Thursday, 12 June 2014

8-9 June 2014 – Vall de Gallinera

This two day walk was organised by Gail of the U3A Wednesday Wanderers.   The aim was to walk the 14 km route between Beniramma and Benissili and visit the eight villages in between.
Gail had booked accommodation for the twelve members of the group in the picturesque village of Benissiva, which is about midway between Beniramma and Benissili.   
We were joined on the first day by six more of the group, for the first half of the walk to Beniramma.   It was fortunate that though hot, it was not as hot as earlier in the week.  This was partly because of a cooling breeze.
The walk is well sign posted, and we had no trouble following the track to Beniramma.  Indeed we were quite surprised that we got there so quickly.   
8 June is the Cherry Festival in Beniramma, and the village was crowded with visitors, mostly Spanish.   The highlight of the celebrations was this giant paella.   There were also quite a few stalls packed into the narrow streets of the village.
Despite the crowd it was easy to find a quiet little corner of Beniramma, which made us realise what an attractive village it would be to visit outside the fiesta season.
We were back in Benissiva by mid afternoon.   After a cooling swim in the hotel pool we gathered in the village square to decide where to eat.   We had not expected that almost all of the restaurants would be closed in the evening.   All had been packed for lunch, and were determined to close at 6pm.   Fortunately Gail had found one in the nearby village of Beniali who was tempted with the prospect of 12 hungry walkers.    It was not cheap, but it was a very good meal.  And there was no other option anyway.
Next morning we tackled the other five villages from Benissiva to Benissili.   After a good breakfast we set off at 10am.
It was much warmer than the previous day, and we had a considerably longer walk ahead of us.   It was estimated to be 7 Km each way, which is quite a reasonable walk even during the walking season.  14km is a long walk in mid June when the temperatures can reach mid 30s.  It was not that hot, but it was hot enough. 
So a cooling font was a welcome find and even if the water was not drinkable it was ideal for a quick rinse.
Not sure which village this was, possibly La Carroja.   To be honest they all started to look much the same, and indeed very similar to those we have in the Jalon valley.
The big difference was the abundance of well laden cherry trees.   On the outward journey these were a great attraction, and everyone helped themselves to a handful.   But after a couple of hours we had all eaten our full.
The route is very well sign posted, both with finger posts and maps at the entrance to each village.   
The walk could well have been called “the armpits walk”.   Every time there was a slight breeze Alan would bellow “armpits” and everyone would raise their arms to take advantage of the breeze.   So it was appropriate to celebrate with a special “armpits” when we finally reached Benisili (or Benissili as it is spelled in the map from the tourist information office)
The festival had finished the previous day, and the village had reverted to its deserted normal.   We did however meet an Englishman who had lived there for 14 years.   He offered us as many cherries as we were prepared to pick from his own trees.   By now everyone had eaten their fill, and he was rather surprised to have no takers at all.
For the outward walk we had followed the twisting route which winded through the villages.   But for the return we mostly followed the more direct road back to Benissiva.   It was not as attractive, but it had the advantage of being much quicker.   The outward journey took about four hours, the return about two hours.   

We left as soon as we finished the walk to drive back to Parcent.    The rest of the group was booked in for a second night at the hotel in Benissiva.   No plans had been made for the third day, but I suspect it would not include another such ambitious walk.   There was a clear feeling that we had done well to complete the whole walk, and that a more restful day might be a fitting end to a lovely break.

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