We’ve suffered a day or two with some heavy rain. There is a good deal of sunshine in our little Costa Blanca corner of Spain but when it rains often does so heavily.
‘T was Monday and the fearless leader of our Monday Walkers group was planning what would normally be one of my favourite walks, the route around the Sierra de Bernia featuring a low tunnel through which one has to crouch. Unfortunately the weather forecasters were planning winds of 40kph with gusts up to 60kph [38mph]. It didn’t sound like ideal conditions, to me. I didn’t think we’d get blown down the 1000 metres that would be below us but I did think it could be a tad uncomfortable.
After a brief discussion in the comfort of a relatively sheltered parking area, we set off up to base camp to see how things were higher up. Base camp’s parking area was also pretty sheltered so the general vote was to go for it. Eleven of us gamely set off. This would be our fifth time around the 9km/5.5ml route.
As we climbed up towards the famous tunnel, we remained quite sheltered and conditions were much better than I had expected on the exposed lower slopes of the ridge. There are several new faces in the group now – of course, to them our faces are new due to our 6-month absence – and one of the new face’s lungs were suffering a little. A few minutes rest for recovery was no hardship given these views of another mountain to the north, the Montgo, and we eventually continued to arrive at the opening of the tunnel.
It’s an age thing: the tunnel is little more than a metre high at its pinch point and crouching through it gets more uncomfortable on my knees each time I do it. Nonetheless, we all emerged victorious on the south side of the ridge to the impressive sight of … Benidorm. The more experienced, or less picky, can carefully avoid beholding Benidorm in favour of beholding the nearby Altea; nearby in terms of terms of distance, that is, but not culture. [Altea is down to the left, Benidorm straight ahead.]
The light over the sea made it obvious that the meteorology was feeling unsettled. The forecast winds were coming from the west and we remained comfortably sheltered as we made our way along the southern side of the ridge towards the old ruined fort which stands just before the beginning of the descent. Now we began to feel the wind and nobody was keen on hanging around too long. The path down the western end of the route was cutting. My gloveless hands, holding a pair of trekking poles, soon began to feel freezing. I stowed the poles in my rucksack so I could stuff my hands in the pockets of my fleece for some warmth. At the next corner I moved into some more shelter and life became bearable again.
Most of the walk had actually been quite enjoyable but that one later windblown section was decidedly unpleasant. A couple of beers with a tortilla espagnole went down very well.