Sunday, 31 October 2010

30 Oct 2010 - Col de Rates

Paul and Jean, friends who live at Calaspara in Murcia, came to visit us for the weekend. They also enjoy walking, and have accompanied us on some of our favourite local walks during previous visits.

They had admired Col de Rates, our local mountain, and were looking forward to walking it. It was unfortunate that on the morning we planned it there was an overcast sky. After weeks of blue skies our timing was not good. But at least it was not raining.

Being overcast it was also quite chilly, so we wore jackets to start the walk. The walk starts with a gentle climb along the side of the mountain, and we were soon ready to take off the first layer.

The gentle climb soon becomes steeper, but good tracks all the way. After our recent experience of overgrown tracks we were pleased to find that these were quite clear. So the walk to the top was not too difficult.

It was windy and quite cold at the top, so we did not linger long. We had planned to stop for our picnic lunch just below the summit.

The path down is also quite good, and provides lovely views of Parcent and the Jalon Valley.

As soon as we stopped we had to put our jackets on again, as it was quite cold without the warming sun. We always take a flask of hot water on our walks to make fresh tea or coffee. And on a day like this it is particularly welcome.

The views from our chosen picnic site are the best in the area. Even on an overcast day like today they are impressive. There are panoramic views of the Jalon and Orba valleys, the surrounding mountain ranges and the coast from Denia to Calpe. We were able to point out the previous walks we had done together and villages they had visited

Although we have done this walk many times, it is always a joy to do it again. Even when the weather is less than perfect. And it is always particularly nice to show it to someone who has not walked it before.

The mosarabic path back to Parcent requires careful attention to where you are putting your feet. These old paths were well made, and survive the occasional “gota fria” rain storms. But they are very rocky, and many of them loose. This is good excuse for frequent short stops to admire the view.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

25 Oct 2010 - Fig Tree Walk

We have been unable to do this walk for about two years, due to the road to Castells being closed for widening. We were a little apprehensive at the start as there were black clouds and it looked like it might rain. As there was no sun it was quite cold, by our standards anyway. So most started the walk in jackets.

The start of the walk is a long uphill climb. It was not long before we had to stop to remove at least one layer of clothing.

There were 16 on the walk, quite a large number for a Monday Club. It was Barry’s first walk since the summer.

It was also the first time we had seen Colin for quite a long time. He had medical problems last time he was with us, and it was good to see him looking so well – at least at the start of the walk!

An hour later we reached our first stop. There is an abandoned farm at the first level area and we always have a short break here for a quick drink and get our breath back.

The first climb was long, but followed a well defined path. So Pat, who led the walk, told everyone to go at their own speed and we waited at the finca for everyone to catch up.

But not too long a break, and it was soon time to carry on

There is a very steep climb immediately after the finca. It follows a very ill defined track, which is difficult to find at the best of times. This was not the best of times, as it was very overgrown.

Despite this we made good progress, and were soon able to look back down at the finca where we had our short break.

Whilst Pat searched for the path we caught sight of this local. We think it is called a wasp (or perhaps bee) spider. We saw one in Wendy’s garden during our (wet) BBQ, but can’t remember whether it was wasp or bee.

When the Castells road is open this is a very popular walk, and is well supplied by cairns – including this unusual and attractive one. When you are trying to follow a difficult path like this one it is always a great relief to find a stone cairn confirming that you are on the correct path.

Once we reach the summit we reach this wide track, and follow it for an hour or so before we reach our lunch picnic spot. This is my favourite part of the walk; you can step out and enjoy the views without having to look at where you are putting your feet.

Lunch was in a lovely spot, with views over the valley towards Aitana and the mountains near Benidorm. By now the sky had cleared and the sun was warm. But the wind was still quite chill, so we did not have to look for shade.

After lunch it was a long downhill walk towards the finca and later the cars. The track was still wide and easy to follow, but no longer firm. It’s very easy to fall on this sort of surface, particularly going downhill. You tend to brace your legs a lot, making it quite tiring. The views remained impressive, but you had to stop if you wanted to look.

As always the walk ended at a local bar. You will note that I settled for a coffee (coffee in front on empty chair)! The arm on the left belongs to Barry. Everyone moved slightly back for the photograph and he ended out of it completely. I blame the photographer.!!

PS Just after I finished the blog I received an email from Wendy (who is very knowledgeable about these things) confirming that the spider is a Wasp spider and that his proper name is "Argiope Beuiennichi".

Saturday, 23 October 2010

23 Oct 2010 - Pinos Marnes Circuit

It is some months since we last walked with the CBMW, and we had forgotten how many cars there can be. The walk started just outside the mountain village of Pinos, and there was no formal car park. Even though we arrived 20 minutes before the walk was due to start, all available parking space had been taken. We had to pull in at the side of the narrow road as close to the edge as we dared.

We had also forgotten just how busy these walks can be. There were 49 walkers and the leader, Peter Barraclough, had to shout to make himself heard for the pre walk brief.

The 10 km walk started downhill and along the road towards Pinos. These are narrow and winding roads and quite dangerous when so many walkers are far more interested in talking than watching where they are walking.

In less than half a mile the 49 was reduced to 48. One walker fresh out from UK had not appreciated how difficult the terrain can be here. Although this walk was not particularly difficult, he packed it in as soon as we started on the first hill. The group had to wait until he reached the road, from where he would be unlikely to get lost on his way back to his car.

Our first stop was soon after we completed the climb. Many of the Monday Club were on this walk, and we had David and Rosemary for company.

Autumn is our favourite time of year for walking here in Spain. It’s similar to walking in UK on a particularly warm summer day. The breeze is quite cool and makes the walk really pleasant. Mind we have a lot more sunny days than you are likely to find in UK, even in high summer. The mountain scenery is very peaceful, or at least as peaceful as it can be when walking with a group of 48!

This 10km circular walk is in an area quite close to our last Monday Club walk, and we had the same Bernia mountains as a constant backdrop.

When walking in this area the CMBW always stop for lunch at the house of an elderly chap who used to be a leader with the group. That was long before we moved here, and we had never walked with him. But he makes the group very welcome to his very isolated home. He normally offers all a glass of wine, but he had a bad harvest this year. He did lay out a great collection of chairs, but not quite 48. By the time we got there the chairs were all taken, and we had to find a comfortable rock to sit on.

The return journey was mostly downhill on narrow and rocky paths. It is a feature of walking in this area that you spend a lot of time looking at your feet to make sure that you do not lose your footing.

Now this is a most unusual photo of David – walking on his own. Most unusual for him not to be having a chat as he walks.

The walk becomes quite spread out on these narrow tracks, and even with a back marker it is quite difficult to keep the group together. This calls for regular halts to allow everyone to catch up, and is one of the less attractive features of a CBMW walk.

Just under five hours after we started the walk we come within sight of the cars – always a welcome sight. Despite the large number of walkers this was a very enjoyable walk, and one we would like to repeat with the Monday Club.

Monday, 18 October 2010

18 Oct 2010 - Lleus to Pinos

Bright and sunny, though a little cooler than of late. An ideal day for our walk from Lleus to Pinos. Eleven of us today, just about right for a friendly walk. And nice to see Tom back again for the first time since May.

Its three years since Jan and I last did this walk. I was not too worried as I knew that Lleus was signposted off the mountain road to Pinos. What I did not know was that the second turning was signposted to a restaurant and not to Lleus. After an exciting tour around the ever narrow tracks we spotted Lleus church on the other side of the valley and finally found it.

We were not prepared for a herd of ostriches in a field by the side of the road. They were very timid at first, but soon got used to us and allowed us close enough to take a photograph.

First sight of Pinos, our destination. But though it seems very close across the valley, it would take us another hour or so to reach it.

“Hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil”. A nice shot of Sylvia, Pat and Rosemary.

This is a very varied walk, with lovely views of both the Bernia Mountains and the sea at Calpe. It starts with quite a steep climb, but that is followed by an easy walk through lovely scenery.

Just as we settled down for our “banana stop” a lady invited us to come to her house for our break. We thought that she was Spanish, but in fact turned out to be English. She lives in a house right in the middle of the campo and apparently relies on a well for her water and a solar panel for hot water. Unfortunately we did not take up her kind offer as it would have been interesting to see just what her house was like.

The last part of our walk to Pinos was along the dry river bed, with its dramatic rocks. It appears that the water has washed away the soft stone leaving these large rocks apparently balanced above the ground – very strange.

We also visit this river bed on another of our walks in the area, so we have seen it half a dozen times. It has always been very dry, except after very heavy rain. Even then the water soon dries out leaving the ground completely dry.

Part of the path was very overgrown with undergrowth. David was unwise enough to confirm that he had a secatares, and Pat soon had him clearing the whole path. The rest of us offered support, but very little assistance.

At the end of the dry river bed there is a steep climb up an overgrown track leading to the Pinos road.

Throughout the walk there are constant views of nearby Bernia Mountain.

We had lunch in the square outside Pinos church. All of the buildings have been renovated and painted recently, and the church itself now contains an art gallery. It was closed today, but there appeared to be an art class for a group of “Brits”. After lunch Pat described next week’s walk.

As we leave Pinos we pass this attractive finca.

Before we join the downhill path to Lleus there is time for one last group photo with Calpe and the Ifach as the backdrop.

Next Week’s Walk

The Fig Tree walk is another one which we have not been able to do for a long time, due to the Castell’s road being closed. Now that the road is open again it will be nice to do it again.