Apr 132011

Guided Spanish Walking Holidays
A feature of the area surrounding Villa Florencia is the plethora of walking routes for the hiker, all carefully signposted with distances and estimated walking times. Beautiful April weather and a visit from my nephew prompted the decision to sample the delights of one of the walking routes ourselves.
Turning left out of the driveway, a few steps along the road took us to the country lane that winds through the orchards and past several villas and casitas up to the tree-line, where the walk that we had selected begins in earnest. We had decided to walk the route that is designated as the GR236, which in fact begins in the nearby village of Ermita and comes past the house. Its destination is the mountain village of La Drova, and the estimated time for the walk from the tree-line point is 2 hours 20 minutes. The weather was perfect, with warm sunshine following a light shower of rain in the early morning, so by the time we were starting in the early afternoon the air was fresh and the sun gently warmed us as we went.

The entire route is marked at regular intervals either by conventional signposts, which also gave the estimated remaining walking time and distance, or else simply by daubs of paint on strategic boulders beside the path – either way, the distinctive red and white colours of the signs made them easy to spot and eliminated any chance of straying from the designated route. Hiking – or “senderismo” as it is known in Spain – is a popular pastime with both locals and visitors alike, and we soon began to see why. The scenery was breathtaking and the sunshine made it a perfect way to get some healthy exercise. Since we were climbing higher all the time, the temperature never became uncomfortable but made for an ideal afternoon surrounded by the natural beauty of this part of the inland Costa Blanca.

The first part of the walk was on a winding path around the hillside and along a dry riverbed, but was never too challenging at any point at all. The occasional boulder to walk around (usually with the reassuring red and white paint mark to show we were still on the correct route) was about the greatest challenge, with a little steep climbing from time to time. After about 40 minutes, however, the route turned into a gravel path which led us to our final destination at the outer edge of La Drova, all the while rising steadily up through the La Safor mountains and giving us spectacular views of the countryside below and around us. The route finally ends at a hiking information centre on a small plateau, where other routes in the area are displayed for the enthusiast. At no time was the walk too exerting, and in fact from the point where the signpost indicated the remaining time to be 2 hours 20 minutes, we completed the route in 1 hour and 40 minutes. Ordinary trainers and lightweight clothing were perfectly adequate for the task, and of course we carried bottled water with us too, as well as the obligatory mobile phone in case of emergency.

Having now sampled the delights of the GR236 route, we can easily understand why walking in the beautiful scenery and surroundings of the La Safor mountains and the Costa Blanca generally is such a popular pastime, and we shall most definitely be choosing another route in the area in the very near future. Guided walking holidays could well become a regular feature for our guests at Villa Florencia now that we have begun exploring them for ourselves, as we can take great pleasure in accompanying our guests on these routes and showing them the beauty of this part of Spain.