Chickadees route in Sant Hilari Sacalm
The Ruta de los Carboneros is a circular route that passes through various scenic and heritage points of interest in Sant Hilari Sacalm and Las Guilleries such as the Fuente Picante Spa, the Serrallonga cave, the Foradada rock, the Mas Clavé waterfalls. and the Gorga de la Plana, among others.
The route consists of an itinerary made up of sections of varying levels of difficulty that take advantage of easily accessible forest paths and forest tracks, but there are also sections that follow more complicated steps until they are considered difficult.
Added to the circular itinerary itself, there are different extensions along the route that add additional value to the route. These allow access to special points of the natural and cultural heritage that exist in the area.
The Ruta de los Carboneros allows you to discover the valley of the Riera de Osor, between the municipalities of Sant Hilari Sacalm and Osor, municipalities of traditions linked to their natural environment, which are widely represented through the proposed route. The itinerary is located within the protection zone of the Natura 2000 Network and the PEIN zone. This connection between manifestations of such diverse heritage, both natural and cultural, make this area an excellent area to enjoy hiking trails.
The stream of Osor
The municipality of Sant Hilari is granitic in composition, which allows the conservation and retention of abundant water in its subsoil, favoring a series of small streams that release water throughout the year. One of the mightiest river courses in Sant Hilari Sacalm and Las Guilleries is the Riera de Osor. This is the origin of the Plan de las Arenas, at about 1,060 meters of altitude, between the terms of Espinelves and Sant Hilari Sacalm.
Along its route it passes through the municipalities of Sant Hilari, where it takes advantage of new water inlets from the tributaries of Can Manel Muerte, El Soler and Mas Claver, Osor and ends up merging with the Ter within the municipality of Inglés.
The stream is considered a natural and biological connector, as well as a Space of Strategic Interest for connectivity, both on a regional and local scale, since it generates ecological and landscape connections between biologically interesting points with potential, such as the Natural Park of the Volcanic area of la Garrotxa (to the north) and the Montseny Natural Park (to the south).
The main forests that predominate along the route are riparian forests. Specifically, in the itinerary two different categories are distributed: the predominant one is the forest formed by alders (Alnus glutinosa) where there are also poplar (Populus nigra) and green nettle (Lamium flexuosum) from the rainy lowland and the secondary one is that which It is made up of ash trees (Fraxinus) from the Pyrenees and the northern Catalan mountains.
The rest of the forest mass that can be found during the itinerary presents a great variety of habitats thanks to the morphological characteristics of the area and the human activity that has traditionally taken place. The most abundant are the mountain holm oaks (Quercetum mediterraneo-montanum) with pines (Pinus), acidophilic chestnut trees (Aesculus hippocastanum) of mid-mountain and lowland areas, the oak forests of sessiliflora oak (Quercus petraea) and acidophilic beech pyrinaicooccitanes.
At the shrub level, the abundance of boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) stands out in areas near the stream bed. Unfortunately, the populations of this shrub are seriously affected and deteriorated by the proliferation of the boxwood butterfly (Cydalina perspectalis). Along the route you can also find different species of orchids (Orchidaceae), some of which are protected due to their vulnerability, and other species such as the Bone Ear (Ramonda myconi) which is an endemic species of the north east peninsular appreciated by your capabilities in medicine.
Within these habitats, two species stand out due to their relationship with some traditional forest exploitation activities: the holm oak that had been used by charcoal makers for the production of charcoal and the chestnut that had been used as raw material by roders, both activities are closely linked to Sant Hilari and the Guilleries.
The fauna of this area is very diverse as it is associated with the presence of the different habitats that have been mentioned above. Most of the species that can be found are relatively common in the Catalan territory, but that does not diminish its diversity.
In the stream areas and closer to these, the presence of some species of fish such as the chub (Leuciscus cephalus) and the mountain barbel (Barbus meridionalis) stand out. Amphibians such as the southern frog (Hyla meridionalis), the midwife toad (Alytes obstetricans) and the marbled newt (Triturus marmoratus) are also found. They are all of special interest.
As for the reptiles, you can find the European pond turtle (Emys orbicularis), the green snake (Malpolon monspessulanus) and the snake (Elaphe scalaris), lizards such as the Iberian (Podarcis hispanica) and the rocker (Pordacis muralis), among others.
It should also be mentioned that this environment is rich in the presence of birds. Depending on the habitat you can find the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) and the alcotán (Falo subbuteo), the gray heron (Ardea cinerea), the kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), the lesser beak (Dendrocopos minor), the tawny owl (Strix aluco ), blackbird (Turdus merula), solitary rocker (Monticola solitarius), woodcock (Scolopax rusticola) and several chickadees (Parus spp.), etc.
It is also important to highlight two species of mammals very present in the territory of the Guilleries, in general: the fox or fox (Vulpes vulpes) a species that has given its name to the territory because the place name of Guilleries symbolizes the land of foxes since they used to abound in this zone
The Spicy Fountain
The old spa of Fuente Picante is a building located 4km from the town of Sant Hilari in the direction of Osor. It was one of the most famous spas in Spain at the beginning of the 20th century, as it was recognized for its mineral-medicinal water sources.
In 1880 when its waters were declared of public utility, in order to increase the comfort of the vacationers who visited them often, a hotel was built with 250 beds, a lounge-restaurant, a large dining room, a chapel, a party room, a billiards, stage, mail service, tennis courts and large gardens where a thousand and one leisure activities were organized. Such was its fame that this place was one of the first to have electricity thanks to a water coil and a telephone line.
Currently, the Picante Fountain is an essential tourist point of interest for any visitor to the area since it allows knowing the history of Sant Hilari and trying the different sources of mineral-medicinal water that were prescribed to those people with liver diseases, cholelithiasis and also to cure stone, kidney and urinary tract disease.
Ribot Lock or Picante Fountain Swamp
Past the Fuente Picante building is the Ribot lock or the Fuente Picante reservoir. This was built as a dam to accumulate water. The set of facilities of the Islas de Arriba was the point where the turbines that generated electricity were located. Initially, this facility only supplied electricity to the Fuente Picante spa, but shortly after its commissioning, electricity generation was expanded to be able to supply current to the entire Hilarienca municipality.
The Boscà Mill
El Molino de Boscà was formerly a flour mill that took advantage of the force of the water of the Riera de Osor to make the mills work and work the wheat to obtain flour. The earliest documented reference is from 1480.
Currently, the complex is divided into two parts: the industrial one, where the mill was next to the stream and the house, a little higher. The current remains have undergone modifications over the years, but the most important was in 1826, which can be verified by the recording on a stone lintel of the industrial part.
Along the route you can see samples of cultural heritage linked to the traditional crafts of the Guilleries. Specifically, in the most difficult section of the itinerary, it is possible to identify elements related to the trades of charcoal maker and roder, two trades that have disappeared due to their loss of usefulness towards new technologies and the new resources that emerged throughout the 20th century..
You can see the remains of an old original barrack and next to it you can still identify the remains of a coal plaza. The charcoal burners cut down the trees, collected the firewood and the cliff to the coal square. There they built a pile and later lit it and started the cooking process (slow combustion) to obtain charcoal.
They used to be built near fountains or streams where you could get water, both to drink and to control the coal bunker. The barrack or cabin used to be a simple construction where four or six men lived for weeks or the entire time that the coal campaign lasted. These could be two wall-roofs of logs covered with branches with a layer of earth that waterproofed the height or they could be more complex made with cross beams, dry stone walls, chimney, compartments separated with a cloth, etc.
The roders used to work in groups. They cut 4-year-old chestnut trees and he worked in the workplaces until they obtained the roller formed by a set of cescles. The objective was to obtain a material that was used to make boxes of herring or grapes, ceramic containers and wine boots by webbing.
The work of the roders was mostly done in the forest, but unlike the charcoal burners it did not require additional construction apart from the work benches. It is for this reason that there are currently no visible remains within the forest.
Between 1890 and 1920, the Rodellaire industry experienced its peak. It should be noted that the trade of the roders generated the first workers' societies that defended the trade and fought for fairer wages.
The Foradada Rock
La Roca Foradada is a block of leucogranit about 8-10 meters high and about 6 meters wide. It is located on the left bank of the Riera de Osor, very close to the mouth of the Mas Clavé stream. It gets its name from the space left at the base of the rock.
This is how Dr. Antoni Bartomeus described it in the document of the Sant Hilari Sacalm conference at the beginning of the 20th century that was held at the Excursionist Center of Catalonia in 1905: "We contemplate a colossal, immense rock giant: the Foradada Rock, which has detached from the top of the mountain attracted by the poetry of this place, and so as not to desecrate the purity of the murmuring waters, instead of lying on its bed, it respectfully sits on some small pebbles contenting itself to listen to your sighs and your melodies ".
The cave that hides behind the Forada Rock is known as the Serrallonga Cave. It is a block of leucogranite that, having detached and displaced from its original place, has left a sufficiently large space in its basal part so that it could be used as a refuge.
In this rock, remains of bell-shaped ceramics were found, deposits from the transition between the third and second millennium BC. As mentioned in the book Sant Hilari Sacalm, capital of the Guilleries by Ángel Serradesanferm and Antoni Pladevall: "The Guilleries have always been lands with little human occupation, since their physical-geographical characteristics have never facilitated settlement. Few are the vestiges that we find and less in the term of Sant Hilari. "
This space could have been a hiding place for the well-known bandit Joan Sala, alias Serrallonga. Joan Sala i Ferrer, son of Joan Sala and Joana Ferrer, was born in La Sala de Viladrau in 1594. Working in the field in Can Tarrés he met Margarita Cortadas Serrallonga, heiress of Mas Serrallonga de Querós (currently, within the municipality of Sant Hilari). Joan Sala and Margarita were married in the church of San Martín de Querós. From this moment the bandit began to be known by the name of Serrallonga.
Riera de Mas Clavé
Right between the Roca Foradada and the Cueva de Serrallonga is the mouth of the Mas Clavé stream. This is characterized by having six waterfalls in a row that adding them all have a drop of 145 meters.
Salto de Mas Clavé
Following a path that runs along the Mas Clavé stream about 100 meters upstream, you can reach the first waterfall. This has a height of 15 meters high.
Viewpoint of the Esqueis de la Coma
Following the indication that marks the path to reach the viewpoint, you can access two viewpoints with views of the Esqueis de la Coma. These are located between the municipalities of Sant Hilari Sacalm and Osor.
Gorga de la Plana
The Plana gorge is located just at the end of the marked route. This is characterized by being quite wide and by its two small waterfalls.
This gorge is delimited by a stone wall in the upper part of the stream and in the lower part there is an area with sand where it can be accessed at the foot of the dewlap. The depth of the water is higher than the average for the course of the Riera de Osor and, on the other hand, the speed at which the water moves is lower.
Once you reach this pool, the way back from the route begins.
Currently, there are two different options: you can go back the way out or you can continue following the indications for the circular route that leads to another of the Mas Clavé falls. It should be mentioned that this last possibility has a considerable unevenness.
Source: Sant Hilari Sacalm Town Council