Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Walking from Pratdip into the Serra de Llaberia

Pratdip nestled in its valley 
Our friends Chris and Marta, currently still pitched up next door, had raved about their walk from the relatively close village of Pratdip. Isn't that just a fabulous name? It's predominantly an agricultural settlement growing hazelnuts and almonds and dates back to at least 1154 when Pratdip was named in papal bulls of Pope Anastasius IV. As we looked back over Pratdip from the hills above, we could see its ruined castle, but I am getting ahead of myself.

Pratdip is about a twenty-five minute drive from Cambrils,
Civil War memorial 
the latter stages of which are along a winding mountain road that loops around the village. We parked in Carrer de la Creu, the creu (cross) in this case being a memorial to the people lost during the Civil War. For a town of less than seven hundred people now, there were a surprising number of names inscribed around its four sides.

From the cross we could easily spot the first of our distinctive green walking route signs. Pratdip, it seems, is quite the hub for walkers and we were pleased to find ourselves on clearly marked paths almost all the time and, if we were more serious walkers, could have taken at least a dozen different circuits or joined up with national long-distance paths. We started out towards the Ermita Santa Marina. Part of this walk included the GR 92 (Gran Recorrido 92) which I later learned makes up part of the E10, a European long-distance path that runs between Finland and Spain. Now there's a challenge!

We covered a variety of terrains including agricultural
tracks, forest paths and brief spells on the mountain road too. There was a gentle ascent for most of the first third, enough to know we were going uphill but not enough to get out of breath. The Ermita Santa Marina is a vivid yellow building which shares its facade with Carlos' restaurant. Judging by the size of the picnic area, there must be dozens of visitors at a time on holy days. Yesterday there were just three other people there, all filling numerous plastic water bottles from the public spring. We weren't sure if the water had any religious significance or if it was just particularly good to drink.

Our second cross of the day was by the path leading up to
the sanctuary. I am not sure exactly what the plaque says, but think it is something about the village of Pratdip protecting the sanctuary from all evils at all times.

"El poble de Pratdip us vetlla els forasters us recorden guardej-nos Santa Marina de tot mal a tota hora"

Once past the sanctuary, we found ourselves heading more steeply uphill and were soon on stony tracks leading past some beautiful isolated houses. We were delighted to end up high on a ridge with superb views out to the mountains and over Miami Platja out to sea. There have been strong winds here over the past few days and we thought we had picked the calmest day for our walk. However it was still very breezy so high up and the sound of the wind vibrating the pylon wires was eerie.

We did have to guess one turning high up on the hills.
There was a detailed sign post, but whoever installed it must have thought Pratdip's direction was obvious as they only included arrows to places much further afield! A steep stony downhill later (yay, my favourite!) and we re-emerged from an overgrown ravine to head back up to our car. Our whole walk was about two and a half hours and I am certainly tempted to go back and try out one or more of the other routes. A signboard at the sanctuary gave rough maps for ten 'Tombs' as these circular walks are enticingly called locally! It would certainly be worth it to get another chance to enjoy the spectacular views. I might even remember to take our decent camera.

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