Thursday, 23 April 2015

El Montgri

 Castel del Montgri

You can see Castel del Montgri, high on its mountain, from miles around and we are very excited to be climbing up to it today. Access is from the town of Torroella de Montgri and you park at the top end of the town. The path head away uphill.

The track quickly becomes rutted and then stony as it makes its zigzag path upwards. One straight section, going round the side of the mountain, points towards the nearby peak of el Taronger.

 We walk beneath a rocky massif with a wonderful mix of coloured stone.

Further up the path winds between three small wayside pilgrim's chapels; here are two of them.

Then the col de la Creu looms above, marked by a cross. The path has now become very rocky - the foreground of the picture is the path.

It is at 199m and the views over the country, especially toward the Hermitage of San Caterina, beyond are wonderful. 

 Now the path swings around to the right to begin the climb to the castle. After a while, we were staggered to see a view of the Bay of Roses opening up to the north. After numerous traverses across the slope, the castle can finally be seen. It stands at 302m.

The story of the castle is rather sad. It was built between 1294 and 1301 as a result of a local feud, but never completed. The design was influenced by Crusader castles in the Holy Land. Inside there is now just an empty shell, although a spiral staircase in one tower allows access to the walkway around the battlements.

There are great views in all directions. This is the Bay of Roses to the north ...

...  and this is looking towards the Medes Islands to the east.

The area around the castle was fairly flat and proved a good place to see some butterflies. I started to see some Swallowtails and some others: Painted Lady, Wall, Southern Scarce Swallowtail, Southern Small White. There had been quite a few on the way up - notably the Provence Orange Tip, with its yellow wings, but none had paused to be photographed. Here is a Swallowtail.

Inviting paths run away across the plateau, but heavy cloud was heading toward us and as we had spent a long time exploring the castle we decided to head back down.

Conditions: clear, sunny and hot until we headed home.

Distance: about 3.5 miles.

Rating: four and half stars.  It reminded me of the Rocky Mountain that we climbed near Wanaka in New Zealand.

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