Leisurely breakfast in the apartment, then I left the village at 9am. Had found my route out of the village last night – this is always the most difficult bit of the day! So marched up a minor lane with purpose only to find at the top that the GR signs seemed to take me in a different direction to my ancient map. But as I’ve said so many times before “if you find a marked track in Spain – follow it”. So I did. There is a castle above Vallada and the track I was following was heading directly for it. Not what I expected. Kept scrambling up the track hoping it would veer off in the direction I wanted to go – but no – it persisted towards the castle. I had no option but to follow. The views back over Vallada and its valley became more impressive by the minute.
Yes and before you knew it, at 10am, I was at the castle. Not too bad a place to be.
The track onwards became clearer as it traversed the mountain below El Penen towards a minor road.
A short stretch on the road and I followed a sign up a forest track. Easy walking now and the kilometres flew by, but without any paint marks at any of the junctions; It all seemed to fit with the map though. The scary bear coming out of the woods looked quite life like from a distance!! See heading photo.
Just as I was having doubts, there suddenly appeared a flash of red/white in a completely random spot. The track continued in a large loop, but the shortcut would have been impassible. One of the prickliest bushes in this area, growing at knee height, was the dwarf oak disguised as a holly
Climbed up to a small summit; Figerols 896m. Ideal spot for lunch with wide-ranging views. There were some large, impressive mountains over to the NW, possibly the Sierra De Alcaraz. Spain’s a big, wild country. I often think the Spanish do not promote their wilderness areas for walking /cycling sufficiently. I haven’t seen a soul in the mountains this week. The way down into the valley was a most unpleasant straight, steep, stony and slippery path cut into the hillside. Could be seen for miles and would have been a horror to ascend.
A delightful walk through vines, olives, orange and peach orchards, took me to the CV655 road where my lodging for the night, Casa Morera, was apparently situated at K10. According to my map that was a kilometre down the road to the east. So turned left and trudged along the road, ending up at Ermita Morera at K11. Obviously another K to go, but in which direction? A quick phone call directed me back west to where I had previously reached the road. 20m out of sight round the next corner was K10 and the house! Didn’t enjoy the extra road walking in the heat but could only blame myself. Well actually I had a good go at blaming my out of date map and the fact they had re-calibrated the road and modernised the K signs.
Casa Morera turned out to be a lovely place to stay, deep in the countryside and surrounded by hills. An old farmhouse with cellars for making olive oil and wine. It has been beautifully restored and has every modern facility and comfort. The owners were good hosts and a pleasant evening was spent with some visiting Spanish couples. My conversational Spanish is getting back to passible.