Despite all the industrial, urban and tourist developments in this area, the magnificent woodland and coast strip around Punta de la Mora has been largely left to its natural habitat.
Starting at the large stretch of sand of the Platja Larga (reached via a 15 minute bus ride from Tarragona), we passed deserted camping sites, joggers, dog walkers, heading towards the rocky outcrop which is the start of the Punta de la Mora walk , in to an area currently designated as an area of natural interest. The water temperature is currently 12 degrees, too cold even for dips and with a north westerly biting away the area was almost deserted.
At the entry of the park is an ancient industrial site; here large boulders, which have been there since Roman times were quarried out the calcareous rock right above the sea and used as ballast for the boats anchored in the deep water nearby. Some are still in situ, ready to be separated from the rock bed, wait to be taken away on a journey across the sea.
The walk continues uphill in to a woodland protected low growing Savinosa which blocks the salty air from moving further inland. The air is filled with the pungent scent of pine, juniper and rosemary and the path moves along the cliff giving us the fist glimpse of has been jokingly named Waikiki beach, one of the most pristine (and difficult to reach) beaches along the Catalan coast. Because of its seclusion Waikiki is an irresistible lure for hardy naturists who scramble down the steep part in to a heaven of sand, peace and sunshine.
In the far the tower of La Mora comes in to view as do groups of enthusiastic local hikers made up from people from all ages – hiking is still relatively in its infancy here but gaining in popularity. The walk turns back in the forest among the old gnarled trees and our steps sink in to a soft carpet of pine needles. The silence is interrupted by the sound of woodpeckers, high up in the branches, carving away undisturbed and you just wish this walk to last for ever.
Instead, after another hour walk, we reach the abrupt perimeter of a fence which encompasses the tower of La Mora. Empty holiday chalets come in to view and soon La Mora it self, an area made up by upmarket villas clustered together and protected by high walls. The local beach is a good place for a beer and a quick eat before heading back via a slightly more inland route which passes an ancient abandoned manor with a tower which must have been a great post-hippy hangout in the early 80’s judging from the hundred of names and dates carved in the crumbling walls.
As we leave the last of the woodland behind we wonder about its future. Developers have already eyed the area and are busy drafting up plans to make it more accessible. Thankfully their plans have so far been blocked by local environmentalist and the current financial crisis. Lets hope that the local authorities will continue to protect this area in perpetuity on behalf of all of us.