Friday, 30 April 2010

29 Apr 2010 - Bernia

Bernia is one of the most popular local walking area’s, and a walk we have done three or four times before. It’s about half an hour drive from Jalon through the mountains to reach the start point.

We joined Dave, Sue, Claire and Charlie for the walk. They offer guided walking holidays from their small hotel in Parcent, and this is one of six walks they offer each week. Not sure why they wanted to do it again during one of their few rest between visitors.

The walk starts with a nice easy road leading to the path which climbs steeply uphill towards for an hour or more to a cave which leads through the mountain to the other side.

We were in no great hurry and took several water breaks during the climb.

There are many goats in the mountains, but this is a particularly fine specimen. Some months ago Dave found an abandoned and distressed baby goat nearby during one of their walks. He feared it would die if left there, so he put it in pack and carried it back to the car. It subsequently found a new home with friends who run a small farm.

It takes about an hour to reach the cave, which is quite long but not dark or gloomy. It is quite low and is best done on hands and knees. Fortunately today it was neither wet nor covered in goat droppings – both of which we had tackled previously. The opening on the far side provides one of the best views of Benidorm, the coast and the surrounding mountains.

There is a large flat area outside the cave, an ideal spot for a banana stop. After the long climb and crawl through the cave this is a welcome break, and one I am sure will have been shared by many who have done this walk.

Even on a hazy day like this the view is pretty spectacular, and makes it easy to stop longer than intended. And after a long climb the old legs get stiff if we stop too long.

An unusual photo of Jan and me together, courtesy of Dave and Sue

The remainder of the walk is on good paths with excellent views. It is mostly flat and easy going, with the occasional scramble.

We were quite surprised to find our goat friends watching us from the rocks above, for all the world like a group of Indians watching the wagon train go by. They were probably the same ones we had seen on the other side of the mountain, who roam about at will.

About four hours into the walk we reached the old ruined fort. It was built in the 17th century on the orders of King Felipe II to guard against the Moors. The point at which the castle was erected is a perfect vantage point from which to observe the arrival of pirates who were a constant threat to the coastal towns.

The fort is also an ideal place to have our picnic lunch. Charlie is very well behaved and only pesters Dave and Sue to be fed. They also carry an extra supply of water which he enjoys each time we had a break.

It’s a good hour walk to get back down to the cars, with ever changing vistas as we follow the good path around the side of the mountain.

We have not seen a lot of Dave and Sue this year as they have been very busy with their walking holidays, so it was nice to spend some time with them and catch up on all their news.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

26 Apr 2010 - Orba Castle

Our walk to Orba Castle did not start well, when David realised that he had not brought his walking boots. Fortunately the walk started from Parcent, and passed our house, so David was able to borrow my spare boots for the walk.

It was a much warmer day than our recce walk a couple of weeks ago and even less water in the river. So we had no trouble walking to Murla along the river bed.

A short water stop, and a photo opportunity, when we reached the abandoned restaurant at Murla. It’s always sad to visit the ruin of what should have been a very popular and enjoyable place to visit. It was closed two years ago because the owner opened without the necessary official approval and was subsequently closed down and he was bankrupt.

Another break in the village of Murla. Unlike recent walks we needed somewhere in the shade today as it was so warm.

There are two routes to the castle. A longer one climbing the hill and walking along the ridge and a shorter one walking to the start of the climb directly below the castle itself. We felt that it might be better to split the walk in two, and let the stronger climbers tackle the longer route. It was agreed that everyone would follow the more difficult route, but 5 of the 14 decided not to attempt the hill and returned to Murla to wait for those who did.

Wonderful views from the castle, but unfortunately not much shade from the sun. However there was the usual variety of butterflies, which was one of the main attractions of the walk.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

19 Apr 2010 - The Green Horse

Cavell Verde (The Green Horse) is our favourite walk, and today we were blessed with ideal walking weather. We also had a larger group than expected with Pauline joining us after a break of many months. Ann also brought her son Tim, who was unable to return to UK due to the cancellation of all flights resulting from the volcano in Iceland. Finally Peter and Anne are here for a couple of weeks and joined us for the walk.

The walk starts from Benimaurell, and it is a climb right from the start. However there are wonderful views of the coast so there is always a good excuse to stop for a short break.

We are aiming for the ridge just this side of the twin peaks. There is a good mosarabic trail all of the way up. It was not as wet as last week when we did the recce.

There are a couple of places where a helping hand is appreciated, and there is always someone on hand to help. David helps Pauline at one such place.

We soon reach the top, where there is an excellent area to sit and admire the views. From here there are views of the Jalon and Orba valley plus the road to Castells, which is still closed for “improvement” after more than a year.

Ann, Tim, Jan and David enjoy the views

After a short break we start on the ridge walk. There no obvious path, though a route has been marked with white and yellow paint. This is a well walked route, and even when the signs are missing there are plenty of cairns to follow.

There is a suitable area, with good views, for a banana break before we start the descent

Most of the path down is level with good views, however the first section is steep with a poor path and some care is required.

On this part of the walk the views are towards the village of Castells and the mountains beyond.

One of the advantages of this walk is this picnic site. It belongs to a rural restaurant which is always closed on a Monday. It’s nice to have somewhere to sit and a proper table to eat our sandwiches.

The walk back to Benimaurell is along a gentle hillside path with this view of the village and the coast beyond.

There are a couple of bars in the village so there is always somewhere to have an after walk drink. Even on a fine day like this we were the only ones sitting outside, the Spanish were all inside the smoke filled bar, shouting at each other over the loud TV which no one was watching.

Nice to have Ann back with the group, with her usual large brandy to supplement her hot chocolate.

Next Week

Another old favourite, Orba Castle. We will meet at 10am at the “chicken shacks” on the right as the Alcalali road enters Parcent. Anyone not sure where to meet, or want more details of the walk, give me a ring.

Friday, 16 April 2010

15 Apr 2010 - Green Horse

We have been asked to lead the Cavall Verde (Green Horse) walk for the Monday Club next week, and we have not done it ourselves since last year. So we were quite pleased when David and Rosemary suggested that we do it today as a “recce”.

We had hardly started the walk when David’s mobile phone rang. It was his insurance company about his renewal. The joys of modern communications!

After two dull, and often wet, days we saw some improvement today. It was cloudy and cool, but remained dry all day. After our climb we were warm enough to remove our jackets, but we needed them when we had our picnic lunch.

Unfortunately the widespread low cloud meant it was not suitable for taking photographs of the views. A shame, because this favourite walk does offer great views. Even today they were impressive, sort of moody and atmospheric. But the photographs I took made it all look pretty grim.

After the recent rain the ground was wet in places, but the rocks were dry and the going was quite good. So providing it does not rain on Monday we will do the walk again then. Lets hope that we have better luck with the weather.