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La duna continental
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Route to the continental dune

Route
24/09/2016
Index card

Introduction

Walking on the Dune

A limestone massif towering above the plain, the Montgrí. A great river which was redirected from its course, the Ter. A wild wind moving the sand, the tramuntana. These are the main factors which, in the medieval period, created these inland dunes which then spread moving uncontrollably to the south, swallowing everything in their path.

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  • Typology
    Anti-clockwise circular
  • Difficulty
    Easy
  • Duration
    2 hours
  • Slope
    100.00 meters
  • Distance
    4.00 km
  • Theme
    Flora and fauna
    Geologia
    Environment
    Landscaping
  • Activity
    By foot
  • Rating

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Description

Walking on the Dune

Ponç Hug, the Count of Empúries, changed the route of the Ter in around 1302. At the level of the town of Verges, dams redirected the waters to the south of the Montgrí Massif. This was when the inland dune started to form. The dry river bed was no longer a barrier to the movement of the sands deposited by the Muga, the Fluvià, and the Ter itself. Transported and piled up by the tramuntana wind, several large mobile dunes advanced until the end of the nineteenth century, causing various problems for agriculture and the population. These dunes covered up to 340 hectares, advancing by 16 metres per year on average.

In 1882 the forest engineer Primitiu Artigas i Codina suggested setting up a special comission to deal with the dunes. In 1895 the forest engineer Xavier de Ferrer i Lloret started a long process of forest engineering to turn the dunes into a pine forest.

The decision was taken to plant European beachgrass (Ammophila arenaria) on the inland dune, which currently has a maximum depth of 30 metres. This species is part of the plant communities of dunes. European beachgrass was planted in bunches arranged in lines perpendicular to the direction of the tramuntana wind, with windbreaks constructed previously.

It was then reforested by planting tree and shrub species which can still be seen today: Conifers like Aleppo pines (Pinus halepensis), stone pines (P. pinea), maritime pines (P. pinaster), cypresses (Cupressus sempervirens) and Phoenician junipers (Juniperus phoenicea). Drought-resistant shrubs like mastic (Pistacia lentiscus), Mediterranean buckthorn (Rhamnus alaternus) and Spanish broom (Spartium junceum). Aromatic shrubs and plants like cistuses (Cistus sp.) and rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis).

The route uses narrow paths which follow the crests and gullies of the dunes. You walk on the sand, now fixed by the roots of the vegetation.

Tips

ROUTE

  • The first stretch is on a paved track. The rest of the route follows narrow sandy paths and unpaved tracks.
  • This route does not feature major climbs or descents.

WATER

  • Although there is a fountain with treated water at the starting point, we recommend taking water with you.
  • The fountains you will find or which are signposted during the route are not guaranteed to be safe to drink and are often dry.

 PRECAUTIONS

  • Do not leave the marked paths; the ground in the dunes is very fragile.
  • Respect the plants and fauna. Each plant has an important role in retaining the soil of the dunes.   
  • This is a natural park. Respect the reccomendations and requirements of the rules.

WEATHER

  • In the summer, even though the route is in a forest, it can be hot in the middle of the day.
  • In the winter, on days with the tramuntana wind, wear suitable clothing.

TERRAIN

  • The terrain is sandy, dry and comfortable and has open and well-maked paths.

EQUIPMENT

  • Light comfortable footwear.
  • A camera and map of the area might be useful.

OTHER FACILTIES 

  • Where you park your car, at the Coll de les Sorres, there is a picnic area with a fountain, tables and bins.
  • On almost all of the route, you will find information boards and signs showing the routes you should not follow.

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What is there

What to see in: Route to the continental dune

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Inland dune

Point of interest
Geology
24/09/2016

At this point the eroded path reveals the dune’s sand, which comes from the beaches of the Gulf of Roses. At the start of the fourteenth century, Ponç Hug, the Count of Empúries, changed the course of...

The pine forest

Point of interest
Flora
24/09/2016

The pine forest was planted as the last step in stabilising the dune. Grassy species were planted first, such as European beachgrass (Ammophila arenaria), a pioneering rhyzomatic grass in dune areas....

Cork oak and common smilax

Point of interest
Flora
24/09/2016

At this point, to the left of the route an old cork oak (Quercus suber) sinks its roots into the sandy ground. From the family of the Fagaceae, cork oaks, which originated in the western Mediterranean...

En Xeu’s hut

Point of interest
Environment
24/09/2016

In the middle of the pine wood, among Mediterranean buckthorn, mastic plants and kermes oaks there is a large dry stone hut. En Xeu’s hut has a circular floorplan and is very large. Its maximum height...

Maritime pine (Pinus pinaster)

Point of interest
Flora
24/09/2016

Along with Aleppo pines and stone pines, maritime pines (Pinus pinaster) were planted, some of which have grown to great heights. There is an example before you with a very straight reddish trunk some...

A gully in the sand

Point of interest
Landscapes
24/09/2016

Despite being of a modest size, the dune is big enough for small-scale orography to create crests and gullies. Here, we are at the lowest point of one of these gullies. Even though sand makes for a...

Fountaine d'en Reixaquet

Point of interest
Environment
24/09/2016

In the middle of the maritime pine wood, at the bottom of a gully in the dune, is the fountain of en Reixaquet. The fountain is a curious dry stone structure which delves into the ground in search of...

Service tree (Sorbus domestica)

Point of interest
Flora
24/09/2016

The trail now reaches the track leading to Sobrestany and follows it uphill. At this point, there are pretty shrubs from the rose family. The service tree (Sorbus domestica) has an edible fruit...

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