Friday, 13 March 2015

We eat our highest picnic and Dave finds fossils

As yesterday was one of the hottest days we've had so far this year -
Jubilant at the top of Campanilles 
easily 25c - we thought it would be the perfect time to attempt a strenuous walk with lots of uphill slogging. One day we will learn this is a bad idea, but I suspect that day is still a long way off. We had got ourselves a plan of the Serra d'Irta walking routes from the ever-helpful staff at Camping Ribamar reception and had been told the Ridge Walk that bisects the park is a good six hours In Each Direction! We're not quite that enthusiastic! Instead, we decided on an out-and-back segment starting and finishing at the Ermita Santa Lucia and with our half way point at the top of a hill called Campanilles.

There is a pretty, but narrow winding road up from Alcossebre to the
And the matching pair 
Ermita and a small car park there, right by the start of the footpath. We did remember to take several bottles of water and I carried our lunch in the cool bag section of my stripy picnic rucksack. We've just about decided on our perfect walking picnic lunch now: apple, small loaf of homemade bread, block of cheese and jar of jam. It's easy to eat, looks good spread out on our picnic blanket, and we don't have to worry about sandwiches disintegrating en route.

There are several different environments on the PR CV 431 which was our marked route. Yellow and white dashes initially led us up a steep scree slope, then on a footpath alongside a pine-wooded hill with inland views. We had to follow a wide, dusty car track for a couple of kilometres which was dull physical walking, but compensated with fabulous views out to sea. There is an option to add a couple of hundred metres with a detour to Torre Ebri, a disused stone tower above the track. However, as another caravanner here said, you get such a good view already that we stuck on the road.

When we got back onto footpath, the surface varied from uneven rock reminiscent of El Torcal, to pine needle covered wooded earth, to scree slopes. There was some downhill, but most of the time was ascent and some of the slopes were very steep. Descending the hill just prior to Campanilles, we nearly turned back before our goal. The slope was loose stones and I was making slow going of it. (I get very nervous of falling on this kind of downhill section so am often outpaced by snails. Up the very same hills, I'm generally fine! Dave, on the other hand, doesn't worry about descents, but breathing issues can sometimes impede his uphill progress which he finds frustrating.) In this case, we could see Campanilles had a long steep narrow path that was likely to be loose scree. I would get up but would I ever get down again? We had two hours of pretty hard effort behind us so I carried on. We were too close to back out. And it turned out to be fine! Not only is there a great lunch spot at the top of Campanilles - we used the base of another Geodesic point like the one at Roquetas - but there is a fantastic panoramic view across the surrounding countryside and we got to eat at what we think is our highest munch point yet: 572 metres above sea level!

I loved seeing large areas of rosemary bushes which were flowering all
Swallowtail butterfly 
along the route. We often see beehives while out walking, but yesterday we saw lots of wild bees too which is great news for the local ecosystem. We saw half a dozen different types of butterflies including this distinctive yellow and black swallowtail. We had seen another like it when walking with Andy and Barbara at Cullera but I'd failed to get a photo then. Evidence of wild boar activity could be seen alongside wooded path sections and several bigger lizards flashed away as we approached them.

Most exciting of all though was Dave's eagle-eyed spotting of a large rock with a number of fossilised remains in it. We'll make a Mary Anning of him yet! Unfortunately, I had zoomed off a steep uphill and didn't stop until the stop so he had to lug the rock all the way up in order to show me. And he did. I have such a super boyfriend! This photo is of said rock and hopefully you can see the details by clicking into it. We saw a few others later with plant fronds too.

Dave's fabulous fossil find 

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