Campdevànol to Sant Pere d’Aüira is a great choice for an easy day’s hiking, accessible by train from Barcelona.
Campdevànol is a small village in the province of Girona, situated between the larger towns of Ripoll and Ribes de Freser.
Nestled on the edge of the Pyrenees, and easily accessible by train, it’s a great spot for a day out from Barcelona. There are lots of routes of varying length and difficulty.
The name of the town means “Vandal Country”, as the area was originally populated by the notorious Germanic tribe.
It’s famous for its ironwork and annual festival of traditional dancing “The Gala” which takes place at the end of September.
Campdevànol is a great option for an easy day’s hiking. You get breathtaking views of iconic peaks such as Puigmal (2913m) and Pedraforca (2506m), without actually having to break out the crampons and piolet…
There are several nice bars, cafes and bakeries for refuelling and toilet needs pre and post-hike.
Circular hike from Campdevànol to Sant Pere d’Aüira
This is a nice easy 12km route which takes you from the village (738m) up the local peak (1100m), where you’ll find a beautiful Roman-era hermitage. It was first built in the 13th century, with additional rooms added in the 17th century.
This offers the perfect spot for a picnic, with spectacular views stretching all the way to the mythical Catalan mountain of Pedraforca.
The spectacular views don’t end there though, as just around the corner you’ll find the “Pla de la Tomba” (Plain of the Tomb). From this rocky balcony on the edge of the Ribes valley, you can see the giant peaks of Puigmal, Taga and Sant Amand up close, and in the distance the silhouette of Montseny.
Start point: Campdevànol Train Station
You can catch the train from Sants, Catalunya, Arc de Triomf or Sagrera-Meridiana. The journey is approximately 2 hours and tickets cost €8.40 each way at the time of writing. Make sure to check the timetable as trains are not frequent, and note that there is a different schedule for Sundays and Bank Holidays.
Stage 1: Campdevànol Train Station to Sant Pere d’Aüira
From the station, cross the railway line via the level crossing and head for the small street leading uphill on the right.
From here you’ll see the signs for Sant Pere d’Aüira and the red and white GR and yellow PR markers. You can follow either. The route on the GPS is actually the old GR route, which has now moved to a parallel track. Don’t worry too much if you deviate on the way up, as all roads lead to roman hermitage…
Stage 2: Sant Pere d’Aüira to Pla de La Tomba
The next section is a little easier to get lost. After descending the stairs from Sant Pere you’ll come to an intersection of forest roads. Take the one that goes down to the right marked with a yellow X. This just means it’s not teh official PCR route, not that there’s no access.
A short way down the track at the first corner you’ll see a steep single track leading uphill. Follow this path up to the Pla de la Tomba and enjoy the spectacular views. The council have put handy information boards that identify all the peaks.
Stage 3: Pla de La Tomba to Campdevànol Train Station
The way back is fairly straightforwards as you have the village in sight most of the way. Just follow the yellow PCR markers and signs for Campdevànol.
This is the most technical part of the hike, with some steep descents with loose rock and sand underfoot. Hiking poles are a good idea if you’re a little unsteady on technical trails.
When you reach the farmer’s field with cows at the bottom of the long descent, don’t follow the tractor trail all the way to the railway line (as I have done twice). Keep an eye out for the yellow markers that take you to a path through the woods about half way down the field.
This path winds its way up and down through the woods on the side of the Ribes Valley until you arrive back to the village. Hopefully with enough time for a cold beer before you take the train back!
Flora and Fauna
The countryside around Campdevànol is more agricultural than wild. If you want to see wild beasts, better to go one stop further on the train to Ribes de Freser, then head up into Vall de Núria.
You’ll still see plenty of animals along this route though, albeit the domestic kind. Cows, sheep and horses aplenty.
Vegetation wise, the lower areas are thick with oak and maple trees. You’ll see two types of oak tree. “Roure” which are the same species you find in Britain, and “Alzina”, which have a darker, spikier leaf a bit like holly. Thus unsurprisingly in English they’re called a Holly Oak.
On the higher slopes, you’ll find plenty of pines and juniper bushes. In Spring the meadows are full of beautiful wildflowers.
When to go?
This walk is good any time of year. You may find snow and ice in winter, but nothing requiring anything more than a decent pair of warm, waterproof boots. Summer can bring hot weather, and don’t forget that at 1000m the UV is stronger than at sea level. Also, afternoon thunderstorms happen almost daily in July and August, so don’t forget to take a waterproof jacket!