This was a brilliant days walk with a slightly unfortunate sting in the tail. Scheduled as a 35 kilometre walk I managed to turn it into something in excess of 40, adding some unnecessary and nasty road walking to a trip which would otherwise be on very nice forest trails.
The route essentially takes you along the side of a fairly spectacular sandstone ridge, probably an outlier of the sandstone scenery I was was walking through a couple of days ago, which runs between Calasparra and Cieza.
Managed to get away from the hotel in pretty good time and by 9 had walked out of town and was walking straight into the sun along a route which contoured along the southern side of the ridge. This went on for about 15 kilometres with great views of both the ridge and the plain to the south. This is clearly an area where fire is a serious hazard, workmen were cutting the undergrowth to reduce the risk and further along you could see why, the trees along the whole hill side for several kilometres have been burnt down.
|Earth scorched on Sierra del Molino|
About half way along you arrived at the Embalse Alfonso XIII, a reservoir where the river running north through a gorge in the ridge had been damned. It was beautiful spot and, as usual, I had it all to myself.
|Embalsa Alfonso X111|
|Heron at Embalsa Alfonso X111|
After continuing along the side of the ridge for a few more kilometres you arrive at the undoubted star of the show, the Sierra del Almarchon, a mountain which stands out in really spectacular way, a sort of mini Matterhorn, or the Spanish version of the mountain in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. First impressions are good but actually it gets better as you get to the north and east of it - a really special mountain.
|Sierra del Almarchon|
Looking back all the time at the mountain you then have to cross a sort of sand bowl, perhaps the debris from the mountain, with deep ravines, before getting back to the contour walk again, this time walking along the northern side of the ridge.
Eventually it's a steep descent from the ridge down into Cieza and, after a very hot day, I arrive there at about 5.30. I had fixed up stay at La Linda Tapada, which is on the other side of the Rio Segura and out of town the north west. Miguel had offered to pick me in Cieza but having worked out where it was on Google Maps the night before I had decided to walk. Two mistakes, it was a lot further than I thought and Google Maps doesn't show all the roads. Instead of the second right it should have been the third right. So at about 7, the battery on my IPhone just about gone, I'm trying to explain to Miguel, who doesn't speak a word of English, where I am. This was a bit stressful. Eventually, and after failed attempts to send him a photo, I get to speak to his son, who is in another place, and we agree that I backtrack to bar and send him the name of the bar. At the bar there is a sign to La Linda Tapada which I had missed. As the crow flies I was about 300 metres from the Hotel and I eventually get there at about 7.45. It's lovely by the way, fantastic home food, and real vegetables.
I have picked up an injury by the way, some tendon or something on the front of my left leg. Very sore but haven't twisted my ankle or anything. I think is because Gareth Bale has picked up an injury in the run in to the Real Madrid game.
As for accommodation in Cieza: May 2011 we stayed in the 'Hospederia San Sebastian' (http://www.sansebastianhospederia.com) a really nice though slightly expensive hotel. Everything looked brand new, it must have just opened.ReplyDelete