Near Lake Terradets in Catalunya, northern Spain, there are a number of worthwhile crags and a fabulous camping spot. The Climber and I wound our way up to the area from Margalef in late spring and camped a few days in the Cellar’s train station carpark.
Here we met up with Mark-from-the-carpark, a muscle bound Englishman with the cheekiest smile ever seen outside of a toddler’s playgroup. He and the Climber had a terrible effect on each other’s humour, the conversation swiftly devolving to puns concerning defecation. Fortunately these were delivered in amusing accents, as they had for some unknown reason both developed gay German designer personas.
The car park is one of the most convenient that we have stayed in. There is a little Refugi and cafe by the train station, run by friendly people who have two even friendlier dogs, one with quite astoundingly bright blue eyes. We met the dogs individually over a few days – the first on Mark-from-the-carpark’s birthday and the second on mine. So we called them both Birthday Dog (we have very creative minds).
If you buy your morning coffee from the cafe, there is no problem in using the bathroom as you require and you can even enjoy a hot shower for €5 (I splashed out – pun intended – once while we were there). Excitingly, outside the Refugi there is a very large cherry tree which, when I visited, was absolutely dripping in enormous, shiny, ruby red cherries. They tasted as good as they looked and despite what could be considered as excessive consumption, I suffered no major ill effects.
Perhaps even more excitingly (at least over four seasons) the old train station (there is also a new one where the train currently stops) is abandoned (or perhaps in the middle of a very slow refurbishment).
The covered platforms are free and perfect for yoga, meditation or just sitting around outside, safe from the rain or sun.
I enjoyed a few lovely yoga sessions there – looking out to the trees of the forest with silver rain pattering down on the leaves.
There are a few places to climb nearby. We went first to Paret de les Bagasses. The walk-in crosses the river (a gorgeous, raging torrent of milky blue glacial run-off) on a picturesque stone bridge, before leading you over some slabs (bit yucky) and up to the train line. Walking along the train line to the right before taking the climbers path to the crag is illegal and potentially very deadly. Which is why we teleported ourselves to the crag. If you were going to walk it would be sensible to move swiftly and to keep an ear out and an eye on rail vibrations for approaching trains. The easy climbs in the area were a little bit grey-slab-of-doom and I wasn’t particularly motivated to get on them. The looming black clouds also didn’t inspire me. Nevertheless I gave it a go and it was then that I heard the most remarkable sounds: sounds of peace, harmony, safety and compassion. Mark-from-the-carpark is, in fact, the Jesus of climbing instruction (this is if Jesus got really buff and trimmed his hair and beard…and wore 5.10…and didn’t have the full plethora of miracle working powers…you know what I mean). His first miracle was to talk me to the top of a route without me crying, the second miracle was to get me to do it again, this time in the rain. Yes, I was somehow talked up a horrible grey, WET, slab of doom. Told you he was the Jesus of climbing instruction.
That was something of an early birthday present for me. The actual birthday involved serenading joggers with my uke (“yes they run, they run, oh they run quite fast in their short shorts”) while picnicking on champagne and fresh cherries by the lake, which was busy mirroring the snow capped mountains. A night sleeping in the exceptional comfort of the Hotel Terradets, following a slightly inebriated jam at the railway cafe, rounded off a brilliant day.
The main attraction at Terradets is the impressive Bruges crag. It is possible to walk from the train station car park – you walk along the lake, across a bridge and then follow the lake on the opposite shore towards the power station thing. Part of the walk takes you through some stone galleries, which are spooky and quite impressive on foot. You then take the ladder up some rocks to your left (or the dog trail, which looks like a death trap) and then follow the climber’s trail up to the huge over hanging crag. The cliff line is very impressive and has a lot of routes in the 7b to 8b range. The Climber entertained himself for about two weeks in total and was in no great hurry to leave.
He was however in something of a hurry the day he pulled a rope through a fixed draw, whipping my hand in the process (after a day of diligent belaying). I gained an impressive rope shaped bruise and abrasion but nothing was broken and I heroically refrained from milking the incident more than was absolutely necessary.
The Climber had in fact himself been the victim of an unfortunate event (albeit one that didn’t leave an impressive bruise). He had bought himself a new pair of runner and a pair of flip flops and was very distressed to wake one morning to find that one of the new runners was missing from his shoe pile under the van. A Spanish girl from a neighbouring van had woken to find that she had lost a whole pair and was hunting around the campsite muttering darkly about thieving foxes. Mark-from-the-carpark concurred that foxes had recently stolen some of his dirty climbing clothes, presumably with which to line their dens. Poor foxes. The Climber spent the morning snuffling around and managed to locate one of the Spanish girl’s shoes…overall, rather unsatisfactory. The next night we were careful to ensure that all goods were safely stowed inside before we went to sleep. Unfortunately, one of the Climber’s new flip flops must have fallen out as he was closing the door and he awoke to find himself yet again bereft of footwear. At that moment I was very glad that I was not a fox.
Here ended the tale of the Terradets fox, so far as I was concerned. However, after I had gone to Corsica, the Climber left his remaining footwear as bait and spent the night peering out the van window waiting for the fox. Somewhere in the deep of night the culprit struck and a gleeful Climber yanked back the door to see — a pair a bright blue eyes.