The Parc Nacional d’Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici – part 1

October 22nd, 2009 | Written by Simon Rice|

It’s been year since we were in the Parc, before we became dog owners in fact, so that makes it ten years! But a brief respite from stormy weather in early October and visiting friends who wanted to go got me there without the huskies.

ratera2

I was stunned all over again by the beauty of the scenery. As indeed is everyone else – I gather that the Parc is one of Spain’s most photographed sites – with good reason; the autumn tints over the Ratera lake never fail to please!

mirador

It took just an hour’s walk to get to the Mirador overlooking the Estany de Sant Naurici itself, lying in the shadow of the twin Encantats (enchanted) peaks. After all these years the distances seemed shorter (due no doubt to chasing walking the dogs all this time!) so we vowed to return with The Pack the following week. But in fact we went to the other half of the Parc, to the Aigüestortes (meaning twisting waters) themselves.

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This side of the Parc features evidence of severe glaciation, making open views that are admired by all!

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Further back down the valley we were treated to yet more autumn tints, shown here to perfection against a background of Black pines (Pinus nigra) that are a special feature of the Parc.

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The weather worsened in the high mountains, however, so we took ‘refuge’ with an interlude in the Pre-Pyrenees, crossing the Sierra de Montsec. The distances here are remarkable, we could see the Sierra de Montsant, a good seventy-five kilometres away south over the Pla d’Urgell.

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We had crossed the Montsec’s summit years ago, when we had a jeep, but now the track is well metalled thanks to Catalonia’s new Observatory, reflecting the fabulous air quality found on the summit.

spacemontsec

The clearing air bode well for the following week’s return trip to the Sant Maurici, meanwhile the dogs were beginning to revell in the cold northern air!