Wednesday, 22 July 2015

The Pantas and Cingles of Osana

What a day ! Up in the low Pyrenees at just under 1000 mts AMSL and about an hour north of the Villa, lies one of Europe's best hiking and biking secrets. The Cingles de Tavertet, the Collsacabra mountains and the chocolate-box village of Rupit situated in the region of Osana. This area, between the towns of Girona, Vic and Olot is so full of lakes, waterfalls, volcanoes, green lush valleys and  picturesque rock formations that it's sometimes hard to choose what activity to do. This time, we were on the mountain bikes with our Meetup Group for a 50 kilometer epic ride through this beautiful part of Catalunya. The route is conveniently broken down into three parts. The first section involves an easy shallow climb for 20 km along the shores of the Panta de Susqueda (reservoir) up to the Hotel La Riba situated in the shadow of the Cingles de Tavertet (cliffs). The second segment continues our climb along forest roads for 15 km up to the impossibly pretty village of Rupit which stands guard over the impressive 60 mt Salt de Sallent (waterfall) where we stopped for lunch and finally a sporty descent along technically intermediate forest trails back to the Panta de Susqueda.
The River Ter below and the Cingles de Rupit in the background
The Panta de Susqueda was created in the 1968 with the construction of a dam 135 meters high and a crest length of 360 meters blocking the river Ter which then flooded the old villages of Susqueda and Queros.  Now, the reservoir containing 233 hm³ of fresh water, provides clean energy for the region and is a mecca for hikers, bikers and fishing enthusiasts who regularly hold weekend competitions along its banks. The old Susqueda road (pictured above) still exists here and there on a track that has otherwise more-or-less returned to a more natural state. Even in the heat of the summer months, the refreshingly shady track winds its way through a forest full of ash, cherry, fig, beech and oak trees on a gentle climb up to the next dam situated at Sau.
The Cingles de Tavertet and the Panta de Sau
The hotel Riba where we have our first stop is located on a small hill overlooking the Panta de Sau. It  has a lovely grassy patio garden area with ample shade where you can sit and relax with a cool beer and tapas as you prepare for the next stage of the ride to Rupit. They are well used to walkers and cyclists popping in for lunch and have a large swimming pool that you may use if you purchase drinks and food from the patio bar so don't forget your costume ! 
The Hotel La Riba and patio garden
After a refreshingly cool beer, we were about to continue with the ride when the group that was sat next to us was served some croquettes and french fries. The smell and approving sounds eminating from our neighbours table proved too much to ignore and we sat down again and ordered another beer and some tapas.... Finally, feeling rather guilty of eating a pre-lunch snack, we continued along the forest road on a gentle climb along the valley and up to the top of the cingles and the Salt de Sallent. 

The road to Rupit in the shadow of the Cinlges de Tavertet.

The Cingles de Rupit

From the Salt de Sallent to the Agullola rock

After a very hot dry summer, there was hardly any water in the Salt which made it easy to cross the river and head up to Rupit. The best time to come and visit this otherwise impressive waterfall is in the spring and after the rains in late autumn when the river swells and cascades over the cliff and plummets approximately 60 meters or so to the valley floor below. There are well marked tracks and viewing platforms and a short shady track that leads from the waterfall to the village of Rupit. There is one further waterfall on the way to Rupit with a viewing platform and a natural font where there is always cool,  fresh mountain spring water to re-fill your water bottles.

After a 20 minute climb through the woods, the medieval mountain village of Rupit appears. This village is well preserved and caters for day trippers and hikers throughout the year. Even though it should be a bit of a tourist trap, the prices remain reasonable and we had a very enjoyable lunch of Cargols (snails), and a selection of tapas with a few cool beers.

Rupit, its church and castle were first documented way back in the year 968. The village straddles the Riera de Rupit (Rupit river) and there is a suspension bridge that links the two sides of the village. It is a small and picturesque little village with a few restaurants and bars and touristy shops selling souvenirs and local produce. There are dozens of well marked trails around the Rupit and Tavertet area for hikers and bikers and the village is well worth a visit to stop off for lunch.

After lunch, we headed back along the quiet side road to the church of Sant Joan de FĂ bregues situated about 3 km from the village and then began the descent down past the Agullola rock to the shores of the reservoir. From here, the trail continues for another 20km or so until we arrive back at the Panta de Susqueda and the parking.

This route is just one of our Catalan Adventure weekend destinations offering guided or self guided tours through Catalunya away from the tourist hot spots. For this route, you need to be reasonably fit and be able to comfortably ride 50km or so. The technical details for this ride can be found on Strava. Prices start at €180 per person per day for luxury self catering accommodation at Casa Cal Domino (sauna, exterior jacuzzi hot tub, infinity pool), bike rental and guided tour (prices correct 2015). Contact us for further details.

#caldomino #girona #catalunya #pyrenees #rupit #sau

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About me… I have lived in Calonge (province of Girona) on the Costa Brava since 2003 after retiring as a pilot from the british Royal Air Force. My passions are hiking, biking, skiing, photography and discovering and sharing the hidden cultural treasures of this beautiful country. My day job entails managing a luxury self-catering rental Villa, Casa Cal Domino, and in my search for new and interesting things to do for my clients whilst they are here on holiday, I have been genuinely overawed by the beauty and diversity of this land. I’m not leaving any time soon. I love it here and I hope to inspire you to come and discover this wonderful country for yourself.