Monday, November 16, 2009

16 Nov 2009 - Bernia Circuit

Its almost three years since we walked the Bernia circuit with the Monday Club, and I would have thought that there would have been a larger group than the 11 who took part. On the other hand it is quite a difficult walk, and includes a low tunnel through the mountain, so perhaps it was not too surprising.

It was a warm and sunny day, but with a lot of haze on the coast. So the views as we climbed were quite magical.

After an easy walk to the font, with very pleasant view to the coast, we filled our water bottles with the lovely cold water. Then it was uphill all the way to the tunnel. It is quite a steep path, with not many places to stop to rest. But it was on the shaded side of Bernia, so it was much cooler than exposed to the sun.

Sue was supposed to lead this walk, but was not able to make it today. Fortunately she had done a recce during the week with David, who was happy to lead. He set an excellent pace, not too fast or slow, and did not get lost once.

The tunnel is not easy to see until you reach it, but the path is now quite well signed and easy to follow. This is the final approach to the entrance to the tunnel.

The tunnel is quite low, and you have to crouch crab like to inch your way through. Its very hard on the legs and back. But the floor is often less than clean, as the goats often use it to shelter when it rains. Fortunately it was clean and dry today.

There is the most fantastic view towards Benidorm, Alicante and the Guadalest valley as you emerge from the tunnel.

There is also plenty of room to sit and recover, and to admire the view. We had our first “banana break” here to recover from the climb.

After the climbing on the shaded side we were now sitting in the warm sun and admiring the clear blue sky. It would have been easy to sit here for an hour or so, but we still had a long way to walk.

Just time for a group photo before David was blowing his whistle and warning “two minutes”. Time to pack our water bottles away, get our haversacks on and off we go.

The path had recently been greatly improved. The markings were on the old path, which was quite confusing. However both paths kept crossing each other, so it didn’t really matter which one we took. The newer one was easier to walk on, so we stuck to that

The path runs just below the summit of Bernia, and Pat stopped to admire the high peaks just above us.

An example of the peaks, which looked quite easy to climb but Peter confirmed were more difficult than they looked.

A lot of the path was like this, but a vast improvement on what it used to be like. Even though there was a lot of shale, a path had been cleared through it and clearly marked.

David and Peter were leading, with Pat in close support. The pace was excellent, and no one had any trouble keeping up. It was also quite a good pace, and we finished the whole walk in less than five hours.

I had forgotten that there are a few houses quite high on the slope of Bernia, and a very good road not much below our track.

Hard to believe that last week we all had our warm clothes on as it was very cold for our Green Horse walk. Today it was similar a warm summer day in UK, though with a pleasant cool breeze. November and December are often two of the best months for hill walking here on the Costa Blanca.

Although it looks quite difficult, the path was actually very safe and easy to follow. This is a spot where we had trouble finding the path when we last did it on our own, but it is now very well marked and easy to follow.

Although the path was pretty level for most of the way, there was the occasional section which involved a bit of a climb. We had now been walking for about three hours, and everyone was beginning to feel the heat and the strain.

You can see from this photo just how close we were to the actual jagged peaks of Bernia.

Lunch is in view as we approach Bernia Fort. This last section is along a level and well defined path. Although clearly in view, it is difficult to identify the Fort until you are very close as it is now a ruin and does not stand our from the surrounding hills.

We arrived just after 1pm and being in direct sun, and having been walking since 10am we were all “glowing”. So we needed to find a shaded spot for lunch.

Gathered in the shade of one of the ruins we spent a very pleasant half hour having our lunch. This photo was taken into the sun, and it was not as dark as it appears.

The lovely view into Guadalest valley from our picnic site.

Ken (far left) had hurt his finger when he stumbled during the early part of the walk. And received very little sympathy during lunch as he applied some very basis first aid. Everyone was quick to mock as he displayed the injured finger.