Once we reach the Coll d’en Bas, the highest point on the narrow-gauge railway route, the Vall d’en Bas stretches out below us. This is a wide, flat-bottomed valley, surrounded by very steep hills, dominated by Puigsacalm to the NW and the Falgars Cliffs to the SW. On the way to Olot, the largest towns we will pass through are Sant Esteve d’en Bas and Les Preses.

Various volcanic flows blocked the valley at its outlet, creating a dam in the River Fluvià. This is probably the origin of the name of Les Preses village (‘The Dams’ in Catalan). Thus, the valley was flooded and gradually filled up with sediments until, mixed with the volcanic rock, the land became very fertile. At first, however, it was very hard to farm, being a marshy area where, in some places, it was necessary to remove numerous fragments of large volcanic rocks. You can visit the Tuff Stone Park, next to the greenway, where it is still possible to see the artigues, small plots of farmland enclosed by dry-stone walls made from the volcanic rocks taken from the surrounding fields. 

In feudal Catalonia, the name remences or pagesos de remença (pagesos meaning ‘peasants’) was given to serfs subjected to the servitude of the nobility and their abuses, one of these being a law known as the ‘dret de remença’. This obliged the peasant to pay a substantial amount if he wanted to leave his farm. Normally, the peasant was unable to pay and this forced him to endure a pitiful existence and be a slave to the land. As a result of this situation, the first farmers’ union in the whole of Europe was created in Vall d’en Bas. It was led by Francesc de Verntallat and, in the 15th century, the peasants rebelled against the nobility, demanding fair treatment. This was achieved in 1486 with the Sentence of Guadalupe, which abolished servitude.

Travelling along the Secrets of the Greenways routes allows us to discover some of the towns in the valley. Here you will find remains of the ‘remença’ [peasant] history and can admire the beauty of the natural surroundings. 

Els Hostalets has been declared a historical-artistic site. The rustic houses on Teixeda Street, with their wooden balconies covered in geraniums, are very picturesque.

El Mallol, built on a strategic hill, was the former residence of the Viscounts of Bas, as well as being their administrative centre. It contains remains of the Castle and several other important buildings.

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