Jose Antonio cancelled his walk for Sunday 28th January. It should have been a beautiful walk around the Sierra del Molino near Calasparra. By the looks of the subsequent snow scenes, we were saved an exhausting, 20km walk through snow and mud; this lovely, fine Murcian clay turns to extremely horrible, heavy, sticky mud.
“No hay mal que por bien no venga” – “Every cloud has a silver lining” as it was good news for the region of Murcia’s desperately low reservoirs.
Saturday 3rd February was Martin’s walk in the Sierra de Ricote – a circular route starting from and returning to La Bermeja car park via El Estrecho del Moro (el estrecho – narrow part). Juan was there to enlighten us about the plants and history of the final Muslim (Moro) population in the area around Ricote village. As we made our first ascent up the shady north side of the sierra, we passed puddles of ice formed after the recent rain and melted snow. It was cold (see photo of the well-wrapped ‘Conquerers’), but we were well prepared with woolly hats and layers of clothing. As the ascent continued, the layers started to come off and it was a relief to reach the Collado del Moro (saddle of the hill) and enjoy the warm sun on the southern side. The layers soon went back on though with the cold wind coming from the snow-covered mountains to our west.
Martin and Jose Antonio had obviously been on a mission to get us fit post-Christmas and although Martin’s route was ‘only’ 19kms (Al’s phone App actually showed 21kms) crossing up and over the sierra not just once but twice, it certainly found out the unfit ones – ME!! Martin christened the route on the south side of the sierra up from the Rambla del Moro, ‘Big Dipper’. We crossed up and down three very steep barrancos.
It was a perfect day for photography with the clarity of the amazing blue sky. After the final challenging climb up the sunny side to Collado del Caballo, we were very relieved to be able to make our descent to the cars through the protective sides of a deep and shaded barranco. With extra layers back on, we reached the cars nearly six hours later and congratulated our very satisfied selves over a companionable few drinks at the local bar.
George and David said that on Saturday 10th February they would do a shorter route (about 10km up to Peña Rubia, Cehegín) and nearly 30 people jumped at the chance for an ‘easier’ walk. How naïve! Peña Rubia (the blond crag) is a mountain!! We set off along the nice level Via Verde and through a tunnel, before ascending. They’d also promised us some old fossils (certainly a few of us fit into that category!) and true to their word they found us some. After a slight change of route to make the descent thankfully less slippery, we actually completed a very comfortable circuit of 11km.
Peña Rubia is a very emblematic outcrop on the opposite side of the RM15 from the beautiful old town of Cehegín. When we reached higher ground, we could see Cehegín beneath us – what a revelation to see how many churches there are! At night time Peña Rubia proudly displays the lights of the cross of Cehegín with its distinctive symbols of alpha and omega on the horizontal bar. It’s not a pretty looking mountain from the road and so was a real surprise to see the beautiful countryside
opening on different sides as we walked anti-clockwise around it. We even saw a mountain goat (cabra montés) framed against the backdrop of the snow still present on the peaks all around us. We’d started in bitterly cold winds, but as we descended, the sun came out and the wind dropped and we were very grateful for the warm welcome back at La Estación and our eagerly anticipated lunch.
Saturday 3rd March – we will be driving a long way to Nerpio, so very efficient, forward-thinking Tina has provisionally reserved accommodation in Nerpio for the Saturday night following the walk. It will give us an opportunity to socialise more than normal and also spend some time doing touristy things in this unique mountain location over the regional border.
Saturday 10th March – Benizar
Saturday 17th March – Sierra de la Pila
Sunday 25th March – Sierra del Molino, Calasparra (La Cima)
Full details of future outings will be sent to those who are already on the WARM mailing list, normally about a fortnight ahead. If anyone would like their email address to be added to the mailing list and discover the secrets of the north west of Murcia, please email Warm2005@gmail.com
More photos can be seen on the WARM Facebook page.