Saturday, 8 May 2010

8 May 2010 - Calpe Ifach

When we moved to Spain in 2006 we spent a week in Calpe waiting for our house to be ready. On our first day we explored the town and visited the Ifach. We walked up to the information centre and on to the tunnel, but there we turned back as we were wearing sandles. However we promised we would return soon and finish the walk. It has taken four years to do so!

Warm and sunny morning for the drive to Calpe to meet David and Rosemary for today’s walk – the Ifach.

Anyone who has been to Calpe will know the Ifach, it dominates the whole town. It is a much visited nature reserve and the path to the information centre is an easy walk. From there on boots are recommended, though we did see many young visitors in sandals

It was very appropriate that we were met at the entrance by a sea bird, because we were to encounter many of them along the path and as it is the breeding season they were not always friendly. Both Jan and David were attacked by angry birds during the walk; Jan’s hat was even knocked off.

Along the path to the tunnel there are a number of well signed vantage points, and this seemed a good location for a photo opportunity.

This is the view from the vantage point, and we were already above the birds who circled below us.

We soon reached the tunnel, which was built in 1918 and leads through the rock to the north eastern side of the Ifach. The large numbers of people who had used it have polished the rock so much that they have become very slippery, which is why two ropes have been attached to the side of the tunnel as hand holds.

From here on the path becomes quite difficult, and there are signs warning that suitable boots should be worn and children not allowed. Despite this we passed at least two families with young children wearing sandals. We even met a teenager walking in bare feet!

This is pretty typical of the path beyond the tunnel. Again the rock is slippery and we had to use the ropes. Jan does not like “exposure” and did not really enjoy this part of the walk at all.

We soon reached this vantage point, and from here to the guard post at the sea end of the Rock the path is very good. The guard post is a small platform which used to be a lookout and which now offers some spectacular view out to sea.

This area was covered in nests and noisy sea birds who obviously were not pleased with our presence. It was surprising that the nests were so close to the path, which at least today was very busy.

The guard post was a very suitable spot for a well deserved rest. The walk had proved longer and more difficult that I had expected.

This is not the guard of the guard post; it is yet another angry sea bird. We did not realise when we decided to have a rest that there was a nest just behind the rock.

The nest is right behind Jan and me. But we found the birds did not seem to mind too much providing we were not too loud, and we did not approach too close to the nest.

It was not only the sea birds who kept us company, there were also plenty of butterflies. Unlike the birds, they did not seem to be bothered by us and allowed us to get quite close for photographs.

Half way back to the tunnel we found this sign, which directed us to the path leading to the top of the Ifach.

Then it was uphill once more, and it was back to poor and very slippery paths.

We could soon see the top of the Ifach and realised just how busy it was. Most visitors seemed to be teenagers or young families with children. Not too surprising, as we found it quite hard going. Though we did pass an older German lady who was also wearing sandals and dressed for a stroll along the promenade rather than for climbing.

It took us about half an hour to climb to the top and for much of the way there was no path and we had to scramble over rocks and pull ourselves up using the rope attached to the rock at the more difficult sections.

It was busy at the top, and quite difficult to move around because of the smooth rock slabs. But we managed to find a suitable spot to sit and admire the view.

And there was much to admire. This is the view to the right towards the La Fossa beach and beyond to the dive centre and further to Moraira

Directly below our viewpoint was Las Salinas, the lake and nature reserve, plus of course the yacht club.

Then to the left Platja Arenal Bol beach leading to the town centre.

We were quite surprised to find that the Ifach also had two young cats, who seemed very relaxed with the visitors who were quite happy to feed them. We did wonder how they would get on with the sea birds. They were quite prepared to attack humans who came too near, and the one who dive bombed Jan would have hurt her had she not been wearing a hat. So I hate to think what they might have done to these small cats.

We left our sandal wearing German lady here, and made our difficult way back downhill to the main path. We did feel a little guilty that we had not asked her to come with us. But we need not have worried; she overtook us before we reached the tunnel!

And then a final farewell to our feathered companions. It had been a lovely walk, though longer and more challenging than we expected. When we started at 11am I though we would be back down by lunchtime. It was in fact 3.30 pm by the time we got back to the cars. This was as long as many of our Monday Club walks, and every bit as tiring. We had all enjoyed the walk, and the extension to the top, even Jan. Though whether she would want to do it again remains to be seen.

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