4½ hours; climb: 500m
A fascinating circuit between the imposing abbey of St Michel de Cuxa and the remains of an iron-ore mining complex in a forest above Taurinya.
1 - THE START, the abbey of Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa. There is a large car park opposite the entrance to the abbey. From there, we walk up the D27 road, with the abbey on our left... Where the road bends to the right, we go straight ahead, on a path between fields... We enter woodland, then we immediately turn to the right... We go past the remains of the Saint-Pierre-d'Orseolo chapel. We continue straight ahead... We meet a track and we continue straight ahead...We leave the woodland and we soon meet the D27 road again.
2 - Road. We go to the left, behind a building. Then we turn left and we climb a path in woodland.
3 - Junction of our path and a track. We turn left and we follow the track. The track winds uphill.
4 - Junction of several tracks and paths (Col de Clara). We turn right and we follow a path which descends in the direction of Taurinya... Lower down, there is a view over Taurinya... At the bottom of the hill, we go to the right of the ruins of a former water mill.
5 - Footbridge, over the Llitera river. We cross the footbridge and we turn to the right... We take a path on the left which climbs towards Taurinya... We enter the village.
6 - Junction of lanes in the village (church on the right; the village centre is beyond the church). We turn to the left and we walk up to the top of the village... We meet the D27 road again and we follow it, uphill, for a short distance.
(If we start this walk in the centre of Taurinya, we must follow the main road through the village (the D27), uphill, to the top of the village.)
7 - Bifurcation of roads. We leave the D27 road and we follow the road on the left (the Cami de las Tarteres).
8 - Junction of road and path. We turn right and we follow the path... The path bends to the left and it follows the bed of a stream.
9 - Junction of path and road. We turn right, and we follow the road. It passes buildings on the right, then it reaches a barrier. We go straight ahead, past the barrier and up a track in a forest... On the right are the remains of a 'trémie'', where iron ore, brought from mines higher up, was loaded into wagons... The track climbs steeply and it turns to the right.
10 - Track junction. We follow the track on the right. It is on the level... We go past the entrance to a former mine, with an old haulage engine on display... We turn left and we climb a steep slope. Iron ore was transported down this slope to the valley below... We go to the right of a former iron ore furnace. We climb again.
11 - Flat area, with the remains of buildings used by miners. Another former iron ore furnace, very impressive, is on the left. We follow a path which goes to the left of the remains of a building, on the left of the furnace... The path climbs in the forest. (For the next kilometre or more, we pass the remains of iron ore mines and mine workings.)
12 - Path junction. We go to the right... The path winds uphill through the forest, sometimes on short, steep sections.
13 - Path junction. We go to the left... The path goes to the right... The path turns to the left and it goes uphill, fairly steeply.
14 - Path junction. We go to the right. We are now at the highest point of the walk. The path becomes a track... The track emerges from the forest and it descends, in open country.
15 - Track junction. We go to the right, and we descend... At a junction after a short distance, we go to the left... The path becomes a track, with large, open meadows on the right.
16 - Junction of track and road. We go to the right and we follow the road downhill.
17 - Junction of the road and a track on the left (just before the entrance to a farm, on the right). We go to the left and we follow the track... The track enters woodland... We come to a junction of tracks and we go to the right... At another junction of tracks, we go to the left.
18 - 'Tours de Cours' - an impressive medieval tower. We follow a track to the left of the tower... The track winds downhill, through woodland, for some distance (with occasional views of the abbey, below).
19 - Junction of track and path. (To return to Taurinya from this point, we go straight ahead.) We turn sharp left, on the path... The path zig-zags downhill, and then it meets a canal... We follow the canal, to the left.
20 - Path crossing (small bridge over the canal). We leave the canal and we descend on the path on the right... There is a field on the right... We continue to descend... We meet the Llitera river. The path goes to the left, alongside the river.
21 - Footbridge over the Llitera river. We cross the bridge. We follow a track up to the car park which is opposite Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa.