Our secretary, Norma, is away enjoying herself on a month’s train journey. She went by plane to Italy and is now travelling around many of the countries to the East. So, it’s up to me (Martin) to write this month’s article. I was originally planning to write about all the marvellous walks we had planned last month, but the biblical storms washed out most of our programme! In our 17 years of existence I cannot remember a time with so many cancelled walks. Not only are we averse to walking in the pouring rain, but ground conditions can get extremely tacky after such heavy downfalls.
Anyway, we managed a couple of walks, one in the lunar landscape of Gebas in the area of Sierra Espuña and another in Caravaca de la Cruz to the summit of Peña Rubia.
The walk at Gebas is truly one of the “must visit” places in the region, because the landscape is quite unique, it is desert-like. The severe erosion that has occurred over the proceeding years has also accentuated it. As you wander along the paths there are quite steep valleys and cliffs around you, but the biggest surprise is when you arrive at the turquoise waters of the reservoir amongst the bare hills. It takes your breath away, especially if you are like two of our members who dived into the far too cold water, for a swim. It’s a walk that is featured in our published walking book, so please buy a copy if you fancy doing this walk.
The next outing was to the summit of Peña Rubia at 1,425m (4,675 ft) above sea level, which means it is higher than any peak in the United Kingdom. Ben Nevis in Scotland is the highest mountain there and it is 80m lower than our ascent. As you can imagine there were quite a lot of uppy bits, in fact we walked continually uphill for two hours, but I suppose it was effort versus reward. And we were certainly rewarded, as the views were magnificent from this high plateau!
On arrival we forgot all about the steepness of the ascent as the views constantly held our attention, but the downhill was also very steep and it made my knees a bit wobbly as we descended a beautiful limestone stairway.
On reaching the cars at base camp, we were surprisingly presented with cold beers and crisps kindly provided by our walk leaders, Carla and Douwe. It’s the sort of surprise that I like after a good route.
By the time you read this article we will have finished our walk programme for the season with the final excursion having taken place in Calasparra. We don’t walk through the summer because of the heat. Personally, I continue walking, but always in the early morning with a view to finishing by 10 a.m. If I were to give any advice to fellow walkers in Murcia, it would be, “never underestimate the power of the sun”.