Choose Your Excursion

Most excursions are in the Sitges, Sant Pere de Ribes, and Garraf areas. The length can be varied according to the abilities and interests of each group. The focus is not on long walks, but on looking closely and appreciatively at the natural world around us.

Here are a few examples of local excursions.

1: Sant Pere de Ribes Vineyard and Forest Loop
Length: 1.5 kilometers.
This route is easily extended for longer excursions. 

2: Las Torres Vineyards, Gardens, and Edible Plants
Length: 2.25 kilometers.
This route can easily be lengthened or shortened.

3: Ermita de Sant Pau Route
Length: 1.85 kilometers

4: Olerdola Long Loop, Tombs and Valley
Length: 4.5 kilometers

5:  Olerdola Archaeological Site
Length: 1 kilometer

6. Olivella Castle Loop
Length: 4.2 kilometers

1: Sant Pere de Ribes Vineyard and Forest Loop
This trail starts at a dirt road that passes for a few hundred meters through vineyards. We then turn into a forest that is dominated by pine trees, then come out into an open area. On the left are vineyards, and after two hundred meters we come upon an old stone hut. In the spring we find yellow ophrys orchids on the stony slopes on the right. We pass stands of carob trees, which in the fall are covered with deeply aromatic seed pods. We then come to a large olive grove on the right, and take the opportunity to walk through the rows of trees. After that we make a sharp right hand turn and return to the last portion of the route.
Animals we might see on this route include many species of songbirds, bee eaters, Bonelli’s eagles, wall lizards, psammodromus lizards, geckos, and of course many varieties of insects.
In autumn and winter there is a large number of different varieties of mushrooms, and of course edible plants and herbs.
Length: 1.5 kilometers. This route is easily extended for longer excursions. 

2: Las Torres Vineyards, Gardens, and Edible Plants
This starts in the little pueblecito of Las Torres, between Sitges and Sant Pere de Ribes. We climb through vineyards and into a short stretch of forest. Here we find an ancient abandoned lime kiln which is great for turning into a fort. In winter and spring we’ll find lots of wild asparagus for snacking. We then come out to more vineyards, and in the spring we’ll find mirror orchids, bee orchids, and somber bee orchids. We pass under the highway and soon come across an old orchard of mixed fruit trees – in spring we snack on the nisperos, and in summer and autumn the blackberry bushes are loaded with fruit. This part of the route is also great for finding wild onions and garlic. We turn back at an old farm house, and with luck the farm’s horse will be there to feed. On the return we enter the cluster of old houses in Las Torres and might stop off at the little shop for some fresh peas or other veggie snacks.
Animals we might see on this route include geckos, wall lizards, smooth and/or Montpellier snakes, midwife toads, various birds, including kestrels, and of course lots of different insects and spiders.
Length: 2.25 kilometers. This route can easily be lengthened or shortened.

3: Ermita de Sant Pau Route
We start at the 15th-century Ermita de Sant Pau (built on the remains of a much older church and near where a Roman villa once stood). We climb steadily up through a landscape of scrub and limestone karst, coming out at the top on great views of Sant Pere de Ribes, the mountains of Garraf, and the sea. We descend into a stretch of shaded forest until we reach the vineyards. We’ll stop at the ruins of an old stone farmhouse, and look for lizards and snakes among the stones. This is also a good area for aromatic herbs for making infusions. We follow the dirt road past almond orchards and vineyards until we arrive back at the church.
Animals we might see on this route include Montpellier and ladder snakes, wall lizards, geckos, birds of prey, including buzzards, eagles and kestrels, and smaller birds such as magpies, robins, Sardinian warblers, and others.
Length: 1.85 kilometers

4: Olerdola Long Loop, Tombs and Valley
We start at the parking lot for the archaeological site of Olerdola, and walk out to visit the ruins of a medieval church and anthropomorphic tombs nearby. We then walk along a dirt road with lovely views of Garraf and the Romanesque church of Sant Miquel. We leave the road and rise along a karst ridge covered mostly in scrub. Along the way we have a good chance of finding some fossils. We descend into the valley where we can visit the remains of an old 19th-century lime factory. The route takes us along the bottom of the valley, with limestone cliffs rising on both sides. In the caves in the cliff walls Bronze Age peoples lived and left painted hand prints. Toward the end of the valley we leave the dirt road and rise up through forest, past a natural spring and back to the parking lot.
Animals we might see along the way include various lizards, birds of prey, thrushes and other small birds, and of course lots of insects and other little creatures.
Length: 4.5 kilometers

5:  Olerdola Archaeological Site
The site of Olerdola has been occupied by various groups of people since the Bronze Age, roughly 4,000 years ago. The hilltop position has been a strategic location at many points in history, and was occupied by Iberian tribes by 500-400 BC. By the beginning of the first century BC the site had been taken over by the Romans, who established a military camp to control the road from Penedes to Tarragona (Roman Tarraco), which was capital of the Roman Province. The Roman wall, the cistern, and a watchtower still remain from that era. By 25 BC the Romans abandoned the military outpost, and it remained uninhabited for nearly 1,000 years.
It was reoccupied in the Middle Ages, when it was “founded” in the year 929 by Sunyer, count of Barcelona, who built a perimeter wall, the churches of San Miguel (inside the wall) and Santa Maria (outside the wall) and the castle. The anthropomorphic tombs dating from this era, particularly those of children and infants, are both striking and tragic.
The early twelfth century marked the decline of Olèrdola, as the population, feeling more secure, moved into the Penedes plain.
The walk is short and easy, but there is so much to see and do there, so much history, that two hours barely covers this excursion.
Animal life we might see includes birds of prey, especially buzzards and eagles, thrushes and other song birds, wall lizards, and the occasional snake.
Length: 1 kilometer

6. Olivella Castle Loop
Our route starts on a dirt road leading through vineyards, then enters a forested area. A short side trail takes us down to visit a large cave, then back up to the main trail.
We make our way through a karst and scrub habitat, dotted with the occasional strawberry tree. We climb uphill, admiring the Old Castle of Olivella, dating from the tenth century and part of the system of defensive castles built during the reconquista, when Christians were trying to retake Spain from the Muslims. We can go up to the remains of the castle and get gorgeous views of Montserrat and the surrounding area.
Descending, we come upon two basins of water, used in the 19th century for washing laundry. This is an excellent area to look for frogs, salamanders, snakes, and tortoises. There may also be horses, part of a program to establish a wild horse population in that part of Garraf.
The path enters the forest, and in spring and early summer this is a good place to find  bee orchids, violet bird’s nest orchids and man orchids. Eventually we climb a small hill and find ourselves with nice views over the medieval village of Olivella. The path descends until we reach a grassy meadow, and here and along the side of the road we’ll find bee orchids in spring and early summer, and autumn ladies’ tresses orchids in September.
Returning, we follow a path at the edge of the forest which overlooks large vineyards.
Animals that we might see on this route include birds of prey, robins, several types of warblers, viperine snakes, common frogs, fire salamanders and their larvae, and Hermann’s tortoises.
Length: 4.2 kilometers

Longer Excursions

1. Nature Reserve Ricarda-Ca D’Arana and the Delta of the Llobregat River
This site is a wetland area adjacent to the Llobregat River. It’s a pleasant place for a stroll, but the real draw is the bird watching. From the park entrance we go down to the banks of the Llobregat. Here is an excellent place to see flamingos, gulls, cormorants, egrets, and gray herons.
We then follow a raised path that leads past pastures where semi-wild horses graze. Depending on the time of year this is a good place to see various wading birds such as cattle and little egrets, black-winged stilts and golden plovers, as well as larks, serins, flycatchers, goldfinches and wagtails.
A walk along a path flanked by reeds and blackberries brings us to a hide which looks out over a large lagoon. Again depending on the time of year, we might see little grebes, black-necked grebes, great crested grebes, marsh harriers, purple gallinules, kentish plovers, shelducks, gadwalls, red-crested pochards, barnacle geese, greylag geese, ferruginous ducks, kingfishers, lapwings, common snipe, and others.
We then head toward the sea and enter another bird hide, which looks over a separate section of the same lagoon. All of the same species of birds may be seen here.
After that we follow a path that takes us to the river and to a tower which looks out over saline lagoons and sand dunes. Here we may see various waders, including kentish plovers and spotted redshanks, along with gulls, cormorants, and terns.
Our return route takes us along the Llobregat River, until we turn and follow a path that takes us back to our original trail.
Length: 6.6 kilometers

2. Nature Reserve Remolar-Filipines Bird Watching
We begin on the access road that leads to the coast, passing a large, long lagoon on the left with often contains mallard ducks and great crested grebes.
We sign in at the park kiosk and cross a strip of land which separates two lagoons. Turning right, we’ll pass an area that has large numbers of orchids in the spring, and ladies’ tresses orchids in September. We pass by blackberry bushes (for snacking in season), and come to a large bird watching hide. Depending on the season, species commonly seen here include little grebes, marsh harriers, common sandpipers, collared pratincoles, purple gallinules, sandwich terns, kentish plovers, shelducks, gadwalls, shovelers, red-crested pochards, ferruginous ducks, cormorants, cattle and little egrets, gray herons, kingfishers, water pipit, night and purple herons, black-winged stilts, whiskered and gull-billed terns, little crakes, spotted redshank, greylag geese, common snipe, and yellow wagtails.
We return the way we came and pass by some observation blinds, then enter another bird watching hide overlooking a different part of the same large lagoon. We may find all of the same species of birds here.
We follow a path which takes us past an area with lots of orchids in the spring, and along a lagoon, then go back the way we arrived.
Length: 4.2 kilometers

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s