A gentle hike to Montral in the Prades hills of Tarragona

Dark clouds were looming over the mediterranean coast to the south. In the opposite direction lay the mountains of the Prades region of Tarragona where the sky looked noticeably brighter. Starting a bit late in the day for a proper hike, at about 10:00, it was deemed by Polly and I to be a prudent move to plan a shorter hike than usual. So we took the road past Reus and turned into the hills at Alcover to make our way up to park near the village of Montrals, the village church perched atop it’s nearly conical hill and overlooking the valley below.

A field track led around the back of the village, following the GR7 for a short way, then heading up into the forest along an easy trail along the ridge towards the limestone outcrops beyond. The views through the autumn leaves, over the valley both north and south, were magnificent. The undulating ridges lay thickly all around, slopes of thick green pine forest and olive fields, topped and scythed by the white limestone crags which ran from east to west across the landscape, their shapes picked out by the slanting autumnal sun.

Heading west, the way led easily through the scratchy and brambly forest trail, we reached the Foradada, a natural limestone arch perched at the end of the ridge. Looking through the high dark arch to the valley below and the mediterranean coast to the south made us sit down to slake our thirst and gaze across the enchanting view. Shortly afterwards we followed the narrow trail tightly under the steep limestone cliff towering over us until we reached a path leading to a via ferrata which would take us to the top of the ridge. This was too steep and exposed for us, and having started late in the day, we turned at this point and head back the way we’d come, skirting through the archway and back up to the top of the ridge by the easy route.

Having found the top of the via ferrata we stopped for a quick bite and a drink, and to soak in some more scenery. After a while we took the ridge line through the forest and back to the village, somehow losing the easy trail a couple of times and getting fairly scratched for the privilege. We went via the small church perched atop the centre of the village on the way back, and it was interesting to see the graveyard, with the graves being built on top of the hard limestone fields almost, to my English eyes, like garden tool sheds. We took the GR7 back to the car where an old stone building had been daubed with images celebrating the local hiking trails. Not a huge hike, but we’d both enjoyed getting out for a bit of a blast.

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