Another Monday and another walk with our new found Monday walking group organized by Helen. We awoke to a fairly solid overcast and, given our early start time [09:00], life was a little on the cool side. The weather forecast suggested that conditions would brighten up at 10:00. Having assembled again in Parcent, we followed Helen in a 4-car convoy to our start point behind Murla.
We set off and were soon walking through a gate in a long wall. This was the wall that more or less surrounds the historically interesting place on today’s route, the Sanatorio de Fontilles. Fontilles is also referred to as a Leprosarium and, perhaps less charitably, as a leper colony. “Don’t panic, Mr. Mainwaring!” Fontilles was established in 1902 and played a key role in treating leprosy in Spain. Some literature says “eliminating leprosy in Spain” although there are apparently still ~20 cases a year, though mostly from immigrants. The exaggerated reputation that leprosy bore was why the wall, which scales some impressive mountain slopes, was built around the site.
The weather forecast was wrong. We continued on our upward route through Fleix with a few spots of rain dampening my sombrero, then continued up to Benimaurell at 540m, 340m higher than Murla. With the undulations of the route, we’d amassed a total ascent of ~400m. We called into a colourful local bar in Benimaurell for a coffee. It looked absolutely nothing from its exterior but inside we were greeted by Spanish/Mexican music which the locals were enjoying along with their coffee.
By now the sun put in its overdue appearance and we returned downhill to Murla for a total of 13.3kms/8.5mls. It was a good step and naturally, refreshments were needed. The Cooperativo in Parcent filled the bill nicely.