Pretty Perfect P-O Picnics

WITH KATJA WILLEMSEN
(Read Shepherd’s Prayer, Katja’s fast- paced adventure set in Collioure.
Available on Amazon)

Cap Béar cliffs

Gorges de la Guillera

 

Whether whispered murmurs or thundering tor- rents, our local waterways have stories to tell. The crumbling remains of one of the earliest canals snake along the cliffs of the magnificent Gorges de la Guillera.

With mountain water in the canal and a canopy of leaves to protect you, this picnic is perfect for a sweltering summer’s day. Some of the walk isn’t fenced and water hurtles past, so keep water-mad dogs and young kids on leashes!

Drive through Rodès and park on the cliff side of the Têt River. Stroll back across the bridge and up the steps beside the graffiti-covered structure. (See inset for more details.)

It was 11 am, a cloudless sky, and already a fierce 28 degrees when we started our walk. But no matter how hot, the symphony of water cools you down. The Têt River drums down in the valley and the Corbère Canal hums in stereo next to you.

Peer over the scarily simple fence and experience the stomach-clenching drama of the gorge below. Notice the pearly sheen of the river rock, polished silver by the pounding water.

Spindly pillars of the original canal clutch the cliff like fingers, but the highlight of the walk is the aqueduct, Pont d’en Labau. It’s not surprising how fragile it is after withstanding a thousand years of severe floods and the Tramontane! Its classification as a historic monument hasn’t come a moment too soon, and there are urgent plans to stabilise this aging dame.

The canal brought water to wheat fields, vineyards and olive groves in the 11th century, and decades later, it powered wheat and textile mills then filled the moats of the Palace of the Kings of Majorca.

After forty minutes, a fence blocks the path. Cross the little cement bridge and let the sand track take you on a beautiful detour along peach orchards. Please remember you’re on a farmer’s private land so don’t steal his fruit!

Keep the Têt River on your left and the orchard on your right, and follow the double sand track until you reach a “casot” or small cabin. An ivy-choked tree marks where you cross another bridge over the canal. Keep the next orchard on your right until you reach a steep cement road on your left. Head down to the jade green water of the Têt River.

Time to kick off shoes, release dogs and kids, and swim! Bon appétit!

Footnote: for those feeling energetic after lunch, the canal walk can be continued along the path running parallel to the river. Be warned that it involves scrambling and precarious ledges!path that runs parallel to the river.

 

About Rodès and the Gorges de la Guillera

This section of the Têt River flows from Vinça Dam into several irrigation canals. Vestiges of the original canal, “Sequia Real de Thoyr” – Royal Canal of Thuir, can be seen on the left bank. Our walk is next to the more “recent” Corbère Canal.
Feeling energetic? Hike up to the 11th century Chateau de Rodès perched on a rocky crest above the village.
Time spare? The Ermitage de Domanova with its extensive ex-voto collection is well worth a visit. (Cross N116 from Rodès then follow signs).

How To Get There
•    Time needed for walk: allow an hour and a half of easy strolling but longer if you wish to walk further than the picnic spot.
•    Head south from Perpignan towards Prades on the N116. Less than ten minutes after Ile sur Têt, turn right to the village of Rodès. Follow “Gorges de GUILLERA” signs through the village.
•    The only time the signage isn’t clear is at a small square with a tree: keep to the right, heading towards the mountain until you exit the village on the other side.
•    Drive over the bridge and park next to the water purification plant then stroll back across the bridge and up the steps next to the small graffiti- covered building.

 

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