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 Walk Across Europe

2008-03-26 - Trip 12 - Leg 84

Spain, Alicante

Altea to Calpe

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17.7 km today.
94.9 km this trip.
1637.2 km from start.
0 metres minimum height.
407 metres maximum height.
422 metres ascent.
343 metres descent.
 Track Log: Logged.
 Travel: Train (replaced by bus).

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One unavoidable main road stretch. Later we used nice mountain tracks.

We set off at 7am from our flat. The sun was just rising. After crossing the railway, we headed north along a little lane, avoiding the parallel main road. After about 1km, we crossed the main road and followed another small parallel lane. Eventually we ended up on the beach passing the small harbour at Olla. At the next small harbour, there were major construction works so we had to backtrack about 200 metres to find a hole in the health and safety fence. We crept through and were directed by friendly construction workers to the main road. They didn't seem at all surprised to find us on the site.

The main road was unpleasant but it did have a margin between the main carriage-way and the crash barriers. The traffic was heavy but there were pauses in the torment because everyone got stuck behind the slowest vehicle. This leg lasted just under 4km. There were points of interest including an unusual new church in the Russian Orthodox style, three short tunnels with a foot path and a gorge of dramatic proportions.

At the first left turn we abandoned the main road. Although our destination was only about 3km away, we chose to take a much longer route round mount Oltá. We climbed to 407 metres making this one of the highest points on our route so far. This was supposed to be an easy day after our strenuous walk up Puig the day before. This demonstrates the lengths we will go to, to avoid main roads. Our left turn was heading under the peaje (toll motorway) so instead we turned right up a chained-off road. After quite a long climb and a few zigzags, this turned out to be a dead end. We could see our intended route a short way above so we followed goat paths up the terraces. We rarely go across country in the mountains because there are usually ravines or other obstacles. In this case the whole off-piste route was clearly visible. The climb up the terraces involved a bit of scrambling.

I had thought today would have a leisurely start and am all set to set off at 7. But at 6.50 Neil says he is ready so I rush to get packed up in double quick time. We leave our complex heading north for a change and cross over the railway bridge. Ian had told us about the landslide between Altea and calp and we wonder if this will affect our route. From the bridge over the raiway line Neil took some photos of our block and our apartment.

We carried on along the far side of the track – a back way which followed the temporarily out of use railway line. We crossed the River Guadalest on the road bridge and eventually we had to make our way down to the sea shore. We followed this for some considerable distance but eventually got stuck in a port and had to back track to escape which we did through some trees and a building site with new roads. We now had to use the main Altea Calp road. Luckily this had a hard shoulder so it was less terrifying than it would otherwise have been. There are cars from all over Europe here. Who can blame them. It is a lovely part of Spain.

We continue uphill all the time heading for the gap between Sierra Bernia, Olta and the pummock above Calp. Near the top we pass through three tunnels luckily short and over a huge menacingly narrow gorge. The metal railway bridge looks remarkably flimsy but is still standing firm. Soon after this there is a left turn to an Escombras and Perrerería. This is the stretch of the Sierra Olta which we think we have walked round before. As today's walk is so short and we have been on a busy road for quite some time we decide to incorporate the circuit into our walk. We feel as though we are lower down than last time and once past a tureen decide to work our way up the terraces using Billy paths up to another path we can see above us on a higher level. We think we did this walk with Mini but if we did we must have done it lower down because what we found at the higher level we had certainly never done before and certainly not with Mini who has always eschewed Billy tracks.

Once we got back I looked for a record of this walk and there isn’t one. Have we really been here before or are we imagining it. Neil will look and see if he has a GPS track of it. On this ascent Neil fails to avoid getting a scratched knee. Matron will be cross. He has gone somewhere he shouldn't. The terraces are paradise gardens (a nod to Geoffrey Hamilton's last series) There are rock plants of every shade and hew and type and it is heady to be there. We see a completely new plant, a celandine splurge is our interim name for it until we can identify it. We also saw a violet. Up Puig I saw a yellow allium which I didn't call out to Neil about because he was ahead and now I am regretting it because we have not seen another one. Neil disparagingly said oh yes he had those in his garden in King's Lynn. We also saw blue rush plants and white linen which was a surprise.

At the top we slumped down and after three attempts I found a place that was neither too hot nor too cold nor too noisy and fell asleep. We spent an hour there near the summit. Today is the third highest we have ever been on the walk and the ascent was made right from sea level. The way down was like the Polop walk for which you can get a wallop. (Several years ago after Anne broke her hip, the Polop walk was the first one she did on difficult terrain. Luckily her leg was mended and did not re-break on the walk. The main danger was Mini's wrath. Hence the walloping. Matters were made worse becuase we were thinking it was a stroll in the park Anne had no warm clothes - only a light sweater and emergency poncho in case of rain. We were ill prepared for the mountains.) On the route down, there were stones you could use as stairs but sometimes it was necessary to do a glarsade, Neil's preferred method or to go go backwards mine. I had my mountain gloves with me but of course no stick because today's walk was a stroll in the park or would have been if we had stayed on the fierce road.

Once down on the far side we see evidence of the landslides caused by heavy rain the previous October. There were workmen everywhere patching up roads. houses and walls. We hear a train pass us. Beyond Calp they are running again. The descent is incredibly long which shows how high we had climbed but eventually we get to Calp station and there is a replacement bus just waiting to take us home. More luck. This enables us to discover that the bus does stop in Garganes and where. We are not too tired to go to Mercadona today so we top up our supplies and Neil makes spaghetti Bolognese for supper.

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