Sort, Malmercat and the castle of Arcalís from Sort
- Difficulty: remarkable
- Minimum altitude: 1054m
- Starting/arrival: Hotel Les Brases / Sort
- Total distance: 24.4 km
- Total ascent: 1220m
- Nearest town: Sort
- Maximum altitude: 640m
- Total time: 7.30 h
DESCRIPTION OF THE ROUTE
Itinerary of 24.4 km in length - partially circular - which runs through the terms of Sort and Soriguera in the southern end of the Pyrenean region of Pallars Sobirà. We start the route in Sort, the regional capital, we follow the Noguera Pallaresa river to the south and go up to Malmercat. After admiring this small population center we went down to Baro and then we ascended to Arcalís. From here we continue gaining altitude until the remains of the homonymous castle, a stunning watchtower of the Baix Pallars and the territories of the old barony of Estac. The route is demanding due to the unevenness and distance that must be overcome and -although it is signposted- attention must be paid to the orientation, especially at the crossings.
This route uncovers Malmercat and Arcalís, two of the numerous population centers that extend along the mountainous slopes of the Noguera Pallaresa river valley, in the southern sector of Pallars Sobirà, along historic roads -with cobbled stretches and dry stone margins. - that link the villages of this Pyrenean area full of magic and charm.
THE BEST OF THE ROUTE
- Discover the picturesque villages of Malmercat and Arcalís.
- Visit the ruins of the castle of Arcalís, in the old barony of Estac.
- Let ourselves be captivated by the landscape and natural wealth of Pallars Sobirà.
- Walk the ancient horseshoe paths that linked the towns of Pallars.
Total effective time (without stops):
7: 30h in total: 2: 05h from Sort to Malmercat, 1: 45h from Malmercat to Arcalís, 0: 30h from Arcalís to the castle of Arcalís and 3: 10h to return from the castle to Sort through the valley floor.
- Natural Park of the Alt Pirineu. 1: 50,000. Alpine Editorial.
- Topographic base of Catalonia 1: 25,000. Cartographic and Geological Institute of Catalonia (ICGC).
The path is marked with yellow paint marks and vertical sticks at the crossroads. We must pay attention to the orientation because in some sections the path can be a loser. From Baro you can return to Sort by bus (schedules in www.alsa.es).
HOW TO GET IN CAR
The starting point of the excursion is at the Hotel Restaurant Les Brases de Sort. We arrived in Sort on the C-13 highway. Hotel Les Brases is located on the same road C-13, just north of the town. In front of the hotel there is parking space without paying.
We start the itinerary in Hotel Les Brases de Sort (0:00h - 693m).
From this point we follow the river Noguera Pallaresa downstream to the bridge of the N-260 road, which connects Sort with the Seu d'Urgell through the port of Cantó.
We cross the river by this route and, immediately, we find on the right a sign of the Natural Path of Sort and Valle de Àssua and the beginning of the path of Les Vernedes.
We began to travel this road following the Noguera Pallaresa River on its left bank.
Little by little we move away from the houses of Sort and enter a pleasant riverside forest.
The road is comfortable and is equipped with a wooden railing on both sides.
We advance without any difficulty in the shade of the forest and the poplar plantations, and observing the herds of cows that graze in the surrounding meadows.
We continue on the right, on the side of the river.
We reach a second detour, it is the junction of Saverneda (0: 50h - 684m).
At this point we leave the road that continues towards Llagunes - Soriguera
and we turn to the right by the bridge that crosses the river of the Cantó in the direction of Malmercat.
The river of the Cantó.
We went through trees and dry stone walls and passed by the house of Savarneda.
The house of Savarneda.
We started to gain altitude, we left aside a path that would take us to Tornafort and we continued towards Malmercat.
We continue climbing through the interior of a sparse forest from where we distinguish the rocky silhouette of the Geganta Adormida (S) and, at its feet, the nucleus of Arcalís. .
Between meadows and meadows we reach the Malmercat junction (1: 25h - 821m), where we leave the road that descends towards Baro, which is the road we will return to later, and we continue climbing towards Malmercat.
We crossed the Malmercat road and continued to walk through hedges along the path.
We connect with the asphalted road, which we take to the right until a curve,
where we leave it again and rediscover the path.
Again we coincide with the road, just at the height of the Sant Sebastià oratory, where we can see the villages of the other side of the valley: Montardit de Baix, Montardit de Dalt, Llarvén and Enviny.
Montardit de Dalt
Views of Savarneda and Sort
Views from the oratory of San Sebastian.
From here we continue up the road and soon we reach the small village of Malmercat (2: 05h - 980m), which is located right next to the remains of the castle of Malmercat or Bielsa.
Inhabitants of Malmercat
We deviate a moment from the itinerary and go down the dirt track (left) to go to visit the church of Sant Andreu, which is located on the edge of the cliff, in a privileged place.
Church of Sant Andreu
The liver grass carpeting the roads.
We continue the route towards Arcalís and Baro in a southerly direction. We enter a dark oak grove and, after crossing several torrenteras, we arrive at a crossroads (2: 35h - 974m).
At this junction we leave behind the road to Arcalís and continue towards Baro.
Path through the forest
We continue advancing along the path and enjoying the views.
The Noguera Pallaresa River
We continue to lose altitude through the forest until we reach some meadows.
Afterwards we crossed the ravine of Roca Gran and started walking among grass meadows along a beautiful path delimited by dry stone walls.
We went through the Menal farmhouse
and we continue to advance along the beautiful plain of Sant Joan, gradually getting closer to the Noguera Pallaresa.
We leave a track on the left and go along the riverbank along a path that passes just below the dirt track.
We overcome a pair of doors for cattle
and a little further on we arrive at the track, which we follow until we reach the road to Arcalís.
We climb through an oak grove along a path, which in some sections is paved
We crossed the road twice, passed by the remains of the house of La Torreta and finally reached the nucleus of Arcalís (3: 50h -789m).
We cross Arcalís through its narrow streets full of magic to the church of Sant Lliser and,
from this point, we climb to a crossroads.
We leave behind the road that goes to the hermitage of Serenyà and we take the path that climbs towards the remains of the castle of Arcalís.
We ascend the historic path, paved and well preserved,
that is gaining height between meadows and crossing several times a track. We come to a fork (4: 05h - 865m) where we leave a path on the right (where we will go down afterwards) and continue up the road on the left.
We enter a thin forest of red pine and finally we reach a hill where the remains of the castle of Arcalís stand (4:20 - 1024m), also known as "Els Casalots".
Source: On foot. 14 walks and excursions by Pallars Sobirà. Volume I. Arola Editors.
After enjoying the great views offered by this privileged viewpoint over the territories of the old barony of Estac -with the towns of Estac, Mencui, Escós, Baro and Arcalís- we leave behind the castle and continue our route to a path that continues climbing through the pine forest in SE direction.
We reach a point - at a height of 1,043m - where the road turns suddenly to the right. We make some last meters in ascent and we begin to descend through an area with terraces and meadows of pasture recovered.
We passed by the source of the road to the castle of Arcalís -which flows fresh and abundant-
- and we continue to lose height between pastures and some cherry trees until we reach the fork (4: 45h), where we connect with the same path that we have done before climbing.
We undo the route following the same route to Arcalís (4: 55h) and continue back to Baro.
Nice butterfly that we meet along the way.
Back to the Noguera Pallaresa river.
We once again overcome the doors for cattle.
Before reaching Baro, at the crossroads of the road to Arcalís (5: 10h), we take the path that leads us to the farmhouse of Menal, the ravine of Roca Gran and the crossroads Malmercat - Sort - Baro (5:45 p.m. ).
At this junction we left the road to Malmercat -where we had passed before- and now we take the road to Savarneda and Sort.
We gain height through a pine forest and overcome two ravines,
one of them equipped with wooden railings and some stairs.
We continue up a track and pass under a rail. We move between hedges and grass meadows and connect with the track of the farmhouse of Soliguer. We turn left and continue along this track bordering several meadows.
Farmhouse of Soliguer.
We arrive at a paved road that we follow to the left, below.
We go under a farm and then we take a path that goes to the right and that goes up through an oak grove.
We ascend through the interior of a sparse forest where we must be attentive to the orientation, the path is confused with the little paths trodden by the cattle.
We overcome a few loops that the road makes
We go down to the house of Savarneda, we pass by his side and continue to the river of Cantó.
We find this beautiful field with flowers.
We cross the wooden bridge and arrive at the junction of Savarneda (6: 50h). We turn left and arrive at a new junction.
Then, to make the last stretch until Sort a little different, we take now the road on the right, which will take us to Sort but on the side of the mountain.
Circuit of Les Vernedes.
We follow the indications of this sector of the circuit of Les Vernedes approaching, little by little, the houses of Sort.
Finally we reach the bridge of the N-260 road, we cross it
and we undo the road to the Hotel Les Brases de Sort (7:30h - 693m), starting and ending point of this beautiful itinerary.