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javeamigos.com | LA PLANA CIRCUIT - EAST


9 kilometres excluding detours
allow 3-4 hours
road and rough track
Sturdy Footwear, Camera, Water

Cul de Sac · Calle Azuébar
N 38º 47' 49" - E 0º 09' 52"



This is a circular route covering the eastern part of La Plana, incorporating sections of the official trail PR-CV 355 and less popular paths along the northern side of the plateau which offers rare views of the hidden ravines that cut deep into its northern flanks. The fire of September 2014 burned 450 hectares of the plateau and stripped much of land north of the Carretera Cap de San Antonio of its trees as well as those on both sides of the snout of the cape itself. Consequently there is little shade from the fierce sun, especially in the summer, so suitable sun protection and adequate water supply is essential. However, if there is any bonus to be found from the devastating inferno, it is that a new landscape has been created, a desolation that is both heart-breaking and breath-taking, whilst some of the area's lime kiln heritage has a new lease of life as the removal of the trees and bushes has exposed them to be consolidated and opened to the public. It is also quite amazing the La Plana's treasured Recreation Zone was almost untouched by the flames. Finally, we tried to link the final lime kiln location with a small path we thought might pass through the slopes above Cuesta de San Antonio but the fire seems to have removed all evidence so a short section has to pass along the main road. The final section includes the new access track to the windmills which has opened this year, a combination of steep steps created out of local stone and narrow paths.

There is limited street parking in the cul-de-sac of Calle Azuébar which lies within the Urbanització El Pujol or you can walk up from the centre of the old town via Avda. AlicanteCalle Calderón and Carrer del Putxol, a distance of some 1.5 kilometres, all uphill. At the of the road, to the left of the private villa, a concrete slope leads uip to the beginning of the path which climbs on to La Plana; since the area is called 'La Serpeta", we'll call it La Serpeta Path. Sadly the first few metres are tarnished by the sort of rubbish that is often found at the end of these cul-de-sacs which it seems are popular with those who want to park up and enjoy their fast food takeaway. But, by the first turning, the path becomes clear; none of these people seem to want to leave their cars to heave their rubbish further up. At this bend, you'll notice the obvious steps and this is the route of the return descent.

The path ascends gently with great views of the town and the wide bay of Xàbia across to the hills of Capçada, Granadella and the 442m peak of Puig de la Llorença with its masts in the distance. Soon enough the peak of Montgó comes into view and the path begins to steep as it bends around the promontory. Across the ravine is the small hill of Santa Llúcia, its 16th century chapel just visible through the trees, and just below the summit you'll notice a small clump of rocks where there are basic climbing routes to teach the skills needed to scale bigger and greater things. The eastern face of mountain of Montgó is ever-present as the path continues its climb whilst the noise from the CV-736 Xàbia to Dénia road breaks what would have been wonderful silence.

As we pass through a set of rusty gate posts, the remnants of an enclosureto the right, the path narrows and begins to level out to pass through bushes and trees; you may have to duck under one now and again. As we approach the rear of a house, take a look to the left across the ravine and beyond some ruinsg and you should be able to make out a large white cross. This marks the Avenc de Xàbia, a 70m chasm into which a number of people from Dénia were thrown on a dark night in November 1936 in the opening months of the Spanish Civil War; no-one knows exactly and numbers vary between 13 and 21. At the end of the war it was turned into a mausoleum, sealed with concrete with a cross and the names of those suspected to have plunged into the darkness and has only been opened twice in 1953 and 2013. There is a short detour later in this walk in which one can visit the cross.

The path runs alongside the wall of a house and emerges into a cul-de-sac Camí de la Serpeta. Turn left and follow the track to the T-junction and turn left again to arrive at the tarmac of Camí dels Molins. Turning left once again, the road gently rises to the main road; the mountain of Montgó is ever-present but it has only been the case very recently and you can appreciate how close the devastating fire approached the houses.

At the junction with Carretera Cap de Sant Antoni, the route continues across the road but there is an option to visit the cross seen earlier in the route. If you want to do so, turn left and follow the main road towards the junction. On the left-hand side of the road, after about 100m, you'll notice an obvious path passing through what remains of the trees; in the past it has been marked with small spots of white paint and someone seems to redo these spots every now and then. These days the cross is obvious across the desolation and descend a set of steps in front of the cross, a perfect place to sit and contemplate the tragedy that occurred here. A plaque lists the names of those known to have been thrown into the chasm; sometimes there will be bouquets of fresh flowers so they are not forgotten. Notice how quiet it is. Retrace your steps back to the crossroads as above.

The route continues to the right of the rubbish bins to follow the track of Camí de la Cova Talla. Once again the devastation is apparent and you wonder how the houses escapes the inferno. To the left you'll notice the boundary fence of the shooting range; it's not especially dominant, a few metal poles holding up a wire but it seems to serve its purpose.

After about 750m or so, we'll arrive at some ruins, long abandoned buildings daubed warnings about not camping due to the danger of fires. The path continues to the left of building, picking its way through the undergrowth to the Torre del Gerro, a strange-shaped watchtower which formed part of the coastal early warning system against marauding pirates during the 16th and 17th centuries. It's worth a visit as part of the circuit with Cova Tallada which can be viewed here. However, our route follows a narrow, little-used but obvious path which passes through bushes to the right of the building.

The path waves around trees and over walls and approaches a house apparently in the middle of nowhere and once again seemingly untouched by the fire. Look out for a small boulder with a faded painted arrow and the word "COVA" and follow this command, turning left to continue following the obvious path which is now marked by a series of tall narrow cairns. At a T-junction, turn right and continue to follow these mysterious cairns and when you reach a small narrow enclosure, look left towards the north. You should be able to make out a strange rock formation known as Melcior i Gràcia, two lovers from either side of the mountain on their donkey who were turned to stone in a local legend long lost in time. They sit above the Barranc de la Cova Foradada where evidence has been found of human habitation in Upper Paleolithic Era, some 30,000 years ago, the scant remains of a small nomadic group which lived in a cave in the ravine. At the end of the enclosure, a narrow path marked with yellow/white paint leads off towards the ravine and this is the PR-CV 355 route to Cova Tallada, the other end of the route suggested above. But we continue to follow the path straight ahead.

The path emerges into a clearing and then joins the track of Camí la Plana de Sant Jeroni which leads back to the main road. However, at the first house, our route passes into the undergrowth again; a track leads off to the left and winds its way through the rocks and bushes. The way is obvious for it's a well worn track and eventually merges next to the shell of the old barracks of the Carabineros, a 19th century building from which surveillance of the coast could be controlled for customs purposes in the battle against smuggling. It was abandoned in 1940 when the unit was integrated into the Guardia Civil and fell into ruin. Still owned by the Ministry of Defence, the Ayuntamiento de Xàbia has been trying to acquire it for many years to restore into a visitor centre for the Parque Natural del Montgó but has been put off by the high price being demanded. You can explore inside but with care for debris and vegetation litters the floor and an old well in the floor has now been exposed.

We follow the wide forestry track - or at least it once was - to the left as it bends around and contours around the edge of several deep ravines including the Barranc de la Cova del Tabaco, the head of which comes right up against the path to the left. This would have been barely noticeable before the fire; now it's an amazing sight. Cova del Tabaco? Considering the reason for being of the old barracks, does this not give us an idea of what once might have been hauled up that ravine? There is little shade along this track these days so take care and make sure you have appropriate protection.

The track continues to rise and fall gently until the recreation area is approached, the obvious clump of trees ahead. To the right we find the first of the exposed lime kilns, revealed after the fire. This is the Forn de Calç de les Faroleres that produced lime which when mixed with soil or sand and water to form mortar cement, the basic material for building whilst if dissolved in water it would produce numerous domestic and industrial uses. This kiln was called "les Faroleres" since it was located next to the houses of the families who maintained "la forola" or the lighthouse of San Antonio.

A little further on and we reach the welcome shade of the recreation area of La Plana of which much escaped the destructive flames. We can take a few minutes to sit and enjoy the peace and quiet, looking out over the now exposed plain. There is even a short detour of about 400m to a viewpoint on the very edge of the northern flank of the headland above the Cova dels Coloms with great views towards Dénia and over the bay of Valencia.

Once refreshed, we head through the car-park of the recreation to the main road which we cross to follow a narrow track beside a wall to visit the Forn de Calç de la Plana de Xàbia, another slightly larger lime kiln with stunning views down into the Barranc del Tangó and across to the lighthouse. The use of lime declined in the middle of the 20th century when there were more than 50 kilns across the municipality and more examples can be found next to the road down to the Granadella cove and up on the Granadella plateau.

Unfortunately we have to retrace our steps back to the main road, turn left and follow it for some 600m to turn left into Calle Cuesta de San Antonio where we start the gentle climb to the windmills. We are following the last kilometre or so of the route of the Mirador Challenge (click here for more information) so, if you're tired now, imagine how the teams would be feeling having already covered some 28 or so kilometres in the race from La Granadella! After 300m or so, the road divides with the main road bending round to the left and our route joining the unmade Carrer Penaguila which we follow all the way to the junction with Calle del Monastir where we turn left to reach the car-park of Els Molins. As we pass by along the track, there are sneak peeks of the stunning view to the south over Xàbia and beyond.

The windmills - or least the remaining towers - lie just a couple of hundred metres beyond the car-park, a line of four towers (two private and two public) with stunning views over Xàbia. This is the Mirador Els Molins and the finish line of the Mirador Challenge. There have been windmills on La Plana since the 14th century although most of them date from the 18th century. Capitalising on the Lleibeig wind which blows over the plateau (the local athletic club uses the name), they were used to grind wheat and other cereals. In recent years there has been an active campaign to renovate them to benefit from their obvious tourist attraction since the views to the south are quite stunning; now they are lit at night but there is even talk of a complete restoration of at least one of the windmills complete with sails.

Our route passes through the wall and below the row of towers to reach the end of Camí dels Molins; we're almost back at the start. Three more windmills stand on a high point to the west and they can now be reached easily through a path that climbs up through the trees about 100m down the road and marked by two short low walls and a sign "Xàbia Impulsa II". The three windmills, privately owned but recently renovated as a viewpoint, offers another stunning view of the valley and the inland mountains beyond.

The way down is probably the most difficult part of the route. A path descends behind the wall and makes its way down the steep slope by way of a series of steps made out of stone; for this reason we'll refer to it as the Serpeta Staircase! It's tricky at times, the loose soil underfoot being quite slippery, and there's often a sizeable drop into the vegetation on one side so progress down should be done with care. Soon enough the staircase reaches the path which we used to begin the journey. Continuing downhill we return to the end of Calle Azuébar where we can collect the car or continue downhill to the town.





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