Shelter of Balmes Roges (El Pont de Vilomara i Rocafort)

The Red Shelter (Les Balmes Roges) is located in the south slope of Puig Gili, in the municipality of El Pont de Vilomara i Rocafort.
Like other natural shelters in the area of Rocafort, Mura and Rellinars, one thick layer of consistent conglomerate rock makes the roof and one prompt to disaggregate layer of sandstone makes the wall of the Red Shelter. The two layers are clear cut. The Red Shelter results from the presence of this sensitive to erosion, weak sandstone between conglomerate layers. The Red Shelter spans roughly one hundred meters along the stratum and it achieves maximum 15 meters depth and 4-5 meters height in the eastern tip. It is named by the reddish colour of the wall. However, the Red Shelter outstands by its 3 wells to elaborate wine, named tines in Catalan, plus the auxiliaries buildings made of stone. The valleys of Flequer and Santa Creu de Palou are plenty of disseminated groups of a few tines to produce wine near to the wineyards. They were built and used in the second half of century XIX, when the wine yards flourished and expanded along the district of Bages. The tines of the Red Shelter frame into this blossom of the wineyards in the district of Bages.

The Red Shelter summarizes the natural history of the district of Bages. From one side, it displays the geological history of the layers of sediments from the Eocene period that turned to rocks of different consistency and, in a big jump of time, the erosion resulting in natural shelters. From the other side, in a much closer time and smaller scale, it explains the human history of the use of the land for wineyards crops in the century XIX and further abandonment subsequent to the phylloxera plague. At the same time, the Red Shelter is an excellent belvedere to see the current wide occupancy of the forest of young pines that were born after the forest fire of 1985 in Rocafort, one of the large forest fires that devastated the district of Bages in the two last decades of century XX that burnt the spontaneous vegetation that grown up from the abandonment of the wineyards to then.

[photos Montserrat Porta and Jordi Badia]