Following El Garraf’s Dry River Bed

El Garraf: Follow dry river bed...


After finally visiting the goatherd’s shelter in El Garraf I decided to venture into the dry river bed for a rummage about. I’ve walked beside it almost every day that I’ve stayed in the area but never actually climbed down the banks to the bed itself. That changed today.

I heard something scratching about in fallen leaves so I pitched up with the camera ready, hoping to catch a few wildlife shots for the website. Whatever creature as busying itself I had to be patient and although I couldn’t see the culprit I could see the flicked leaves and soil bouncing off plants. There was a big digging operation in full swing.

Sweep sat down beside me and waited silently and patiently.

Then the creature revealed itself – a blackbird. I was less thrilled than I’d hoped to be but it was a curious thing to see it digging. And so I descended the bank to investigate the dig site and then pressed on to the base of the river.


Rocks on the dry river bed in El Garraf

"Follow dry river bed" as Peter Gabriel sang in "San Jacinto". El Garraf provided the opportunity.


Calling it a river is an odd thing because there’s hardly ever any water in it. For 11 months of the year it remains dry and then, come mid April (unless climate change gets involved) the heavens open and the dry river bed becomes a conduit of sludgy, grey/brown ferocity which erodes the vineyards by a few inches and washes away the debris of the passed Autumn.

With blue skies overhead I felt safe enough to be sniffing about the rocks that line the bottom of the gully but make no mistake, when the torrential rains appear the river bed fills instantly with crashing, fast water whose levels rise up to two metres. Get caught in that and it’s curtains.

In the shaded, cool, dry, safe folds of the gully I was surprised to see the bank reach as high as 30 feet in some stretches but I followed it to the shallowest part and stepped back onto the normal path and into the sun.

Aside from feeling like an extra in a Vietnam War film the river bed wasn’t altogether thrilling but it did make a nice change to the normal walk through El Garraf.

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