Exploring Catalunya: A Waterfall Adventure in Campdevánol

At least it started off sunny!
Our intrepid group heading towards the mountains

If you follow my blog regularly you will know I am a fan of social networks as a way of meeting people and doing things I might not normally do.  So, feeling a little restless and in need of adventure I decided to get back on the Meetup wagon as I hadn’t done anything with them for a while.  After browsing the meetups on offer I selected one from the aptly named Enjoy Barcelona & Catalonia group.  The group’s organiser Toni had arranged a trip to Campdevánol in the Girona region, for a walking route including seven waterfalls – just what I was looking for!  According to the details the route is also known as “La rute dels gorgs de Cabana” and combines countryside, mountains and waterfalls; it sounded perfect.

It was a painfully early start on Saturday morning though, especially after ‘one drink’ after work on Friday, which obviously wasn’t just one drink.  After dragging myself out of bed at 6.45am, and practically crawling to Plaça Catalunya to meet the group at 7.30am, by the time we got on the train I was starting to come round.  We took the R3 train from Plaça Catalunya towards Puigcerdà, and just over 2 hours later arrived at Campdevánol.

The first waterfall

Tiredness forgotten, we found a café round the corner from the station, stocked up on coffee & breakfast bocadillos and were ready to get walking.  Toni led us along a path to where the route begins, and we took in the beautiful vista: fields, hills, trees, sunshine; & breathed fresh air!  It took around 45-50 minutes to reach the first waterfall, and after a short but very steep descent down into the gorge to reach the pool at the base, we realised this trip was definitely worth it!  The water was chilly to say the least, and I only paddled my feet in, but a few others braved the bracing water & swam, dipping underneath the waterfall and splashing in the water.

After drying off we continued along the route, visiting each of the seven waterfalls, swimming in some, skipping others due to other groups and families already there.  Gaining in confidence leaping across streams, balancing on rocks and hopping up hillocks I was certainly enjoying myself, and the few hours we spent there flew by.  But as we finished our final swim in the seventh pool (I made it in up to my thighs this time) a few clouds were gathering over the hill.  Toni suggested we should make a move, wary of the chance of rain, and maybe 20 minutes later we heard the first rumble of thunder.

And then the rain started.  And when I say rain, I don’t just mean rain; I mean a thunderstorm that enveloped the mountain and made our return to the station rather challenging and quite scary in places – torrential rain, hailstones like marbles and the footpath turning to a river beneath our feet is one experience I wouldn’t care to repeat!  But make it down we did, and Toni led our soaked, bedraggled bunch back to the station, although in the end not along the route he expected due to a flooded river crossing!  The worst part of the day though was the 3 hour train journey back to Barcelona, still in our wet clothes, shivering under the unnecessary air conditioning in the carriages.  I have never been so glad to get back to Barcelona, and actually enjoyed the usually stifling heat of the metro system, a welcome relief from the cold and damp I had been sitting in for an eternity!

Toni was a great guide, but I have to say his definition of an easy route differs somewhat to mine!  The route itself is fine, and around 10km in total, which spread throughout the day was quite relaxed; but clambering down the hillside to reach the pools at the base of the waterfalls can be difficult, even more so after any rainfall.  Also ff you are staying in Barcelona I would recommend an overnight stop somewhere close-by, maybe camping or a B&B, as this train journey made it a very long day.  The other advice I would offer is check the weather forecast carefully, and if there is any sign of rain then leave the route for another day.  Do not risk getting caught in a storm like we did, as without a guide like Toni I’m not sure I would have made it down, and would have had to sit it out on the mountainside.  Overall though I enjoyed the day, and would recommend a trip to the waterfalls if you are here for a good length of time.  For those living here, it offers a welcome break from the city, and the air is certainly much cleaner than in the streets of the Gótico!  Just remember to wear comfortable walking shoes, take your swimsuit, and a rain coat just in case!

You can check out the Enjoy Barcelona & Catalonia meetup group here

And find train times from Barcelona to Campdevánol here

And more about my previous recommendations to get out and about here

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