##Do you fancy doing something other than watching football hungover or eating another paella this weekend? Hopefully, this article will coax you into heading out to the Valencian countryside, to fill your lungs with fresh air, get some exercise, and learn a little bit of history all at the same time!
Ruta de los Puentes Colgantes (Chulilla)
The first hike is around an hour away by car near the picturesque village of Chulilla; a town built on a steep hill overlooked by a Moorish castle. The lakes, valleys, and surrounding trails make this little gem of a pueblo a Mecca for climbers, walkers, and those just looking to relax surrounded by a little bit of nature.
The recommended route, La Ruta de Los Puentes Colgantes (or The Route of the Hanging Bridges), is a circular route of 15-16 km that starts near the parking on the outskirts of the village. This easy-to-follow route carries you down to the valley floor via two wooden bridges (very safe, don’t worry!), onwards to the Loriguilla reservoir, before turning and passing through a forest trail back to Chulilla. Don’t forget to check out some prehistoric cave-paintings (pinturas rupestres) just before you reach the end!
This walk shouldn’t present any difficulties to the fit and healthy, and there are plenty of beautiful spots to stop for a rest on the way! And what’s more, there is always the busy central square of Chulilla on the route home for a well-deserved cerveza! One for all the family.
Wikiloc Code = 4549060
La Peña Cortada (Calles /Chelva)
The next recommendation is not to be missed; a circular route named La Peña Cortada of around 12 – 13 km starting and ending in the village of Calles and passing through the town of Chelva. A brisk uphill start out of Calles, representing the hardest part of the walk, leads to a magnificent hilltop cave. From here, the route carries onwards and downwards through a relaxing wooded trail that ends at an ancient Roman waterway chiseled of the rock face! This fun section leads to a chink in the rock wall, like something out of Middle Earth (!), and through to the breathtaking Roman aqueduct. This is nothing to be sniffed at: with 26 km of remains found, the importance of this aqueduct is on a par with that of better-known aqueducts throughout Spain.
This is an excellent chance for a rest and a bocadillo (or, as we did, some wild Boar sausage, Sierra de Albarracín cheese, and a cheeky bottle of red) before pressing on towards Chelva and another opportunity for a brief stop in the Plaza Mayor dominated by the imposing Parroquia Nuestra Señora De Los Ángeles. All that’s left is to exit Chelva and make your way over the river, not forgetting to look back for a majestic view, and head back to Calles, passing by the Vegamar bodega on the way!
Again, this is an easy walk, other than the brisk start, and can be attempted by most fit and healthy people (or even maybe the not so fit!). For those who prefer to cut to the chase, you can also drive straight to the aqueduct.
Again, a family affair, but maybe not for the very young or very old.
Wikiloc Code = 6818074
Montgó Massif (Denia/Javea)
Massif by name and massive by nature! For a slightly tougher walk, head down towards Denia and try this superb circular route of around 15-16 km. Starting from just outside Denia (best grab some breakfast here first!), you soon begin a breathtaking ascent on well-maintained walking trails through fields of multi-coloured flowers to eventually reach the peak of Montgó (753m), one of the highest points of the Comunidad Valenciana. Not only can you see Ibiza on a clear day at the peak, but you will also encounter the ruins of an eighth century Iberian settlement! Following a brief stop to take all that in, you descend the other side of Montgó towards Javea before circumnavigating the base back to the starting point.
However, even if your energy is sapped, don’t forget to visit the Cueva del Agua (another small uphill section unfortunately!) for a little welcome refreshment (try to ignore the graffiti) and the well-preserved Roman inscriptions near the very end!
This walk is more difficult than the previously mentioned trails but you can encounter entire families on their Sunday morning stroll in the vicinity, so fear not! Just remember some provisions, plenty of water, and a stout pair of walking boots. Keep this one until you’ve tested yourself in Chulilla and Calles!
Wikiloc Code = 11467654
El Barranco del Infierno y La Catedral del Senderismo (Fleix)
Have we saved the best for last? With names like La Catedral del Senderismo (The Cathedral of Hiking) and El Barranco del Infierno (The Ravine of Hell), you know you are in for a treat! But be warned, the route is also known as La Senda de los 6500 Escalones (The Path of the 6500 Steps), with each step cut out the rock by the Moriscos (nominally Christianized Muslims after Ferdinand and Isabella before their expulsion in 1609), the ancient inhabitants of this area! However, don’t be scared; this walk is highly rewarding and a sight to behold! The circular route of 13-14 km starts in the picturesque village of Fleix which sits atop the plateau looking down over the Alicante coastline; however, make sure your knees are in great shape as the uphill and downhill sections that you will encounter will definitely take your breath away!
This walk may not be best suited for the very young or old, or those with knee problems! However, carrying plenty of water and a few snacks should see most people round this fantastic hike. One for the more experienced walker!
Wikiloc Code = 10410174
Get out there and Hike!
But I’ll get lost I hear you say! You won’t, I say! These walks are generally very well marked out with signs and hiking markers (usually green/yellow and white flashes on stones and walls and arrows pointing the way); but, for the well prepared or the unsure, there is also a mobile phone application you can download and use: Wikiloc. Using their online database (es.wikiloc.com and the codes provided above), it is simple to download a walk of your choice and follow it with ease on your mobile phone!
Finally, a few reminders: take plenty of water (at least 2-3 litres each), suntan lotion, your bocadillo of choice, and a good hat for some shade! Furthermore, please don’t try these walks in flip-flops or high heels; invest in a decent set of boots, or at the very least, wear some sturdy trainers with good support! Stay safe and have fun!