Cows, horses, sheep... the sound of cattle bells, the smell of cut grass... the balance of nature, culture and man.
The valleys of Estaon and Esterri de Cardós are tranquil areas full of charm and the essence of Pallars Sobirà. What these two valleys have in common is the importance of stockbreeding in shaping the landscape. El Vallat (the Estaon Valley) and the Esterri Valley (Cardós) are two small valleys that begin on either side of middle of the Cardós Valley. They are full of life, with four villages in one and three in the other.
In them you will discover the day-to-day life of the herders who have been creating this captivating landscape for hundreds of years; opening the pens to let the animals out to pasture, cutting the grass, placing the bells around the necks of the heads of the herds, making feed, etc. The mown meadows of the Vall de Esterri and the stockbreeding constructions in the Vall de Cardós are a sight well worth seeing.
It is difficult to find greater integration between villages and their surrounding landscape than at Ginestarre or Estaon. They are living examples of this symbiosis. It is extraordinary to see how the high mountain landscape has been worked for centuries by humankind and to see its unmissable cultural, scenic and natural contribution!
BEAR IN MIND
• All the villages are accessible with normal cars. For the track to Pla de Nègua you need an off-road vehicle; alternatively, you can hire a 4-wheel drive taxi.
• Take advantage of autumn and winter to see the livestock that graze in the fields around the villages.
• The important traditional stockbreeding activity that fills the valley and allows us to observe the different domestic races that graze the meadows, including the Pyrenean Bruna cow, the Aranese sheep and the Catalan Pyrenean horse. In summer the numerous mown meadows offer a wide diversity of flowers and butterflies.
• The Pla de Nequa. The traditional meeting place for the witches of the Cardós and Ferrera Valleys to hold their sabbats. It is a unique and very beautiful spot with a grand panoramic view of the surrounding mountains and woods and is ideal for family walks. Accessible by 4x4 vehicle or mountain bike.
• The glacial geomorphology. Ice and water have carved out these valleys and given them their present-day relief, leaving traces of the passage of the glaciers in the erratic blocks.
• The spectacular spruce forest of La Selva d’Anàs or the birch wood of La Mata d’Arrós and Esterri de Cardós, as well as singular trees such as the silver poplar of El Cardaire or the holm-oak of Bonestarre.
• The groups of bordes (stone shepherds’ huts) in the Estaon Valley: the bordes of Nibrós, Perafita, Clavillats and Cardedo are testimonials to a stockbreeding past and present and are used to store grass and enclose the animals. At the Borda of Llosaus, in the Esterri de Cardós Valley, you can see exactly what the old stone shepherd’s huts were like with their straw roofs, today a testimony to a past.
• Important vestiges from the Spanish Civil War and the post-war period make the Cardós Valley a particularly interesting place in which to learn about this human drama and perhaps understand it a little better. That is the aim of the Front, Exile, Evasion and Bunkers Interpretation Centre in Ribera de Cardós and the Democratic Memorial itineraries that cross the valley.
• Romanesque churches and chapels of great historical and artistic value with spectacular bell towers, such as that of Ribera de Cardós, and reproductions of Romanesque mural paintings in Esterri de Cardós and Ginestarre.
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