About Salt de Tenes (Sant Miquel del Fai)
Salt de Tenes was essentially our lone waterfalling experience near the city of Barcelona though it also had that rare combination of a waterfall juxtaposed with history. However, belying its relative proximity to the cosmopolitan metropolis, the monastery at the Sant Miquel de Fai (which harbored this waterfall) was actually very peaceful and relaxing. This contrasted mightily to the monastery at Montserrat, which was heavily visited and commercialized. In any case, as you can see from this photo, this beautifully-situated tall waterfall was not flowing too well, but at least well enough to show up on photographs. Unfortunately, its neighboring waterfall called Salt de Rossinyol was barely trickling. I think based on our experience, this waterfall was best visited during the early Spring months (March or April) on a year when there’s average or above average rainfall in the region.
Our visit to this waterfall and monastery was pretty straightforward. From the overflow parking area (see directions below), we walked towards a bridge and arched entranceway to a walkway that afforded us views across the Tenes Valley towards our first glimpses of the full height of Salt de Tenes. Had the area seen more recent rainfall, we not only might have seen a thicker Salt de Tenes, but we also might have seen the plunging Salt de Rossinyol spilling right beneath the monastery buildings themselves to our right.
Continuing further along the walkway, we then entered through a gate into the Plaza de la Abadía, and then paid for our admission to go further into the complex. Beyond this plaza, we were also able to walk up some steps onto the roof (turned viewing deck) of one of the buildings of the Abadía and Casa del Priorato (those stone buildings that were hugging the cliffs next to where Salt de Rossinyol was supposed to be). While up in this spot, we were able to look into the Val de Tenes as well as the large pond with ducks and geese that was surrounded by the church of Sant Miquel (which was built into a cave) as well as some water channels going around and into the pond. By the way, the presence of this pond led me to believe that Salt de Rossinyol might be man-modified for the purposes of flood control around this monastery and complex.
Beyond this pond area, the path continued further along the cliffs as it reached a junction. The path on the left side of the junction went down steps to an intriguing small cave (called La Cueva de Sant Miquel) that featured the typical cave formations of stalactites and stalagmites. More importantly, it highlighted the calcium carbonate (limestone) that was prevalent in the area and provided some of the travertine formations around the waterfalls. There were also very open views towards the Tenes Valley along the stair-stepping trail. Meanwhile, back up at the main path, there was still a water canal along the cliff wall on one side and railings with a few benches on the valley side. On one bench, there was a statue of the writer Josep Pla (carved by artist Tomás Atienza).
The trail then went behind one of the uppermost drops of the Salt de Tenes. The cove here provided welcome shade as well as the cool and refreshing mist from the falling water itself. I’m sure under more waterflow, this area might get even more blasted with water (which I’m sure had given rise to this cove in the first place). Anyways, beyond the falls, the trail continued towards a fork, where the right path went to the hermitage of Sant Martí of the 9th century as well as the Cueva Les Tosques, and the left fork went to a children’s play area where a cantina was also set up to let the adults have a snack and a drink as well as a chat while the kids were further down the ramp playing in a pretty large playground area.
Even though we didn’t see the waterfalls here under the best of conditions, it was very relaxing and peaceful. Indeed, it was the antidote to the fast-paced festive-like atmosphere in and around Barcelona. We wound up spending a couple of hours here, but the walking time was probably no more than an hour.
From Barcelona, we drove the C-33 road then autopista north for about 15km to its junction with the C-59 road. We followed the C-59 road north for about 20km north into the town of Sant Feliu de Codines. Once we got to the junction of the C-59 and BV-1485 road, we then followed the signs for Monestir de Sant Miquel de Fai, which directed us onto the BV-1485 road. We followed this road for the next 7km right to the Sant Miquel de Fai, where we then turned right at the fork to get into the complex, where we overshot the monastery entrance and parked in a large spillover car park. Overall, this drive took us about 75 minutes though a good 20 minutes was spent navigating through the busy streets of Barcelona.
When we left the car park, we had to drive a bumpy and narrow road out the car park’s other end. That eventually got us to the BV-1485 road after about 500m. There was also a cafe with probably a lookout of the entirety of the head of the Tenes Valley with the waterfalls and the monastery all in one shot from up there. However, we can only speculate on this since we didn’t actually stop there, but we knew that such a view existed based on what we saw in the literature.
To give you some additional context, Barcelona was 64km (1 hour drive or 2 hours by public transport) southeast of Montserrat, 313km (3 hours drive) east of Zaragoza, 351km (3.5 hours drive or over 3 hours by Euromed train) north Valencia, and 624km (6 hours drive or 7.5 hours by train via Zaragoza) to Madrid.
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