The wise among us know that nature heals. Aside from its medicinal effects, simply taking a moment to observe, feel and absorb the energising and healing power of nature is rather profound. Yet to meet anyone who disagrees, nature dispenses her healing through all of our senses, lifting our spirits and displaying the results in our mood, our energy levels, and that shining glaze that blankets our retinas after contact with her.
We can maintain contact with nature in many ways. Although perhaps one of the healthiest ways is by trekking. Be it a day, a weekend or a longer trek, the health benefits are the same. Physical benefits include weight loss, cardiovascular strength with improved heart and lung capacity, reduction in blood pressure, and likewise, a reduction in muscle tension. Trekking, too, has great emotional and mental health benefits inducing a sense of calm, a focused mind and a reduction of stress, allowing us to live with vitality and wellbeing.
Among our favourite trekking routes around Barcelona, those of the Grandes Recorridos (GR) settle at the top. Somewhat a surprise, the GR routes, with their varied terrain, selection of distances, historic importance and excellent quality signage, are in fact quite unknown and rarely used.
The markings of the GR routes, in red and white stripes along the trail, hold historic significance and have been, over the years, improved and maintained to make hiking more accessible. Of interest, the GR-7 (Andorra to Fredes) was the first approved trail in Catalonia. For the keen hikers, you’ll be pleased to know that many routes are sat across other European countries which makes cross country hiking a delightful ease. For these long distance hikes you can find more information on the GR website.
We are however, devoted day trekkers in and around Barcelona and are keen to share with you our favourite and alternative routes.
For the sun seekers among you, the most marvelous route is the GR92 that spans the coastline of the Costa Brava, past Barcelona and down through Sitges and Tarragona. Although you can pick any part of the route that takes your fancy, we are particularly fond of the route between Garraf and Vilanova i la Geltru. The route which takes the most part of a day, will gift you with cliffs, coves, secluded beaches, mountains, forests and of course a welcomed lunch break in the infamous coastal town of Sitges. Still within zone one, the train from Sants Barcelona to Garraf is approximately 20mins and you can pick up the GR92 close to Garraf station.
For those that like peaceful and diverse meanderings, the GR2 is wonderful during spring. For our suggested part of the route you will need to take the train from Barcelona Plaza Catalunya to Sant Marti De Centelles in zone two. Here the route begins on the road that runs parallel to the front of the train station – look out for the GR markings. From there blossoms, bird song, old ruins, isolated churches, lush green rolling fields and the rhythm of the river will accompany you until you reach the small traditional town of Figaro. From Figaro, the river and wild terrain will guide you to La Garriga where you can reward yourself with some well earned refreshments and a view of the prominent baroque church in the main square of Placa de l’Esglesia.
For feasting the eyes with tremendous views, we love the GR6 route. The trek from Barcelona to Sant Cugat begins at Collserola station, again in zone one. You will begin with a steep walk uphill through wild terrain where the views overlooking Barcelona will become quickly apparent. Trekking beside Parc del Laberinth, you will pass by the fascinating Ermita De Sant Medir (which dates back to the tenth century), and finally reach El Pi d’en Xandri, where the emblematic Sant Cugat pine tree stands. This much loved tree is over 230 years old and 23 meters high. In the distance you will see the Monastery of Sant Cugat, a Benedictine abbey founded in the 9th century. The monastery and it’s museum is well worth a visit before settling in the centre with a surplus choice of traditional, cosy and upmarket cafés and bars.
More popular routes with ample information online, include the famous El Camino de Santiago (GR65) and the route to Montserrat, Cami de les Canals i de l’Aigua (GR 5/96). Although much busier than our selected, alternative GR routes, should you have time and the inclination, both are magnificent pilgrimage paths with incredible energy and history.
For now, enjoy all the wonders the Catalan nature has to offer and don’t forget to keep hydrated in this special sunny part of the world. Our previous post has all the tips you need to maintain energy and hydration on your trek.
Your La Pedrera team!