L’Hospitalet d’infant- L’Ametlla del mar, The Hills and Coves of the Costa Daurada.

The coast of Tarragona in northeast of Spain is a very underrated part of the country. People might only know of Salou when the costa Daurada springs to mind. but hop several clicks in either direction, and you’ll find a different scene altogether. You don’t see as many tourists, and head west from Salou, there are places which Spanish people like to go. One such place is L’hospitalet d’infant which is practically on the edge of the mountains as well as the coast, giving you impressive views of both. The route is about 23km long, and will take about 6-7 hours. I’m pretty sure that you will spend plenty of time chilling out on the many beaches this route takes you.

To get to Hospitalet, there is a fairly regular train service between Barcelona, Tortosa and Valencia. You’re most likely to take the R16, or Regional Exprés to get there. I lived in Lleida at the time, and I got a bus with 2 of my friends that went there without having to make any changes, using the company Hife. Getting back from L’Ametlla is on the same line. The route is available on Wikiloc, but you don’t need to follow it, as the route is clearly marked the whole way. This route is part of the GR-92 trail, which runs through most of the Catalan coast, so you just need to follow the red and white markers and you’ll be fine.

The first place you start, is the Passeig Maritim, where you follow the entire beach and then leave the road and walk on the beach itself. You start entering some of the coves, which are popular nudists areas along this stretch, but the path actually turns off these coves fairly quickly up the hill, where you reconnect with a road for a short time, passing a campsite. This is where you enter the wilder part of the hike, and it’s well signposted up to this point.

The route takes you on a dirt track climbing up the hill, away from everything. From here, you can start to get some really nice views of the sea and surrounding area, and you follow the ridge up to a point just over 150m high called Vertex del Llop. Here, there are plenty of places which you can go just off the path and enjoy the views in total peace. There’s a descent to a road that cuts through the hill to get to the beach, but steps have been built in some parts to help you. The last ridge you cross allows you to see the Ebro Delta, but also rather unfortunately, the nuclear power plant of Vandellos.

The descent from this point, is the hardest of the whole hike, and you do have to be careful, especially if conditions aren’t great. You pass some old bunkers where you get some great vantage points. You will eventually connect to a road and this is where you end up in a part of the hike you just have to get through. The power plant is now in view and you are on a road that heads further inland. Just before you end up at a junction for the N- 340, the arrows take you left, and you eventually end up at a river bed calld Barranc de Lleiría. This makes this part a lot more enjoyable and you don’t see any ugly buildings for the time being.

The path will then twist a little until you are walking parallel to the AP-7 for about 30 minutes, and we started wondering if we were ever going to get to see the beach again. Patience is a virtue and you will be rewarded soon, trust me. The path reconnects to a road under the autopista to the neighbourhood of L’Almadrava, and you finally reach the coast again. This is where you start crossing a number of coves and neighbourhoods. The town is called Calafat, and it’s mostly residential, but you cut through some of these areas before you reach the beach and port, but you’re greeted with the Cala Llobeta, which is a quite a hard rocky cove, but if you are prepared to wait another 10 minutes and continue along the coast to the next cove, Cala Calafato, you’ll end up at a very pretty little sandy beach.

The next part cuts through to the next cove, Cala Lo Riballet, where the short cliffs have no path along them, and at this point, we noticed the next village was a little more lively, and there are more opportunities to find somewhere to eat if you needed to. Sant Jordi d’Alfama is the village you enter, and this place is one of the major highlights of the hike. We were a little confused about where the route was taking us, as it zig-zagged a little, but it left us on the marina, which had a narrow strip of water that went far inland and full of small private boats and yachts. It reminded me of Portocristo in Mallorca, but not nearly as busy.

5 minutes later and one of the larger coves comes into view, Cala d’Sant Jordi where there’s a castle on the other side. We were also greeted with the best views of the mountains that we had been on the other side of a few hours earlier. The castle is small and has views of the sea from most angles, and when we were there, there were no entry fees of any kind and was open all day. Once you get to this point, the route will follow along the coast for almost the entire way to L’Ametlla, and you cross the beaches of Cala Vidre and Cala Forn with mostly unbroken views of the sea.

The part to Cala Mosques has a very narrow path at times and you are near some short cliffs, so be careful. The cove itself is the last one in a housing estate, but here you are shaded by trees a lot on this part, especially by now, as it will be well into the afternoon. You’ll notice a lot less people around this point, and the coastline is really spectacular, and you pass through some woodlands until you reach Cala de Torrent de Pi, one of the larger and unspoilt coves. You now get to enjoy the coast in its most natural way, and some of the cliffs with the sound of the waves crashing into them, will be the only thing you hear for the time being.

Sandwiched between the next two coves is the private neighbourhood of Cala Nova and this is the very least settlement of any kind you see before L’Ametlla, and these two coves are the last reasonable sized beaches before you reach the town. Olive farms dominate this part of the journey, along the rugged coastline, Cala Nova is just 2km from L’ametlla, and took us about 30 minutes to finally get there. When we arrived we enjoyed a well- earned beer in one of the many bars that occupy the centre and from there, it’s just 10 minutes more to the train station.

So there you have it, 23km of a very interesting and unknown part of the Med. It isn’t particularly technically difficult, but the distance, and walking in sand at times makes it a little draining. I wouldn’t recommend this hike if you only want to walk for a couple of hours, because this one will take most of the day to complete, and you need to make sure your travel arrangements are on point here. And as I said before, the easiest way to get to L’Hospitalet is the R16 from Barcelona/ Tarragona/ Salou, towards Tortosa, or the Regional Exprés towards Castellón/ Valencia. It’s worth the journey for sure.

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