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Camíns de Ronda
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Camíns de Ronda
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Camíns de Ronda
Two hundred and fifty five kilometres of remarkable Catalan coastline, encompassing a plethora of memorable landscapes, stretches from Blanes in the south to the French border in the north, and is collectively known as the Costa Brava—meaning rugged or wild coast. Christened so in 1908 by Catalan journalist Ferran Agulló, this name is personified by windswept rocky outcrops, sweeping forests, and jagged cliffs that conceal hidden paradisaical bays.
The Camí de Ronda (or ‘Costa Brava Way’) is a public footpath that traverses these rugged cliffs and picture-perfect calas all the way along the Costa Brava, presenting the perfect out-of-season adventure (or a welcome escape from the bustling beaches in summer) and the chance to discover the Catalan coast from a unique perspective.
On the beaten track
Dating from the 19th century, the Camíns de Ronda originated as a series of small pathways connecting one cove to the next, enabling fisherman, smugglers, sailors, travellers, lighthouse keepers and traginers (cart and mule drivers), to navigate this once remote coastal territory.
During the 20th century, the path emerged as a key route for border control and was patrolled by the Guardia Civil, particularly during the post-war early-Franco period, when the country was in economic ruin, basics were running low and smuggling was rife. As time went on and the situation improved, path patrol ceased and the trail soon became dominated by the modern Spanish industrial power: tourism.
Hosting sun-starved Northern Europeans since 1954, the Costa Brava has long been synonymous with package holiday tourism. Until the 1950s, however, when the Spanish government designated the area for development, this was a largely undiscovered expanse of beautiful landscapes, sparsely populated with quaint fishing villages dotted along the coast.
During the latter half of the last century, tourism escalated wildly and coastal constructions diverted many parts of the original paths inland or rendered them impassable. Yet despite decades of over-development, the area is still bursting with a natural beauty that has inspired many over the years.
The gradual restoration of this historic hiking trail invites visitors to follow in the footsteps of the many heroes and villains, artists and dreamers who once roamed these parts, and become acquainted with another Costa Brava.
A rugged ramble
Spanning three comarcas in the province of Girona—Alt Empordà, Baix Empordà and Selva—the coastline owes its spectacular topographical features to the geological juncture of the Iberian Peninsula, the Mediterranean Sea and the Pyrenees, and can be roughly divided into two sections—north and south.
The Catalan coastal mountain range, which runs parallel to the coast, sets the backdrop for the southern stretch between Blanes and Pals, where tree-clad hills drop down to erratically-shaped rocky coves, crystal clear waters, secret sandy inlets and long golden beaches. Moving north, the landscape becomes progressively wilder, as towering limestone cliffs give way to bio-diverse wetlands and ancient Greco-Roman ruins, until, finally, the igneous Pyrenean foothills emerge dramatically out of the sea between Cap de Creus and the French border.
The path ahead
Forming part of the extensive Grand Randonnée network, the Camí de Ronda roughly follows the GR-92 footpath (which continues to southern Catalunya and beyond), marked by a red and white line, and is clearly signposted along the route. At times, it is possible to take a more scenic route along the coast where the GR-92 diverges inland.
The overall trail can be broken down into 12 stages and is of easy-moderate difficulty. It can be undertaken in its entirety as a 12-day hike, backpack on tow, or simply a day or half day’s walk between resorts. Starting from the south.
WALKING THE CAMI DE RONDA
1. Blanes to Tossa de Mar. 6-8 hours, 22km.
Situated in the comarca of Selva, this touristy stretch of path connects some of the most developed resorts in the Costa Brava. Views are obstructed at times by development, but between coves and cliffs there are still scenic spots aplenty.
2. Tossa de Mar to Sant Feliu de Guíxols. 6-8 hours, 21km.
This section of pathway leads walkers along higher paths to cross the l’Ardenya Massif, capturing glimpses of picturesque cliffs overhanging the Med.
3. Sant Feliu de Guíxols to Palamós. 5-7 hours, 18km.
Although quite a developed tourist zone, the pathway along this stage hugs the coastline, leading walkers through a succession of sublime beauty spots, as they climb and descend the rugged coast under a canopy of pine trees.
4. Palamós to Begur. 7-9 hours, 23km.
This stage has it all. Encompassing both wild Mediterranean landscapes and picturesque coastal villages, this is one of the most beautiful sections of the Camí de Ronda, with many tempting stop-off points along the way.
5. Begur to L’Estartit. Two options: coastal (5-7 hours, 18km) or inland (8-10 hours, 32km).
The coastal route gets off to a scenic start, traversing the tiny calas of Begur, before continuing along golden sands and paddy fields, whilst inland, hikers can discover the rural landscape and villages of Baix Empordà.
6. L’Estartit to Empúries (L’Escala). 6-8 hours, 21km.
Crossing the extensive pine forests of Montgrí Massif, this stage offers spectacular views of contorted cliffs and rock formations, dropping down to isolated coves where accessible. The path terminates in L’Escala, home to the ancient Greco-Roman ruins of Empúries.
7. Empúries (L’Escala) to Roses. 8-10 hours, 31km.
Long but flat, the bird-watching observatories of the Aiguamolls de l’Empordà Natural Park mark the high point of this stretch as it sweeps across the Gulf of Roses, leading to the foot of the Cap de Creus headland.
8. Roses to Cadaqués. 6-8 hours, 22km.
Upon exiting Roses, considerable urban development flanks wide sandy bays before the route gradually ascends, crossing the promontory of Cap de Norfeu en route to the extraordinary mountain scenery of the Cap de Creus Natural Park.
9. Cadaqués to El Port de la Selva. 7-9 hours, 24km.
Leaving picturesque Cadaqués, this section veers away from the GR-92 (which continues inland) to cross one of the most captivating, untamed landscapes in the Mediterranean, stopping by the Cap de Creus lighthouse, Romanesque monasteries, and secluded calas.
10. El Port de la Selva to Portbou. 6-8 hours, 20km.
Back on the GR-92, this stage follows the foundations of the Pyrenees, known as the Balmenta Coast, twisting through coves and bays en route to the border town of Portbou.
11. Portbou to Banyuls de la Marenda. 5-7 hours, 17km.
Crossing the French border and continuing along the spectacular Côte Vermeille (Red Coast), this is a tricky stretch more suitable for experienced hikers. Expansive vineyards, wild coastline and French coastal villages characterise the route.
12. Banyuls de la Marenda to Cotlliure. 5-7 hours, 18km.
The grand finale leads hikers along pretty coastal paths, accompanied by marvellous beaches and jagged cliffs, en route to the final destination, Collioure, a fortified port town with a majestic castle dating from the 13th century.