Assault on the Col de Rates

Our main event during this visit to Spain is to be a 1-week walking tour based in Andalucia. We thought a trial outing up a Spanish mountain might be a good idea, partly to test our legs and partly to test some new equipment, like photo rucksacks. The Costa Blanca Mountain Walkers were advertising what looked like a suitable candidate walk today up the Col de Rates. It was billed as “Moderately Strenuous” and “B”, meaning:

Up to 600 metres ascent and/or no more than 15 km with some rough going taken at a reasonable


Less than half the route on rough ground

Specifically, we were in for 12kms and 5+ hours. Let the fun commence.

Col de RatesWe’re familiar with the Col de Rates; we stare at it from our balcony. The col is the saddle between the two high points in this picture. There’s a German-run restaurant up there that apparently has excellent apple strudel. Maybe another day. The walk was to begin in Jalón, which is where we met our leader, affectionately (or not) known as Galloping Gordon. That sounds a bit ominous.

So, if this works, here’s a stitched panorama showing, very roughly, our route. It might’ve shown our route precisely had my stupid new GPS app worked sensibly, but no. [Now deleted.] Starting from the extreme left in Jalón, the red line indicates us in front of the ground and the pink is intended to show us behind the foreground, going round the back of the mountain itself.


_MG_7512Galloping Gordon’s pace was, shall we say, brisk. The man is a mountain goat and keeps various different groups of leg muscles in trim by cycling up some of the mountains, too. A few seemed to be more or less at their speed limit to begin with. Happily, my plantar fasciitis continued to improve and my foot kept me going. One lesson we quickly learnt is that Spanish bushes do not take prisoners where the track narrows and we both picked up a collection of scratches. A second lesson is that Spanish “paths” are quite rocky, too. It’s necessary to watch every footfall; do not stare at the view whilst walking but stop first, otherwise disaster can result. I decided that we are somewhat coddled in the UK with relatively groomed tracks.

_MG_7519We did stick with it and reached the col just before which we found very neat piece of cultivated ground. It’s in a sheltered trough between the two peaks on the pano where our line is pink. What a place to farm. Lunch break overlooked this ground as the incurably energetic went on up the the peak beside the col.

We were now about two thirds of the way around our route and we now headed downhill back towards Jalón, Downhill might seem like a rest but it isn’t, the muscles have to hold you back.  Our knees and thigh muscles continued to be tested and certainly knew they’d been used when we got back for our post walk beers, which went down very well and rather swiftly.

Indications are good for Andalucia.

Posted in 2016-05, Spain

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