Les Pardines path
This easy hike through the parish of Encamp is an ideal way to pass a summer afternoon. The design of the route includes passing under the water pipe that feeds Engolasters lake, coming all the way from Ransol in the parish of Canillo. This pipe was built by FHASA, the old Andorran power company that currently operates under the name FEDA.
The starting point is located at the intersection of the Els Cortals road and Les Pardines farm (a little before the 3 km mark on the CS-220), where you will find a large car park. The completely flat path is littered with resting areas that have water fountains and tables. Throughout the hike, you will walk along shaded areas with constant and spectacular views of the village of Encamp. At the end of the path you’ll come to Engolasters lake, which is really a dam reservoir for generating and providing electricity for part of the Andorran population. At this point, you will see two restaurants where you may stop for a refreshment or try the barbequed meats. You’ll take the same route on the way back.
During the hike, there are rest areas with water fountains. There are also panels giving information on local fauna and flora, and let’s not forget the shrine to Our Lady of Ecology
Pardines: From the Latin word partita, which refers to a place where the ruins of a building are found.
In the parish of Encamp, you’ll find Engolasters lake, fed by the Engolasters river, which itself is a tributary of the Valira river. Legend has it that there was a town full of unfaithful here that was flooded over by the waters. At night, witches met secretly here to bathe naked in the lake. Men from Engolasters would sneak out to spy upon these witches, all the while knowing that if they were caught they would be turned into a black cat. It is said that witches disappeared around the beginning of the 20th century, coinciding with the installation of the antennas for R?dio Andorra and the construction of the FHASA hydroelectric dam, which opened in 1934.
To build the Engolasters dam, FHASA built a penstock, which starts in the lake and goes down to the hydroelectric plant (built along the CG-2). This penstock takes advantage of the largest of the three existing elevation drops in Andorra, and therefore is capable of producing more electricity. The penstock flows out of a 158-km2 basin, with 27 belonging to the Madriu river and 10 to the Perafita river. The combined flows of the Valira and Madriu rivers join in Engolasters, where the water pressure is lowered via a 1,250-metre pipe connected to the hydroelectric plant
Engolasters: This word could come from the Proven?al estier, meaning “canal’” or “stream”, and which originally comes from the Latin word aestuarium. It may also come from the Latin word aquale, meaning “pot of water”, which would have been Romanised to give the sense of a “trickle” of water.
El Campeā springs
This route through the large El Campe? forest will treat you to an authentic garden of flowers: gentians, pasqueflowers, snowbells, primroses and kingcups (Caltha palustris) can all be found growing around the springs, among other species.
In this forest you can find the capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus), a bird very sensitive to human presence, and therefore protected. For this reason, it is important that you do not leave the marked path and that you try to hike without making much noise.
The capercaillie finds this forest to be a nice place to live: as a rather open mountain pine forest (Pinus uncinata) with an undergrowth rich in bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) and alpenrose (Rhododendron ferrugineum), and to lesser degree patches of silver fir (Abies alba), it has steep enough slopes to help the bird to take flight in case of danger. Although it is a sedentary bird, it can make small flights from between 10 to 20 km. In winter, the capercaillie is found in areas between 1,800 and 2,200 meters above sea level. They nest on the ground in small holes covered with moss, twigs and feathers from the female. The nests are usually found at the foot of a conifer or some type of shelter, and are seemingly poorly camouflaged.
El Campeā springs: From the parisyllabic word campadā, a name for someone from Encamp, abbreviated as encampad?
Les Abelletes lake
Les Abelletes lake is at the head of the Arieja river basin, which is a tributary of the Garonne river. This river is a natural line that sketches out the French- Andorran border, providing it with both an Andorran and French side.
Les Abelletes lake often plays host to fishermen looking for trout. In Andorra, apart from river trout (Salmo trutta fario) and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), you can also find brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis). In the southern part of the country, otters (Lutra lutra) have also been spotted.
The starting point is at the Pas de la Casa ski resort, and from there you’ll climb up along the Arieja riverbank until reaching Les Abelletes lake. This is a quite level and short path, which offers spectacular views of a lovely Pyrenean mountain lake.
To reach the top, keep snaking up until you come to Els Isards pass, where you’ll have to turn to the left until you come to Les Abelletes peak (2,596 m).
Arieja: This river hardly touches Andorran territory. Its name most likely comes from the Latin aurífera (aurigera), meaning “golden
Bony de les Neres
This climb, approximately 1,000 metres of difference in elevation, can be completed from both the parishes of Ordino and Encamp.
The climb first takes you to the historic site at Les Bons, which includes the 10thcentury church of Sant Rom?, a 13th-century defence tower, a water tank with an irrigation system carved out in the rock, the remains of a 17th-century strong house that bears witness to local civil architecture and two modern-day dovecots. Inside the church, they have conserved the stone altar, reproductions of 12thcentury Romanesque paintings by the Mestre de Santa Coloma representing the apocalyptic visions of Saint John and 16th-century paintings in the Gothic tradition with varied religious iconography.
As you come upon Ordino pass and before you enter the forest surrounding the Les Neres spur, you’ll see an orientation table and magnificent views of both the northern and eastern valleys. As you climb, the ever-present forest will offer opportunities to catch a glimpses of local birds like the common goldcrest (Regulus regulus) and the great tit (Parus ater), or little animals like the red fox (Vulpes vulpes), the European hare (Lepus europaeus) and the marten (Martes martes).
Bony de les Neres: From the Latin word nigra, meaning “black”. The etymology of bony is not known, although some historians state that it is certainly of pre-Roman origin, based on bunnia, meaning “an elevation on isolated land”.
Els Agols refuge and peak
This route goes through a very beautiful, forested area typical of Andorra. The dominant tree throughout the route is the mountain pine (Pinus uncinata), but you can also find a deciduous tree, the mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia). This elegant and thick tree produces a small red berry that is part of the diet of local foxes. For this reason it has received the name moxiera de guilla, which means “fox berry” in Catalan.
Arriving at the refuge, on a beautiful high plateau you’ll be able to see a wide range of colours coming from many different species of flowers. There is the globeflower (Trollius europaeus), with its brilliant yellow colour, the fragile and spectacular monkshood (Aconitum napellus), the kingcup (Caltha palustris), which grows along riverbanks with yellow-orange petals and finally the stemless gentian (Gentiana acaulis), with no stem and a captivating blue tone.
Agols: Local plural variant of the word aigual, meaning “swamp” or “pond”.
Within the parish of Encamp, the valley that opens to the right and leads to Port d’Envalira, heading toward France, hides a very interesting route through a series of interconnected lakes, with unnamed lakes, streams, rocky cliffs, large meadows and wide panoramic views, all nestling in the heart of the largest granite glacial cirque in Andorra. The GR-7 and GRP share a path through this cirque, which has peaks higher than 2,700 metres, as is the case of Pessons pass (2,816 m).
These landscapes are populated with the beaked sedge (Carex rostrata), and the lakes teem with white water buttercups (Ranunculus aquatilis), which fill them with white when in bloom. Among the woody vegetation, it is easy to hear small birds like the chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) or the great tit (Parus ater). This hike is possible for anyone to do, allowing both the most cautious and the most adventurous to enjoy the views of Pessons cirque, as it is easily accessible and with quite varied landscapes.
If you would like to do the complete route, keep in mind that with a change of altitude of 700 metres and six kilometres of hiking until Pessons pass, this route is only for fairly prepared hikers, although the steepest incline is at the start.
Pessons: Stack, grass stack, straw and, by extension, rocky terrain. Here it is used to refer to the glacial deposits of the cirque and alluvial terraces of this type.
This place has a special history, as it borders three countries (Andorra, France and Spain). It for this reason that a granite monolith was engraved here.
The Cam? dels Bons Homes (“Way of the Good Men”; GR-107), coming from La Llosa valley, also passes by this place: it supposedly follows the historic path that the Cathars took in their escape from Montsegur Castille near Foix, to Berga during the middle of the
The beginning of the route is at the Grau Roig resort in the Grandvalira skiing area. After a half-hour hike, you’ll reach the glacial Pessons lakes. This is the largest group of lakes in the country. As you keep going up, you’ll discover more of the cirque.
You’ll be surrounded by an alpine landscape full of mountain pines (Pinus uncinata) and bushes like alpenrose (Rhododendron ferrugineum) and common juniper (Juniperus communis). The rest of the landscape is covered with granite rock that bears horizontal marks, signs of glacial movement from the last ice age around 10,000 years ago.
Portella Blanca: This is said of relatively easy passage through the mountains. Etymology: From the Latin portus, which has the same meaning
El Cubil Petit
Here you can see the impressive crest that joins El Cubil Gran and El Cubil Petit. This is a very difficult path and it is better not to go unless you have the right equipment.
This is the lowest of the five peaks that form the Pessons cirque. In order, from west to east, these five mountains are El Cubil Petit, El Cubil Gran, Pressons peak, ?liga peak and Montmal?s peak. To reach El Cubil Petit, you’ll have to go up to the Grandvalira ski resort, in the Grau Roig area. Once there, take the path heading west and follow it until you come to a second car park, called El Cubil. Although there is no marked path to reach the peak, it is not hard to find from there. Start heading southeast. You are now heading to El Cubil Petit, following the pass.
From the chair lift station to the peak, there are no more than 300 metres in difference of elevation, though the incline is quite normal. Once at the top, you’ll be able to enjoy some splendid views of Pessons cirque.
Cubil: A typical Andorran place name, with a semantic change referring to a peak or hill that means “hole, bed, depression”, etc. From the Latin cubile, which has the same meaning.
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