Castell de Castells is a municipality high in the mountains of the Marina Alta on the Costa Blanca in southeastern Spain. The village is at the source of the Rio Jalón and surrounded by mountains.The members of The University of the third Age had arranged for us to undertake three walks one on the Tuesday afternoon for 3 hours, one all day Wednesday (7 hours) and one on Thursday morning for 3-4 hours before lunch and hopefully return to civilisation the first pictures are of The Hotel Serrell where we will stay
First day walk was a shock to the system for me it was what the guide (Thomas) called a steady uphill climb, and maybe if i was still 31 years old I would have probably thought the same, we continued at a steady pace with not enough stops to get your breath back and take in water for me and after about two and a half hours he pointed to what we were heading for further up the mountain !!
at that point, half the group, myself included, decided it wasn't worth the additional hour to get there and headed back to a very welcome hot shower and plans to make effigies of Thomas the guide to stick pins in it later that night as entertainment.
After a very enjoyable evening meal and a good nights sleep in a single bed that was very low to the floor so you didn't have far to fall if you turned over in the night, complete with a metal headboard to help you go to sleep as you hit your head on it getting into the bed we awake.
Now this is October in the mountains and I for one was not surprised it was raining and you couldn't see the tops of the mountains for rain clouds but the walking group seemed to be surprised by this and ended up splintering into small groups with some refusing to venture out of the hotel, another decided to go to see some caves nearby by car, the hardy crew of about 12 including the intrepid Janice Gray headed off up the mountain to see the castle 7 hours away whilst I went for a leisurely stroll around the village and take some photos and to see how the weather would develop.
After about an hours stroll I had seen all the village had to offer and found myself by a sign pointing upwards to the castle and as the weather had improved slightly I decided to venture up for a while and at least have a view to eat the packed lunch the hotel had provided us with.
The walk was again strenuous but at my own pace I continued up and of course the weather changed, in came the clouds and started to empty its contents on to my head and the surrounding stones that made up the mountain, so in my wisdom I retraced my steps and returned slightly before the crazy gang got back.
That night, after a hearty meal was quiz night and I would like to thank the members that made up my team for making me look clever to the other teams by winning the box of chocolates that the club captain decided to unburden us of and share with everyone in the room.Thanks !
Tomorrow is an up and at them start at 8 am so off to "the comfort" of bed!
A 7.00 am alarm call and a look out the window in the hope it is pouring down with rain and of course I can't see a thing at that time in the morning so breakfast it is.
Daylight arrived sometime during breakfast which was again very good and finally I stand dressed for the worst in walking boots with ankle supports, knee supports under muddy trousers from the day before and layers on top for warmth and the obligatory lightweight rain Mac.
Standing with the walking group that had now shrunk from 28 to 14 at the steps to the minibus the temptation to run fleetingly crossed my mind but with a will of iron I climbed aboard to face the day. The pep talk from Thomas went like this we are starting earl (8 am) and we will take an easy undulating route that will get you to see the arch you missed Tuesday and have you back to the minibus between 12.30 pm and 1.00 pm and to the hotel so you can have a shower before lunch - he lied.
Firstly let me say I enjoyed the walk and the word undulating to me now means going up very steep climbs and climbing down steep slopes the other side with short walks on the straight through plants that claw at you as you pass in between.
The walk lasted until we got back to the minibus at 1.40 and after a rushed shower and packing adventure we ate a fabulous lunch at the hotel at 2.45 pm and set off back to civilisation.
As you can see from the look on my face I enjoyed the time spent in the mountains and assure the group that if the opportunity arises in the future where you could invite me back to participate in a similar venture, unfortunately I will be busy at that time.