“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.”
For this Sunday’s expedition we ventured into the mountainous Catalan countryside, for a celebratory team picnic after sending our first ever book to print (more on that soon).
We partnered with The Grange, to add a touch of glamour to the occasion. Located over thirty acres of idyllic Hampshire downland, The Grange’s wine estate produces an exceptional collection of English sparkling wines that owe their distinct flavour to the unique landscape in which their grapes are grown–a minerality imparted from the chalky soil that gives the wines their fine structure and allows them to age beautifully.
Our winter picnic destination of choice is Montseny, a short drive outside Barcelona, protected national park and UNESCO awarded biosphere reserve. The terrain is wild and diverse due to the three biomes that comprises the territory–Mediterranean, Euro-Siberian and boreoalpino–the shifts in which are visibly apparent and fascinating as you cut through the land. The temperature steadily dropped as we left the city and a layer of fog descended from above as we enter the park’s biosphere.
Arriving past our usual lunchtime, we wasted no time laying out our feast of a picnic underneath a gigantic redwood tree–one of three set within the confines of Can Casades picnic area.
The warmth of its bark entices us and a layer of fallen leaves encircling the base provides a soft matting as we prop ourselves against it and pop a bottle of sparkling wine and pastries from our favourite patisserie in town, Funky Bakers.
“Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.”
Our favourite treat is the lemon merguine pie, the filling is smooth and creamy with a tart lemon flavor and a sweet light and fluffy meringue sits on top, all tucked inside a delicious pastry casing. We washed them down with the Grange’s sparkling Rose – the blend provides vibrant pink and red fruits on the complex palate, very fresh, with a creamy, brioche undertone.
After our indulgent celebrations the waning daylight and creeping chill encouraged us to get moving with the planned hike. A light rain fell on us as we embark on the first part of the marked route through an expansive chestnut grove shrouded in fog where the dark silhouettes of trees rise up ominously from a glorious blanket of brown and orange leaves on the floor. Unperturbed by the drizzle, we march forward as the levelled woodland gives way to steeper, rockier terrain.
We climb as high as we dare to Empedrat de Morou, where an impermeable fog rolls over the tree tops below and meets us on the clearing of smooth boulders, swirling around our feet briefly pausing before moving on to cover the hills above in obscurity. Usually this peak would command powerful views of the valley below, but today we can’t see further than the first row of pines poking eerily out of the gloom.
Navigating our way back down the mountain, the trail markers become less clear and the path less certain. Daylight occasionally breaks through the thick weather conditions, the changing light only adding to the ethereal atmosphere in the mountains. We stray from the route lured by a trail of knee-high leaves before second-guessing the prudence of our decision and ambling back to the path.
The final stretch of the hike leads us along the Sante Fe reservoir, where the vast body of water provides a break in the treeline and fog allowing us to take in the surroundings. From here we can see the trees in their full glory as they cover the mountainside like a patchwork coat made of browns, greens, greys and oranges–many of their leaves already fallen, only bare structures standing tall in the Autumn air.
And back to base just as the last of the afternoon’s light is enveloped by the heavy smog creating an enchanting sense of adventure and mystery.
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