Sunday 12th November 2006
A gentle stroll is the best way to describe our afternoon walk, upwards and onwards to the west ridge of the Sierra Bernia mountain range, just north of the famous coastal town of Benidorm.
Drive from Javea to Benissa, travel up the main street, through the town and at the top of the hill take the right hand turn off, CV 750. At the next T junction, turn right then first left. Its a 20 minute drive to the start of the walk, travelling up the winding road, with views on your left down towards Calpe and the Penon de Ifach.
Parking is easy, by the old building, Casa Fabian, situated on your left. There are plenty of shady areas to park your car, which is essential on a hot sunny day. We picked a warm, November afternoon, which was forecasted light rain, but we were lucky and it turn out to be sunny and only slightly misty at the top.
There is a sign at the start of the walk which you can take an 8 kilometre circular route that takes you through a tunnel to the east of the ridge and back around to the old fort. We had decided to head west and do a gentle climb to the fort and back down the same way, which would take us about 3 hours.
The views are just as dramatic on this route, also the path is easy under foot, unlike the El Montgo assent, which we walked three weeks ago. The grape vine leaves are changing into their Autumn colours of browns, bronzes and yellows, highlighted through the sunlight.
After 35 minutes the track narrows and bears to the left and the villages of Tarbena, Polop are clearly seen in the distance. The temperature was perfect for walking and the forecast for rain didn’t happen. The sun was shining and at the peak the clouds and mists rolled in.
The old fort was abandoned, due to lack of the enemy bothering to climb the Sierra and invade the fort, so it became redundant. Stone arches and ruins are clearly visible and there are some information plaques that explain the forts layout. Its a good place to sit and have a drink and look down towards Altea and the Benidorm skyline.
There were some lambs in the distance marinating themselves, on the wild thyme and rosemary herbs that grow across the slopes.
The stroll back was easy, down hill and by now the sun was behind the summit, providing shade. A quick drink in the Casa Fabian, then we got back in our cars, to meet some more friends, waiting in the Restaurante Pepe’s, in Alcalali.
Roast pork with crackling was ordered for 6 people and the others dined on Pepe’s wonderful, steak, mushroom and kidney pie. Others, had the lamb which was tender and you could taste those herbs. Plenty of the three wines, red, rose and white were washed down with our fine fare. Desserts were excellently presented to those that had enough room.
So, until the next time, that’s another one, they can’t take away from us!
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Monday 13th November 2006
During the summer months in Javea, it is wise to stay close to a pool, the sea and a cold beer. Once the warm days of October and November had settled in, we decided to ascend the Montgo mountain for the third time in 20 years. It proved a harder challenge than we remembered.
Setting off from the Javea to Denia road, drive from Javea up the winding road and when it levels at the top of La Plana and you can see a lane to your left. Drive a few hundred metres and park the car. We were well equipped with good walking shoes, lots of water, a chicken sandwich and a banana. I joked and proceeded to load rope and tackle and a few spikes and a shovel onto my back, this was met with a surprise from our climbing companions and quickly turned to laughter, as I told them in was a gentle climb, needing only good walking shoes and plenty of water.
We started the walk along a gravel path leading to the base of El Montgo. We named this base camp one. The path soon turns into a stony, rocky surface which could easily snap an ankle or break a leg. We were very careful to watch every step and stopped to catch our breaths and to admire the views towards Denia and the bay of Javea. After around an hour of zig zag climbing, the walk bears south around the trunk of Montgo and starts to turn into a scramble across large rocks and narrow foot holds, using our arms to balance. Another 30 minutes climbing and you reach the 753 metre summit.
All the way up we were blessed with warm breezes and the views just got better. At the summit we could see Denia and north to Valencia, west out to sea and south Javea, Gata and Pedreguer. The Penon de Ifach and the Las Sierra Bernia mountain range stretched further south.
We stood on the peak for 15 minutes, just being amazed at the views, lots of photos and a repair to Anthony’s boots, which had decided to loose the soles, we prepared for the easier decent. We still had to watch every step on the way down, but it was a lot less work coming down. The knees and backs of some of the party, started to take the strain and started to ache.
The thought of a cool drink and the paella mixta, that we had preordered at the Amanecer restaurant, kept us all going. Except our tired legs, a few blisters and soleless boots we made it safely back to the cars.
Within five minutes we were seated in the restaurant and the drinks appeared, bread and alioli and a fresh salad were consumed rapidly.
The paella was marvelous and had lots of flavour, it was a little short of content and could have included green beans, butter beans and a little more chicken, but it still tasted excellent washed down with cool white wine and agua con gas. Needless to say it was a great day out and another one they can’t take away from us, whoever they are.
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