A Castle, Vogons, The Unemployed, and a River Bed

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Lenticular Clouds over the Sierra d'Irta

Enough sitting in front of the computer, which has been necessary for the last couple of days to take care of admin and investigating things for a new work project (yes, exciting eh?). So out on the bike, enjoy the air and the sunshine, and explore the local landscape. I had no specific plan for where to go, other than to figure out how to cross the valley that runs behind the national park without ending up on either the main N-road or the Autopista, neither of which are particularly bike friendly.

Once I’d cycled out of town and got to the point of making a decision before I ended up on the N-road, there was a handy track with a walking route that was signposted to the town of Alcalå de Xivert, the main town in the valley. Perfect! So off up the track which was a bit rubble strewn but navigable, then following tracks between Orange and Olive groves which lead to a road that cut across through the hills towards Alcalå. This was actually a well documented walking area, and at each main junction along the way there was a big signboard with a description of the point of interest to be reached by taking one turn or another and written in three languages including English. Very handy indeed.

Castell de Xivert, Parc National de la Sierra d'Irta

So at each board I considered my options, and ended up taking a side branch off to see Castell de Xivert, the remains of a Moorish castle that overlooks the valley. I had the place to myself, there was a kiosk but it was all locked up, but you could walk around the remains of the castle walls. it was here that I took some pictures of the clouds, some great Lenticular formations over the mountains today, all looking like spaceships – reminded me of the Vogon Destructor Fleet from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy which we’ve just started watching again (the original 80’s TV series).

I then had to retrace my tracks to get back to the road, and then down into Acalå. The town appears not to have many talents, it was hard to find any form of centre, other than a small market that was just packing up, but not before I was able to buy an apple and banana for lunch. There was quite a lot of men, mostly of north African looking origin just hanging around on the street, one assume the local unemployed. Not a great billing for the Spanish economy.

I then wandered out of the south side of the town with no real intention. I could see some ‘plastic’ on the hills in the distance, which Mel and I had noted when walking in the hills the other day, not sure of its purpose, so I generally headed in that direction for a closer look. As I got closer I could see that some of it was wire fencing, possibly 10 feet high. I couldn’t make out the purpose of it though, as it was on the hills and I was in the valley, and then the road ran out. Bugger. A quick look at the maps on the iPhone and I was none the wiser, other than that I was alongside a river bed that I’d looked at a few days ago wondering if there was any way of following it. As it was, there was a stoney track which criss-crossed the river bed. There was actually no water in it, so just a river bed, and it looked like the sort of place that only got wet in the most extreme of storms. Whilst I did wonder if today’s clouds could be rain bearing, I surmised that I was fairly safe from an early bath, and there was plenty of scope of getting out of the river bed if needed.

The track was pretty stoney and boulder strewn in places, and several times I need to dismount and walk for a while, but all the better for taking in the scenery. Not being sure where I might pick up a better road, I got off the river as I approached where the Autopista and N-road crossed the river on separate flyovers, and headed up a track that ended up in a field with no obvious exit. I walked around it for a while then found a way out, which seemed to take me towards a farm house. As I was not sure I should be there, I approached slowly. There was an enclosure in front of the house filled with solar PV panels, and as I got close two huge great guard dogs leapt up and started barking and running along the inside of the fence. Fortunately no way for them to get out, so I quickly peddled past and shot off down the track before anyone could come looking!

I found my way back towards the roads, but unfortunately I had to cross the N-road, which meant cycling a few hundred yards along it. Quite a lot of articulated lorries using this stretch, but there was something of a hard shoulder, and after pausing for a gap, I managed to cycle along and to the other side without being passed, so pretty easy really. Once down the other side, I had to go back into the river bed again and follow it most of the way to the sea. Eventually I found a road that lead back onto the coast road that we cycled a few days ago, and before long I was back at base for a proper lunch. 32 miles travelled, probably 10 of its off of tarmaced surfaces, and I must have walked a couple of them. A great day out!




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