Thursday 14th April Chera to Benageber

According to my GPS I did 54 kilometres and over 2000 metres of climb. As much as I would like to believe this I'm not sure if it can be true. I had the route down as 38 kilometres although I don't think that includes the bit at the beginning when you supposed to walk down the road from Chera to join the walk. It certainly didn't include my cock-ups.

I started very early. There was nothing to stay for in Chera and I was a bit worried about accommodation in Banageber and wanted to give myself time to find alternatives to sleeping rough. So I was on the road before seven with enough provisions to eat many times on the route.

My first cock-up was to attempt a short cut that would avoid repeating the road walk at the end of yesterday's trip and allow me to miss a huge concentration of bee hives. After about 30 minutes it became clear that my short cut was a long cut and I had to retrace my steps. The benefit of my early start was largely lost.

The bees of course were still asleep when I went past, it was a really nice morning and there were great views of the sandstone massif that towers over Chera. Then cock-up number two.

Bee hives near Chera

Pico Rope

To be fair it wasn't altogether my fault, I just followed the GR signs, if I had checked my GPS I would have discovered however that this was an example of more than one set of GR signs. It is confusing but there are definitely variants, usually to take you to a special feature and they are usually specifically signed. This unsigned variant was for people who wanted to practice their jungle warfare technique and went deeper and deeper into the undergrowth. I was able to follow the signs for about 30 minutes but then lost them so had to just bashed my way down to a road which led me to my GPS trail (hope your following this). Along the road the GR signs turned up again and by the time I got to the junction with the GPS trail there were GR signs coming from three directions.

So after such an early start it felt like I was well of the pace but from then the track was easy to walk on and I cracked along. Most of it was through trees and a bit dull but there was a section, low down and along a long gorge. There was water at the bottom and hundreds of frogs which, despite being very small were able to generate a huge noise with the cliffs of gorge acting like a sound box.

Wooded countryside on the way to Benageber

At about 12.45 I saw a sign saying Benageber 4 hours 45 minutes. Shortly after that I saw a group of people planting a field of potatoes by hand. They were just finishing to escape the heat but after my third lunch I pressed on.

Without the cock-ups I think of could have made Chelva, tomorrow's destination today, I could have put in a 12 hour shift and got there by 7. My range has definitely got longer since I started. As it was it was 4.30 when I went past the Chelva sign so it would have been 8 before I got there. It would also be a shame to rush as the scenery picked up again towards the end of the walk.

I was right to be nervous about Benageber accommodation. It's a very small town, only got two bars, and I couldn't find the place I had got listed. There was no one about. I wandered up the road towards a building that looked likely. It wasn't but there was a man there to ask. He pointed back towards the town but I had no idea whether he was pointing back to or beyond the town. Slightly encouraged I returned but still not really knowing where to look. Then behind me, on a scooter, the man I asked directions had arrived and then escorted me to two different places that do accommodation. The best was Bar Benageber which had apartments but of course nothing was happening for an hour until the bar opened. Twice the man came to make sure I was OK and in the end helped me with the discussions with the landlord. What a star.

As it is I'm really well set, great apartment and a good price particularly compared to the dump I was in last night.


  1. John. There you are, arriving in Chelva, a big city and having crossed the Turia river and its gorge and reservoir of Benageber. And what about the old bridge on a remote river?
    By the way, as you wrote, you are having the Cicerone Press guide of the GR7. Well, Kristie and Michelle, the authors, are old friends of myself. As a matter of fact I helped them with the guide a few years ago as you could read on aknowledments inside the guide.
    Have a nice walk from CHelva to Andilla and also to Bejis dear friend.

  2. Hi John,
    my third attempt at posting this comment - my browser apperently has a different opinion a prefers not to send anything;)
    Two km after you leave the way to Requenta and go ont the signposted GR7 in the general direction of Benageber you'll hit another private finca, with all the warmings and stuff. But the fence/gate on both sides of the area allows a hiker to easily step around it. Inside, all markings are in place, looking rather fresh. And there is another finca, inside, with a serious fence.
    So right now, it looks like GR7 hikers are tolerated inside the first line of defence and there is no need to cross the second.
    The distance Chera - Benageber is 38km, indeed. But you can shortcut two km if you follow the camino forrestal directly down the valley as soon as you see Benageber the first time (there is a regular traffic sign pointing in that direction). That's what I did, so I don't know what views I missed... probably none too exciting, as the GR7 routing seems primarly be dictated by the wish to avoid at any costs ways broader than 150cm ;)