Vall de Laguar and Barranc de l'Infern - 6000 Steps in the Footsteps of the Moors

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Monday 2 March 2015

Vall de Laguar and Barranc de l'Infern - 6000 Steps in the Footsteps of the Moors

The rolling mountains and deep river valleys of the Marina Alta offer a wonderful hiking landscape and this particular hiking trail is a real icon of the region. Tucked away in the quiet Vall de Laguar, “the 6000 steps” is a magnificent hiking loop taking in 5946 steps of the Mozarabic trail carved into the mountainside by the Moors centuries ago. Ascending and descending several times into the deep canyons and dried up river beds of the Barranc de l’Infern in a landscape dotted with almond groves, wild rosemary, thyme and olives, this is a really stunning route and a challenging hike as well.

The northern part of the 200km long Costa Blanca is referred to as La Marina and encompasses those areas roughly in line with island of Ibiza, the easternmost point being the Cabo de la Nao. La Marina is also divided into 2 parts, Marina Baja (lower) and Marina Alta (upper). Marina Alta includes the coastal resorts of Calpe, Benissa-Costa, Moraira, Javea, and Denia and extends inland to encompass the mountains and valleys of Jalon, Vall de Laguar, D’Ebo, and Gallinera.

It was these mountains that attracted us to the area and Vall de Laguar in particular as we’d had a recommendation from fellow travellers that the hiking and cycling was excellent. We’ve read that this tiny valley containing several small mountain villages is one of the best kept secrets of the Marina Alta and after just a short time here we’re already inclined to agree.

The entire area bears the history of the Moors who invaded Spain via Gibraltar in the 8th century and occupied the region of Alicante for the next 400 years. They moulded the mountains of the area, creating irrigation systems and terraces and planting orange and almond groves, agriculture which still persists today.

We’d made a long drive on Friday, pausing overnight in the motorhome aire at Xalo before completing the final ascent into Vall de Laguar on Saturday morning. To be honest it was nice to be back in the mountains so soon after the shock of buildings we’d passed on the coast during our long drive. Benidorm in particular really took us aback at the sheer scale and density of high rise buildings! It was such a massive contrast to what we had been used to through winter at Cabo de Gata.

After a wonderfully warm welcome at Camping Vall de Laguar, which really made us feel good about the area, we hit the trail shortly after lunch to tackle the 6000 steps walk we had read about and which the campsite kindly supplied a map for as well (and a warning to stay on the trail to stay safe. Apparently wild boars in the area create tracks but they can end in short sharp drops which are dangerous so stay on the main track is what our friendly campsite host told us).

The route itself was actually very easy to follow since all you need to do is stay on the clearly visible, primarily stepped path as you descend/ascend in and out 3 gorgeous rocky canyons. We were especially fortunate during our hike that we had incredible sunny weather that really bought out the scent of almond blossom and wild herbs in the breeze, leaving the air smelling sweet and inviting as we slowly walked the ancient stepped route.

In addition to the scenery and plants, the geology of the area is also fascinating with some awesome layers and rock structures that we stopped and  stared at for long whiles. In fact, the entire route for us was one long and wonderful exploration of a new area and we took it very slowly to really try and absorb the quiet, peaceful and springtime atmosphere that we enjoyed so much.

Overall the circuit took us around 5 hours (even though many guides suggest 6-7 and we weren’t hurrying). The campsite manager also said it rarely took longer than 5 hours, but it was still a challenging walk with all of the ascending and descending on rocky steps, but well worth it as well.

Arriving back at our campsite with tired feet, we prepared dinner and sat gazing right out to the Mediterranean Sea as the sun slowly set and the sky turned orange, pink and the stars appeared. A perfect end to a wonderful day in a new area.

Walk Information:
Motorhome Base: Camping Vall de Laguar
Start/ End Point: Camping Vall de Laguar/Fleix
Total Distance: 14.3km
Ascent/Descent: 845m
Time it took us: 5 hours
Level: Hard
Map: (1:25,000) 822-1 Orba

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