Saturday, 29 January 2011

29 Jan 2011 - Parcent to Jalon

 This was the third Saturday that we walked from Parcent to Jalon, about 8 miles return.   Jan’s back is still very painful, and she is unable to do our normal walks.  This one is relatively flat, so she can manage it ok.
 For the past two weeks we have done the return walk on the valley path, which is a better surface and not so much climbing.   But today she was feeling a little better, and able to tackle the “high road” along the side of the Col de Rates.
 After a week of cold and overcast  weather, the sun was out today.   But the tracks were very wet and the mud built up in layers on our walking boots.  It made walking quite uncomfortable and difficult, and we were glad to reach a better road surface as we neared Jalon.
 Saturday is Rastro market day in Jalon, a sort of car boot sale with stalls.   It always attracts a good crowd, and today was no exception.  I expect a lot wanted to get out in the sun after a cold and overcast week.
 The valley is famous for its grapes, and its bodega’s ……..

 ….and its orange trees…..

 ….and at this time of year its almond trees

The almond trees are quite ugly most of the time, but for a week or so each year they transform the valley with their blossoms.   They are just starting to flower this week, but within ten days or so the valley will be covered in white and pink blossoms. 

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

24 Jan 2011 - Montgo Hidden Valley

 Since New Year we have had an unseasonal warm spell, but winter has finally arrived on the Costa Blanca.  It was bitterly cold as we met to start the walk, and everyone was too cold to pose for photos.  It was only when the climb has warmed everyone up that there was an opportunity for a combined photo and banana stop.
 I will always remember this walk as “Janets Walk”.   As we neared the top Janet slipped and fell.   Peter and I went to help and to make sure she was ok.   I then took her hands and Peter supported her back to pull her up.   Because of her position she was unable to help us by pushing with her feet, and as I pulled she slid along rather than came upright.   I was horrified to hear myself say “I thought you had lost weight”.   It was one of those terrible times when you speak before you think – or at least I do!   In fact Janet has lost a considerable amount of weight recently, and the problem was her position rather than her weight.   I think Janet was just glad to get upright.   I was mortified.   It was not helped by David loudly pointing out that what I had said was not very gallant!

 This is one of three walks we have done previously on Montgo.   This one usually heads for the cross, and has the uninspired name “Montgo Cross”.   The climb is up a narrow gully which Pat calls “Mongo Hidden Valley”.   It was too cold to make the extra climb to the cross worth while today, so the second name is more appropriate

 Montgo is one of those walks where the path is so difficult that you really do have to watch every step, and stop to admire the constantly changing views.   So it is a relief to get a relatively good path like this one.

We would normally have lunch as soon as we completed the climb, or when we reached the cross.   Because of the cold we did the initial climb quite quickly, and also abandoned all thoughts of the cross.   It was therefore too early for lunch at our usual spot, and we set off again.

By the time we reached our picnic site the sun had come out, and as our spot was sheltered from the wind it was quite comfortable.   Peter (centre) is not really as cold and miserable as he looks!

The brief gap in the clouds opened up this sunny view of Denia.

Unfortunately Jan had to miss this walk.   Her back is much better, and she can manage an easy walk on a level path.  On Saturday we walked to Jalon from Parcent, a return walk of about 9 miles, and she managed ok.   But today’s walk was neither easy nor level. 

After lunch we continued our walk for an hour or so, finally reaching this lovely view, just before the path started downhill.

By now the clouds had hidden the sun, and the icy wind was blowing again.   No one really wanted to standaround too long for a photo opportunity.

Because we had missed the climb to the cross, Pat treated us to an extension of an hour or so towards the Iberian settlements on the far slope of Montgo.

Another very enjoyable walk, despite the cold wind.   At least it did not rain, and we soon warmed up as we climbed.   It does mean that we have shorter breaks, and tend to finish the walk earlier than normal.  The only drawback to this walk is that there is no café at the end for a warm drink, or perhaps something stronger.

Next Week

Ken and Sylvia have offered to lead a new walk, or at least new to the Monday Club.   They have sent me the following directions to the meeting point.  Because we then have to travel on to the walk, Pat has asked that everyone get there by 0950, so we can start the walk at the usual 1000.

Travelling from the South take the N332 northbound – direction Oliva/Valencia.
(If travelling on the motorway leave at exit 62 – Ondara.)
Just after Km 201 take the CV700 exit (Pego/El Verger) Keep right to join the CV700 in the direction of Verger. On your left you will pass the Greenwich Meridian sign and just before reaching the roundabout will see the Verger industrial area on your left with the motorbike on top of a building. Go almost 360o round the roundabout to enter the industrial area and park on the left – you will be on a road running parallel to the CV700 at that point.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

17 Jan 2011 - Granadella

 Since we returned from UK we have had blue skies and warm sun every day, however this morning was grey with a heavy sea mist.   However that did not prevent us doing this lovely coastal walk.   There were nine in the group this morning – Jan was a notable absentee.   Last Saturday she fell quite badly on our Pedreguer walk, and bruised her back.  Then she did the Bernia walk last Monday, and made it even worse.   She went to our local GP on Tuesday and has spent most of the week in bed.   So no walk for her today.

There was no break in the heavy mist as we climbed the hill leading to the coast.   This is normally an impressive part of the walk, with lovely views of the coastline.  But not today.   We are quite spoiled walking here, and are quick to complain when weather conditions are less than perfect.
 The under growth seemed particularly high, but did not hide the misty views of the coast ahead.
 Our first stop was this ruined fort.  It was built to defend the area against Moorish pirates in 1740, and was destroyed by the British some 80 years later during the Napoleonic Wars.   It now provides a romantic spot, with lovely sea views, to have a short break.
 Although a signed foot path, this stretch is not quite up to UK coastal paths.   A lot of work has been done in recent years to improve the path, including this chain to help walkers over one particularly bad patch.
 Quite soon we come within sight of Granadella beach, where we will have our picnic lunch.
Just before we start to descend to the beach there is another difficult section, but this time we have the use of solid wooden handrails.
 This is normally a very popular beach, but today we have it all to ourselves.   No doubt due to the still overcast weather.
 I should say that we had to beach to ourselves – almost.   The exception was this cheeky sea gull.
 I was seated on a ledge over the sea to have lunch, and I dropped a sandwich in the sea.  The tide swept it under the ledge, and the gull was too nervous to come and get it.   He kept coming closer and closer, but eventually gave up.   Ken, who is soft as the rest of us, went down to fetch the bread out of the water, and threw it towards the gull.  From the speed with which he ate it he obviously likes ham and bread – but he was not so keen on the gherkin which he refused to eat.

Then the long walk back to the cars.   The sun did make an appearance, but only a very short one.   Despite this a very enjoyable walk.

Next Week

Montgo and the hidden valley.   Up to the cross if weather permits.   Meet at Los Lagos at 10am.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

10 Jan 2011 - Bernia

 A good turn out for our first Monday Club walk of the year.  The weather was also kind, with bright blue skies.   It’s hard to believe that just over a week ago we did our New Years Day walk in the artic conditions of Rothbury.
 The Bernia circuit is a lovely walk, and it has recently been made more accessible with the addition of good route marking and even information boards – in English.
The walk starts with a serious uphill walk.   There is little opportunity to enjoy the views, except during the occasional pause to let your breathing settle down a little.
 It is not necessary to climb to the summit; there is a tunnel through the mountain.   The short stop to adjust packs was a good opportunity for a group photo.   The tunnel is quite wide enough, but low in parts.   It is not possible to walk upright, and even bending a haversack is likely to catch the roof.  
It’s never very dark inside, and you can soon see the exit hole with its fantastic view of the coast towards Benidorm.
 Everyone is quite pleased to leave the tunnel and be able to stand upright…..
…..and to enjoy a banana stop with such excellent views.
 The change from one side of Bernia to the other is striking.   The climb was on the shaded side of the mountain.
 But you as you leave the tunnel you are met with brilliant sunshine.   Mind the breeze was cool enough to need jumpers.
 There is now a long, but reasonably level, walk just below the summit to the abandoned fort.
This path used to be quite difficult to follow, but there has been a lot of work done in the past year to improve and sign the path.
 This path used to be quite difficult to follow, but there has been a lot of work done in the past year to improve and sign the path.
 There are still difficult sections, like this scree section.   But even here the path is marked.
We reached the abandoned fort at 1.03pm, not bad for our expected 1pm lunch stop
We had enjoyed clear skies throughout the walk so far, but now the clouds began to appear.   Without the direct sun, the strong cold winds ensured we did not stop too long for lunch. 
The long walk downhill to the cars is on a very good path
 An excellent walk, and one which we always enjoy.   We had been warned that there were a herd of bulls loose on the Bernia, but fortunately we did not meet up with them.   Though in parts we did have to be careful not to step in amble proof that they were around.

Next Week

Meet at the hipicia at 10am for the popular Granadella circular walk

Sunday, 9 January 2011

8 Jan 2011 - Castell de Axia

 Dave and Sue are the owners of Casa Carrascal in Parcent and offer guided walking holidays.   Last year we mentioned that we had started walking in the Pedreguer area, and suggested that it might be suitable for their clients.   They were interested, but it took about four or five months for them to find time to come and have a look.

 They are so busy with their casa rural, and particular their walking holidays, that we do not see a lot of them these days.   So when we do meet there is always a lot of news to catch up on – particularly for Jan and Sue.

 They had not explored this area previously, and were impressed with the variety of scenery and the good paths.   We were pleased that they agreed it would be very suitable to include in their enlarged range of walks.
 We were fortunate to have a sunny day, very suitable both for walking and taking photographs.

 We took our jackets with us, but were soon warm enough to take them off and walk in shirt sleeves.   Its exactly one week since our New Years Day walk in the hills above Rothbury.   What a difference seven days, and walking in Spain rather than UK, can make.

There was a stiff wind when we reached Castell d’Axia.   Cool enough to put our jackets on, but not too cold to enjoy our picnic lunch.   In fact it was so pleasant we were reluctant to start the journey back.

Everyone, including Charlie (their dog), enjoyed the walk.   And a nice coffee con leche in a café in Pedreguer ended the day nicely.