Tuesday, 30 March 2010

29 Mar 2010 - Font Centella

At last the summer, or at least the spring, seems to have arrived here in Spain. After months of changeable, and often wet and grey, weather this week we have had warm and sunny days. So we were all very pleased to be told that this week we would attempt a new walk for the Monday Club.

The walk started from Tormos, and the first challenge was to find the car park. We normally park on the side of the Orba to Sagra road, but this walk was to start from the Piscina (swimming pool) car park, which is in the village itself. It sounded complicated to find, but proved to be easy. Tormos is only a ten minute drive from Parcent, and most of the group were waiting when we got there

The first part of the walk was on a difficult and not very well marked path. Peter and Pat had done a recce previously, but this did not prevent Peter from having difficulty finding the correct route.

It was a pretty hard climb for the first hour but we finally reached Font Centella, the highest point of the walk. Despite its very attractive name, the font proved to be a disappointment. The water was cold and some of the group filled their bottles, but the surrounding area was unimpressive.

The track downhill was much better than the one uphill, and we soon reached the path to Isbert Dam. We had left this path near the start of the walk and I was surprised to find when we rejoined it almost three hours later that we did so only a few miles closer to the dam.

If Font Centella was a visual disappointment, Isbert Dam was not. The approach to the dam is through this cleft in the mountain which looks like the entrance to a hidden valley. The steep walls ensure that it is always shaded here, and an excellent spot for lunch. Despite our earlier route finding difficulties earlier we reached our picnic spot right on time for our usual 1pm lunch break.

Peter and Pat enjoy a well deserved break from leading the walk

As we left the dam we had to clamber over the rocks in the dry river bed, and Peter fell quite badly. Apart from scratches he was fine, which was lucky as he did land hard. This is only worth mentioning because Peter has a well deserved reputation for being extremely sure footed. On most walks he goes leaping uphill to use up his surplus energy, and runs down paths the rest of us tackle with great care. Which just goes to prove that anyone can, and sometimes do, fall. If it can happen to our own “mountain goat” it can happen to anyone.

We were now in much more familiar surroundings. The route from the dam led through the disused railway tunnel which had been used to carry materials to build the dam. It’s quite a long tunnel and very dark for a short stretch at the start. So it was fortunate that Peter had a small torch, as there are a lot of large rocks inside which could well have caused someone else to fall. Fortunately we all managed it without incident.

There are two routes back to Tormos from Isbert Dam. One is an easy path along the river side. The other is a steep climb uphill to Fontilles followed by an equally steep walk back down to rejoin the other path. Needless to say our leader opted for the latter option!

The climb was steep, but the path was good. And once we had recovered from the climb the path through the woods was very pleasant.

The almond blossoms have all gone, but have been replaced by these cherry blossoms. They are not so extensive or striking as the almond, but still attractive and a reminder that spring has arrived.

It was then downhill to rejoin the path from Isbert Dam to Tormos.

The river bed is dry for most of its length. The one exception is where we have to cross it to get back to Tormos. It’s not very deep, and it’s quite easy to cross. Despite this I managed to get my feet wet the last time we were here. However everyone crossed without incident today. Jan didn’t really need the bamboo pole, but it looks good.

Previously we had always followed the road back to Tormos, but today Peter led us along the side of the (now) dry river. It was an easy path and made a nice change.

As we neared the village we had to walk through the orange groves to rejoin the cars

Monday is the one day of the week when the bar in the village is closed. But there are always alternatives, and the one on the Orba – Sagra road was open. However we had done enough walking for one day and drove the cars to our old parking area rather than walk through the village. The shandy was cold and very welcome.

Next Week

Col de Rates, but a different route. This will will follow the Stations of the Cross from Jalon and eventually join the usual path to the Col. Meet at the tourist information car park in Jalon at 10am. Hope to see you all then.

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