Walk along paths of lava from the Croscat
volcano and explore the land, flora and fauna of a landscape that is full of contrasts.
This route begins at the Baixador de Codella, a little building by the side of the Olot-Girona Narrow-gauge Railway Line Greenway, which was once the level-crossing attendant’s wayside lodge. Pay a visit to it and ask for a map of the area – it will help you to find the places of interest along the way.
As you will see from the map, there are two options for the route, one a little longer than the other, but both equally interesting. The itineraries are signposted using numbered panels, which also give information on the spot where they stand. Both routes start off from the same place, and you only have to make up your mind which to take when you are half-way around. The first route, which takes two hours, runs close to the perimeter of the park and goes as far as the municipal district of Olot, while the other takes one hour and goes through the middle of the park. Both meet up again for the last stretch, which takes you back to the starting point: the municipal district of Les Preses. Starting out:
The entrance to the park is just a short distance away from the wayside railway halt, and it takes the form of a passageway of iron slabs that blend in perfectly with the surroundings. That structure earned its creators – the architects Aranda, Pigem and Vilalta – a prize for landscape design. Going through it, which is like going through a doorway into another dimension, will help you to immerse yourself in the magic of a landscape that is both hard and fragile.
Carrying on along the route:
You will soon notice that the ground you are walking on is made of the same material as the little walls that divide up the farming plots. The park, which was formed from lava ejected from the Croscat volcano, used to be an oak forest down to the early nineteenth century, but then it was logged to extract charcoal and wood. Then came the work on producing the ‘artiga’ farming fields by moving volcanic stones to form little fields enclosed by dry-stone walls, thus creating the features of the fields you can see today as you walk along. Some of these small fields have little huts or shelters, likewise made of volcanic materials. Many of them are real feats of engineering in technical terms. Tradition has it that one of them, L’Artiga del Coix, may have been a pre-Romanesque chapel, as corroborated by the roof arches and the special features of the slab at the rear.
After a while walking among the artiga fields, you will get to the area of the Obaga (‘shade’) and the Bosc (‘wood’), where you will find welcome relief from the summer heat. Very close by is the low-lying land of Clot de l’Infern (‘hell’s hollow’). Though its origin is not known, it seems to be the result of a small volcano erupting in a water-logged area. It is also said that during some periods this dip in the land was a meeting place for witches, used for performing their magic rituals.
When you get to the road called Carretera de Canaderes, it’s time to choose between two routes: if you head towards L’Artiga d’en Vila you will have chosen the shorter of the two, which will take you to Bufadors, L’Artiga Rodona, Els Noguers, Les Barraques, Les Artigues Petites and L’Artiga d’en Cuera before taking you back to the railway halt Baixador de Codella.
Extending the route:
The Clot de l'Infern.
If you go for the longer route you will come to Camí d’Olot
which will take you into the municipal district of Olot, the capital of the Garrotxa region. A path running between family vegetable gardens and passing by the Paret Mitgera
will take you to the look-out point – the Mirador
– giving fine views over the park. A little further on, turn off to get to the river path – the Camí del Riu
– and have a look at all the life brimming over around the river Fluvià
. Then retrace your steps and follow the signposts until you get back to the starting point.Observations and recommendations:
The park lies on private properties, and so one should keep to the signposted paths. Plants and stones should not be taken away, and respect is to be shown for the animals. If you take the long route, wear suitable shoes, take supplies of water, and protect yourself from the sun, particularly in summer. Wear clothing that is appropriate for the time of year, since weather conditions in the park vary sharply from season to season.