Arboli – Coll de la Teixeta

March 24th

Was feeling really fresh this morning, had to wait till 9am for breakfast in the bar. The F1 motor racing from Malaya was on the wide screen and a couple of blokes were installed for the duration – already through their first bottle of wine  and ordering food. Alonso the local favourite has just crashed out!  Thanked my hosts and staff for their help and kindness, and was away about 10am. Climbers were arriving in the village [its a Sunday] for a coffee before heading to the local cliffs. Fancied a climb myself.

Arboli climbing

Small tracks led out of the village and down terraced, cultivated, fields into a valley and ford by an old mill. The day was sunny and warm.

A forest track wound around the hillside taking forever to hit the road at Coll d’Alforja. A cyclist from Reus was struggling up the hill and proudly announced he was 60 – I said nothing. A rough forest road was signed to Sanctuary de Puigcerver 6k away. Effortless walking for the next hour and a half as the road snaked through the forest. There were good views back to the Musssara cliffs of a couple of days ago. A couple of mountain bikers whizzed past going down.

Arrived at the sanctuary about 1 and pleasantly surprised to see it was open [Sunday] with a cafe/bar. Felt I had to patronise them, I was the sole visitor, and have a coffee and piece of tortilla. Got chatting to the volunteer workers, it turned out the woman’s sister lived in Preston. She is married to someone from the university – I got a contact number thinking there may be a possibility of some Spanish conversation lessons. Had a look around the rather spartan chapel [17 century] and was on my way again.

Sanctuary de Puigcerver

Inner Sanctuary

Happy Volunteers

An unmarked track seemed to be going downhill in the right direction with views to Reus, Tarragona and the Med.

Costa Durada

I was walking towards a group of wind turbines which were soon reached and navigated between with way marks taking me down to the Coll de la Teixeta.

I could see the busy road through the col and a lot of complicated roundabouts and a confusion of interlinking minor roads.   Think spaghetti junction.

The accommodation I’ve arranged is in the village of Pradell  about 5k to the west and I was intending to walk down the road to it. Looking at the speeding traffic that idea didn’t look so good and I was not going to be able to hitch easily. So I phoned the casa and eventually was able to explain where I was – Coll is not pronounced col and as for Teixeta! Within minutes an old battered car pulled up with the David and Marta, we stopped on the way back to the house to gather fire wood.

David and Marta

The village of Pradell has about 150 inhabitants but seems a lively place – shop, bakery and bar! It is in the Priorat wine area and there are a lot of hazel nuts grown in the area. Had a wander around, popped into the community centre for a coffee where the locals were putting the world to right. Lots of little public areas and parks, no doubt paid for with European money but they give the place a homely feel. That’s the other thing you notice in Spanish villages – lots of young children out playing without the restraint we succumb to in Britain.

David is basically a farmer with vines, hazel nuts and his own vegetables. The house he has done up as a casa rural was from the family. It is massive with about 8 guest rooms and lots of lounges etc. Marta has decorated in an early 20th century modernistic style with lots of original pieces. Not to everyone’s taste but it gives a certain atmosphere to the house. More like a museum!

They were very welcoming and I ate a good Catalan supper with them, accompanied by their own wine. Had  a tour of the cellars later.  Couldn’t have had a more peaceful night’s sleep.

This place is made for relaxation, though they work hard all the time — a Catalan characteristic. These are the unique places I find myself in and are the reason I love rural Spain.

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