with Tim and Chris Parker

Canyon, Talc & Tunnel in Reynès

ACCESS: map IGN 1:25000 Céret, Amelie-les-Bains-Palada 2449OT

At a glance:
  • 3 hours, 460 metres of ascent

  • Mostly forested

  • Highlights : mining history, a tunnel through rock, views into a gorge – what more could you want?

  • Good paths, waymarking yellow lines present but patchy. Some cairns.

  • Walking boots essential & take a torch for the tunnel!

  • River crossings are straightforward but route not advisable immediately after very heavy rain.

  • An excellent medium level walk. 

Start of walk

Take D115 from Le Boulou to Pont de Reynès. At entrance, cross roundabout by Lidl and take first left (sharp turn into narrow street – easy to miss!) D15 to Reynès (3km).

Park by bus stop opposite Mairie or in parking field opposite Mairie.

The walk

Take road to right of church and follow its zig zags uphill for about 500m to reach Mas de la Creu on hairpin bend. (Return path exits here.) Keep on tarmac road a little longer to reach set of post boxes and sign “Le Roc”. Turn left up broad track. (20 mins to this point).

Follow track to a Mas and pick up footpath into the woods signed as Canyon walk (Canyon Rando). Excellent path leads up to small col with superb views over the Roussillon plain by some large rocks (45 mins from start).

Continue straight on, soon descending with rock on right side and then contouring through the woods above the canyon. Views down to the river below.

At a junction descend left to cross the river. Climb up opposite side to arrive at the site of old talc mine

Bend left past the old mine buildings and follow the grassy piste, which soon becomes stony and rises slightly.

On reaching a cairn on a bend (right hand bend leads round to a Mas) descend footpath to left, pass a burnt out car and soon arrive at the first of a number of support towers for the wires which took the wagons away.

At small cairn, where a single wagon is on the ground, turn left.

Follow path down to a tunnel. Pass through carefully with aid of torch. Mind your head!

Climb up on other side via little zig zags then contour round hill to descend at Mas Cristofol. Turn left on the access track and follow it up, past a couple of properties, to emerge at Mas de la Creu. Turn right and descend to Reynès taking in a wonderful view of Le Canigou between the hills.

On emerging, find ruined Mas Calsan but do not enter as it is in a dangerous state. Go round building to right and pick up long flight of worn steps on right. Take care descending. Follow path downhill, avoiding all paths to left and finally arrive at a flat area by the river with a ruined building on left. Continue to river and cross via large rocks.

The Mine

The talc/fuller’s earth mine was operational from 1876 to 1978. The material was used in soap making at Marseille, porcelain making at Limoges and also used in curing leather. In 1929 an aerial wire system was installed to carry the wagons down towards the valley and remnants of this are seen on the descent. The buildings are in bad repair and the entrance to the mine is closed off, but it is amazing to think that it operated for so long. In 1930, for example, 440 tons of talc were mined from this spot from some deep veins underground.

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