After yesterday’s fairly easy hike, the fourth day was tougher with 23 km to cover and 850 m in ascents. It took me from Palamos to the inland hill town of Begur. Once again, the day was a little overcast, but at least there was no rain after a few drops on leaving Palamos and the sun was never far behind the clouds. From this day on, with the one exception of Roses, the huge, modern resorts would become less and less common, replaced by fishing villages or towns and beach resorts made up of small, traditional houses. With the mass tourism resorts behind me, even though there hadn’t been that many of them, the trail took on its full charm and was a total delight until the end.
As on many hikes in the past, day 4 was the day when I wondered what the hell I was doing, if I should carry on, etc. This always happens to me. It’s a sort of make or break day, not that I have ever given up on a trail without being injured (apart from the GR 20 in Corsica, for other reasons). There’s always this mental thing that kicks in. After all, it’s such a change from my everyday life. On the first few days, there’s the thrill of the new, but by day 4 that is over. Once day 4 has passed, I could keep walking forever. It’s a weird thing, but that’s how it works.
After breakfast (lighter than previous days) in the very strange dining room of the hotel – the place was filled with all kinds of clocks that chimed every fifteen minutes – I set off through the streets of Palamos to return to the coast above the local marina. The urban area was quickly left behind and I found myself following a path along the coast that took in a number of small, isolated fishing villages made up of traditional white houses, interspersed with trudges across sandy beaches.
This was a very pleasant morning’s walk, up and down a lot on long flights of steps to round the headlands, but with some beautiful spots along the way. I particularly liked the Cala Estreta beach and would have stopped for a rest there if it had been sunnier (and warmer).
After around three and a half hours, the trail rounded another headland and revealed the beautiful village of Calella de Palafrugell, with its traditional houses crowded along the seafront. I had been looking forward to seeing this place since setting off this morning because of the photo in the guidebook and I was not disappointed. As breakfast had been a little lighter and I had covered half the day’s distance by then, I decided to stop for lunch for once. I found a friendly little place and had a delicious dish of octopus with pureed butternut squash.
After lunch, I walked through the streets of Calella and along the seafront of the adjoining and equally charming village of Llafranc before embarking on a long, tiring climb up to the Sant Sebastià lighthouse with its spectacular views back along the coast and over the hinterland towards the town of Palafrugell. It was quite a climb, around 170 m up from the beach, but well worth it for the spectacular views and then the balcony-like path that followed the cliffs before descending to sea-level again at Cala Pedrosa.
On arriving at Cala Pedrosa, I felt a little lost. There was no clear way out of the rocky cove. Luckily, as it was the weekend, the small beach restaurant was open and the friendly owner showed me the fairly discreet exit from the beach taken by the trail: the markers just visible on a rock behind a sort of stile and a very steep path beyond it where I needed to haul myself up from one post or tree to another – one of the toughest, most exhausting ascents so far. The path then levelled off before a gradual descent to another beautiful little village, Tamariu.
I had made quite a few stops and by the time I reached Tamariu, I was about an hour and a half behind schedule. I sent a quick email to the hotel in Begur, warning them that I would be later than planned, then turned inland for the 5 km climb up to the town.
These 5 km seemed like 10. That was probably the day 4 fatigue kicking in. After a first section in woodland, the trail hit a road and followed it up to Begur. I’m never a big fan of walking on asphalt, especially towards the end of a tiring day. I could see Begur up on the hill ahead of me, but it didn’t seem to be getting any closer. Even though this wasn’t the toughest section of the trail, it was my least favourite part of the whole Travesia (along with the arrival in Roses), perhaps because it was the longest section along a fairly busy road.
However, all this was soon forgotten on arriving in Begur, the “balcony” of the Costa Brava. After wandering around the labyrinth-like streets of the town, unable to spot my hotel and asking directions from a receptionist at a spa, I finally found La Indiana de Begur around half an hour after arriving in the town centre (it was in fact just off the main square!). A colonial-style building built by a local who had made his fortune in the Americas, the place is now a fabulous little hotel with (I think) just five rooms. This was the most expensive hotel room of the whole trail, but it was worth every cent. I got there at around 7 pm, way after the initial planned time, but the very friendly receptionist/manageress gave me a warm welcome, recommended a couple of restaurants for dinner and then showed me to my beautiful room at the back of the house where a chilled half-bottle of cava was waiting for me! After a hot shower, a call home and downing the cava, I was more than ready for dinner. They had room for me at Rostei where the food was terrific.
When I left the restaurant, the wind had picked up and the temperature had dropped a lot, but at least the wind would clear the clouds for the next day…