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Hiking in the Costa Blanca

summitI'm looking back over the past 6 years of living in the Costa Blanca; thinking of the many trails of red dirt we have trod and the rocks we have clambered up to reach summits from which the reward is a fenomenal wide-spreading open view. It may not be the first thought for people visiting this area as most get distracted by the 300km of sandy beaches and the Mediterranean sea that stretches between Alicante and Valencia.  But if you can tear your eyes away from the shore you will notice the amazing mountains that peak just inland. The opportunities for hiking and biking here are uncrowded and exceptional.



Puig Campana (inland from Benidorm)

This mountain of 2 peaks and an altitude of 1,406 metres can be reached by going to Finestrat and taking the road between 2 cafes on to the Font de Moli.  Drive past the carpark up the road to a clearing where you will see the paths marked beyond. We did attempt to climb to the summit on one occasion but ended up scrambling over loose stones and amongst cruel spikey bushes and couldn't find a way to the top. If attempting this I suggest you go to the Tourist Office for extra information.

PuigCampanaOn our second visit we decided on the curcuit which was less of a challenge. Take the signs to Collado de Pouet.  When you reach a crossroads of paths where you head for Solsida fountain. Sadly, this will lead you through a burnt out forest which is a striking if devastated landscape. You will also pass views across to high-rise Benidorm - which in my experience is best seen from afar!

Sierra Bernia (inland from Altea)

This mountain ridge can be reached by taking the road to Jalon from outside Benissa, quickly turning for Pinos and winding up as far as the Sierra Bernia restaurant.  If you start at the right time you can end there for a late lunch.  We once did this on a Thursday and were treated to a table of local men enthusiastically singing and along with the traditional food and the rustic no-frills dining room this gives you an authentic taste of Spain.

Take the small road to the left which leads to the font and from there join the path up until you reach the natural tunnel through the mountain.  On the other side you are greeted by panoramic views to Altea and the mountains and along the coast. The path to the right will pass the ruined fort and around the ridge and back to views North. Continue on a wide track to the car.

Olta (inland from Calpe)

You will find this table-like lump of rock by driving behind Calpe train station up to the camp ground parking.  There is a wide path that circumnavigates Olta providing views to Calpe and the Peñon de Ifach and a cluster of picnic tables at the Ermita Vella before turning to the other side with an outlook to Pinos and the Sierra Bernia. Better still is to climb up the oltatoifachsteep side of the rock. Having walked the first section of the bottom path with views to Calpe, take the signs to the 'cim' and cross the fairly flat top to the highest point before descending through a beautiful pine forest to continue on the curcuit path back to the camp ground.

Peñon de Ifach (at Calpe)

Found between Calpe's 2 main stretches of beach, dominating the coastline the Peñon de Ifach is generally a more crowded walk where you are accompanied by, not only other hikers, but by a gaggle of seagulls as well. There is a car park above the port area and from here many walk as far as the tunnel. Beyond this point the path becomes a bit trickier with ropes to assist in parts.  You need your hands to pull you up some rocky sections but reaching the top allows stunning views all along the coast.

coastalCoastal path (Cala de l'Advocat, Benissa coast - Calpe)

Climb the steps that lead off from the right of the beach at Cala de l'Advocat and weave along the structured coastal path, dipping down to various coves along the way.  In summer we take a dip in each one to keep cool.  At Cala de Advocat and La Fustera there is a bar with tapas in the warmer months, and at Las Bassettes there is watersports rental shop, plus the Coral Beach restaurant is open year round which looks direcctly out at the Peñon de Ifach.  So there is plenty to distract you along the route if you want to make a day of it. Keep going until you enter Calpe via La Fossa Beach.

Montgo (inland from Javea / Jesus Pobre)

This is fairly strenuous from Javea as it zig-zags up, up, up. Leave Javea on the road to Denia and look for signs to park to the left. Once on the trail just keep climbing until you reach the Montgotop, where you could see as far as Ibiza on a clear day.

For perhaps a prettier hike with views across to the Denia side, start at Jesus Pobre (park off the Javea to La Xara road) and after starting on a wide paved path, you climb across the top of Montgo to reach the summit so its a long trek but very rewarding.

For more info and a wider range of hikes see the website of some dedicated hikers from this area. http://www.bobandjeanhall.com/

A central base for hiking and biking this area is Finca Pura Vida, a stylish B&B in the middle of it all. 

If this all sounds too strenuous for you, I suggest you go to El Portet beach at the end of the day and sit to the left and watch the changing colours of the Peñon de Ifach, L'Olta and the Sierra Bernia at sundown from the comfort of your deckchair.

Having now moved further up the coast, closer to Valencia, I will be venturing out over new mountain terrain and exploring new trails. The northern part of the Costa Blanca is less touristed, more authentically Spanish and inland offers strikingly beautiful scenery.  I will come back with some newly discovered routes once I have made myself at home here.