Wednesday, 25 January 2017

The Olive Gardens walk from l'Ampolla

Olive trees near l'Ampolla 
Olive trees are such an iconic feature of the Catalan countryside that I was surprised to learn they aren't actually a native species. Originally introduced by the Phoenicians and the Greeks, olive farming really took off in the 7th century AD when Moorish farmers planted trees across the Iberian peninsula. It wasn't easy either. Over the centuries thousands of tons of rocks and stones have been cleared from olive orchards in an ongoing process. This rubble is put to good use though in the creation of distinctive terraces and dry stone walling, houses and water tanks. The needs of the olive trees have dramatically shaped much of the landscape around this part of the world.

Walk number nine in our Footpaths Of The Mediterranean folder, The Olive Gardens, took us on a leisurely wander through seemingly endless groves and orchards, mostly impeccably maintained, but with an occasional field that had reverted to scrub and looked abandoned. We also saw numerous carob trees which are similarly farmed on a large scale. When dried and ground, the powder is used in cakes and biscuits in lieu of cocoa powder.

Olive trees near l'Ampolla 
The walk was discouraging at its start as we left l'Ampolla by going under a trio of drab concrete rail and motorway bridges. We then walked alongside the noisy motorway for a short distance. However, once we turned away inland the noise faded and we could enjoy the scenery in peace. The route is practically all on reasonably well-surfaced agricultural roads (camis) and is mostly flat so would be ideal for cyclists as well as walkers. There is a circular cycle route which we found ourselves continually intercepting and crossing. If I remember correctly, it is a 16km circuit whereas this walk was 'only' 12km. We did struggle with the directions a couple of times as judging our distance was tricky without any GPS and we weren't always sure the junction we stood at was the one referred to. However we only briefly went very wrong once and this actually led us to a pleasant picnic spot for lunch so maybe it was fated!

Cacti near l'Ampolla 
On the return part of the loop we saw these huge cacti competing for space on a high bank.

We took a moment to peer through a fence of a For Sale property. There were some very cute little white painted houses along the way, all with their own olive fields and terraces, but this one would have needed more attention than we would have wanted - if we were serious about a purchase! I remembered Rudy and Annick harvesting their olive trees at one of our first Portuguese campsites four winters ago. It did look like hard work!

The end of the Olive Gardens walk was heralded by increasing traffic noise as we got closer to the motorway again. After the three bridge-tunnels we were back in l'Ampolla and our car. We didn't have to walk all the way back to the centre though. At this time of year at least, parking is much easier out by the number 2 on the below map than it is right by the Tourist Office (shown near number 1).


  1. That must've been quite a sight. :) Sigh. I'm loving these posts. Keep them coming, please!

    1. Glad you are enjoying my posts! Another gorgeous walk coming soon!