Tuesday, November 24, 2009

23 Nov 2009 - Benimeli Aerials

These are the aerials from Benimeli, a lovely walk and not nearly as difficult as it looks. There were 17 for the walk, a good turn out for the Monday Club. This is a walk which Jan and I do quite often, as it is a favorite to take our fitter visitors. Not too much climb and spectacular views of the coast, Jalon and Orba valleys.

This local turned up as we were putting our boots on. I have never seen him before, and am not sure whether he was some sort of local character. He made a great fuss of getting us to move off the road so that he could get his horse and cart past, but I think it was all a bit of an act.

The walk starts with a stroll through the village and then uphill following the stations of the cross. It is quite a steep climb, and no where to stop for a break. Though we did have short stops just to allow everyone to keep up.

The weather today was pretty well ideal for walking. Warm sun and clear blue skies, with a cool wind. Fortunately the first part of the climb was in the shade, because we were soon feeling quite warm enough without our jumpers or jackets.

We were soon well above the valley and I could tell by the constant nattering that the pace was not too fast for anyone. Normally we allow everyone to climb at their own pace, but on a narrow track like this it is not possible. So setting a suitable pace for everyone is not easy.

It took us just over half an hour to reach our first halt. This was at an abandoned finca on a flat area just before we started the second stage of the climb. It’s a good spot to have a short break. There is plenty of space to sit, and the walls provide shelter from the wind. This was not really necessary today, as it is also a nice little sun trap.

Time for our first group photo before we set off again. This was the last walk before they return to UK for David and Rosemary, and he also takes photographs of the walks. So in the group photographs either he or is are always missing. I took this one, but I have a copy of the one he took with me in it as well.

The views of the valley are always changing as we climb. The village on the right is Benimeli where we started, then Rafol on the right and Sagra on the far right. Orba is in the middle distance and behind is “Cavall Verde” (our Green Horse walk).

The second part of the climb is short and sharp. There are many paths to the top, many of them marked by different groups. However last year a new official path was marked in green and white, and that is the one we followed today. It is slightly longer and more winding than the old one, but it is a much easier climb. I offered to let the group use any path they preferred, but all opted for the official one when I told them it was an easier climb.

At the top is a lovely view point, shaded by this large tree. There is also a car park and a picnic area with wooden tables. Fortunately it was empty today, because it is really annoying to do all of that climbing and then find a group sitting and enjoying the view who have only walked a few yards from their car.

It was a clear day and we had views of the coast all the way to Valencia and beyond. There were also views of the coast and of course of Montgo overlooking Denia. The area directly in front is a large rice fields which are famous locally for bird watching.

From here there is a steep climb up the road leading to the aerials, and then a nice flat walk past the Iberian ruins to our picnic spot at the end of the ridge. Lots of flat rocks to sit and eat our picnic lunch.

I climbed this rock to take photos of the group at lunch, and of the surrounding area. Whilst there David took this photo of me.

A lovely view of Montgo with Denia and the coast behind. I seem to take one of this view every time we do this walk. But I never tire of these views or enjoy sitting in a sunny spot having lunch. It always makes us realize how very lucky we are t o live in such a lovely area.

A rare photo of Jan and I together, again courtesy of David. Jan did complain at having to climb up the rock to have it taken, but I think it was well worth the effort.

Sue making the best of a quiet moment to sit and admire the views.

Another view of the rice fields and the coast behind. The whole coast from Benidorm in the south to Ondara in the north is covered with urbanizations. They all have sea views and consist of a narrow strip of housing. Most are holiday homes, and are deserted at this time of year.

Everyone is very comfortable sitting in the warm sunshine, and not in any hurry to start walking again. But you have to be careful not to sit for too long, or you get stiff and sore when you finally get going again. Half an hour is about right, though it is tempting to stay much longer.

If you look a very carefully at this photo you can see the ruins of a small fort or watch tower built high on the side of this rock face. There is a path which leads downhill towards the coast.

Well rested we set off back along the ridge to the aerials, then downhill and around the side of the hill back to Benimeli

The final stretch of path is an overgrown trail through the undergrowth. This used to be a very difficult path to follow, but has also been marked and cleared about a year ago and is now much easier to follow.

The walk down to the village always takes much longer than you expect, but you are soon rewarded with these views down the valley.

Just as we reached the village we passed this colourful tree, which provided a very suitable background for our final group photograph. As you can see everyone is still relaxed and smiling. This is not one of the most taxing walks we do, but it is one of the most enjoyable.

The best part of any walk – a well deserved drink at the end. We always visit this bar in the village centre, and we usually have the outside area to ourselves. Most Spanish prefer to take their drink inside watching TV. If there is anyone else in the square they are usually “ex pats”.