Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Snow in Parcent

No walking in the hills this week! It started on Sunday with overcast gloomy skies, which turned to rain by late afternoon. By nighttime it was heavy rain, which was to continue for 36 hours.

We woke on Monday morning to heavy rain and strong winds and worse of all bitterly cold. But even worse was to come. By lunch time we had our first power failure. Not just the lights, but also the water. This was to continue throughout the whole day and all night. The main problem is that we never know whether it will last for five minutes or five hours. It comes and goes throughout the day and night.

Incidentally Monday was also our 41st wedding anniversary. We had planned to go out for a meal, but couldn't be bothered to get dressed up in the dark, and as the power cut was throughout Parcent, and Monday is closing day for most restaurants, it was unlikely that anything would be open anyway. But with a roaring fire and candle light it was quite a romantic meal. Fortunately we cook with gas so Jan was able to make the dinner - also by candlelight.

Then on Tuesday morning we woke up to the first snow we have had in our four years here in Parcent. Only a light scattering on the mountain tops, but unusual enough to take a few photographs. And of course our usual blue skies. By lunchtime it was warm enough to eat lunch on the naya and even have a little snooze afterwards.

But when the sun goes down so does the temperatures. Winter has arrived and our annual battle with the cold. These houses are designed for keeping cool in the summer, not for keeping warm in the winter.

The forecast is for slightly warmer weather and no more rain. So it looks like back to normal next week.

Monday, December 7, 2009

7 Dec 2009 - Lliber

We do two walks from Lliber, but this is my favourite. Its called Font l'Axia, or something very similar. A much more difficult climb than the other, but well worth it for the views and the valley walk back.

The walk starts in the village of Lliber, which is about 10 miles from Parcent. We parked in the central car park, which was quite busy due to today being a religious fiesta day. Its a tiny village, so we were soon out in "the campo". The path is not very clearly marked, so Pat did very well not to lose it.

One of the nice things about the Monday Club is that there is always someone to help anyone who needs it over the more difficult parts. This time Peter and Barry were providing the helping hands.

Once we started climbing it was not long before the jackets came off, though not the jumpers yet.

This is very typical of the walking in this area. The pace is not too fast, but quite steady. There is quite a climb to do, even though it is a quite gradual assent.

The first "proper stop". By now most are in shirt sleeves as the the combination of the climb and the sun has warmed us all up. Still quite a bit to climb, but a good spot for a group photograph.

The ever changing scenery looking towards the Jalon valley and the mountains beyond.

Almost there, though there was a false summit which was the cause of some "mumbling in the ranks". If people are able to complain it is a good indication that the pace is not too fast!

When we reached the top we had this wonderful view of Montgo and the coast . This is looking towards Pedreguer and Denia.

A short stop at the top, and another opportunity for one more group photograph....

....and then its back downhill again. The path down was considerably worse than the really good one coming up.

This narrow cleft in the rock is called something like "fat man's pass", or more likely "slim man's pass", because it is so narrow.

Throughout the decent there are excellent views of the coast. Though a bright and sunny day, it was quite misty and not very good for long distance shots.

Again Pat's call "can we have a man at the front" was answered - this time by Bob and (of course) Barry.

As we neared the valley bottom the path improved. It was still necessary to watch where you put your feet, but the track was much wider and more distinct. The paths had been marked recently on this side of the mountain, so following the path was pretty easy.

This reservoir was an ideal place to have our picnic lunch. The sun was now high and very warm and pleasant. Its quite easy to forget that it is mid December, it feels just like a warm spring day in UK.

This lovely clearing, which could easily be Scotland, was our lunch view

No picnic site or tables, but we are well used to making the best of what is available. This time is was the low wall. Fairly easy to get down, but some had problems getting up again!

After lunch it was a nice level walk along the valley back to Lliber. It was lovely to be able to step out and not have to take care where we put our feet down. However it was close to here that Jan fell off the path when she spent too much time looking at the view. Fortunately no damage done.

It doesn't take much to excite our interest, such as this plastic snow man in the garden of a house we passed. It gets very windy at this time of year and his arms were secured to the ground with chains to prevent him blowing away.

The latter part of the walk was along a dry river bed. Unusually the path was closed by the owner to prevent walkers using it. The river bed was not difficult, and was a contrast to the rest of the walk.
Just before we got back to Lliber, we passed this herd of bulls. They were not fenced in and seemed to be spread out over quite a big area.

As ever we finished the walk in the bar in Lliber village square. This was a longer than usual walk, but no one wanted to miss the end of walk drink

Ann has a well deserved reputation for enjoying a brandy at the end of the walk, which makes everyone else very jealous. Especially Jan, who was sitting next to her and could smell it!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

5 Dec 2009 - Orba Castle

Orba Castle is one of our local walks, in fact this photo was taken from the end of our road.

Its always difficult to know what to wear for walking at this time of year. This morning we had blue skies, but it was cold enough to need a coat. We both love December and January, because it feels so fresh - like Spring in UK.

The first part of the walk is through "the campo" through masses of orange trees. The mountain is "The Green Horse", another favourite of ours. We usually walk in a group, but its nice to be on our own for a change. Everything is so quiet and peaceful.

This is pretty typical of the paths we use. They are not marked, and you only know about them by someone else taking you the first time. We have done this walk about 20 times, but earlier this year we took a wrong turning on the way back - too busy talking! There are many paths and most of them are farmers paths which only lead to his field.

After half an hour we reach the barranco (a dry river bed). This used to be a narrow river bed overgrown with weeds and bamboo. But a couple of years ago we had a big storm which resulted in heavy floods, and this river was completely changed. For months we could not do this walk at all as the water was too deep - and about four times as wide as we had ever seen it before. It is now almost completely dry, but still the same width. Very impressive, and unlike anything we had seen in UK.

Next comes the village of Murla, and then into the campo again heading for Orba Castle. The village was very busy, which is most unusual. First there was a market in the square, with lots of cheap and tacky Christmas decorations. Then there were a large group of hunters meeting in the village before setting off for a days shooting.

The climb is not too difficult, though it is on very bad tracks. There is a new "official" route, but we prefer our old one. It was not as overgrown as we feared it might be. It involves a little scrambling, but there are plenty of places to stop for a short break.

Two hours after we left the house we were at the castle. I am not sure how long the walk is, about 10-12 km I would think - plus the climb of course.

And this is the view which makes it all worth while. The castle is in ruins, but there is plenty of space to find shade or shelter from the wind if required. Today this was not necessary as it was sunny and warm when we reached the top.

We had the castle to ourselves, and we choose to sit facing the coast to have our picnic lunch. It is not the most comfortable place to sit, and you have to move around to find a spot that is not too uncomfortable.

This is the view we had whilst we ate our lunch. The town is Orba, and the mountains behind Benimeli (The Aerials walk). Orba valley leads to the coast at Ondara, which is near Denia. Today is a fiesta, and whilst we ate we could hear a distant band playing in either Orba or one of the other villages.

It was very pleasant sitting in the sun, but you don't want to sit for too long or you get stiff and its difficult to get going again. We took about half an hour for our lunch, and were off again before 12.30pm.

Half an hour later we were down in the valley again, and were home by 2.30pm. Even after a shower it was still warm and sunny on the naya, where it was 23 degrees in the shade. Just right for a well deserved cup of coffee, a short read and a doze!