By day three we had all gelled with our bikes so we took to the mountains to see more of the real motorcycling gems of this area. Our route today was from the house to Querol – Santa Colomba De Queralt – Sarral – El Pla De Santa Maria – and back to base again creating a distance of 82km. The ride takes us past Santes Creus, home to an extraordinary monastery that dates to the 12th century. This is the resting place of two of Spain’s Medieval Kings and Queens and is well worth a trip! From here we headed to the castle village of Querol up the beautiful winding roads of the Querol valley.
Wide open views from the mountain pass beckon at each turn as we climbed higher, reaching an altitude of nearly 2,500 feet along the way. These roads are virtually empty of cars, but is unsurprisingly popular with the local bikers! These roads are perfect for biking, being both smooth and mountainous. The twisting road gives way to more open sweeping bends and more climbs, giving breath-taking views to the far distant Mediterranean. After our initial ride of 35 minutes, we dropped from the highest point to stop at the astonishing castle and ruined church of Santa Perpetua De Gaia. The castle dates to 1015 and looks like it belongs on a film set! It’s one remaining tower stands tall and impossibly slender, dominating the valley that it overlooks, whilst the remains of the castle stretch to the very edges of vertical cliffs on three sides. The views from here are extraordinary and we spent an enchanted 45 minutes exploring and photographing this exceptional scene before proceeding to the church, which is also unique. Built in the 1500’s it was abandoned over 100 years ago and now stands empty and partly ruined.
Much of the original plasterwork remains intact despite parts of the roof falling in and one can still imagine what the original place looked like. In any other place, this building would be boarded up and fenced off, but here we are free to roam with care. From Santa Perpetua De Gaia we travelled a further 15 minutes to the medieval walled town of Santa Colomba De Queralt. The focal point of the old town is a traditional square where people and their children meet to talk, socialise and play. It is a perfect place to quietly sit, enjoy a coffee and watch the simple life carrying on as it no doubt has for centuries. After our coffee we walked onwards to explore the other two squares of the town and its ancient cobbled streets where we were delighted to find a shop that has been preserved by the local WI as a living museum. Here they display many examples of the original stock from biscuits to insecticide, medicine to toys.
It was clearly a shop for all reasons and is a time capsule well worth visiting. After our exploration we returned to the square to eat, and after a light meal of cheese, ham and bread we returned home on a slightly larger, open, fast sweeping road, making this a route of two halves, starting twisty and mountainous, ending open and fast.