Friday, 31 March 2017

Penya des Carrascal - 28 March

The Coll de Rates is at the end of a 7km climb out of the village of Parcent and to the west of the col is the high, broad ridge of the Carrascal with its summit of 998m. Perhaps 20 or 30 metres lower the tarmac ends and for those cyclists who find the climb to the coll (628m) insufficient there is another 350m of climbing to be had. The views from the restaurant at the col are outstanding but from the summit they are even better.

I would like to be able to record we had walked (or run, like the local mountain runner we met on the summit) from Parcent but this is our last day and we didn't have time to do the whole circuit. We did have time to savour the views from the summit and start making plans for next year's trip.

One of the sets of radio masts
Almost There!
Trig Point
Fire Lookout Post
Bernia Ridge
Towards Penyo Roig and Cavall Verd
Afternoon Clouds building

Penyo Roig - 27 March

Above Murla, Penyo Roig and its subsidiary summit El Corbellot sit at the Eastern end of the Cavall Verd ridge.

The track from Murla climbs gently, passing a Calvary, to the Ermita de St Sebastia before zigzagging to and then beyond the tree line. Once the ridge is gained the route is more direct to an obstacle just below the summit of El Corbellot.

Once round the obstacle the summit is easily gained, views enjoyed and the shallow gorge between El Corbellot and Penyo Roig admired - admired because for most of the way up it looks as though a great deal of height will be lost between the summits. Traversing below Penyo Roig's crags costs a bit of height but the climb to the summit is straightforward. The descent is merely a matter of retracing the route back to Murla.

Start of the Calvary
The Calvary
Ermita de St Sebastia
The Cruz (i)
The Cruz (ii)
Penyo Roig from El Corbellot with Cavall Verd ridge beyond

Alt de L'Ample - 26 March

A year ago we tried and failed to find the starting point for the route out of Xalo, spending a frustrating couple of hours doing so. Even "asking a local" failed, and in the end we ran out of time, and gave up. Keen to avoid a re-run and armed with a better map we realised it would better to avoid Xalo with its maze of lanes and start out of town on the edge of the hill. Reading "between the lines" of a route description and a "must be there" footpath led us to believe there would be a path linking the descent route to the road from where the climbing started. Unwilling to find out it didn't actually exist at end of the day we reversed the route and found the unmarked path existed and is heavily used.

Climbing out of the Barranc de Cau the path zigzags through hundreds, probably thousands, of disused and derelict terraces. The work to create and maintain such a huge area is unimaginable and it isn't possible to see all these ruined terraces without wondering what the last generation of farmers must think now - they, of course, may be delighted to earn a living in other, probably easier ways, but it is like watching a huge factory disintegrate very slowly.

Having seen the race markers on Serra de Olta yesterday we were surprised to see them again on Alt de L'Ample - of course, it is a longer drive between the two hills but we saw a 20km marker yesterday a 30km marker today so it is a mighty race. The race markers marked our route too, for a while, and took us right passed the path to the summit, the path we wanted! Seeking an alternative we found, instead, an abandoned farmhouse with its well which still contains water. Back to the "taped-off" path and on to the summit where the views are worth the two attempts plus today's "near miss". Back to the race route again but this time only as far as les Planisses where we turned towards Xalo for the final descent.

Abandoned Terraces above Barranc del Cau
Abandoned Farmhouse
Abandoned Farmhouse with covered well
Abandoned Farmhouse and Terraces 
Looking South from Moraira with Bernia Ridge in the far distance

Serra de Olta - 25 March

Serra de Olta is a classic Costa Blanca hill with rough ground, good paths and tower blocks and the coast in sight for much of the time. Calp's own mountain was on the route of a long mountain race today but, sadly, we saw only the route markers and not the runners. The reversing marked race route gave us an alternative, interesting descent through the trees, only joining the large track of the Circuit Principal near the Finca Pastor.

After climbing to the plateau we visited the subsidiary summit of Pou de la Mola where the bitterly cold wind didn't encourage lingering. The plateau is home to a mixed herd of goats and sheep and the goats, in particular, seemed used to humans and just ignored us as we approached and passed by. These aren't the small wild goats encountered elsewhere in Spain, these are much larger and as well as grazing they dig for roots like pigs. Don't think we have ever seen this before.

Calp in the morning sun

Calp from Serra de Olta

Bernia Ridge

Serra de Olta with race marker

Bulolla Castle - 24 March

The ruins of Bulolla Castle sit atop a narrow ridge overlooking the town, high above the river of the same name. The views are extensive and provide a real feel for the area. Road access to the nearest car park is now closed but an alternative small car parking area is to found by the side of the, apparently, private road on the PR-CV 49.

Castle Ruins with Bernia Ridge beyond

Castle Ruins with Bernia Ridge beyond

Bernia Ridge beyond the summit of Penya del Castellet

Cim Carrascal from Coll de Rates

Driving back to Calp over the Coll de Rates gave us our first view of the coll and the nearby hills, like Cim Carrascal, which we have on this year's list for later in the week.

Monday, 20 March 2017

The "Two Crosses" - 19 March

An East Lancs' LDWA Challenge Walk which we last did in 2006 in conditions a little better than today, although that wouldn't have been difficult at all. A long, cold, very wet day out and my longest run for over two years. Thanks for the company, Checkers.

This is a particularly well organised and supported LDWA Event and the check point marshals deserve enormous thanks - it was bad enough running in these conditions so marshalling, especially outdoors with little or no shelter must have been, at least a little, unpleasant.

The Best Bit - Butties, Tea and Soup

Second Best Bit - Back On-line

Monday, 13 March 2017

Not Cartridge Hill - 12 March

A week or so ago I stumbled across local summit on the Hill Bagging website which we have walked and run passed for, probably, 20 years. Cartridge Hill is a small hill on the edge of Darwen Moor but a distinct summit enjoying fine views over the Lancashire Plain.

After a sunny morning and a very pleasant short, warm run across the fields to complete another 50+ week we decided today was the day for Cartridge Hill. The weather and circumstances, however, thought otherwise. The nearest car park, at Slipper Lowe, which might have allowed us to reach a relatively dry track going very close to the summit is now closed and the access blocked. There are alternatives and while deciding which would be "least worst" the rain arrived to compliment the very low cloud base which is down to road level.

Now, rather than enjoying views across the Lancashire Plain we could barely see across the Blue Lagoon in Belmont. Cartridge Hill and its views will be there for the next time.

The Blue Lagoon (i)

The Blue Lagoon (ii)

The Blue Lagoon (iii)

Belmont Church

The Blue Lagoon (iv)

Monday, 6 March 2017

Winter Hill - 04 March

Most of this year's ascents of Winter Hill have been in low cloud or after dark neither of which is ideal for taking photographs so the prospect of a sunny day run to the end of the tarmac was pleasing. It is also a while since I ran on Winter Hill on a Saturday morning which is something of a contrast with the days when it was my most used Saturday morning running area. There were more cyclists than runners out but the "Stan Bradshaw Memorial Race" on Pendle probably attracted many of the local fell runners.

However bright the sunshine the cold wind was a constant reminder that winter isn't yet over although there has been remarkably little "proper winter" this year. A year ago there was snow here and I was preparing for a "Winter Week" in the Cairngorms before sunshine on the Costa Blanca. This year there is no snow here and so little in the Cairngorms we may not go but we do have a week in the hills on the Costa Blanca to look forward to.

Rusty Chain

Mast Road Puddle

Another Runner