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Great Days Out

A second walk along disused railway lines

LanguedocLiving, Apr 22

A little over a year ago we reported on a series of three days of walks along the now disused railway line east of Girona to the Costa Brava and the village of St Feliu de Guixols.

Back in the 1950s and 60s there were two narrow gauge railway lines east of Girona one to Palermos and the other from Girona to St Feliu de Guixols.

This time we walked along the same former railway company’s line but this time west from Girona to Olot. Albeit our trip was just three weeks later in March we thought that as it was further inland and closer to the foothills of the Pyrenees it would not be quite so warm.

To be more accurate the line heads North West. From Olot it is now possible to walk to Ripoli where you can board a train to Puigcerda and La Tour de Carol Enveitig where ‘The Little Yellow Train’ has its terminus before going back towards Perpignan.

We chose a central point on the line at St Felui de Pallerols. This is a very beautiful village with some very beautiful Catalan old houses. Details of the hotel we chose and restaurants follow below.

Small sections of the line have been swallowed up by road widening and tunnels so whereas you do get the opportunity to walk on the track bed, there are parts where you need to divert and climb up and over the roads and tunnels leaving traces of the original track below.

One other feature is that whereas we chose a later date, it proved to be the best simply because it was out of season, fewer walkers and fewer bikers! but the downside was that a number of the restaurants were closed.

The line in its heyday ran from the centre of Girona some 54 kms north west as far as the town of Olot. Olot with its population of around 34,000 inhabitants is a good starting point. The original terminal station is still there, as are most of the stations along the line.

Sadly for lovers of steam trains there is very little evidence of its railway past. Some of the best photographs of the trains in service were taken in the 1960s by British railway photographers.

On our first day we set off from Fouzilhon and Magalas at 0800 for Olot and left the motorway at Figueres. Having found the station at Olot we drove on to our hotel in Sant Feliu de Pallerols arriving at about 11:30. We left our luggage and then set off for the village station now converted into a bar with a tourist office on the side of the building.

One is helped and directed by green coloured signs, but they do not tell you about small climbs and gradients. Along the way we found the side of the former tracks were full of spring wild flowers which when coupled with some stunning views towards the hills made for a really good set of walks.

There’s no doubt that one is in Cataluña with independence flags fluttering from buildings and flagpoles.

Hotels and restaurants; Perhaps the best advice is to choose just how you would like to plan your walks and then look at the website www.booking.com for prices and availability. We booked with them as it gave us the opportunity of cancelling at the very last moment if rain was forecast. However it is possible that you will get a lower price if booking direct.

Restaurants, are to be found in most villages but when we were there a large percentage of them were still closed. We guessed that an Easter Opening was most likely.

Along the track we came across a good number of houses closed up which suggests that this is the region where many Spaniards escape to in the heat of the summer.

Our hotel was ‘The Posada Fonda Finet’ which has rooms plus apartments and its own independent restaurant in the village square. www.fondafinet.com

In the large village of Anglès closer to Girona we found the excellent restaurant Alianca c/Jacint Verdaguer 3 www.alianca1919.com where in an interesting decorated dining room they offered a set menu, and an a la carte menu and tapas. Prices weren’t ultra-cheap but very good value for money.

Will we return next year?, I think that we might, and then walk from Olot to Ripoli and take the short trip as far as Ribes de Freser and from there up the rack and pinion railway to the resort of Nuria.

A word about tourist offices! When we were walking east of Girona most were open, but when walking from Olot to Girona just two weeks ago along the villages en-route we did not find one of them open.

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