Siurana: Running in one of the world's best sport climbing areas.
Sport climbers pull up to the small cliff top carpark, sort gear and move off excitedly towards the jewel in the crown of sport climbing in Catalunya. Meanwhile I am pulling on my running shoes with total disregard for the quality of the climbing because I'm off into the forest for 4 hours...
I run along the clifftops past all the climbers eyeing projects, looking for routes and donning their dorky belay glasses (they are really nifty, they are..) before dropping down into the valley bottom, tweaking my Tour de France style cycling cap (not dorky at all...) as I go. As far as isolation goes, the area of Montsant doesn't even come close due to the roads and villages criss-crossing the entire area, but the feeling of the place is complete solitude. Siurana really is the tip of the ice berg and the cliffs run unhindered (and unclimbed) up and down each and every valley which gives the trails a pumped up sense of grandeur.
MAPS.ME is all you need to explore these hills and the plethora of trails that they have. The trails are rocky and rugged, but open into spectacular views and pass by caves, sheer faces, boulder fields, rivers, canyons with crystal clear pools, abandoned villages, vineyards, via ferratas and gaps in the cliffs (graus) to move up and down onto the plateaus. The top is flat and has extensive forests and barren rocky scrublands. The trails are generally very runnable but they will rip your legs to pieces if you wear short shorts!
All it took was 10 days to fall helplessly in love with this place and its winding, spiky, rocky trails. What it lacks in elevation gain, it makes up for in spectacular views and fantastic local wine! Thanks Sam and Jen for letting us crash at your house for ten days and an amazing Christmas in The Garden of Eden.
I'll do more climbing next time, I promise (NOT)!
A few runs from Strava:
https://www.strava.com/activities/4512881019 Serra de Montsant
https://www.strava.com/activities/4530358616 Siurana Loop
https://www.strava.com/activities/4540197269 Wine region loop
https://www.strava.com/activities/4544789007 Shorter Siurana Loop