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Monday, 22 October 2018

Pico Javalambre


Walk Summary
Platje de la Cruz, El Saler looking towards port of Valencia.
Last day of trip and choice of beach or mountain. Beach wins
Heading up La Atalaya yesterday (Sunday) I set myself the objective to go up 4 more P600's making five in total during the journey back to Caen and 10:30pm ferry back to Portsmouth on Wednesday evening.
The next two would be Cerro de Javalambre and Peñarroya following an overnight stop near Teruel.
Realising Valencia was on the route home it crossed my mind to have a day on one of our favorite beaches south of Valencia.
Only getting as far as El Saler by 10:00pm cemented the idea providing it was a blue sky day on the Monday.
It was sunny. So once again when it comes to the crunch; beach wins over mountains.
But ended up doing both. Heading north up the A23 towards Zaragoza late afternoon decided to take the 25km detour from La Puebla de Valverde along the good quality TE-620 tarmac single carriageway to the Estación de Esquí de Javalambre.
From here it is a 2km walk to the summit up a reasonable compressed stone track to the TV transmitter and summit beyond.
Drove 2.4km from Estacion de ski de Javalambre. Could have
driven all way to summit but conscience would not let me
Having crossed the Rubicon of driving up similar types of road in the camper-van I elected to drive further towards the summit but although you could drive all the way to the summit, my conscience got the better of me 300m short, just past the TV transmitter station, p
arking the van and heading straight up the slope to the summit.
Did return a slightly longer route back down the track to the van. All in all one of the easiest Spain/Portugal P600's you are likely to find. Certainly the easiest of the 35 I have done so far.
The hardest part was identifying the high point. A religious icon is the highest point overlooking the trig Pillar plinth, both of which are obviously man made. I plumped for the larger heavy boulder which seemed to be immovable about 5m NW of the trig pillar.
Returning back to van down track.
Could have driven all way up to the summit
The final P600 of this trip, though did manage to pick off a coup[le of French Departmental high points driving through France. Yet another list, but don't forget it will include Mont Blanc.


Walk Statistics
Walk Date - 22 October 2018
Walkers - Steve Smith
Accommodation - Hostel Andres, El Saler 
Start Point - Trackside just past Cerro de Javalambre TV transmitter station (N40°06'00" W1°01'28")
Start Time - 16:45
Finish Point - Trackside just past Cerro de Javalambre TV transmitter station (N40°06'00" W1°01'28")
Finish Time- 17:06
Total Duration - 0hrs 21mins 
Overall Average pace - 1.49mph
Total Distance Walked - 0.52 miles
Total Height Ascended - 28.00metres

Peaks visited
Spain/Portugal 600m Prominence Peaks (168S - 185S&P - 2165E)
Pico Javalambre (34S - 35S&P - 64E)
Spain/Portugal 300m - 599m Prominence Peaks (1000+)
NONE
Spain/Portugal 150m - 299m Prominence Peaks (3000+)
NONE
Spain Autonomous Community High Points (19)
NONE
Spain Province High Points (52)
NONE
S: Spain
P: Portugal
E:Europe

Other walks on this trip
2018
September
17th Signal d'Ecouves & Mont des Avaloirs
18th Mont Baïgura
19th Autza
October
07th Itzaga
13th Caimodorro
14th Almenara
15th Blanquillo
18th María
19th Sagra
21st La Atalaya
22nd Cerro de Javalambre
24th Terrier de Saint-Martin-du-Fouilloux & Maine-et-Loire High Point
Route
More Photographs
Pico Javalambre summit area looking north towards TV transmitter station.
Looks like highest natural point is rock 10m NW of trig pillar

Click on photograph to view slide-show

Sunday, 21 October 2018

La Atalaya


Walk Summary
Camino Rural Fuente de la Carrasca covered by soil from
fields after heavy rain. Quite alot of tarmac washed away
Fifth and therefore penultimate P600's of what appeared to be a convenient group of six in and around Sierras de Cazorla, Segura and La Sagra that could be picked off on journey south from Moncayo to the mountainous coastal strip in search of warmer, drier Autumn weather between Alicante and Gibraltar.
After realising 60% of the Spain/Portugal P600's are concentrated in 20% of the northern strip on the Iberian mainland mass, starting on the Mediterranean coast with the Pyrenees - extending west through the Basque/Cantabian mountains, then on to the Picos de Europa, it has finally dawned on me that the remaining Iberian P600's are relatively isolated, spread across the remainder of the peninsula, meaning it is difficult to be settled in one place for more than a couple of days.  
Looks like could be a prehistoric cave near Fuente la Carrasca
The NE/SW aspect of this group of Sierras with roads on NW/SE perimeter converging even further to the SW at Pozo Alcón results in a long drive to cover both sides. This was complicated in my case by not being able to access the trailhead for Morro del Buitre due to the access road to Camping El Cortijillo being blocked by road works at junction with Cortijo Martín (N38°49'26" W2°46'15"). Then further exacerbated by incorrectly deciding to head for Camping Maria rather than stay in the area of Martín to attempt Morro del Buitre another day and being close to Sagra and La Atalaya before heading further south. Instead Camping Maria was very close to Sierra Maria and although was a good base during a period of unseasonably heavy rain, was a longer drive to Sagra and La Atalaya.
The poor weather here, the forecast predicting more for the foreseeable future, circumstances at home that after 5 weeks away seemed to be calling me to return and finally a family funeral convinced me it was time to come home.
As expected La Atalaya summit area shrouded by low cloud
First stop on the journey north would be the isolated pueblo of Fuente de la Carrasca accessed along the aptly named Camino Rural Fuente de la Carrasca from Cañada de la Cruz a metaled single track road that in places had been destroyed by stone and soil washed off adjacent fields by the recent rains covered with liquid mud.
Leaving van parked at roadside on east side of Pueblo there is a short road heading north past the fuente (source) that gives the pueblo it's name. Very soon the track ends becoming a track which after a short time approaches what looks to be prehistoric cave enclosed by an old derelict wall. From here it is round the back of the hill to the left and following the gully marked in places all the way to the summit ridge where you turn right and head for La Atalaya summit.
Summit ridge heading towards Puntal del Calderón
I could see the cloud along the summit ridge during the ascent and it did not clear whilst at the summit, so it was taking photos from inside the cloud, dropping a GPS waypoint and logging the summit.
Descent was pretty much the same as the ascent other than a brief idea I might nip across to Las Cabras and the trig pillar. I did not bother and returned to the van just before 5:30pm, but during the descent I did think about setting myself the unreasonable objective to visit 4 more easily access P600's on the return journey through Spain and on in to France to catch the ferry from Caen 3 days later at 10:30pm on Wednesday.
Continue down gully in front of hill
and around end on left near walled cave
Spotting that Valencia was on the route home suggested by Google maps and that I could reach it by 10:30pm I decided to forget the extra summits and spend Monday on El Saler beach. So once again when it comes to a choice between hill walking and the beach, the beach wins. That is maybe why Spanish hill-bagging is such an attraction at the moment it gives me the chance to do both. As it turns out I did manage both as by 3pm on the Monday the strength of the sun had gone giving me the chance to aim for picking off Cerro de Javelambre.

Walk Statistics
Walk Date - 21 October 2018
Walkers - Steve Smith
Start Point - Roadside on east side of Fuente la Carrasca (N38°02'49" W2°24'08")
Start Time - 15:54
Finish Point - Roadside on east side of Fuente la Carrasca (N38°02'49" W2°24'08")
Finish Time- 17:30
Total Duration - 1hrs 36mins 
Overall Average pace - 2.07mph
Total Distance Walked - 3.31 miles
Total Height Ascended - 596.00metres

Peaks visited
Spain/Portugal 600m Prominence Peaks (168S - 185S&P - 2165E)
La Atalaya (33S - 34S&P - 63E)
Spain/Portugal 300m - 599m Prominence Peaks (1000+)
NONE
Spain/Portugal 150m - 299m Prominence Peaks (3000+)
NONE
Spain Autonomous Community High Points (19)
NONE
Spain Province High Points (52)
La Atalaya (7)
S: Spain
P: Portugal
E:Europe

Other walks on this trip
2018
September
17th Signal d'Ecouves & Mont des Avaloirs
18th Mont Baïgura
19th Autza
October
07th Itzaga
13th Caimodorro
14th Almenara
15th Blanquilla
18th María
19th Sagra
21st La Atalaya
24th Terrier de Saint-Martin-du-Fouilloux & Maine-et-Loire High Point
Route
More Photographs
Looks like could be a prehistoric cave near Fuente la Carrasca
Click on photograph to view slide-show

Thursday, 18 October 2018

María


Walk Summary
The only P600 that is less than a 20 minute drive from campsite to trail head of the five summits I took to be within a convenient group in and around the wider area of Sierras de Cazorla, Segura and La Sagra that could be picked off on journey south from Moncayo to the p600s in the mountainous coastal strip  between Alicante and Gibraltar.
Well it turned out they where not such a convenient group with a lot of driving between trail heads, starting with Blanquilla, along many minor single track roads. On top of that María is situated 30km to the south in Parque Natural de Sierra de María Los Velez.
Parked this side of barrier behind Refugio Umbría de la Virgen
For future reference I probably would not look at these as a group of five but leave María as a drive past and pick off Blanquilla and Almenara on journey north or south, aiming to pick off Morro del Buitre, Sagra and La Atalaya as a single group based around Puebla de Don Fadrique or more centrally Huéscar. That said I did spend three nights at Camping Maria and though the weather was not brilliant the facilities and hospitality was much appreciated.
Maria summit straight ahead. Fence suggests no left access
Start of what is a straight forward ascent of María was from back of Refugio Umbria de la Virgen, looks like you could even stay here.
You could drive further but I was not confident the open barrier near the trail head would reliably remain open.
Security was an enduring feature of the days walk with high fencing on the left side of the ascent track preventing a more direct route. The end of the fence was the signal for me to turn left off the track to cut a corner of the track off,  but red marker posts alongside the rejoined track suggests to me people are not encouraged to leave the track.
Substantial cairn at 2035m spot height east of María summit
Despite this I did avoid the multiple switch backs on the path on the ascent to Collado de Portalchico. Unfortunately cloud dropped from the collado restricting any views north or south on the summit ascent or indeed summit. Pictures of yet another trig pillar and summit rituals preceded direct descent to the SE giving a circular route but this would be a less straight forward ascent.
Early return home meant this was the most southerly summit of this trip but it did mean I could pick off La Atalaya as part of the return journey.

Walk Statistics
Walk Date - 18 October 2018
Walkers - Steve Smith
Start Point - Trackside (N37°41'23" W2°10'55")
Start Time - 10:54
Finish Point - Trackside (N37°41'23" W2°10'55")
Finish Time- 13:54
Total Duration - 3hrs 00mins
Overall Average pace - 1.64mph
Total Distance Walked - 4.93 miles
Total Height Ascended - 688.00metres

Peaks visited
Spain/Portugal 600m Prominence Peaks (168S - 185S&P - 2165E)
María (31S - 32S&P - 61E)
Spain/Portugal 300m - 599m Prominence Peaks (1000+)
NONE
Spain/Portugal 150m - 299m Prominence Peaks (3000+)
NONE
Spain Autonomous Community High Points (19)
NONE
Spain Province High Points (52)
Moncoya (5&6)
S: Spain
P: Portugal
E:Europe

Other walks on this trip
2018
September
17th Signal d'Ecouves & Mont des Avaloirs
18th Mont Baïgura
19th Autza
October
07th Itzaga
13th Caimodorro
14th Almenara
15th Blanquilla
18th María
19th Sagra
21st La Atalaya
24th Terrier de Saint-Martin-du-Fouilloux & Maine-et-Loire High Point
Route

More Photographs
Looking back down gully towards Collado de Portalchico. Can make out path with switchbacks on right
Click on photograph to view slide-show

Monday, 15 October 2018

Blanquilla


Walk Summary
On paper the 78km drive to the heart of Parque Natural de Las Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas from Camping Rio de los Molinos, Silos seemed just a short trip, especially as more than half of this distance to the NW end of Embalse de Tranco de Beas on the A310 and A317 was just half an hour. However the remaining shorter part of the journey along the rural JH-7156 took a further 2 hours.
Following track which goes through a gorge
known as Cerrada de San Ginés
So a later than planned start setting off from the parking area 75m north of bridge over Arroyo de Las Aguascebas de la Cueva Del Agua on the JH-7156 just before 1pm, the first part of the route along the alternatively named Sendero Aguascebas de Gil Cobo takes you through the narrow gorge known as Cerrada de San Ginés.
The other side of the gorge reveals a junction and plenty of off road parking but to be honest it is a far better experience to discover Cerrada de San Ginés on foot. Continue left at the junction and after discovering it is too much of a bushwack to follow the Arroyo de Las Aguascebas de la Cueva Del Agua at the bridge look for an opportunity to break left off the track to rejoin the track higher up. This deteriorates to a rough path that eventually follows the Arroyo de Las Aguascebas until the path ends more or less where it ends on the map.
Trying to follow obvious gully to gain summit ridge
on the right
From here I cannot recommend the best route to gain the summit ridge. I followed the gully to the left but eventually gave up and broke off right to gain the ridge. There may well be a better route to the right where the path ends,. Once on the ridge the full extent of the Parque Natural de Las Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas opens up ahead of you to the east towards the distinctive Sagra summit. Turn left along the ridge for an easy ascent to the 1766m spot height then on to Blanquilla summit and trig pillar perched on a distinctive nose.
Distinctive bulbous nose and trig pillar of Blanquillo
viewed from the south
Rather than return along the ascent route I decided to turn right at the col with the 1766m spot height. The ground ahead looked straight forward and the contours showed a weakness in the escarpment around the 1650m level. The descent naturally led to the left through sparse trees and eventually towards the weakness at the top of a gully where I found a faint path and more importantly a distinct cairn. Soon afterwards I came across a flat rock slope to the left which I was tempted to investigate. It quickly became precarious and was very soon committed in an exposed part of the slope.
Slope on dry waterfall which quickly became precarious. 
Carefully shuffling on my backside with both boot soles flat, pointing down on the sloping rock, for maximum grip and fingertips finding the smallest of ridges, for more grip, I traversed to the right edge and following it to safer ground. Soon after regaining a little height and flatter ground rediscovered the vague path and another cairn on a tree stump, confirming I should perhaps have stayed right at the top of the waterfall. This refound path continued through sparse trees and over the next ridge could see the track known as Camino Cañada del Avellano, which would lead me back to Cerrada de San Ginés and thence back to van.  
Refound cairns and faint path again. Take care not to lose
them to avoid precarious descent via dry waterfall.
After Almenara this was the second of what appeared to be a convenient group of six P600's in and around the wider area of Sierras de Cazorla, Segura and La Sagra that could be picked off on journey south from Moncayo to the mountainous coastal strip in search of warmer, drier Autumn weather between Alicante and Gibraltar.  Since returning home writing up these reports, it has occurred to me that it is not such a convenient grouping to be attempted all in one group. Perhaps these two western summits on the way down, picking up the four eastern summits starting with María on the journey home.
25 minutes after joining Camino Cañada del Avellano
now entering gorge known as Cerrada de San Ginés
The isolation of this start point was exemplified by the one hour drive to the nights campsite at Camping Cortijo San Isicó, Cazorla. A good base for an overnight stop or even longer, but too far from Morro del Buitre to use as a base for the planned next summit or alternatively and more sensible, Cerro Mágina to continue the journey south 
Without doubt this was the most precarious experience of the trip that could have been avoided by retracing the ascent route. But a level of controlled jeopardy is a great focus for the mind and dare I say more fun. 

Walk Statistics
Walk Date - 15 October 2018
Walkers - Steve Smith
Start Point - Parking area 75m north of bridge over Arroyo de Las Aguascebas de la Cueva Del Agua on the JH-7156 (N38°04'43" W2°53'51")
Start Time - 13:56
Finish Point - Parking area 75m north of bridge over Arroyo de Las Aguascebas de la Cueva Del Agua on the JH-7156 (N38°04'43" W2°53'51")
Finish Time- 17:40
Total Duration - 3hrs 44mins
Overall Average pace - 1.63mph
Total Distance Walked - 6.10 miles
Total Height Ascended - 664.00metres

Peaks visited
Spain/Portugal 600m Prominence Peaks (168S - 185S&P - 2165E)
Blanquilla (30S - 31S&P - 60E)
Spain/Portugal 300m - 599m Prominence Peaks (1000+)
NONE
Spain/Portugal 150m - 299m Prominence Peaks (3000+)
NONE
Spain Autonomous Community High Points (19)
NONE
Spain Province High Points (52)
Moncoya (5&6)
S: Spain
P: Portugal
E:Europe

Other walks on this trip
2018
September
17th Signal d'Ecouves & Mont des Avaloirs
18th Mont Baïgura
19th Autza
October
07th Itzaga
13th Caimodorro
14th Almenara
15th Blanquillo
18th María
19th Sagra
21st La Atalaya
24th Terrier de Saint-Martin-du-Fouilloux & Maine-et-Loire High Point
Route
More Photographs
Distinctive bulbous nose and trig pillar of Blanquillo  viewed from the south
Click on photograph to view slide-show