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The Costa Brava’s coastal paths, on the trail of secret coves and smugglers’ hideouts


The Costa Brava’s coastal paths, on the trail of secret coves and smugglers’ hideouts

Surely you have traveled some of the routes of the walking paths that we have been discovering for you right here.

You are sure to have already tried out some of the Camins de Ronda routes we’ve suggested for you in the past right here. But did you know that there is a route that traces the whole of the old patrol pathway that borders the Costa Brava, end to end? Following the steep shoreline that runs between Blanes and Portbou, this ancestral road linking the various coastal towns was used to control maritime smuggling and incoming contraband.

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So, you can literally walk in the shoes of real-life smugglers from a bygone age who knew every nook and cranny of this route so well and used emblematic places along the Costa Brava as hideouts and operational sites for their own particular form of trade. For example, in the section between Begur and Palamós, you have Port d’Esclanyà cove, Sa Perica chalet in Tamariu, the Tabac cave, Cau cove and Frares cove located at the foot of the cliff of Cap de Sant Sebastià and Golfet beach.

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The Costa Brava Camí de Ronda Route

The Camí de Ronda route is a long-distance walking route made up of narrow paths that run over continually undulating steep terrain, which sometimes feature moderately technical sections, as well as stretches of seafront promenades, beaches and completely flat terrain. The Camí de Ronda is a true gem for any hiking enthusiast that can be enjoyed at any time of year.

Two self-guided routes of either 43 km or 140 km to choose from

You can hike the Camí de Ronda along the coast of the Costa Brava under your own steam. Here we bring you two potential self-guided hikes in several stages: one 43-km-long linear route (from Sant Feliu de Guíxols to Begur) and one 140-km-long circular route (beginning and ending in Girona).

Both options have been specially designed to enable you enjoy all the charms of the Costa Brava to the fullest. We have included a few alternatives to enable you optimise your experience by tailoring the route according to desired difficulty and time available. On departure you will receive a welcome pack and can always rely on the support of our accommodation and luggage transfer services, so the only thing you have to concern yourself with is enjoying your hike.

As for any mountain hike, be prepared

Despite being by the sea, you need to prepare for your hike as you would for embarking on any kind of physical activity in the great outdoors: wear the appropriate footwear, pack some food, plenty of water, an item of warm clothing and a mobile phone in case of emergency.

How did the ‘Camins de Ronda’ (patrol paths) get their name?

The Spanish Real Cuerpo de Carabineros de Costas y Fronteras (Royal Coastal and Border Police Corps) was set up in 1829 in order to operate against fraud and smuggling. The carabiniers were commissioned to ‘fer la ronda’ (make the rounds) in order to intercept the smugglers bringing contraband goods, such as blonde tobacco, penicillin, coffee, sugar, pepper, chocolate, as well as makeup, lingerie, jewellery and silk clothing into the country without paying the relevant taxes.


Carabiniers like those who patrolled the Costa Brava’s Camins de Ronda

When night fell, the smugglers took small boats out onto the water to meet large ships and load up with contraband goods, which they then stored at secret hideouts along the rugged Costa Brava coast.

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And then, trying to avoid detection by the Carabineros and the Civil Guard, they used the patrol paths to transport their merchandise inland from where it was distributed.

Now you can discover the backdrop to those swashbuckling tales on a spectacular hike along the Costa Brava, while benefitting from all the services you could need to make for a truly magnificent experience.

Photos: Camí de Ronda and PTCBG image archive

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