Spring-Summer Getaway to Berguedà
A mining region with dinosaurs’ footprints
We'd like to propose an active trip to the Berguedà region. We'll explore mines and take part in water sports, we'll go climbing and walking in unique surroundings. The striking outline of a mountain called Pedraforca is awaiting us, together with footprints that have existed for some 65 million years.
Afternoon day: Down a mine
© Museu de les Mines de Cercs
Our first destination is Sant Corneli de Cercs. Here, at an altitude of 920 metres, life revolved around the mining activities of the Carbons de Berga, SA mining company. The mine was life and death for the mine workers since conditions were very harsh and many lost their lives in accidents. The visit to Mines de Cercs is an opportunity to remember them and learn about how coal is extracted and how people lived in the mining village. This was one of the most important mining communities in the country, with a population of around 3,000 people at the height of its activity, though that figure has fallen to around one hundred inhabitants nowadays.
Before heading down the mine, have a look around the museum, which offers an exhaustive introduction to the issue, with reproductions of some of the village's facilities such a classroom in the school and the dispensary. There are also a couple of audiovisual presentations on the industrial action carried out by the miners in 1932 and 1977. You can also enter into a miner's house from the 1940s and see an audiovisual presentation on the mines in the Alt Berguedà region. In 2011 the museum's permanent exhibition was expanded through the addition of L'espectacle de la Mina, an innovative 3D spectacle using holograms to demonstrate the two systems of extraction used in 21st century coal mining: underground and open-pit mining.
But now it's time to leave virtual reality behind, put on our helmets and take the miniature train to explore the real underground galleries.
Morning of day 2: Enjoying La Baells Reservoir
© Jiosep Cano / Diputació de Barcelona
This region is far from the sea, but we can always have a refreshing dip, or take part in water sports in a reservoir. Just 15 minutes away from the mines, and perfectly visible from the C-16 highway, La Baells Reservoir holds 115 million cubic metres of water, coming from the River Llobregat and two streams called Riera de Vilada and Riera del Mergançol. On weekdays you can take a guided visit to this enormous infrastructure (the concrete wall that holds back the force of the river is 112 metres tall, 302 metres long and 22 metres thick) but today we want to take advantage of the companies that offer water sport facilities here to take to the waters of the reservoir.
As always, when proposing such activities, we advise you choose activities in line with your training and experience; the idea is to have fun, not a bad time! You can rent canoes, jet skis and motor boats from Berguedà Nàutic. Lac-wakeboard has everything you need to go wakeboarding and water skiing. Indòmit has one to four person canoes, pedal boats, water balls, motorboats and facilities for water skiing and wakeboarding. And Kaiacs del Molí del Cavaller has canoes, kayaks and jet skis. It's an extensive selection of activities, but it's always wise to phone ahead to reserve the gear you need for your chosen activity.
Afternoon 2: The earliest inhabitants of Berguedà
This afternoon, we'll stay in the Berguedà region but ascend to an altitude of 1,400 metres. And if Jurassic Park was your favourite film, or you're simply interested in discovering more about dinosaurs, you shouldn't miss the paleontological excavations at Fumanya, which lie within the municipal area of Fígols. Here, you'll find more than 3,500 footprints, left behind by dinosaurs some 65 million years ago. Open pit mining led to their discovery, which means that the visit here is interesting in both paleontological and geological terms. Since we've already explored a mine this morning, we'll focus on the dinosaurs for now.
The footprints belong to a group of sauropods, specifically the so-called titanosaurs, which could weigh up to 15 tons and measure from 15 to 20 metres in length, with four limbs, though the two front ones were shorter, a long neck and tail and small skulls. The footprints are used to study the movements made by the dinosaurs, and their speed and social behaviour. In contrast, few bones and fossilized eggs have been found. The bones of crocodiles from the same period have also been found at the dig. It was declared a site of national cultural interest by the Generalitat government in 2005 can help researchers to explain why the dinosaurs became extinct unlike other large animals such as crocodiles. In summary, it's a unique visit that's especially popular with kids.
Morning of day 3: An adventure in beautiful surroundings
© Sílvia Massana / Espai Actiu Vallcebre
We hope you've slept well, because we have a hectic day in store for you! First of all we'll take you to explore the Espai Actiu Vallcebre, a council owned complex managed by Cercle Aventura. In these unique surroundings, you have the opportunity to practise canyoning and climbing in complete safety. You have at your disposal three prepared routes, Cal Curt, la Canalassa and l'Empalomar (climbing lessons are given on the latter), and fans of canyoning can descend the Forat Negre. To use the facilities, you need to pay a small forfeit, which includes insurance. The forfeit can be paid in person at the Vallcebre tourist information office (telephone 666 526 039), or online. You do have free access to the so-called Camí Aeri l'Àrtic. Though it's not recommended if you suffer from vertigo!
Afternoon day 3: A magical, iconic mountain
© Gonzalo Sanguinetti / Diputació de Barcelona
The impressive outline of Pedraforca is visible from many places in the region. But one of our favourite views is from the village of Saldes. So, let's head there on our last afternoon and do a little trekking. But don't worry, we're not going to make you climb the mountain! The route we're suggesting is simple and perfect for a spring or summer afternoon. If you want more, there are plenty of other itineraries around the Pedraforca area.
We'll set off from in front of the tourist information office in Saldes, where a fountain commemorates the ascent of Pedraforca by President Jordi Pujol in 1983. From here we'll head for the nearby baroque church of Sant Martí, which dates from the 17th century. Carrer de Sant Martí will take you to Carrer del Castell, which, as you may imagine, leads to the town's castle. The path is clear and easy, and distinguished by green and white markers. Carry on walking up, leaving behind the houses in the neighbourhood of Sobirà. The landscape widens up and you'll get some great views of the magnificent peaks of Pedraforca and the surrounding mountains. The walls of the castle await above you.Once you've arrived at the medieval castle, which dates from the 11th century, you'll see remains of the walls and the recognisable shape of its rooms. A little further on is the chapel of Santa Maria, which was once part of the castle's church. It's simple and its belfry seems to have shifted to one side and to be larger than would correspond to the size of the frontal façade and the small bell that it contains. If you have enough time and energy you can take a trail from here to the Sanctuary of Gresolet. At first it descends to a valley but later climbs up to a country farmhouse with a spring next to it. Following the trail markers, the path will take you past woods and viewpoints to the sanctuary, which was first documented in the 13th century. It's a beautiful place to spend your last few moments in Berguedà before heading back down the trail.
Where to stay and where to eat
Cultural venues in Berguedà
The spectacular cement factory built on the orders of Eusebi Güell on the outskirts of Castellar de n'Hug started production some 100 years ago before closing down 40 years ago. Fortunately, today we can continue visiting this unique modernista-style building which is built in a staggered layout down the slope of the hillside in order to take advantage of gravity in the cement manufacturing process. The visits include a tour outside among the industrial remains; while, on the inside, the interpretive centre will help you get a better understand of how the factory was run.
- Paratge del Clot del Moro, s/n, 08696
One of the most unique and attractive tourist sites in the region, and one that will be fun for both adults and kids, since you’ll enter into a real coal mine aboard a mine train to go on a 450 metre trip through the Sant Romà gallery, gaining an understanding of what it was like to work in these mines. But first you can learn a little about the uses of coal and the lives of the miners in the permanent exhibition rooms located inside a building that was originally a convent. This is definitely a must-do visit in Berguedá.
- Colònia Sant Corneli, plaça de Sant Romà, s/n, 08698
The spirit of La Patum, the local summer festival, is always present in the town of Berga, even though the fiesta itself takes place only once a year, on the feast of Corpus Christi. If you’re unable to go to the town for the main fiesta, you can always call in at the Casa de la Patum and get a taste of what it’s like to experience the real deal. On display are the costumes and figures that take part in the processions, while the interpretation centre will give you all the information you need on what the fiesta is all about.
- Plaça del Dr. Saló, 6, 08600
The Cathars played an important role in the history of the Berguedà region, where many Cathars fled to escape persecution. That is why the Palau de Pinós in Bagà hosts a permanent exhibition in which different historical characters, such as William of Berguedà and the Mataplana family, will tell you all about the Cathars and their links to the Alt Berguedà, and especially with the village of Bagà. You can also find out what life was like here in the 7th and 8th centuries.
- Pujada de Palau, 7