New path in Pyrenees for people with reduced mobility
Project in Catalan mountains allows wheelchair access to wonders of Alt Pirineu Natural Park
It is no coincidence that Catalonia is one of Europe’s main holiday destinations. Among the country’s many attractions are its natural beauty spots, and first among them is the mountainous area known as the Catalan Pyrenees. With skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer, the area in the far north of the country includes the Alt Pirineu Natural Park. Comprising around 700 square kilometers, the park that straddles the counties of Pallars Sobirà and Alt Urgell is home to some of the country’s most unique landscapes, the highest peaks in the Pyrenees, as well as being home to rare and endangered species of flora and fauna.
However, the mountainous area is hardly well known for its popularity among people with reduced mobility. Until now, that is. The natural park has announced the opening of a new 10-kilometer route suitable for wheelchairs in the Guingueta d'Àneu area of Pallars Sobirà. Situated close to the Mollera d'Escalarre wetlands, next to the Torrassa reservoir, the new pathway is some 1.5 meters wide and is made of compacted earth, making it apt for wheelchairs. What’s more, the path is lined with wooden posts to provide support for users, while helping to prevent erosion of the track.
300,000 visit park every year
The Alt Pirineu Natural Park attracts almost 300,000 visitors every year, with some 70,000 visiting in August alone. Many of these people come to explore the park on foot or on bicycles, which means that it is a destination that is largely out of bounds for most people with reduced mobility. The opening of the new path aims to help resolve this problem, along with another currently being adapted in the area of Sant Joan de l'Erm, also in the county of Alt Urgell. The project for the new path in Guingueta was carried out with the support of the Obra Social de La Caixa charity organization, with a budget of 27,000 euros.
Located as it is in one of the Pyrenees wetland areas, the path allows users to observe the local wildlife, which includes different species of fish, as well as aquatic birds and mammals, in particular otters, which are one of the area’s main natural highlights. The mayor of Guingueta d'Àneu says there are plans to further adapt the path to make it suitable for blind people. According to the mayor, work will begin adapting the first four kilometers, with the remaining six kilometers to be adapted at a later date.