Tuesday, 29 March 2011

28 Mar 2011 - Castel de Axia Pedreguer

 After a couple of grey, or even, wet Monday’s today was warm and sunny.   We had a good turn out for this lovely walk, including Peter and Ann visiting from UK.  Lots of shorts in view, and (almost) everyone in shirt sleeves.
 The walk starts with quite a long, but not too steep, uphill section.   For the first part it is in the shade, and we set a good pace as it is still cool out of the sun.
 We soon gain height and emerge into the sun, with lovely views back to Pedreguer and the coast behind. 
This one is especially for Rosemary.   She and David have returned to UK for a few weeks, and were missed today.  This is one of David’s favourite walks, and he “discovered” it for the Monday Club.   Rosemary is the most knowledgeable of the group as far as flowers are concerned, and without her none of us could identify this one.
 After the initial climb, there follows a long level section, with excellent views over the coast.  We often take our first break along this section, and today was no exception when we had our “official banana stop” here.
Although flat and a good path, it is necessary to take care as the path is covered with loose stones and rocks.   It was along here that Jan fell recently and hurt her shoulder.
 To reach the castlel involves another climb, and I did suggest that some of the group might prefer to have lunch at the base.  I was pleased that there were no takers, as the view from the top is really spectacular.
Pat and Barry in animated conversation.   Not sure what it was about, but it looks interesting!
 This time of year is ideal for walking here on the Costa Blanca.   Throughout the year we have bright sunny weather most of the time.   But after a few overcast days we appreciated the sun and blue skies more than ever.  And whilst warm enough to be comfortable in shirt sleeves and shorts, the sun was not so hot that we had to seek shade.
 After lunch it was downhill all the way back.   A little too much downhill at the start, but once off the hill it was a gentle walk back to the cars.  
 Another treat for Rosemary!   I am well known as the member of the group who knows least about flowers, but Jan kept a keen look out for suitable flowers to photograph.

We are spoilt for choice for bars in Pedreguer.   This one was new to me, but very welcome.   Our after walk drink may not be the best part of the walk, but it quite near the top.   For the first time this year I choose a nice cold Clara (shandy) in place of my usual coffee con leche.

Next Week

Another attempt to walk The Green Horse.   This is one of our favourites, but it is often cloudy when we attempt it with the Monday Club. Last time it was also very windy, and we had to do an alternative walk.   Hoping for better luck next Monday.  Meet near Bar Oasis in Benimaurell at the usual time.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

19 Mar 2011 – Parcent to Jalon

 We were unable to join the Monday Club walk this week, as we had to go to Denia.    So when we woke to a warm and sunny Saturday morning we decided to walk into Jalon so that I could get a haircut.   We repeated last Monday’s walk, but this time in the sun.   What a shame that we did not have this weather for our proposed Carrascal walk last Monday.
 What a difference blue skies and a little sun make.  
We took the high road to Jalon, along the side of Col de Rates rather than through the valley.   Last Monday the path was muddy and hard going in our waterproofs with the rain pouring down.   Today a nice casual pace in shirtsleeves.
Slightly hazy, but still sunny enough to bring the valley alive with light and shade.   And the spring flowers are just starting to make their appearance.
 When we reached Jalon we found that all the shops were closed, due to Fiesta.   So no haircut!   It was too hot to sit in the main square, as there were no umbrellas in sight.  So we visited Bar Caty instead.
The Saturday Rastro market was well attended, again due to the weather.  We always feel we should look around the stalls, but by the time we reach the end we are frustrated and impatient with the crowds.
 Right at the end of the Rastro was a nice surprise, a new ice cream van.   It’s the first time we have seen it at the Rastro, and on such a warm day it was too tempting to ignore.
 Despite being a holiday weekend the valley path back to Parcent was very quiet.  Once we cleared the crowds at the Rastro we had the valley to ourselves.
Our house in on the hill to the right of Parcent.   When we feel energetic we walk from the house, but that involves a steep hill climb right at the end.   On a hot day this is quite a challenge after a 10 mile walk.   This morning we felt quite guilty as we drove to the start of the walk.  But no such reservations at the end of the walk to have the luxury of driving up the hill.

Next Week

Meet at the start of the Castell d’Axia walk in Pedreguer at 1000.     

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

14 Mar 2011 – Parcent to Jalon

This week we planned to walk the Carrascal Ridge, a new and quite long walk starting from the Piscina in Parcent.   This was the view of the ridge from our balcony when we had to make the decision whether to walk or not.
We decided to meet anyway, and decide whether to carry on up the ridge, or do an alternative low level walk.   By the time everyone had arrived it was not only dense low clouds, but it had started to rain as well

Nine of us turned up, and some had come quite a long way.  So I was reluctant to cancel the whole walk.  So we all agreed that we would walk from Parcent to Jalon.   Just as wet as the ridge, but without the climb.   And the view in the valley would be just as good as on the cloud covered ridge.

It’s not often that you see the Monday Club dressed like this.  In fact it’s the first time that I can remember that we actually started a walk in the rain.  It was not heavy, but it was determined.   We did not take our water proofs off until we reached Jalon.

We walked in along the “higher path”, very pretty in good weather - but very muddy today.   It was not long before it felt like we were walking on stilts, as the layers of mud on the soles of our boots increased.

We had planned to have lunch in the open in Jalon, but it was still raining when we arrived.   Fortunately Jan’s Spanish teacher also works in one of the bars, and she agreed that we could eat our sandwiches in the bar providing we each bought a drink.   In fact I think she was quite pleased to get some custom, because the bar was almost empty due to the weather.

After lunch the weather cleared a little.  The rain stopped and we could feel the sun through the low cloud.   Because of the weather we had walked quite quickly, and we were almost back in Parcent by 1pm – the “official” lunch time.  So we stopped at the church near Alcalali for a second lunch break.

Certainly not one of our better walks.  But better than abandoning the walk completely, going home and sitting indoors all day looking out at the rain.   It also made us appreciate how lucky we are to have so few wet days here.
Next Week

El Cau.  Meet by the side of the road, just after the first bridge on the Jalon to Pinos road, not at the firing range like we usually do.   Meet at 10am as usual.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

7 Mar 2011 – Serrella Castle from Castells

It was nice to be back walking with the group, after our absence last week.   We used to park at the camp site to do this walk, but it is very isolated and there have been reports of thefts from cars there.   Ken and Sylvia were not able to walk today, and were missed as they are such reliable walkers.   David did duty as “tail end Charlie” until Ken returns to assume his regular post.

Meeting in the village meant that we had to walk up to the camp site, a distance of about half a mile or so.   We had always driven there, so I was quite surprised to find that it involves a very steep road climb!

This is a really lovely walk, in very pretty countryside.   We have not done it for more than a year, because the road was closed for upgrading.   The walk starts with a steady climb on good mosarabic paths, with views of Castells in the valley below.
Although bright and sunny, there was a very cold wind.   But after our climb all the jackets and jumpers came off for the group photo

A short walk brought us to this popular view point.   Pat was kind enough to allow us a banana stop whilst we enjoyed the view.   But not too long, as the wind soon cooled us down again.   Note the snow on Aitana in the background
After our recent good weather we were surprised to find so much snow on Aitana.   We had noticed it last Saturday, but apparently there was none last Monday when the group walked in that area.  Helps to explain the very cold winds.
A very steep climb on a forestry type road brought us to Serrella Castle.   By then most of us were more than ready for a rest, but Peter led a small group with more energy than sense to climb to the castle.  We have done it before, and it does have wonderful views, but we were quite happy with the one from the bottom.
This is a view of  Serrella Castle, looking back from our lunch spot.   You can see why the wiser, or perhaps less fit, decided against another look from the top.

This is the view looking the other way, towards our lunch area where the road reaches the mountain opposite.   It looks quite gentle from this angle……….

……but less so from this angle.   After a decent there is another steep climb to reach our lunch stop.   Even  Peter looks weary, mind he has just climbed  Serrella Castle

For once no photos of us having lunch, just one of our unexpected visitors.   There was no sign of them when we arrived, but as we stated to eat they appeared.   They stood and watched us for a while, and then just ambled off.   No sign of a goat herder, but he must have been somewhere near.
On reaching our lunch spot we had done all of the climbing for the day.  The return journey was along a nice path with extensive views.   For once the path was good enough to look around and admire them, though many were too busy talking to do so – not unusual for the Monday Club!

Finally back to Castells.   We followed the same morasabic trail we used coming up, so the decent was quite easy, though hard on the legs.

Next Week

Meet at the Parcent swimming pool car park at 0945 for a new walk for the group – Carascal ridge.   From the car park we climb up to the ridge at a nice easy pace.   I know it will be nice and easy, because I will be setting it.   We then walk along the ridge towards the aerials, and then down the winding road to Col de Rates.   We will have left sufficient cars here to take us back to the swimming pool.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

5 Mar 2011 - Green Horse

We had not planned to walk today, because we have to be back early to meet with friends.  But the sun was shinning when we woke up, and we have not had a walk since last Monday.   By the time we reached Benimaurell the sun had disappeared behind a lot of cloud.

 Without the sun it was quite cold, even with the steep climb from the village
Even on a dull day the views are impressive, which is what makes it our favourite walk.   We were pleased to see that the signs have all been replaced, which makes the walk even more accessible.   This is always a popular walk, and we quite expected to meet other walkers.   The only other walkers we met were a couple of English holidaymakers.   They were walking the area with the help of the Bob Stansfield book and a local map.   I was impressed, the only time I tried one of the walks in that book I got hopelessly lost.
We have never climbed to the cross before, and decided to try it today.  The path starts quite good, but is soon overgrown and eventually disappears.  Then it is a scramble to the top.   To be honest it was more effort than it was worth.   It was nice to see it once, but doubt we will bother again.
 The views down the valley are something else.  But it was much too cold in the strong wind to hang about for long.
 As we wanted to get back early we did walk as far as the restaurant as we usually do, but turned back towards Benimaurell as soon as we got off the ridge.   The almond blossoms have all gone in the Jalon valley, but there are still some here, and we found this sheltered spot for a belated lunch
It’s a lovely walk back to the village on this path along the side of the Green Horse.   We were surprised to find two small rock falls on the path, neither large enough to block the path itself.   They were apparently caused by the recent rain.   Looking up and seeing the large rocks overhanging the path we were inclined to walk just a little faster.
Throughout the walk the sun had come and gone, depending on the moving clouds.   As we neared the end of the walk it was shinning directly on our destination – the village of Benimaurell.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

28 Feb 2011 – Fontilles

We didn’t really fancy the long drive for the Monday Club walk today, so we arranged to do a local walk with Dave, Sue and (of course) Charlie.   David is doing a report on the Monday Club walk on his blog http://rosemaryydavid.blogspot.com/

We have not done this walk for two or three years, and I was not sure that I would remember it all.   It starts with a climb up the wooded hills above the leper hospital of Fontilles.  At the top is an abandoned building which was once a music room.   Someone had left a piano outside and Jan could not resist doing her Jerry Lee Lewis impersonation.
The collection of artistic cairns which we had been impressed with on our first walk are still there, though not necessarily in the same place.

The weather forecast promised a cloudy day with possible light rain.   We did not have the rain, but we did have bitterly cold winds to go with the cloudy sky.
 Dave and Sue offer walking holidays in Parcent, and he takes photographs of his walks for the Casa Carrascal blog.   He is particularly fond of local flowers, so this is a view we are quite used to.
 It was too cold to stop for long, so we kept up a good pace.   We soon arrived at the wall surrounding Fontilles.   The high wall runs for miles over the surrounding hills, and we found the door locked.  It was secured by a bolt, and fortunately there was a gap in the door so we could slide it back to get in.   Otherwise it might have been a very long detour. 
Fontilles was founded as a leper colony in the early part of the last century.  It is still used as a hospital and training centre.   The buildings are large and impressive, especially the church.   The grounds cover a large area, and are always very peaceful and quiet.  A lovely place to visit.
It is only a short walk back to the car, but by now the wind had died down and the weak sun was quite pleasant, so we had a short break.   Coffee for us, water for Charlie.
 Dave and Sue had booked lunch at the Parcent Cooperativea, and as we had not eaten during the walk we were pleased to join them.   We have been there for lunch before, but I was quite surprised how busy it was today.  Because of the weather we all sat inside.

Apparently each Monday they offer a local meal called Puchero as part of the menu del dia.   It is a very rustic stew, with huge portions of vegetables and a lump of fat which it is cooked in.It sounds, and even looks, pretty grim.  But it is very tasty and just what we needed after our very cold alternative Monday walk.

Next Week

Castells circular walk.   Meet in the village just before the T junction.  Plenty of parking on the main road through the village.