During our night out in Denia we said we’d get up and out early the next day but somehow we didn’t get on our way until 10.30! When you don’t really have a proper schedule, have to be somewhere special or need to go to work the time seems to slip away so easily. Motorhome life seems to work in a completely different time zone! We also said we wouldn’t go far but ended up driving 200km! Not far in the grand scheme of things but a lot farther then we thought we would go. We must have been enjoying the drive. Apart from stopping to refuel, top up the LPG, and stock up with food we didn’t do a great deal else. We did pull over at the beach halfway along for lunch though but other than that time just seemed to whizz by until we found ourselves in a beautiful peaceful setting in the middle of nowhere (otherwise known as (Benageber) ready to go out walking the next day.
We’d driven through Los Serranos countryside to get there, passing through rural villages and beautiful countryside. The motorhome aire at Benagéber was not the most attractive we’ve ever been to but it was safe, quiet and spacious with some superb scenery just a short walk away. It was quite a difference to the day before when Captain David our van neighbour took a photo of us on the beach in Denia in the high 20s wearing shorts and t-shirts. 24 hours later we were 850m above sea level in the mountains in jeans and jumpers and putting an extra blanket on the bed! We love the diversity though and how you can be in a completely different landscape so quickly.
First thing next morning we walked the Pico de Franco 1.6km track to the peak of the mountain for a wonderful view over the Embalse de Benagéber reservoir and mountains beyond. Apparently there are wild boar living here and we spotted several signs including boar shaped, flattened patches in mud wallows with imprints of their hair. Following the track up past fragrant wild rosemary and thyme flourishing on either side we came to a charming little closed up refreshment hut and picnic table area.
It’s when you’re up high that you can really appreciate how vast the area is and how the mountains go on for miles and miles around. It was a bit blustery on the high ridge and sitting at the picnic table for a flask of coffee we had to hold on tight to our cups to stop them disappearing into the abyss! It’s a dark sky area too and there’s a star gazing information board so if you stay overnight you could walk up in the dark with a torch and presumably see an amazing night sky.
Afterwards we drove the winding hairpins back down the mountain, managing to find a small space to pull over and get out to scramble up the bank at the side of the road to get a different view of the reservoir and dam wall below.
Eventually we ended up down at the level of the reservoir crossing the bridge and getting a close up view. In 1933 the town was split into 3 when work began on the enormous Benagéber dam to provide water to the Valencia region. The inhabitants were dispersed and the town was flooded with a new town constructed in 1955. Although the roads were a bit narrow and windy, traversing miles of mountain side it was well worth the drive to get off the beaten track.
A drive through the Spanish countryside is always full of scenic surprises. After following the Turia river for several miles we crossed this high bridge spanning the beautiful Turia Canyon right on the border of Valencia and Castilla La Mancha. It’s often disappointing driving by and not being able to stop but luckily there was a small lay by where we could park and walk back to take a good look.
We did get a bit of move on along the road though when we got out and realised how high and fragile the rocks overhanging the road were. Giant nets are drilled into the rockface and some were sagging under the weight of fallen rocks! The cliffs were so fragmented it looked like they could crumble and fall at any moment.
We were making our way to Ademuz, not quite sure what we would find but following a recommendation from one of our Facebook followers who suggested it a good place to go without the usual tourists. We found the town quite fascinating. It’s a small Valencia town which seemed almost lost in time, or left behind is maybe a better description. With Neolithic, Iberian and Roman history it has long been occupied but is now suffering the opposite fate. Fairly isolated with little industry and opportunities for its residents its a place to leave rather than to move to for Spaniards in the area.
The lower town is the most modern and well maintained but as we made our way higher and higher to the top of the town we found it to be more decrepit, in a state of disrepair and virtual abandonment. This is not remotely a tourist town, this is real life and a fascinating glimpse into how many Spaniards in rural towns live. It’s so sad because you can imagine how it would have been in the past. Still a simple life but a busy, thriving town, in a scenic setting.
There are many properties for sale here but we can’t imagine who would buy one. Some are literally a doorway to nowhere. You can peer through the barely held together timber door and just see a pile of sticks, daylight and a view beyond because the walls have crumbled away. One property, presumably once a house is now occupied by a giant fig tree that has burst right through the roof! With all that said, the town still had a rustic charm and warmth about it. The golden, rustic tones and giggling children playing in the street all giving life to what would otherwise seem quite an unappealing place.
Although we would never in a million years have come here on holiday, we’re glad we came. Again, it highlights the benefits of touring by motorhome, because you can see the places you never would have seen otherwise. You only need a couple of hours to experience something completely different, see a place you wouldn’t necessarily want to stay or just drop in on the way to somewhere else.