Tremp- Santa Maria de Engracia

Nestled in the Prepirineu of Lleida about 70km from the provincial capital is the small town of Tremp of the the Pallars Jussa comarca. Though it technically has a city status, it’s just got a population of about 5000 people and is the starting point of this hike. The small town centre is a nice place to have a wonder for a brief period, as well as having all the necessary supplies for your journey, but I would never go out of my way to exclusively see the few sights here.

What stands out with this place however, is how well-connected it is and close to the mountains it also is, you can go almost any direction for both a good hike, and cycling and I used this place, and La Pobla de Segur further up the road for that purpose. On this occasion we were driven there, but you can get a bus or even a train there which are about 90 mins or so because of the stops. The route I’m talking about on this blog takes about 3 1/2 hours, and is about 14km long.

The first part of the trek is via the main road, and you are on the C-13 for about 2km before crossing uphill to the small village of Talarn. Take caution to this part of the road as there is quite a lot of traffic at times, and you will also take this way back, though it’s not the only possible way. Talarn itself is quite a picturesque little village with some views over the valley, and already notably higher than Tremp. I would take some time to enjoy the narrow streets and Plaça Mayor before you carry on, as it is steeped in history. The carrer de font de caps will lead uphill along the ridge and out of town, where you walk alongside a tarmac road until the Ermita Calvari where you will see a signpost taking you down into a small valley. Now your trail begins.

At first its all down up until you reach the Barranc de Seros and cross a small bridge, and slowly start making your way up. The village in question is sometimes seen from the path and it does look a long way up, but the path is not particularly demanding and easy to follow. About 1.5km of this is easy going and a slow gradual climb, occasionally crossing bare rock before you get to a point where you have to make a right and start climbing quite steeply over some loose stones. from here, the path occasionally splits and rejoins on this part and is about 250m or so of climbing like this.

You will also notice the small village of Gurp at the end of the valley at a similar altitude to Santa Engracia, which is also a popular trail for hikers that is about 6km longer, and doesn’t double back on itself. The trail to Santa Engracia ends when you reach the only tarmac road that connects this village from civilisation. from this point, the oldest part of the village is to your right, and you can climb up the narrow main street to the church at the very top, which gives you the most spectacular views of the lakes and higher mountains. This is the highlight of the entire hike, what you have been working your legs for the last hour and 30 minutes.

The village has nothing to offer any parched traveler unless you reserve a room in one of the guesthouses there, and they aren’t normally open to the public without a reservation. A fountain and Talarn are the nearest places for you. I asked a local, and that’s what she told me, so make sure you do have snacks and plenty of fluids for this experience. Enjoy the views and reward yourself at the end. the descent is probably the most treacherous part especially if wet, which turned out to be the factor that made us rush back to Tremp as quickly as possible. Storms started to roll in at this point, making the way back, which is exactly the same way we came a lot more interesting.

It took us only about 45 minutes to get back to Tremp, though it would normally take about 1hr 20 minutes, due to our practical trail run. It is advisable to check the forecast for places like Tremp, especially if it’s during the autumn/ spring time, as it is very unsettled at times. You can do this hike at almost any time of the year, though summers can reach the upper 30’s in this area, so you might want to do this at a reasonable time of the day. I can safely say that no matter how experienced you are at hiking, you will really enjoy it when you reach the top. It’s one of many hiking trails in Pallars Jussa which are extremely beautiful as well as of mixed difficulties. See for yourself!

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