Another "interesting" day, blessed by absolutely stunning weather but more walking than we had bargained for. Planning the route we had used the schedules in the Cicerone guide but the route had been changed in 2 places and as far as we can tell, instead of 30 kilometres it was nearer 37. Although now anaesthetised by a couple of beers, the memory of the final 7 kilometre slog downhill into Lanjaron remains painful.
Leaving Albunuelas after an English breakfast at just after 9 the first part of the walk was pleasant. From village to village, first Saleres then Restabal, alongside irrigation canals, terraced fruit trees and, best of all, pomegranates which Christine has now developed a taste for. It was at Murchas, the next village that things went pear shaped.
The guide (and the track on the GPS) said go down into the gorge, and 10 kilometres to Niguelas. The signs said go up through the village towards a hill with wind turbines. We followed the signs, got high above the village and then found the signs had been vandalised. After walking 2k along a hot road in the wrong direction we decided to cut over the steep hill with the wind turbines as my GPS map suggested our destination was over the other side. We bushwhacked up steep terraces with almonds and prickly undergrowth, eventually, to our surprise, finding some E4 signs on a dirt road higher up. It became apparent that the route had been completely changed to take account of the new motorway running along the bottom of the valley.
|Crossing the Motorway near Niguelas|
Following the signs into Niguelas we got there at about 1.30, a little bit late but no big deal. Had a fast lunch near the church in the centre of town and then headed off into the really big hills to the east of the village. This time all three sources of information were different with the signs taking us round the side of a gorge to Acequias, a small village to south of Niguelas but two or three kilometres out of our way. Climbing back up along a lovely old path everything eventually came back together and we enjoyed a navigationally unchallenging high contour dirt road walk all the way to Lanjaron.
It was actually a gorgeous walk, high up, largely flat with enormous views to the tops of the mountains to the east and the huge valley to the west and south. The hill above Murchas with the wind turbines, which we had complained about earlier in the day, was now just a pimple below us. Amazing also what a difference perfect weather for walking makes and it's hard to think of better weather - sky blue, sun above us but with the altitude and a gentle breeze keeping the heat away.
|Between Niguelas and Lanjaron|
|Evening light above Lanjaron|
Of course the sting in the tail, as it so often is, was the final hour of the day. The guide correctly warned us that we would see Lanjaron a long way before we got there. Sure enough, having gone around a final bend there it was, within splitting distance but 7 kilometres away and a long way down. The path, designed for vehicles rather than animals with legs, meandered endlessly down and our occasional attempts to take a short cut were met with almost impenetrable undergrowth and scratched arms and legs.
|Dropping down into Lanjaron|
Arrived at Lanjaron at about 6.30 having walked 36 kilometres and climbed 1200 metres. Excellent day's walking but just a little bit long. It's a lovely spa town with a huge choice of accommodation. We are staying in the Hotel Castillo which is excellent.
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