Cicerone author Mountain Walking in Southern Catalunya - Roca Xapada

You know that walk of yours that goes up to the Roca Xapada and then returns the same route? Well it can be done as a circuit. We've found a really good route up Xapada using a gully to get up the steep bits and only one mildly tricky manoeuvre and then a good path and you can come down the usual way.

Closing the Loop...

These were interesting words coming from some climbing friends who live locally. When we were putting the routes together for our Cicerone guidebook Mountain Walking in Southern Catalunya, we had searched for this route on several occasions and always ended up thrashing about and lost on steep, wooded terrain. When our friends offered to show us the route we jumped at the chance.

It was not an auspicious day, the 1st February. Very cold weather was sweeping across Europe and due to reach Spain that day. We would not normally go into the hills with a cloudy sky, a high of 9o C and potential rain showers forecast.

We are now much too accustomed to walking with blue skies and sunshine. In this case it was the right decision – having to wear a fleece and waterproof at times was more than amply rewarded by the spectacular nature of the route.

Xapada Circuit 3
Philip winding his way through dramatic limestone scenery

The New Route

Leave the car at the start for Walk 22: Roca Xapada and continue on foot up the main valley track to join the route up to the Coll de Lloret used in Walk 24. It takes some 45mins of easy track walking to reach the col. Here a small path, marked with a cairn and a purple (!) paint mark, leads up to the right. It climbs up at 90o to the track and passes to the left of the first group of rocks on the ridge before bearing to the right to climb a small rocky gully. The purple waymarking and cairns continue to show the way up onto a grassy saddle with an imposing rock face directly ahead. The saddle narrows into a ridge and about 50m from the rock face the path drops down to the right to enter an area of bushes and trees.

The path steepens and becomes rocky, reaching a short, shallow gully some 25mins from the col. At the top the path follows the base of a cliff towards a pinnacle ahead. To the right the ground falls away to give good views of the ascent track far below.

The key gully is immediately ahead. This is short, about 50m and not difficult for anyone used to scrambling. The ‘mildly tricky manoeuvre’ is no more difficult than other scrambles described in the book. At the top of the gully the purple waymarks mysteriously disappear in favour of red ones, but the path is obvious as it passes a spectacular notch and then climbs and winds its way through dramatic limestone scenery towards the Roca Xapada, reached 2hrs from the start of the walk. From here, the descent is the normal one for Walk 24.


Viv Freakley

Mountain Walking in Southern Catalunya Guidebook

Mountain Walking in Southern Catalunya

Els Ports and the mountains of Tarragona


This guidebook has 30 routes for mountain walkers of all abilities in Southern Catalunya. The routes are in 3 national parks between Barcelona and Valencia; around the River Ebre: the els Ports massif, Serra de Cardo and the Serra de Montsia, including the immense limestone crags of the Parc Natural dels Ports overlooking the Mediterranean.

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