Monday, 5 April 2010

5 Apr 2010 - Col de Rates

We met in Jalon car park for yet another new walk. This time it was our old favourite Col de Rates, but via the Stations of the Cross from Jalon. So not quite a new walk, rather a combination of two old ones. When the CBMW do the Stations of the Cross it is usually a short walk combined with a lunch. However we would join the Barranco Negro path and continue up to the Col de Rates.

Most of the villages in this area have their own Stations of the Cross on a nearby hill, and Jalon is no exception. It would have been more appropriate to do this walk on Good Friday, but Easter Monday was quite close.

The path soon leveled out and led through this very English looking wood. Unfortunately there was more cloud today than recently, and the breeze was cool

Our destination, the Col de Rates, soon came into view. Not one of the big peaks in the distance, but the col between them.

Then came views down the Jalon Valley, with Parcent and its white church tower in the centre.

When we last did this walk, about three years ago, the heather and bracken was much thicker and higher. This area is used by local hunters, and perhaps they have cleared the path. Whatever the reason, it was much easier going today than last time.

Margaret is a Monday Club regular, and it was nice to see Heinz again as he has not walked with us for some time.

Pat and Mick have also walked with the group for many years. They have a holiday home here, and spend each Monday with us when they are in Spain.

It took us about two hours to reach the junction with the Barranco Negro. Good view of the Donkey Sanctuary and Bernia, and our road is the one going to the right.

It was not long before we were climbing again. This is the hardest part of the climb, but Peter set an easy pace and it seemed much easier than when Jan and I do it on our own.

David and Pat take a short break.

At the top of the climb there is a finca where we normally have a break, but there were three cars there today and it was obviously occupied. There was not a suitable alternative, but we were all ready do lunch as it was gone 1pm, so we just sat beside the track.

We have done all of the climbing and it was now a pleasant walk to the Col de Rates. We call this the “hidden valley” as it is a well cultivated area surrounded by the mountains. Coming at the end of our difficult climb it is striking, though there is a good road from the opposite direction.

Having reached our objective there was just time for a short stop to admire the view down the Jalon Valley.

There are three paths leading up to the Col de Rates, and our one back to Jalon was the worse of the three. It used to be a very good path until it was badly damaged in heavy rain a few years ago. No effort has been made to repair it, and it now requires great care and a little scrambling to descend in safety.

Despite the overcast skies it proved a very enjoyable walk, and an interesting variation to our well walked Col de Rates.

Next Week

Pat confirmed that Ann has offered to lead next week’s walk, but she was not sure exactly where it would go. The start point is off the Calpe to Altea road. Just before the first tunnel you turn right and pass rubbish bins. Those of you who have done this walk before will recognize the description; anyone else should ring Ann for further directions.

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