So two weeks ago I mentioned I was desperately trying to decide which group to go hiking with... it was a tough call 'cause both my usual groups were going to spots I'd already been recently, and both had their pros and cons (snow? almond trees?). In the end the choice turned out to be simple, because the Trenet Senderista changed their destination! The weather forecast for that weekend implied some intense cold in the interior of the province (crazy Siberia weather front!), so the guide chose to stick close to the coast... as in right alongside it! (well, for part of the hike at least). So, repeat a hike or try out a new spot (even if a much less challenging one)? No brainer, I'll go with the new one! There's so much to see in this province, it's too soon to start repeating hikes! :p
After being picked up in several spots around Alicante, San Juan, Campello, Benidorm (advantages of having a bus available!), the bus dropped us off near the main road heading into Finestrat, a small town at the base of the Puig Campana (the alternate hike I had been contemplating was a repeat -albeit shorter route- of the climb I did up that peak in December).
We hiked around there for about an hour, definitely not following any regularly marked paths as far I could tell... our guide lives in Finestrat so he knows the random criss-crossing paths around here like the back of his hand! I thought I might be forgoing the pleasure of almond trees this close to the coast, when lo and behold, yay!
After a bit we stopped for our mid-morning snack, and I discovered the wonders of these shrub-like tall grasses that Sebas (our guide) told us shepherds used to use as a comfy seat to watch their flocks. And comfy it is! As you can see... ;o)
Nice little break in the sun (was so much warmer than I'd expected, I had waaaay too many layers on!), then on to the "real" hike, following the bed of the river Torres until it reaches the sea. Which basically means climbing in and out of a ravine at various points depending on where the best path available lies. We started climbing down to the river, beautiful spot with the sun shining on the water (in summer this is probably bone dry) through the grasses.
But the climb up the other side turned out to be dangerously steep, so we had to backtrack the way we came,
walk a bit further upstream and find an easier crossing.
Along the route to the coast we came across this old abandoned masía, which must have been very impressive in its heyday (several outlying buildings, a well, nice fields... and a view of the Puig Campana on one side and the Mediterranean on the other!), but is now sadly a ruined husk.
Getting to the coast involved a few crossings that I was a bit worried about when we started: the highway (see below), the train tracks, and the old national road between Alicante and Valencia. No worries, the first had a tunnel, the other two were on bridges and we just walked beneath them all!
We saw more abandoned fields, one full of orange and tangerine trees, so we helped ourselves.
Also got to admire some more almond blossoms:
All with the fabulous Puig Campana showing us where we had come from.
We climbed back down into the river bed, much wider now (with a flood zone) and simply followed it to the coast.
At the end of the path... the beautiful blue Mediterranean waters in the Cala Torres!
What a gorgeous beach (with Benidorm Island in the background), I need to go back next summer! ;o)
We walked to the other end... where I could just make out the Villajoyosa fish farm on the water's surface.
And looking south along the coast,
I could make out the silhouettes of many of the taller buildings and hills in Alicante in the distance:
Pol really liked it here...
I had a hard time pulling him away from the the water so we could find a more sheltered spot (was very windy) in the trees for lunch! :p
After lunch we did a little exploring amongst some ruins right next to us. The Torre de Sant Josep is a Roman funerary monument from the 2nd century AD and is considered to be the third most important in the country!
Apparently there are quite a few Roman vestiges throughout the area (we're not far from the Vía Augusta which went along Iberia's Mediterranean coast). I should probably take you on a tour of Alicante's Mediterranean ruins one day...
As you can see in one of those shots, there's a heavy dark cloud resting atop the Puig Campana (at this point I was very glad I had decided against that climb!), so we quickly got our stuff together and continued north along the coast towards Benidorm at a fairly brisk pace.
With that cloud and the promise of rain coming closer and closer to the coast, there was no worry about anyone lagging behind! (plus it was a fairly easy path)
Going around a bend, I was surprised to see a field with almond trees, right on the coast?!?!? The were at the end of their bloom, must have been beautiful a couple of weeks ago!
We finally reached the end of our trail, with an old watchtower guiding our way...
From there it was simply choose a path going downhill...
and then walk into town! Which town? I don't know, it's very confusing!!! Apparently this cove belongs to Finestrat, was given to them by some king as a reward for their participation in the defence of the coast (by maintaining that tower). But it's just a sliver of land and within a couple of blocks you cross from Villajoyosa to Finestrat to Benidorm.
In any case, it's a lovely spot to end the hike! All in all about 15 km (~ 9 miles?), over very fairly easy paths. Nothing too taxing, but a lovely outing all the same! And with very friendly people. What more can one ask for? After all, I did get to see almond blossoms again! ;o)