Winter is one of the best times of the year to go and explore the fantastic landscape hidden away less than one hour drive from Tarragona.
Our journey starts before sunrise arriving at the base of Siurana just in time to see the imposing ridge of the Monsant turn pink. The temperature is close to zero and imprints in the frozen dew as we start the ascent into the gorges of Siuranella, surrounded by of the top rock climbing destination in the world.
We walk past large rock showing hollowed surfaces, unexplained remnants of the bronze age, and then continue further, deep to the kind of landscape which seems to have escaped from a Grimm fairy tale. Boulders rise up to vertiginous heights with trees grappling on lumps of cover, the sun saturating the eye and then gone again as the clouds move in.
The walk is badly marked and the journey turns unpredictable as we try to find a path that appears and disappears again. We descend, reaching the bottom of the gorge where we find the bed of the once gigantic river which carved this landscape, there is nothing left of it but frozen puddles. We are surrounded by solid rock cocooning us from the outside world in an almost total silence; I raise my voice and it ghostly echoes from wall to wall.
We start the ascent guessing the original path and after a couple of wrong turns we arrive the top of the crest and the view is breathtaking. The outline of the medieval village of Siurana sitting defiant on its rock, the ridge of Monsant, the watery blue of the Pantà del Siurana reservoir and in the south the sea.
The whole walk took just over four hours and there are plans afoot to improve the signage and encourage more visitors to explore this exceptional area of the Priorat in Catalonia. Until then expect expect to get a little lost as part of one outstanding walk.