We’re in the grip of summer and the risk of suffering heat stroke rises with the temperature. Not everyone likes to go to the beach with its traffic jams and overcrowding, so we’re looking for alternative ways to escape the heat.
Causes of heat stroke
When the air temperature rises to between 35-37 degrees it affects our body’s ability to regulate itself and maintain our temperature within a tolerable range.
As we move beyond these levels, the body’s mechanisms for balancing our temperature can collapse. When our body temperature starts to go up, it tends to rise continuously resulting in illness.
Therefore, it’s very important that when we are exposed to very high temperatures we seek to escape from heat and crowds.
It’s recommended to look for cooler areas where you can spend the hours of extreme heat in a more pleasant way.
So, for those who want a change from the beach and swimming pools, we’ve made a list of places where you can enjoy nature’s freshness.
Vall d’Olzinelles in Sant Celoni: a valley of unique springs and trees.
The valley is unknown to many, but perhaps this is where its charm lies.
To stroll along its paths is to stumble upon fountains, springs, monumental trees, ice wells, stone bridges and a hermitage.
All of this on a flat route with lots of shade.
Escape from the heat into the monumental trees
Among the monumental trees that you’ll find along the way is Alzina de la Pega, thought to be the highest in Catalonia, the Gronxador (swing) chestnut tree with that huge branch that gives it its name and the Pi de las Tres Branques (the three-branch pine), a pine tree famous for having two trunks merged together with a girth of 4.5m. Until recently, this specimen had three trunks that grew out of the same trunk, hence its name, but one was in bad condition and had to be cut.
4 refreshing fountains
The Rectory fountain and the Rector’s fountain can be found in this area. They get their names from the nearby Sant Esteve hermitage, which is another point of interest in the valley.
The third, the Pega fountain, has been dry for years because the channel carrying the water has not been maintained. This, together with the oak tree, some ovens on the path leading to Can Valls and the Pega pond, also empty, form a meeting place where it’s easy to imagine people sharing a light meal on cool summer evenings in the days when people got about on foot, by cart or by bicycle.
The fountain that’s best located for escaping the heat is the Aranyal fountain. It takes a little longer to get there and you have to cross the bridge of the same name. You’ll find it nestled in a hollow in the ground a little beyond a very large cedar tree. The path that leads to the fountain is lined with trees typical of Central European and Alpine areas, such as fir, holly, spruce and beech trees said to have been planted by human hands.
Here’s a link to the route to follow should you wish.
The Valley of Santa Fe del Montseny: walks by the water
Its altitude of 1000m makes it the perfect area for escaping the heat.
If you make the ascent you’ll find thermal pleasure among the birds, beech and oak trees touching the water of the Santa Fe swamp. It goes without saying that it is not suitable for swimming.
From the information point at Can Casadas, a simple route leaves to the l’empedrat de Morou, with unmissable 360° views.
Can Casadas is an old summer house from the early twentieth century, renovated and refurbished by Barcelona Provincial Council as a visitor centre. The most striking thing to be seen here is the three giant Californian sequoias planted a century ago in front of the house.
To get there, all you have to do is follow the orange signs that will take you down the creek and take the path that goes up in front of the Can Lleonart Nature School.
If you’d like to go around the swamp, follow the blue itinerary that runs for about 2.7 km through the rainforest.
You can also walk to Frare fountain along the purple route, where you can offset the heat by drinking very fresh water.
The path to Frare Fountain is adapted for people with reduced mobility or visual impairments. In the interpretation centre, you’ll find presentations for blind or visually impaired people.
The Gorg de la Sort, Aiguafreda: water, art and ecology
Now we change direction and go to the Congost Valley to the town of Aguafreda, a cool and pleasant place that takes us to a gorg, which isn’t very big but perfectly fulfils its function. You can go for a dip in its fresh, clear water and have a snack on the surrounding rocks.
To get there, leave your car at Lovers Fountain and follow the easy 4.5 km circular route.
The Gorg de la Sort is just one of the points of interest along the route, which passes through another gorge, called Resclosa. You’ll also pass by the house of the painter Paco Ballesteros, which hosts an art gallery inside and an outdoor space decorated with colourful and peculiar sculptures of characters and abstract figures.
Later, following the same track, we arrive at Aguafreda de Dalt, and we begin our descent. Until this point, it’s all been uphill. Before arriving at the end, you pass the Salgot, an organic pig farm that you can visit. This may not be the best place to escape the heat, but we mention it in case you want to go back another day.
Gualba Environmental Park
Its location in the heart of the Montseny natural park and its ample space and amenities make this an attractive place to spend a day or even several days.
It has barbecue areas, a restaurant, swimming pools, a camping area and bungalows.
Its main attractions can be found in the vicinity of the service area, where there are itineraries marked for different environments.
One of the most beautiful excursions in the park is the walk to the lookout point of the spectacular Salt de Gualba (Gualba waterfall). Following a circular route of about 4 km in the shade, we reach the waterfall.
Without a doubt, the vegetation is one of the main attractions of the area, as it varies depending on whether we are at the edges of the estuary or in sunnier sections. Along the path, we’ll find pine forests, oak trees and banana plantations, all of which are local to the area. The tour also offers us opportunities to cool off at the various fountains we encounter, so we can give ourselves a good soaking to bring down our temperature. The names of the fountains are inspired by the species in the area, such as that Granota (frog), Molsa (moss), Ocells (birds) and Senglar (wild boar).
Tips for combating the heat.
* Avoid direct sunlight and going out at midday when it’s hottest.
• Wear a hat or cap.
• Wear light clothing (such as cotton fabrics) that is loose-fitting and light-coloured.
• Try to walk in the shade
• Bring water and drink it often, even if you aren’t thirsty.
• Wet your face and even your clothes a bit.
• Avoid intensive activities.
• Drink water, even if you aren’t thirsty.
• Opt for light meals, like salads, fruit and juice that help to replenish salt lost in the body through sweat.
• Avoid alcoholic beverages because they increase dehydration as well as stimulant beverages, especially those containing caffeine. Avoid eating very hot meals and meals that are high in calories.
• Follow the weather forecasts so you can avoid the hottest days.