectacular craggy backdrop – are very different to the second part where, after passing Capçanes, you go through a wood and climb through a rocky gully part of the way. 8 miles, 160m of ascent/ descent. The easier option (5 miles) ends in Capçanes with a coach transfer back to Marça. You return to the coast by coach (one hour).
Walk 3: The Coastal Path: l’Ametlla de Mar to l’Ampolla. You take the 0848 train south down the coast to l’Ametlla de Mar – journey time one hour. On this walk you will discover the natural beauty of this protected part of the coast. You will follow in the footsteps of patrolmen who, in centuries gone by, used the pathways to look out for invaders, pirates or smugglers. The route crosses coves and beaches: much is totally unspoilt, though in some places you will marvel at the depredations not of pirates, but of Spanish planning – or, rather, the apparent lack of it! The whole walk to l’Ampolla is just under 11 miles with ascent/ descent of 170m. The easier option ends after 7 miles at Playa de l’Aliga, with an onward coach transfer to l’Ampolla. Return to Coma- Ruga is by train from l’Ampolla.
DAY EIGHT: Transfer to the airport for your flight home.
Nubahotel ****, Coma-Ruga
The hotel stands close to the broad sandy beach. This unspoilt resort is quiet out of season, rather busier at weekends from June to September when there is an entertainment programme in the hotel, with music on Saturday evenings. A reasonable selection of shops, bars and restaurants is about 10 minutes walk (700m) away, and the railway station with half-hourly departures to Barcelona is about 15 minutes walk. There is also a local bus service to the nearby county town of El Vendrell, birthplace of Pablo Casals: his villa, now an interesting museum, is within walking distance of the hotel. The hotel has a spa centre (a reasonable extra charge applies), restaurant, bar, lounge, and outdoor pool. Rooms, which all have balcony, also have 2 queen size beds, bathroom with hairdryer, phone, air-conditioning/heating, satellite LCD tv, and safety deposit box (charge applies). Free wifi in public areas. (www.nubahotelcomarruga.com)