Fontcalda Spa – a hermitage along Canaletes River-TerraAlta


Summer holidays are not over yet. They are longer than in the UK. Three glorious months you have entertained the “offsprings”. . . One can run out of ideas as what to do with them, when you yourself don´t want to do another beach trip this week or go to crowded “hot spots”.

Temperatures are in the high 30´s and the kids are restless and want to go somewhere different, “but it is so hot Mum,” they moan. Throw them in the car and stove away in the boot a freezer box full of ice cold water and salad sandwiches (low bulk because of the heat and leave the chocolate behind) and some juicy fruit and melon to quench them. Take towels and swim wear or shorts will do. Pack the camera and a book for yourself (just in case your energy level is not the same as theirs.).

Head up the C12 away from Tortosa and turn left off it, up towards Gandesa, (before Benifallet´s Bridge over the River Ebro). Cross over the roundabout of Pinell de Brau and look out for a signpost on the left FONTCALDO. Then 50 metres along the turnoff the road splits, go straight up. The road will wind up and up, but it is a good tarred road and there are places to pull in for oncoming traffic.

When you get to the top, the views are like God´s window. You really have an eagles´ eye view across the most wonderful mountain sceneries.Then the road winds down into a beautiful old volcanic crater and a hermitage that runs along the Canaletes mountain river with welcoming rock pools to swim in and rocks to dive off.

There are pleasant walks along this gorge. Encourage the children to keep their eyes peeled for a variety of wildlife, as this Spa is in a nature Reserve. Hispanic goats will be seen perched on the most precarious, overhanging rockface, looking down very inquisitively as you stroll along. The locals will tell you to look out for “muflon”- wild boar and “paloma torcaz”, badger. If you have time to chatter in Catalan or Spanish, they will tell you amusing tales about when their Grandfather took them out hunting for the first time. (Probably several times – but the first time is the most precious of memories!).

Small animals can also be spotted and great pleasure to the youngsters, rabbits, foxes, hare and even otters. The more entrepid teenagers will marvel at the magnificence of the eagle, the falcon, whereas Papa might be thinking how tasty that partridge would looked served up exquisitely on his dinner plate. Mom, be careful of the steps when you are leaning over with that camera!

Summer is closed “hunting season”, so you have nothing to be warned on that account.

To the right of the rock pools is a stone bath type feature where arthritic people will be seen soaking themselves in the cool mountain waters, reputed to contain healing qualities.

If you are a keen hiker or cyclist you can take the Via Verde or Greenway either from Tortosa or SantJoan and it runs next to this very pleasant and relaxing spot. I have also noticed horseback riders along there too.

There is a large shaded area with communal barbecues and have seen private camping tents there. The Church is small and functional with a freshwater font outside. Cool and straight from the mountains.

If you wish to have a Luncheon then you would be advisable to reserve a table on arrival.Fancy a quick snack and a cool drink, the snack bar is large, clean and friendly. Everything is run by the Church and all the workers are volunteers.

Please remember to cover everyone in waterproof sunblock. Have a play in the rock pools with the kids and then climb out and find somewhere to relax and read, but within reach of keeping a watchful eye on the children.

Read more on the History of this Spa in the Fontcalda Natural Park in Catalan “El Santuari i Balneari de la Fontcalda”

After a good day out, one that need not be expensive, drive home safely and load up those wonderful digital photos into a computer file to e-mail to your friends back “home” or around the world. I still hear children recalling the animals they saw in the “wild” many times over after their visit to this wonderful place.

I too, recommend this place to European tourists that we book into vacational rentals down and a recent family from Belgium, said; “It was the best day out for everyone. We all had so much fun.It was so different to anywhere else.Thank you so much.We would never have found it with out you!”


One Comment Add yours

  1. Bonnie Hunt says:

    Hello…I Googled for hunting boots, but found your page about Fontcalda Spa – a hermitage along Canaletes River-TerraAlta…and have to say thanks. nice read.

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