Walking Route Through the Garraf Park to the Olivella Castle
We can be very repetitive with certain statements, we know it. And one of them is that the Garraf Park is the great unknown among all the nature reserves in Barcelona and Catalonia. So, it's a double advantage for those of you who want to discover it: the natural spectacle is unique, and the visitors are few. To confirm it, we recommend one of the best walks you can take in the park: the Olivella Ancient Castle route.
This circular route covers a distance of 7 kilometers all together and can easily be done with children, it has plenty of everything, as you will see. How long does it take to do it? Well, if you go with children and if you're not in a hurry, and if you include a stop at the castle for the views and to rest a while... about two and a half hours.
The Olivella Castle circular route is precisely one of the ones recommended by the Garraf Park's Department of Public Use and Conservation. The person in charge of it, Sofia Paricio, defines it as "one of the most beautiful routes, full of pine trees and 'margallons' - the Park's emblematic plant that looks like an inverted palm tree cluster. In addition, it has the added value of being able to walk up to the castle and enjoy 360-degree views, with the Pyrenees and Montserrat in the background". By the way, the other outing through the park that Sofia recommended to us, starting in Sitges and overlooking the sea, was the one that leads to the Holy Trinity Hermitage, an experience that we already shared with you.
All right, let's get ourselves up to speed. The outing starts in the beautiful town of Olivella, 14 kilometers from Sitges. Already in itself, the town is worth a visit, because, located on a small hill and with the Sant Pere i Sant Feliu Church as a corollary, its surroundings, and the views it offers are spectacular. The route's starting point is located on one side of the Town Hall, in Olivella's Main Square. From there, the route begins, perfectly indicated at all times with the name of CL-100 trail. If you want, you can also download the route to your cell phone.
As we said, this is a low-difficulty excursion and perfect for families. Of course, there is a certain incline (about 790 feet). But of course, we're going to walk up to a castle... Before the final climb, we will reach one of the highlights of the route: the old washing places ('safareigs') of the Font del Rector (Rector's Fountain). And it is a mandatory stop-off because the spot is beautiful... and because it's very likely that we will come across free-roaming donkeys and horses. That's what happened to us. We met three donkeys there: Canela, Troya and Clau, which the Miranda Foundation saved from being abandoned and mistreated. Like them, 20 other donkeys and horses roam freely in the Garraf Park. In addition, their presence is very positive for the Park itself, as they are the only animals that feed on the common reed grass, an invasive plant that threatens to 'eat' the native plants in the area and is a dangerous fuel for fires. Another advantage of the animals' nomadism is that thanks to them slowing down the reed grass, they facilitate the movement of the Mediterranean tortoises around the Park (yes, it's also possible that you might come across one if you do the route in spring or summer -they hibernate during the rest of the year). All this was explained to us by Gabriela, from the Miranda Foundation, who the children listened to with their eyes and mouths open all the time ;)
After passing by the washing places, it's time to go up to the Olivella Castle, declared a Site of National Interest and documented since 992. From its tower (there is only one, we won't overdo it) the views are incredible, and from here you can spot Sitges, Montserrat and even the Pyrenees.
The descent and the return to Olivella begins from the castle. Once again, we will pass by the Font del Rector, from where the signs now lead us along a path that first goes by the Can Muntaner Cave (another 'adventure' for kids) and through the Pivens pine forest, where craning your neck will be a must to be able to see the end of those century-old pines.
And now on the final stretch towards Olivella, to top off the series of landscapes, you will pass by different vineyards that are part of the Penedès Appellation of Origin and that are a part of the Carretera del Vi (Wine Road) route. A feast for the senses that reaffirms the route to Olivella Castle as an essential discovery for your first (or next) visit to Sitges.