bacchus travel


Bacchus Travel Cap de Creus

Hiker’s Heaven in Northeastern Catalonia

Hiker’s Heaven in Northeastern Catalonia 3434 2037 Bacchus

Sally Paterson, our hiking host in Catalonia and Mallorca, puts pen to parchment and tells us about her women-only hiking adventure in Alt & Baix Empordà.

Our group of girls met at Barcelona airport, friends and soon to be friends coming together from across Europe. From here we drove northwards arriving in the late evening to the small Alt Empordàn town of Cantallops.

Morning dawned showing us the beauty of the Albera Reserve, with views from our hotel across the rolling hills and olive groves. But, with no time to delay, we were soon off on our first adventure.



Alt Empordà and the Albera Reserve

The path we took led us past ancient cork trees with blackened trunks, along tracks rootled by the nocturnal, resident wild boar searching for acorns and up onto the high ridge from where we could see across the wooded foothills of the Pyrenees to the imposing Castle of Requesens. The rain that had dripped on us through the leafy canopy had lifted, opening up the view across to France.

This first morning of our hiking and cellar tour of this North East corner of Spain known as the Empordà was along the GR11 – a grand route that can take you from one coast of Spain to the other. It led us, to the small hamlet of Els Vilars, where we chanced upon a bucolic scene – a gently simmering, al fresco fideua de marisco, prepared for us by our local guide and historian Josep Maria. A chilled glass of white wine to accompany it to share the morning’s surprises and ease the aching legs. Delicious.



From the foothills of the Pyrenees to the Costa Brava coastline

Our five day hiking trip was the inaugural outing for Bacchus in Boots – sister to the already established Bacchus on Bikes – allowing us to explore this fascinating area of Spain at a more leisurely pace. Taking us from the foothills of the Pyrenees to the rocky paths and sandy coves of the Costa Brava and onto the sandy, scented eucalyptus forest of the Ardenya Massif, we had time to breathe in the scented wild rosemary and thyme, watch the circling sea birds over the rocky Cap de Creus and dive into the rolling waves.

Of course, the other advantage of a full days hiking is the guilt free enjoyment of the spectacular food and wine from this abundant region. Together we drank chilled glasses of fresh white wine and feasted on buttered skate wing, delicately spiced mackerel and burst in your mouth bubbles of black and green olive at Cadaques. We chanced upon Rice Thursday in the ancient medieval town of Peratallada and a local dish called ‘Arroz a cassola’, brimming with seafood. We tasted fresh green olive oil and tapenades flavoured with honey with producer and bon viveur Marti Clos. And we ate a picnic on the rocky outcrop at the Cap de Creus as the wind and the seagulls threatened to steal the food from our plates.

The hikes are planned so as to not over face, especially on the first day when boots and legs need to be stretched, but on each of the routes there is an option of an afternoon extension. There is also the comfort of knowing that Josep Maria is there in the Bacchus vehicle if it all gets too much. The weather wasn’t as kind to us as it might have been but it didn’t matter knowing that we were returning to the warmth and comfort of the charming hotels we stayed in along the way.



Kindred Spirits

These adventures are about so much more than just hiking. As well as discovering the culture and scenery of this very special part of Catalonia, the girls (chicas guapas) made new friendships, supported each other, laughed a lot and strengthened our minds and bodies. There is lots more to return for.

Learn more about our hiking trips in Catalonia and Mallorca