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.

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