Accum. height uphill: 716 m. Accum. height downhill: 1249 m.
Montserrat: Km 0. Ermita de Santa Cecilia: Km 3.5. Sant Cristófol: Km 7.9. Church Castellgalí: Km 14.3. Riera de el XUP: Km 20.6. Torre de Santa Caterina: Km 22.6. La Cova de Manresa: Km 23.5.
We say goodbye to the Mare de Déu de Montserrat and take the same path (dels Degotalls) which took us up to Montserrat on the previous day. As we return on this same road, we now stay to the left as we head back towards the hermitage of St. Cecilia. As we walk along this path parallel to the road, and after passing the tunnel on the right side, we can see the shrine up at the top, next to the road.
At the St. Cecilia shrine, we take a paved road down to our right. A sign indicates “GR-4” Cristofol and we follow its direction. We leave the shrine to the left and go down the paved road. The road we want to take runs parallel to the main road, but below it. We pass the ravines the which descend from the mountain.
For pilgrims on bicycle, it is best to follow the dirt road that continues to descend. It turns as we pass some farms which we will notice on our left. In each new trail we always continue down to our right. At the bottom we reach the dry stream and cross to the other side. We then climb the dirt road and eventually come to the end of this road (an iron cross indicates the point) where we meet the pilgrims on foot who have descended down the mountain.
The pilgrims on foot will follow the directions along the GR-4 road which lead to Sant Cristofol. You will notice a sign which indicates a bend in the road. We take the mountain trail which descends steeply. We then follow the red and white GR-4 trails. We reach a wide dirt footpath which we take to the right. Cycling pilgrims join us. We can see yellow arrows going “against the right direction”.
We enter the neighborhood of Can Prat, along the street “Carrer de les Agulles.” We follow the red and white signs along this same street. (Note that at times the signs on the light poles may be covered with pink paint.) Eventually we come to a hairpin turn on our right. Look for the sign which indicates the road to Manresa, to our left. Pay attention because there are two possible routes: the correct road is the one along the red and white GR-4 trail which you will see at the right side of the road. It is the trail perpendicular to the road you just left.
At the next fork: take a right towards the Chapel of St. Jaume de Castellbell. Follow the red and white trails. Our walk ends in front of the houses of the village of Sant Cristofol. But do not enter the village. Instead, take the road to the left, following the signs to Sant Jaume de Castellbell. Descend to a stream, following the GR-4 trails. We cross the stream and pass a house on the left. At the next fork we turn right, following the red and white trails. We reach the asphalt road and go left down to the bridge. Here we take the road towards Castellbell and Vilar. Just past the bridge and next to the restaurant there is a path to our left which leads us up higher. A sign indicates the direction to Manresa.
The dirt road joins another that comes from our right. Continue straight ahead and you will see a large pig farm on the left. Just past the farm houses, we come to a fork. Take the road to the left, as the sign indicates. We now leave the red and white trails, and begin to follow the blue and white markings. Take a right at the next fork. This road leads us across a stream and immediately past another path which crosses ours to the right. A sign on the right indicates the direction of Castellgalí and Manresa, and so we take it to the right.
Our route crosses another one, and we take a right. Soon a new road branches off to the left, but we continue straight ahead. We reach the first houses of Castellgalí: an old Excursionista Union sign tells us that we still have 2 hours to Manresa. We take the first street on our left, following the white and blue trail markers. We are now on the street called “Cami de Montserrat” and we continue straight ahead.
We now approach the heart of Castellgalí; we can see the church in front of us, up higher. We approach the church on the street called Sant Antoni. Here we say goodbye to the blue and white signs of the Camino de Santiago Catalan. Our Ignatian Way will continue ahead, past the church façade. Continue straight ahead; at the end of the village houses, look for a dirt road next to a utility pole. A sign indicates that we are now entering the old pilgrim road from Manresa to Montserrat. This tenth century path takes a steep descent down towards highway C-55. We go down to reach the road and then take it to our left. Pay close attention to the traffic which is very heavy. We follow along the highway about 500m and go past the bridge over a stream. After passing the golf course on the left, we take the middle asphalt road which begins at our left.
We now border the golf course and follow the Can Cornet riverbed to our left. A historical marker commemorates the 1936 martyrdom of two religious sisters in this place. At the fork we go to the right to avoid crossing the stream. Then we pass by a Can Cornet farmhouse. We take the path that continues on our right; eventually this takes us up to an old stone quarry. Our road has risen steadily in the form of a “Z”. Large stones in the road help us imagine the presence of the old quarry which we don’t currently see since the road continues to climb. Near the top, next to some fields, our road turns left. About 200m farther, this road meets another which we take to our left. Just a few meters farther, we can see the city of Manresa.
We walk straight ahead, without taking any of the paths that emerge to the right and left. Soon we come to the castle of Mas Oller. After about 1.5km, another road meets us from the left. A few yards further we cross the road to the castle, but we continue straight ahead. The road takes us to the C-37 highway from Manresa to Igualada, near to the village called “el XUP.” As we follow the C-37 highway, a sign to the right indicates that we are about to reach the end of our Camino Ignaciano: the city of Manresa.
We pass by the houses of the XUP and cross the riverbed. We continue straight ahead. About 150m from the edge of town, next to a house-restaurant, we take the dirt road that goes to our right; two green lines on a road sign indicate our direction. After another 100m, we take a new path that begins on the left. Continue straight ahead. This path takes a sharp right turn towards a farm, but we go straight ahead on an old road. It is not very well marked and passes between fields. In 200m this road splits; we take the narrow path that goes to our right.
Soon this path crosses a paved road. We continue straight ahead towards the Tower of Santa Caterina, a former lookout tower. We head directly to this tower.
As we reach the Tower, we see the city of Manresa in front of us. From this vantage point we can see the Basilica of La Seu and the retreat house building which houses La Cova de Sant Ignasi. Down by the Cardoner River, we can see the old bridge. We will have to cross it, just as Ignatius of Loyola did over 500 years ago.
We leave the Tower on a path that runs to the right before heading to La Cova. A steep descent takes us almost to the foot of the shrine of Our Lady of the Guide, which we can see to our right. According to tradition, when Ignatius reached this point, the people were celebrating a pilgrimage to the Virgin. We can imagine that Ignacio thought he should ask the Virgin of the Guide to help him discover his own spiritual path. We take the road to our left and cross the bridge over the railroad tracks. We continue down to the River Cardoner road, and turn right as we head to the Old Bridge.
We cross it with the emotion of those who realize that they are coming to a symbolic location. Ahead of us is the building of La Cova de San Ignacio. At the foot of the bridge, slightly to the left, take the road up to La Cova. Just a few steps further we reach a road which we take to our left. Then, just to our right, we see the gate of the La Cova building. We walk up to reach the front door. Welcome to La Cova!