We enjoyed listening to Cameron McNeish talk about Trails & Climbs for Television last night at the Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline. He showed lots of interesting clips from various TV programmes about Scottish mountains, walks and wilderness areas that he’s been involved with over the years.
I went to see Previously Fat Mac, but he’s once more gone to seed, and is now Fat Mac again. He can’t jog any more, due to a sore foot, but I at least managed to get him out of his house and up to Cockburn Street to see a rather strange yet interesting photographic exhibition by Ângela Ferreira at Stills, Scotland’s Centre for Photography. Her exhibition was about Mozambique.
I had planned to follow this up afterwards by taking him to the National Library of Scotland for a presentation about Livingstone and the ordeal of The Congo, but as soon as we left Stills he headed for the nearest bar and started to talk about buying a bottle of whisky.
The only way I could take his mind off whisky was to buy him a pint, and of course one pint lead to another.
At least he got some fresh air walking between various pubs.
It was nice to Skype Jamie in Accra the other night, and see pictures of the house he’s renting. One of the things he mentioned was how relatively well the economy of Ghana is doing, with high growth rates over the past few years. All it seems to have needed for things to have taken off is a stable democratic government, plus of course the development of new resources.
The new wealth will take time to work its way through the economy, but it is good that there are new developments in the country and that many things are obviously different from what we sometimes encountered during our time in Africa, twenty years and more ago.
Too often, the only images we see of Africa today are of very poor people in dire need. There are plenty like that, of course, but there seems to also be a new vitality in many African countries. A lot still remains to be done.
The castle at Guadalest is well worth a visit. Access is via the Orduña House Museum, which itself is extremely interesting. Amongst other things, there were three fascinating maps, reminding us about the important role that Spain played in world history.
You’re not allowed to take photos inside the museum.
We spent an afternoon in Benidorm, about 20 kms away from where we were staying up in the mountains at Guadalest.
It seeemed an OK sort of place, though rather large. Out of season, it’s mostly inhabited by wrinklies and nouveaux-bourgeois types.
We were enjoying an expensive coke at one of the cafes when a bunch of about eight bruisers plonked themselves down and demanded cider. The waiter didn’t understand what they wanted, even after they said ‘cider’ at him three times in exactly the same way but with increasing volume. “Oh fek, eight lagers then, Pedro” one of them continued, in a Welsh accent.
These lads were built like bricks, and their necks had considerably more circumferance than their heads. One of them had a very peculiar profile. His chin stuck out immenseley, and his nose was positioned about an inch higher than it should have been. His forehead then swept straight back from the bridge of his nose to join the top of his shaven head. The others were not half as good looking. I reckon they must have been rejected from the Welsh rugby team for being too ugly.
Very unfortunately for me, I ended up going to the toilet just after the largest of them had been there. I had to squeeze past him to get to the extremely small, hot and airless cubicle as he stood by the washbasin, and I was too frightened to exit promptly when I closed the door and realised that he’d just taken a dump of epic proportions. I could provide more details, but I won’t.
Some days it reached 35 degrees in Guadalest whilst we were there, despite it being the beginning of October. On a day that was thankfully quite cloudy, we did the Cumbre de Aitana walk. This is #8 in Charles Davis’ Walk! the Costa Blanca Mountains guide. The walk is about 11kms and when you get to the top of Aitana you’re at 1,558 metres.
We drove to Confrides and then took the steep PR22 up to the Font de l’Arbre area recreativa (a picnic spot) where we parked the car. From there we backtracked 350 metres and took a dirt track to the right.
If you look closely at the above photo on the skyline near the centre, you can see the forata eye in the rock.
It’s a bit of a scramble across some scree to get to the top.
From the depression, turn left but don’t go down into the grassy gully, but rather up a faint path to its right. This leads you to a narrow gateway which in turn leads to a second crack in the rocks.
There’s a fairly new rockslide which has taken away some of the wooden steps, which you go down.
Overall, an excellent walk.
The day after our relatively short walk round the Embalse de Guadalest we did a much longer walk, which is #11 in Charles Davis’ Walk! the Costa Blanca Mountains guide. It’s a great trek of about 12.6 kms, but it didn’t start well for us.
What Davis might say instead of “Forking right after 240 metres then turning left as indicated by cairns…” is “If you can’t find the cairns, whatever you do don’t backtrack and take the road up to the Torre de Dalt farmhouse with the intention of cutting through the undergrowth up to the track, because if you do you will have to force your way through an almost impenetrable thicket of prickly bushes, very prickly bushes and extremely prickly bushes, and when you eventually emerge onto the correct track you will be covered in blood, sweat and prickly things which will take two weeks to heal.”
Yes, within 250 metres of leaving the car at the start of the walk we got lost. I hadn’t realised just how dense and, well, prickly the Spanish bush is. There are at least four types of plants with spikes up the back of the Torre de Dalt farmhouse.
Once we found the correct track, however, this turned into a fantastic walk.
The track passes the Guhyaloka Buddhist community retreat centre, and down the track are some amazing outcrops.
After the Passet del Golero, you find yourself in a new valley with a few houses, and two miles further on there’s another col and then you’re into yet another valley, the Barranc del Arc.
Once you’re through the Pas del Comptador, there are various routes back to the starting point, and plenty of excellent views of the Vall de Guadalest.
We didn’t see anyone else until a mile from the end of the walk.
After all the fantastic food at the Cases Noves, we burnt off some calories with a series of walks. The first one was the easiest – from Guadalest down to the dam, then right round the lake and back up to Guadalest. A very pleasant walk.
On the north side of the lake you follow the road (there is hardly any traffic), and on the south side there’s a good track.