Cataluña's lakes

Costa Blanca News (South Edition) - - Costa Living - By Dave Jones djones@cb­news.es

WA­TER, wa­ter ev­ery­where….. which comes from the melt­ing snow.

A walk in the Aigüestortes na­tional park in the Pyre­nees of Cataluña means never hav­ing to be out of earshot of the mag­i­cal sound of run­ning wa­ter.

It comes prin­ci­pally from the abun­dant streams that plunge from peaks which soar over 3,000 me­tres. The wa­ter­ways feed the glacial lakes, of which more than 200 can be seen in this area.

The rocky na­ture of the ter­rain means that wa­ter­falls are ten a penny, but – al­though com­mon­place – each new ex­am­ple that ap­pears around the next bend still has the power to take the viewer’s breath away.

And then there is the snow which, even at the be­gin­ning of July, still cov­ers large swathes of the up­per reaches of the moun­tains. There have been many heavy falls over the au­tumn, win­ter and spring and al­though the white stuff does present an ob­struc­tion on some of the higher paths and passes, the sheer joy of see­ing – and rolling in the snow in high sum­mer is some­thing to savour.

The ubiq­ui­tous wa­ter means that flow­ers abound – pinks, pur­ples and yel­lows which con­nive to cre­ate a rain­bow of colours. And per­haps most cap­ti­vat­ing of all is the deep green of the high­moun­tain grass­lands. This pas­ture is en­joyed by the freeroam­ing cat­tle – and ram­blers who love to feel springy turf be­neath their feet.

Not sur­pris­ingly, the Par­que Na­cional de Aigüestortes i Es­tany de Sant Maurici (to give it its full ti­tle) en­joys the high­est level of pro­tec­tion sta­tus in the coun­try. It cov­ers some 14,119 hectares of land in the prov­ince of Lleida.

A good way to ap­proach the western side of the park – and some of the high­est peaks – is via the Vall de Boí. By stay­ing in the vil­lages in the up­per reaches of this valley, the walker is able to launch a daily as­sault on the nu­mer­ous foot­paths which are wait­ing to be ex­plored in the na­tional park.

Read about our routes in next week’s Costa Blanca News.

The Es­tany Ne­gre glacial lake, with the Be­si­berri peaks which reach over 3,000 me­tres in the back­ground

Es­tany Xic glacial lake

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