Following the course of the black river
Solsonès in the county of Urgell is well known for its mountains, and it has one of the oldest ski slopes in Catalonia, Port del Compte, which will turn 50 in 2024. It is also known for its unique mediaeval capital, Solsona, one of the most beautiful urban centres in Catalonia. As well as skiing and urban heritage, the flat lands of Solsonès also boast some of the most beautiful agricultural and woodland landscapes in the country.
It has an undulating landscape, with fields divided into mosaics formed by plots that alternate crops of an intense green and woods that change their tone throughout the seasons. There are no large urban areas apart from the capital. Solsonès is a region of small villages and farmhouses scattered among the crops of the plain and the mountains in the elevated areas.
To get to know this landscape well, perhaps the best way is to be guided by nature: the River Negre. It is a tributary of the river Cardener that forms the backbone of the landscape of the municipality of Solsona. It originates in Lladurs, where it collects the waters of the woodland ravines of northern Solsona, and enters the capital of the region, where it crosses under the main bridge that gives access to the historic centre and continues downstream, crossing fields and woods in a southerly direction , to the confluence with the Cardener.
If we start the route in Solsona, we follow a linear walk alongside the river, in a southerly direction, until the Riner Tower appears. Riner is a town of mediaeval origin that has a quadrangular tower that has stood by the river since the 10th century, silently guarding over this mysterious and unknown stretch of river.
During the river’s course, the landscape constantly changes and woodland appears, made up of tall poplars and ash trees. Later we will cross oak woods and fields. In the more open areas, we come across interesting fauna, such as the western subalpine warbler and woodland species , such as the Eurasian nuthatch. If you are careful, on the paths you can see the tracks of mammals such as roe deer and badgers.
Going as far as the town of Riner allows us to discover an excellent viewpoint with views of the river valley, as well as an interesting urban complex of mediaeval origin. The Riner Tower, rectangular with straight walls 18 meters high, marks what is left of the early mediaeval Riner Castle.
This lowly populated, quiet and tranquil place is an excellent spot to stop for a snack and regain our strength for the walk back to Solsona.
out & about
Land of castles
The Riner Tower is not the only fortification of interest. During the 10th and 11th centuries, Solsonès was a border land between the Catalan counties and Islamic territory, and as a result, numerous fortifications were built for surveillance and protection. Enfesta Castle, Olius Castle, the castle and the Romanesque church of Sant Pere de Madrona and Lladurs are some of the remains worth visiting to get to know the country’s history better.