It’s about time I got my walking feet back on! I have hardly walked over the summer – it has just been so very hot here in southern Spain. I’ve probably only walked three or four times over the last couple of months and no more than 10km. But there is a four day walking festival commencing next week in Cómpeta and I want to take part in at least a couple of the walks. So some training is required.
Poor little Roly was a bit sulky this morning when he didn’t get his normal walk after stable duties. But as soon as I showed him my bum bag he knew he was in for a much better prospect and after jumping up and down in excitement, he positioned himself in the middle of the drive to await further developments.
Just after 9:00 am we set off for a round walk that takes us down to the old mill by the Roman bridge just outside Canillas de Albaida and then alongside the Rio Cájules which we have to cross via stepping stones at four places. On either side of the river are groves of orange, lemon and avocado trees.
As always, I took my camera, not expecting to come across any flower photo opportunities, but how wrong I was! Even after months without rain there were some beautiful wild flowers along the track and even those that had long since faded had transformed into quite fascinating seed heads. Poor Roly couldn’t quite make out why I kept stopping every few yards.
It is a delightful walk. We take the very steep climb to the right of the valley, zig-zagging upwards through the pine covered slopes and reaching the olive groves towards the top of the climb where I see a new collection of bee hives which weren’t in evidence the last time I passed this way. There are about forty hives. A lot of hives must have been destroyed in the terrible fire a few months ago so I guess new sites have to be found to keep the honey production flowing. Any almonds that haven’t been harvested are ready to drop from the trees, and the olives are looking very plump although it is another three months before they are usually gathered in.
Earlier in the walk I had passed a woman walking in the opposite direction and we stopped to chat. She said she was with a walking group, but due to ill-health was not able to tackle the more strenuous walks so was walking back to the village. As I walked on I could hear an occasional voice but couldn’t see anyone until I was at a good height and then I saw a group of about fifteen walkers on the other side of the valley, heading for Salares. Now that the weather is cooling, walking groups will become a regular sight on the mountain tracks. And hopefully my weekly walking group (of three) will get back into action pretty soon.
After heading towards La Cueva de Agua (I know it’s there somewhere, but I have yet to discover exactly where!), we have a short break in the shade of my favourite cork oak trees where Roly eats his biscuits and some meat that he was too excited to bother with at breakfast time. And then we are heading ever downwards towards La Fabrica. I am wearing my Chaco sandals today. I purchased them over the internet for my Camino Frances last year, but on arrival I discovered that they were much too heavy to cart across Spain and bought some crocs instead. The Chacos appealed to me because the webbing straps are completely adjustable for a prefect fit, however the upper side of the sole is scored with trellis pattern (they are recommended for wearing in water and I presume these grooves allow water to escape – I have to say they are excellent in water, no slipping or sliding at all). But on the long descent to the Fabrica my feet began to get a bit tender where the soles were rubbing and it was fabulous to stand in the river for a while to cool the hot spots. I hadn’t worn them for this distance before, and will go back to wearing my boots for longer walks.
From this point the walk took me back along the quiet road to Canillas and then back along the goat track to the bottom of my drive and the final steep climb home. It was a stunning day with a deep blue sky and white fluffy clouds, not too hot, probably around 25 degrees C, but I was walking in the shade quite a lot of the time. I hope to get in two or three more walks before the walking festival.
A few stats for anyone interested – I set off from home at 655m, dropped to 493m at the river and climbed steadily to 910m at the start of the descent to the Fabrica which lies at 734m. My pace was slow, averaging at 12 minutes per km, ie 5 km per hour over 15.6 km.