Circuit of Tossal d’en Grillo

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An adventurous mountain day with a short scramble. Lonely countryside.
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    #Nature Trails

Location of Start - 40.922139, 0.324354
Distance - 14km.
Ascent -750m.
Walking time and total completion time including any stops -  4/6hrs.
Start point - The T333 road between Arnes and Xerta passes a junction to the village of Horta de San Joan. Immediately opposite this junction is a minor road. Take this and 50m further on turn L onto a track. Follow this as it zig-zags down to cross a river and then steeply uphill. Ignore turns to the L and continue on the main track for a further 1km to arrive at the Mas de Sotorres.

Note – times indicated are from the original Spanish guide book used that were not achieved when walked by an elderly English party. They are retained only to give some guidance about the intermediate times taken to reach the features that are mentioned in the description.

Remember that you use these walk guides at your own risk. Take precautions and if unsure – turn back!

Park near the Mas de Satorres appears on the left. By continuing for just a few more metres you will be able to stand at the edge of a very deep valley on the right above cliffs with a waterfall in the middle distance to your left (providing it is flowing!) Now go back to the Mas and follow a track to the right of it uphill and alongside large agricultural terraces. Keep to the left of these and shortly rejoin the track that headed directly up the hill shortly after you started. Follow this to the left and just around the bend at the end of the ridge you will find a track heading more directly uphill on your right with slightly indistinct yellow/white markers. Follow this. The slope soon relents a little.This shortly rejoins a track, next to cultivated fields which are fenced. We keep to the right on a level track and a little further ahead the track comes to a standstill but the yellow/white path and signpost point straight ahead uphill into woodland.  
The footpath becomes stony and difficult. Reach an open stony hillock. Ignore a footpath to the right (with a sign to El Ventador) and continue more steeply uphill on a rocky ridge line and then soon enter woodland. just to the the right of this line. 20min
Pass Cambretes Rocks, small walls of conglomerate next to the path and after climbing below them we continue on the same line to the left. 25min

Reach a viewpoint over the Valley of Cubars and the valley of the Canal. The footpath makes a turn to the right around the ridge line heading towards a col at the foot of the steep face of La Moleta.

After a few more minutes we arrive at the Col de la Ereta (629m) which is directly below the steepening of the ridge line. We now ignore the yellow and white markings, that continue to the right on a route that runs parallel to rio Canaleta. Instead follow the footpath that moves left and directly up the steep ridge line with occasional yellow paint signs. Walk into the forest and climb steeply.

At the foot of a rocky barrier we start up the Pujador de la Mala Dona, an obvious rocky ramp that climbs up the rocks, using an easy terrace line which zig zags back and forth. This is a short scrambling section where hands are useful. After heading right for the second time we follow this line around a rocky corner and out of the barranco. Here we turn back to the left and over an exposed step to join the easier ground – but still steep. The route soon levels off as we contour left through a pretty black pine forest. Ignore any wayward paths encouraging you to climb to the ridge line and continue contouring to the left. There are some small descents. We make a right turn around a rib and the route drops a little. It continues on the flank, in an easterly direction where the forest is predominantly oak. 36min
Reach a pretty col - Lomo de la Moleta - where the views open up and we can take a break. In front of us we see on the left the Mola d'Atans and on the right the Punta de l'Aigua. Now the route descends a little to the right to trace the easiest route through the rocky slope in a broadly E direction. The ridge is always on our left and the summit visible although we never go up to it.  54min
After undulating a little reach a shady corner with varied oak trees. Go up a rocky step and follow the crest, with a straightforward ascent. 65min
Reach a col and crossroads. Ignore a barely visible footpath on the right with its yellow and white waymarks. and instead continue straight ahead, with yellow and white waymarks towards a grassy col that in front. Behind the col are the rocky features of the Punta de L'Aigua. To the left we have the impressive Barranco del Cubars, flanked by limestone walls. Cross a (normally dry) stream bed and go up towards a col. 1hr, 10min
At the col there are the ruins of the Mas de les Creuetes de Lloa on the left. Continue straight ahead on a path with yellow/white cross and follow red waymarks, descending towards a depression. 1hr, 15min
At the bottom of the depression there is an old well and drinking trough. Turn slightly left and climb up steeply on the other side of the depression. 1hr 18min
As the ascent eases follow the line of the barranco de Cubars to your L. 1hr 25min
At a small col descend a little and then continue going up. In front is the col of the Gilaberta and to reach this pass through a pretty pinewood wit intermittent waymarks. 1hr 31min
There is an elaborate metal signpost at the col. To the right is the Punta de l'Aigua. Go up to the left across scree and stones, in the direction of Montsagre d'Horta. 1hr 35min
Reach Col of Atans (good rest spot with its fantastic views) and go straight over and slightly down the other slope. The PR is very indistinct but the path drops to go around a small ridge on the right. Cross the Pla de la Sorda and keep R and descend slightly through a pretty pinewood. 1hr 45min
Reach the source of the Montsagre d'Horta with a metal signpost. Continue straight ahead following the waymarked PR towards the Pla de Ravanals (an open alp like area) and Montsagre de Pauls. 2hrs
Cross the Pla de Ravanals, covered by magnificent pine groves. Just before entering the last forested area there is a path descending to the L which crosses a valley and ascends to a rocky rib on the R. 2hr 5min
Join the vehicle track that comes from the Roig Col and turn left on this and after a few minutes arrive at the end, next to a fire monitoring station. Climb a few meters through rocks to reach the top. 2hr 14min
This is Tossal d'en Grillo (1,071 ms) with its trig point. There is an impressive panorama of the region of the High Terra, in particular along the valley of the Canaleta. In front is a view of the Tossal d'Orta or Santa Barbara mountain, a pyramid that dominates the town of Horta de Sant Joan. Descend and retrace your steps along the track until the first curve and then take the footpath that leaves to the right, following the ridge we came up. Towards the end of this the path drifts off to the left down to a valley bottom but we have to continue ahead along the ridge line on a path that soon disappears. When descent directly from the ridge becomes difficult you can head off slightly to the right, but then turn again to the left to make sure that you more or less arrive at the foot of the ridge in a wooded depression. Now cross this depression for about 100m and then turn right to reach the summit of a ridge line. Continue straight over this for a few metres and you should be able to look to your right and see a line of low crags along the ridge that you have just crossed. If you find yourself directly above these crags then find a safe place to descend. The route now seems quite unlikely, but you must persevere! Follow below these crags to the NE and cross a dry barranco. To your left you can see a steep edge with obvious crags below. Keep well away! Once you have crossed the barranco you must find a set of cairns across the grass to your left. Follow these studiously as they mark the route to descend through the Baixador d'en Valero, an opening in the rock wall and the only route that allows us to descend through the rock wall. There is no possibility of confusion once you have found these cairns. This is an impressive route, but quite safe when you are on the correct line. Follow the cairns initially down to the right but soon turning left down a steep rocky ramp which joins a steep barranco (the one you crossed above!) Now there is some evidence of a man made path although it is broken down in places. Zig zag down on this and then turn to the left immediately below the crag line. 2hr 18min
It's important here to keep just below the crag line on your left. There are all sorts of inviting paths heading off down through the scree but you must rigorously ignore them and continue on your lonely and sometimes nearly invisible tread below the crags. Miraculously every now and again waymarks turn up!! Search them out. 2hr 41min
At a small col descend a little, to cross a stone shoot and continue to contour. 2hr 47min
Arrive at another small col and then a stony channel. Look carefully for the yellow and white waymarks to the right of this and descend soon turning L again along a path that has evidence of man made paths in it 2hr 49min
At the foot of the channel continue descending through area that has been affected by fire in the not too distant past. Continue to search out the waymarks! 2hr 53min
As we fight our way down through the scrub the ruins of the Corral of Andill may be visible. The yellow and white waymarks disappear but are replaced by red marks. The footpath becomes wider but steeper, first between scrub and further ahead through a beautiful oak forest, with many different species and many examples of madrono (a sort of wild strawberry tree). Below this we will cross old cultivated terraces. 3hr 3min
Arrive at the ruins of Mas de Silvestre. We continue as the track widens and turns initially slightly to the left and then steadily right across a cultivated plateau. 3hr 21min
 Join a major track junction and turn left. Here all paint marks finish. Follow this main track all the way back to the cars. Ignore anything looking like a more minor track.  3hr 24min
Pass a secondary path on the left and continue straight on. 3hr 25min
Pass a house on the right with a well and continue ahead. 3hr 30min
At a crossing continue on the left ignoring the track that continues straight ahead. The track does a loop to cross a barranco and continues contouring between pine trees. 3hr 32min
Pass next to ruins (on the left). A few metres ahead we ignore a track to the left. 3hr 36min
Arrive at the main track that goes towards Mas de Satorres and turn left. 3hr 52min
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