At the foot of the Cavall Bernat de Montserrat
It could seem that the least known and often wildest part of Montserrat is the westernmost area, between Can Maçana and Sant Jerònim. But between Sant Jerònim and the Monastery we also find well-unpublished routes and solitary strength with spectacular views of the entire Tebaida area, and especially on the most emblematic rock in the entire massif, the Cavall Bernat.
Difficulty: low-medium. It does not present any special difficulty but it is wilder than the routes that go to Sant Jerònim.
Difference in altitude: 650 meters
Time: 1h15 'uphill (1h30' at a gentle pace or 50 'at an agile pace) Between 1h15' and 2h back on the circular route.
Kilometers: 13 km.
Variants: there are many variants: from the Pla de Santa Anna you could follow all the hermitages of the Plan de la Trinidad (Sant Dimes, Santa Creu, Santísima Trinidad). You could also go up the Camino Viejo de Sant Jerònim and do the route in reverse, or shorten the route and return along the Camino Viejo de Sant Jerònim instead of the route to the Funicular and Sant Miquel. On the other hand, from the Coll de Sant Salvador you can go up to the Elephant or from the junction of the Camino Nuevo with the Camino Viejo de Sant Jerònim, you can reach the climax of the massif in about 20 minutes.
You can start from the Monastery or from outside the paid parking area. From the Monastery car park, run the route about 30 'in total, but leaving from below allows us to save € 6 from the car park and enjoy the Degotalls Trail.
So we started by going up the path of the Degotalls, well indicated and well-trodden. The path leaves a bend in the road and rises steadily until after about 10 min find the path of the Degotalls, where a gentle glide begins on a tourist and emblematic route, in a shady area of curiously sloping oaks.
In about 15'-20 'we will arrive at the foot of the Montserrat Monastery and from there we will go up towards the Old Way of Sant Jerònim, which is taken at the bottom of the enclosure, from some stairs with a fountain. We follow the path of San Jerónimo that climbs with force and with hundreds of steps. We pass through the well-known French Pass that evokes the passage of the Napoleonic troops through Montserrat.
After about 20'-30 '(depending on the rhythm) we will arrive at the Pla de Santa Ana, old remains of the hermitage of Santa Ana. This point is a crossroads. We take the one that goes up to the right, along the Camino de la Raíz that would take us to Santa Cecilia and Can Maçana. We will not go that far, as we will only follow this path for a few minutes. The route continues to climb steeply, with a viewpoint over the Monastery, and soon we find the detour to the left to go to the hermitage of San Benito.
We take the path that goes up to the hermitage of Sant Benet, at the foot of the Prenyada rock. Attention: once at the hermitage, to follow the path you will have to go back about 5 meters until you find again the path that goes up with yellow marks towards the hermitage of San Salvador. We enter a well-preserved oak forest and the path climbs and forks. We follow the route that goes upwards and we begin a "difficult climb" that meanders to bridge the gap to the hermitage of Sant Salvador, very curious as it is built within a cleft in the rock. From the hermitage, we return to the path that in about 5 'will take us to the neck of Sant Salvador, with excellent views of the entire Tebaida region.
Now we go down a good stretch until we reach the neck of the Canal Plana. We should follow the yellow markings that will avoid any deviation. In this place, the most beaten path goes down to the left but we will continue on the right along the ridge all the sawed off of the Fireflies. Occasionally you can see some signs in the form of red dots coming from the roads that drill through the channels from the north slope.
TO the head of 1h30 'on the way we will reach the vicinity of Cavall Bernat. Here we can deviate from the path along a well-marked path that will take us to the foot of Cavall Bernat. We can also contemplate it from the sawmill of the Fireflies to have a more aerial and spectacular view of the whole.
We will return to the original path, following the yellow marks again until the intersection with the path that leads to Sant Antoni, which breaks to the right and follows a holm oak channel with a fairly sharp floor (account) and a significant climb. Here the marks are blue until they reach the hermitage of Sant Antoni, an excellent viewpoint of Cavall Bernat.
We return to the original path and in about 10-15 'we will reach the junction with the Old and New Ways of Sant Jerònim, just after having passed under the Cape of Death. From here we can return to the Monastery by the Old Way (more direct) or take a walk with good views along the New Way that will take us to the plane of the Tarantulas where the Sant Joan funicular is. From here we can go down by funicular (a little hiker option), or along the concrete track that in about 25-30 'reaches the hermitage of Sant Miquel (highly recommended to visit the viewpoint of the Cruz de Sant Miquel, on the right hand side ). And in about 15 'more, we finally arrive at the Monastery, on a route that is really worth it. The return can be done by the road or by the Degotalls road.
Authors photographs and text: Sergi Boixader