The Soul of Montsant
This route is sponsored by the inn and restaurant Fonda Toldrà in Ulldemolins
(You can book at: http://www.fondatoldra.com)
From Sant Antoni d'Ulldemolins Hermitage to Sant Bartomeu Hermitage
Suggestions: This is a very easy route, apt for all walkers and ideal for children. It takes us to one of the most emblematic and fascinating corners of the Montsant mountain range and Priorat region. During the summer, a dip in the naturally sculpted gorge of Les Cadolles Fondes is irresistible. Ulldemolins is famous for its sweet pastries, especially one known as “orelletes”.
The name of this mountain is self-explanatory, Montsant, the Holy Mountain. For centuries this mountain range has been considered to be an ideal place for retreats; a place where contact with God comes easily as too does contact with nature and with oneself. This is why the Montsant boasts a rich heritage of hermitages, that's to say places where people have gone to seek the solitude which this land offers. Sant Bartomeu (Saint Bartholomew) is the oldest of all the hermitages. In 1160, Fra (Friar) Guerau Miquel, a monk, took up residence in this spot. Legend tells that he administered help to Queen Sanxa, wife of King Alfonso the First. There is no other place than this which sufficiently transmits the spiritualism – religious or not – which this mountain emanates.
This route starts at Sant Antoni d'Ulldemolins hermitage (1) and is trail-marked with white and red paint for the GR 65-5 (European Hiking Network Long Trail). Take the right hand track which leads uphill (2) and immediately descends towards the Montsant river. Some twists in the track can be avoided by taking the signed path which cuts downhill until we reach the Font de la Gleva spring (3). The river is nearby and the track passes by the deeply carved gorge of Cadolles Fondes. It is worth stopping to marvel at how the river has shaped this attractive spot in the rocks.
We continue downhill on the path which follows alongside the river and enters pleasant riverside woodland. After about ten minutes we reach a fork (4). Be careful here as the left hand path takes us up to the rocks known as the Tres Juradets and continues onwards towards Els Ventadors and Els Pins Carrassers. We take the right hand path. In a little while we come to another fork (5). The path to the right crosses the river and continues to Racó de la Pastera, which is a colourful outcrop over the river. We keep left. High up on our left, we can observe the surprising outlines of the Tres Jurats.
We come to yet another fork (6) and we take the right hand path which drops down to the river. After a while, we come to a point where we leave the Fragerau path (Camí de Fragerau) which continues upstream towards the village of Margalef. To our right, we find a path which leads to the hermitage (7) and crosses the river via an attractive rope bridge. Higher up to our left, we can easily see the boulder known as La Cadira or the “chair”. The path continues upwards through a dry river bed until it reaches the area of Sant Bartomeu (8). The great cave just opposite the hermitage which is partially closed on one side with a dry stone wall was probably the place chosen by Fra Guerau to live. To return to the start of the walk, we just need to return the way we have come.