Jan and I had planned to do this walk last week with the CBMW, but were pleased to do it with our Monday Group instead when Peter offered to lead it. Our group had not tackled this walk before. We were a little apprehensive as Bob Stansfield’s walking book describes it as 17km with about 700m ascent. It is also undulating, which means there are seven “ups and downs”.
Despite this daunting description 13 of us turned up at Benichembla on a very cold Monday morning. Although we had a clear blue sky it was bitterly cold and most were well wrapped up – even if Barry did have his shorts on!The walk started with a very steep climb up a proper road, which soon turned to the more usual narrow track.
We quickly gained height and by the first water stop had extensive views of the valley below and the coast.
Despite the steep ascent, it was still cold enough for most to keep their jackets on.
This is looking back on the path we had just walked; fortunately it did not look so difficult walking
The path soon all but disappeared, and we were impressed that Peter managed to find the right one up, or indeed down, without too much trouble.
After a couple of hours we stopped for a banana break. Despite the sun it was too cold to stop for long. But the clear sky provided lovely views right to the coast
It was also a good opportunity for everyone to admire my new patch. It had taken Jan about three months and a lot of reminders on last week’s walk, to attend to the tear in my walking trousers. But well worth the wait!The path was now pretty level for a considerable distance, and we were able to relax and look around instead of having to watch every step to avoid a fall.
Everywhere you looked were impressive rock faces and rolling mountains
Despite the sun there were dangerous patches of ice. Han is pointing to a frozen pool of water thick enough to walk on.
Going down was much worse than going up, and we were grateful for our walking sticks.
We had hoped to reach the airfield at Cocoll for lunch, but by 1.30 it was clear we would not be able to do so.
We did find a sheltered valley, which was also quite a sun trap
And if the views were not the most impressive of the day, they were still quite pleasant
Half an hour later we finally reached the airstrip on Cocoll. We were surprised to find a large herd of sheep grazing around the strip. Fortunately there were no sign of any planes, and they were not at all impressed by our tired group of walkers.The view from here was impressive, and it would have made an excellent picnic spot.
It was too cold to hang around for long, and we soon joined the well signed route back to Benichembla
The walk had taken us just over six hours, and apart from two short breaks we had kept us a good pace throughout. This would make it one of the longest walks we had tackled as a group. Excellent and challenging walk, and one which I am sure we will tackle again.
Monday 6 February
Col de Rates from Parcent. Meet at 1000 at the “chicken shacks”. With luck the almond blossoms will be in full bloom to add an extra bit of colour to this old favourite.