Home > Destinations, Events > Getting Close-serola, or when Talk Walking headed for the hills

Getting Close-serola, or when Talk Walking headed for the hills

Evarist March of NaturalWalks joined our group in the afternoon and led us “by the most natural route possible” from the top of the Collserola park down to the station for our suburban train back to Barcelona.  One of the most interesting facets of the conversation along the way related to public attitudes to this Natural Park.  While it seems much of the media and public discourse on the park is negative, pointing to issues such as the risk of forest fires and wild boars encroaching on peripheral residential areas, few stories celebrate the beauty and mere existence of this diverse natural area so close to the city.

I had been up to the park a few weeks before, taking a visiting friend up there.  It was by no means my first trip, but this time I was struck by my ignorance of the environment I was in.  Such ignorance is hardly uncommon, however.

Ring-fenced by motorways and a metropolis of more than 3 million, Parc Collserola is the biggest metropolitan park in the world, equivalent to twenty-two Central Parks (New York).  The Carretera de les Aigües–an accessible, broad 20-km track with panoramic views of sea and city–is very popular with cyclists, runners, walkers and horse-riders.  Yet despite its proximity to the city and the estimated two million visits it receives a year, the interior of the park is relatively unknown to many Barcelona-dwellers.

A day out in Parc Collserola to enjoy and better understand the park, its nature and use

Of course, it takes time–in books and in the field–to develop the kind of knowledge and familiarity you need to be able to interpret what you can see, hear, smell, touch and even taste in the Collserola Park.  So to get to some of that knowledge quicker, I got together a group of friends of the Xarxa de Turisme Responsable/ICRT Barcelona and we headed into the hills to “get closer” to the park, hence the droll name for this Facebook Group event.  Amongst us were an ornithologist, a botanist (Evarist), a landscape architect, a photographer and a counsellor.  And with a little pre-trip reading, we were set up for some interesting observations.  These notes offer a snapshot of what followed:

—     leaving behind the noise of the ring-road and entering “another place”.

—     no hoopoes this time–they’re migratory, suppose it was time they’d moved on.

—     a splendid garden, or a path up a south-facing valley where lavender, broom and a dozen other flowering plants and shrubs I can’t name perform for us in warm sunshine?

—     rock roses displaying their papery petals

—     hearing about the sex lives of different pine trees.

—     Caça Controlada, i.e. yet more “controlled hunting” space, hearing about Franco’s trophy hunter scheme, and reflecting on its legacy–to this day is this a threat to ecological sustainability in Spain’s “natural areas”?

—     rich earthy smells on narrow paths through low pine scrub–it rained plentifully the week before–this is where you could imagine the threat of fire exists after long hot dry spells.

—     multifarious birdsong just about everywhere we walk.

—     a woodpecker drills for food–they’re indicators of forest health, explains Diana, although a handful of Asian and African species are known to have adapted to forest plantations.

—     forest in recovery, yet perceived by some as bosc brut (“dirty woodland? Scrubby, perhaps?) who perhaps don’t understand or don’t value the processes of succession.

—     more honeysuckle–it’s been in abundance–sweet droplets within

—     Evarist identifies an orchid, Limodorum abortivum, by the footpath not from the park’s exit.

—     legs good, but head weary–wear hat next time.

Some of the thoughts that we had shared among ourselves by the end of the day:

…Let’s hear less aprovechar (take advange of or make the most of in English) and more valorar (value or appreciate) in connection with the park.  In other words, let’s hear more about the luxury of having such a rich diversity of natural life on our doorstep, and less about it being problematic.

…Let’s encourage a considerate and better-informed approach to enjoying the park, so that the challenges to the area’s ecological integrity might be more easily overcome.

…And let’s do this again sometime, perhaps towards the end of a long summer evening when the “unseen” wildlife emerges.

Alex Florez posted some excellent photos of the day’s walk here.

Local nature guide, Lucy Brzoska, posts superb photos and blogs specifically on this natural area at IberiaNature.

You might also be interested to know that plans are being made to “bring the park closer” to its urban neighbours via 16 entry “gates”.

This day out follows on from “Talk Walking”, when responsible tourism advocates and practitioners from the ICRT and other organisations gathered in Barcelona to talk urban tourism, heritage and managing better places for people to live in and visit.

ROBIN BARDEN

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  1. Diana Flora Padrón Novoa
    31/05/2012 at 15:49

    Sobre aves del Colserolla:
    1.- Ruiseñor del Japón (Leiothrix_lutea)
    Origen: Himalaya (Bután, China, Nepal e India) y Birmania. Abundante en el sur de China.
    Entrada en la Península Ibérica: Los primeros ejemplares asilvestrados se observaron en 1993 en Barcelona. Se ha instalado en el Colserolla.

    2.- Abubilla (Upupa epops)
    Es una especie migratoria, que durante el invierno permanece en África, regresando a la Península Ibérica a mediados de la primavera. Se ha constatado como algunos ejemplares permanecen en la Península Ibérica durante el invierno.

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