Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Parque Natural Montsant, Siurana

My idea of going to the best Spanish climbing destinations really paid off with Montsant. After another gut-wrenching winding drive, we arrived at Balcó del Priorat in La Morera de Montsant, which had a great view and was perfectly placed as a starting point for some great hikes. I could easily have spent a week doing various day hikes from the surrounding villages into the park. It was super windy both days we were in the area, but we used Ella's stroller raincover to make her a little greenhouse while she was in the backpack to keep her out of the wind.


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We hiked up La Grallera, intending to do a circuit, but when we reached the top we were turned back by a seriously strong wind that was ripping over the ridge. We came back down and checked out a cave, and saw a heap of bolted climbs along the face. Didn't see another soul for the few hours we were walking.


Cova de la Grallera 
View of La Morera de Montsant



Not only was there great rocks, but we had unknowingly brought ourselves to a region called Priorat, which is alone with Rioja as a Spanish DOQ wine region. Priorat is known for its strong, tannin-loaded, dark red wines, and also generally as a fancy gastronomy region. We had the best meal of our time in Spain at the hotel (where we were the only guests), accompanied with a deliciously dark red from the winery behind the hotel.



The next day we headed over to spectacular Siurana, another famous climbing destination.


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It was an important Andalusian centre of defence and was the last Muslim enclave in Catalonia to be conquered by the Christians in 1153-54. It is easy to see why - it is perched on top of a cliff and surrounded by a deep gorge that now is host to tons of climbing. I'd love to come back here and climb, it is a magic place. Cute clifftop bars in the village for post-climb drinks, and campgrounds lower-down for cheap accommodation.


Two groups on some short sport climbs with a spectacular view


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