Wednesday 14 December 2016

Southern Bernia Trail Run

I've been visiting the Costa Blanca for almost 30 years now and have always wanted to hike on, or up, the famous Bernia and Puig Campana. Until today I've not managed it due to them being 'too far to get to', 'too big to attempt alone' and other rather weak reasons. Having noted that hiking routes on Bernia are plentiful online I decided that I had to start to get a feel for the mountain, although avoid the scrambles for now; I've not got a head for heights.

Using the excellent ViewRanger app on my Android tablet I planned a loop of around 25km using a combination of IGN and open source mapping. A large proportion of the distance was on minor roads and forest trails but that fits with my running programme.

Bernia is prominent above the suburbs of Altea
From the hotel to the base Bernia was easy but the ascent through rather upmarket urbanisations was steep enough that I walked quite a lot. Gradually the building stopped and after a short, undeveloped section of road, a stone track led off steeply.

This track was restored in 2014 and is clear on ViewRanger's free mapping
For the path I assembled my poles and used them to help keep a good rate of ascent. It didn't take long to reach the wooded slopes and the small fincas hidden amongst the trees. I contemplated continuing uphill further but decided I didn't have enough time. Even though  I'd ascended over 600m the sharp ridge was much higher and not very welcoming unless you're a proper climber.

I passed two signs for the fort on my way to the tourist road down the hill and must return to visit the fort as it's reported to be pretty straightforward. Once on the road my descent wasn't rapid as it was too fast for my aged knees and it wasn't until I was on the flood plain that I could pick up speed again.

A very pleasant 24km circular route from Altea
I was very content with a pace of 7:20min/km over a trail with mixed terrain and would happily extend it by the few km needed to pass the fort.

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