Tracks beside the railway. A clay pit. Then lanes round the back of the mountain.
We drove to Alcalà de Xivert and took the train to Torreblanca. The walk back was most pleasant. We started walking at dawn beside the railway. From time to time the route diverged away from the line, always to return later. We knew there was a river crossing that might be a problem. In fact the river bed was dry and the slopes down quite manageable. It was the cement factory and clay pits that caused trouble. After paddling through clammy clay for ten minutes we emerged, muddy legged, on a better road with a clear run to our destination.
Soon we picked up a signposted walk that took us on a route round the back of the hills beside Alcalà. This path and road allowed us to avoid the railway and autopista and we had mountain views too. We passed bee hives that were waking up in the warmer weather. The mosquitoes were waking up too but they seemed too slow to bite. Maybe the tickles will start later on. There are lots of walks here and Alcalà de Xivert would be a good base for a walking holiday where the mountain routes are all fairly easy. The routes were well signposted and there were maps that actually had useful information. A rarity. There is a dramatic mountain top castle. The train services are not frequent and there may be only one bus per day but we have not researched this properly.
We decide to walk just one station a day as two is really too far. This has meant that I can type up some of these notes onto the psion. Even though they are lost the act of writing them commits them to memory.
This morning it was so cold that my legs felt as if they had inside, two ice pillars. I had to stand in such a way that they did not touch my trouser legs so as to keep warm. Once in the train, it took some time for the ticket collector to get to us and the train was already slowing down. Neil wanted us to be standing near the door and started to get up. I also got up but was trying to hand over ticket money at the same time. Meanwhile the train had come to a sudden halt. We had not yet reached the station. I would have been hurtled from one end of the train to the other had I not managed to grab a rail just in time. Neil retells the story of the drunk he saw in a Czechoslovak Airlines plane careering down the aisle from the toilet just as the plane was touching down and braking hard. He really did fly from one end of the cabin to the other at top speed but managed to keep his feet with drunken luck. This was the same plane that advertised an escape rope concealed behind a small panel.
Our route today is along the railway line. Sometimes there are farm access roads and sometimes there aren't. We have driven along this part of the route in the car and have some idea of where there may be farm tracks but obviously there are gaps in our knowledge. Today's route leads into a tureen (ravine) near a cement factory. There is an osteospernum in flower here and deep mud. We also see heather, large and small, and a white umbelliferal. We end up covered in clay and with wet feet yet again. I have brought my climbing gloves and they have been well and truly baptized.
We pass a disused station, a very attractive building but quite abandoned. Maybe if they open up cercanias to Vinarós as planned it may come back into use. Beyond the station, our path is flooded so we divert into an olive grove. We turn round and now see some cycle tracks heading down a steep bank. We have to glarsade down to return to the correct path . Because Neil has not checked these routes on Google Earth, things are more experimental now. I like both types of walk. We see white bladder campion. The mountains today are misty like my imaginings of China. Much of the walk is through the Sierra de Irta Natural Park. It is dry but there is a lot of moisture in the air which needs to evaporate.
I decided today that a perfect walk is one which would be well worth going on even if it was not taking you where you wanted to go. If it does that as well. It is an added bonus.
Today we heard and saw lots more birds. There is definitely an increase in numbers since shooting song birds has ceased to be a common recreational pastime. We also saw speedwell, lots of yellow ph…..? and the non-dandelion type daisy that becomes common in February. Our route brings us nicely to a ninja (under bridge) which will take us below the motorway and into Alcalá. Because of the recent rain, it is flooded at the far end. We take off our socks and sandals and wade through. This is the best way to avoid having wet feet in the longer term.