El Talló from the Vall del Bac

Captura de pantalla 2016-08-16 a las 22.40.22

Date of trip: 13 August 2016

Total distance: 10km

Time taken: 2 h 56 m

Accumulated vertical climb: 698 m

Highest point: 1273 m

Start/Finish point: Molí del la Coma, La Vall del Bac, La Garrotxa.

In the company of: Alone

Wikilocs log: http://ca.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=14346095

The Vall del Bac is very little visited and, even on a weekend in August, traffic is virtually non existent. Historically the valley was a key route for carts and livestock between Olot and Camprodon, but is now a backwater and so remains very unspoiled. It is not somewhere you go through on the way to anywhere, nothing touristy to attract the masses, just a winding road, barely wide enough for two cars to pass each other, snaking for kilometers along the bottom of a beautifully unspoiled valley, dotted with stone farmhouses, and flanked by wooded hills and grassy meadows, riddled with footpaths and tracks just waiting to be explored.

The easiest point of entry to the Vall del Bac is from the main Ripoll to Camprodon road, taking the turning at Sant Pau de Seguries towards Sant Salvador de Bianya, and almost as soon as you leave the village taking another turning on the left, a very minor road, signposted “La Vall del Bac”.

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My route up el Talló starts from the Molí del la Coma, parking is a small lay-by, just over a small bridge from where the track begins and big enough for three cars. At 10:30 am, I hardly arrived at the crack of dawn and even so there was only one other car there.

Once parked, a track leads north from the road, just back over the bridge from the lay-by. The entrance to the track is signposted Sant Andreu de Porreres, and

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about 100 meters further on, there is a gate across the track with a sign advising that it is a private road, this applies only to vehicles, as a footpath it is freely accessible, just remember to close the gate as there are horses and cattle roaming further up.

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The track skirts along the edge of open pasture, with views of Puig Ou, the peak to the left, and fords a small stream which was teeming with tadpoles, always a lovely sight, and a reminder of just how unspoiled and unpolluted this area remains. Climbing all the time, the track passes through woods and always following the GPS track to avoid turning off towards the farmhouse away to the left, it zig-zags up towards the right. And it is here that a beady eye is needed to spot the turn-off onto the footpath which takes us up through the woods to the small church of Sant Andreu de Porreres.

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The turning is marked by a small wooden post with a yellow mark indicating that the path turns off to the left. After pushing through some branches blocking the entrance, the path is clearly visible and continues uphill with the occasional yellow paint mark and a couple of wooden arrows with an outline of a church nailed to trees. The path soon reaches an electric fence with a handle and hook to open it, remembering to close it after you as there are donkeys in the field below the church, and just above and to the left is Sant Andreu de Porreres. The church has been restored, and there is a house beyond which is lived in. From here, my GPS track shows my attempts to find a footpath marked on the map which leads up to the ruined farmhouse of el Triadú, my attempts were in vain, however, all ending in the middle of bramble patches, so best to take the track up. This opens up on a bend, and there is a narrower path to the left leading to el Triadú itself. Approaching, it looks reminiscent of something out of the Blair Witch Project, but is utterly deserted and in a sorry state of repair. The path leads between the main house and a tumbledown outhouse on its right and then into the woods. From here the path is clear although it eventually ends at a dead end, the 1:25,000 scale sheet of the Catalan Cartographic Institute shows a zigzag up to where the path continues slightly higher up the slope. The Topo Pirineos map I have on the GPS shows the lower path stopping more or less where it actually stops, and a higher path beginning above the lower path soon after el Triadú, although with no connecting path. I never found the zig-zag and pushed through the trees and undergrowth for about 20 meters until I found the higher path. There is a path leading upslope just after el Triadú which may be a direct access to the beginning of the higher path shown on the Topo Pirineos map, that remains to be explored, but anyway, the higher path is easily attained and obvious when reached, using the GPS track as a guide it presents no problem, just push through and try to avoid getting scratched!

This path then skirts along the flank of el Talló, through thick woods, at times as wide as a cart track, it crosses a small stream with, bizarrely enough, a small stone and brick trough, quite who lugged the bricks through the forest, I have no idea. A little further on it breaks out momentarily into a wonderful viewpoint with spectacular panoramas to the south and then plunges back into the forest.

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The track continues like a tunnel through the woods, eventually reaching a small stream. After crossing it, the path doubles back slightly on itself. I spotted a likely crossing point, but the path seemed to continue beyond this to a crossing point about ten metres further up. Having a knack of heading off on wild goose chases whilst following dodgy short cuts, I decided to stick to the path, but after crossing at the furthest point and scrabbling around on the other side where the path just went on up rather than briefly following the opposite bank as the GPS indicated, I doubled back. The slightly earlier “short cut”, is in fact the correct path, once taken, (as so often in life!) it is easy and clearly followed. Leaving the stream, it climbs up and breaks out into slightly more open wooded terrain, zig-zagging up a grassy track to a small building and then heading east. A little further on, it opens out on a ridge and joins a larger track which is a more transited route frequented by farm vehicles, 4x4s and mountain bikers. At this point the Font de Resclusanys can be seen. I had it noted down, but seeing the flanks of el Talló in front of me and keen to get to the top, at this point I clean forgot to look for it. From photos, it appears to be a stone trough.

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Ahead and to the right is el Talló, with grassy meadows stretching up the hillside, crossing these and heading upwards, first to the right and then zig-zagging back to the left brings us to the crest and a stiff walk takes us to the small cairn which marks the highest point.

From the top the view is incredible, with the Pyrenees stretching across the horizon to the north and to the south a view extending as far as Montseny, halfway down to Barcelona.

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I was making good time so far, 1 h 54 m from the car to the top and I needed to be back for lunch so apart from a couple of photos and a few gulps of water I didn’t linger. The descent was directly down the south west flank of el Talló. I had traced out a direct route down, following what appeared to be patches of open ground as much as possible and encouraged by reading various accounts of people following cairns down this way. Well, I found the odd cairn, blundered through the odd thicket after straying from my planned route, tempted by “likely looking short-cuts”, but never wasted more than about 5 minutes on a fools errand. At one point I rounded a dense stand of trees and saw the black ringed tail and reddish body of a large cat disappear into the trees fleeing before me. From what I can gather from a bit of subsequent Googling, probably Felis silvestris.

I pretty quickly lost height and within about half an hour I was back down at el Triadú. From here the path follows the same route as the ascent back down to the car. A beautiful morning’s walk, I soaked up last few moments of utter peace as I made my way down from Sant Andreu de Porreres, only the sound of insects and birds among the trees breaking the silence.

An easily manageable morning walk, with an early start even doable from Barcelona. It is a beautiful corner of the Pyrenees, off the beaten track, quite probable that you will meet nobody else, and just that odd moment of needing to carefully choose your trail, to give it that little edge of adventure.