Just back in the UK from a ace extended week in the Costa Blanca. There was a massive gang of people there over the New Year period and so we were lucky enough to snag a doss with our friends Steve & Sandra! 😀
Torrent de Pareis is a magnificent gorge running from Sa Calobra on the coast, to Enscorca near Lluc. A well-publicised trek involves walking the route taken by the river from the top, down to the sea, making the return journey by bus. Unfortunately, the night before our day in this area, we had torrential rain and so we were reluctant to commit to the walk without knowing the conditions downstream. We therefore decided to head to the bottom of the gorge and make our way upwards with view to returning the same way.
The road down to Sa Calobra is somewhat exciting. It drops from 600 m to sea level in a straighline distance of about 2.5 km. At times, the cliffs are very overhanging, at others, the road passes through tight gorges and at one point en route, the road actually makes a 360 degree turn, looping the loop horizontally and passing under itself before continuing down the mountain! To welcome your arrival at the coastal village, the charge for parking is a hefty 0.04 euro/min! We recommend arriving very early to take one of the five free tourist parking spaces (we managed this).
The rewards of making the journey were great. After a short stroll along the sea front, we followed a path through a tunnel in the cliff, emerging at a beautiful beach. We were lucky enough to be amongst some of the first tourists that day and so we were able to appreciate the place without the hustle and bustle of the many coach tours that would inevitably arrive later.
After assessing the flow (or lack of) down Torrent de Pareis, we changed into sandals and started our journey into the gorge. After a short distance of boulder hopping in the mouth of the gorge, the walls became almost vertical and the base of the gorge narrowed to less than 5 m. This part of the gorge was truly spectacular and we spent quite a while admiring the cave-like formations and the sheer size of the slot, before continuing upstream.
The way on was punctuated by a series of obstacles, first a climb over a very shiny wedged boulder, then a squeeze through boulders and then a commiting traverse around another boulder that blocked most of the slot. As we proceeded onwards it became clearer that each consecutive obstacle filtered out another subset of people from carrying on upwards :-). Eventually we got to a point where the canyon started to open up and where the guide book suggested that all the tricky bits were already overcome. At this point, we took a last look up the canyon and turned around to make the return journey. On our way back we admired the gorge some more and wondered whether Pete and Tish would fancy climbing some of the pitches (we noted bolts on some faces).
After returning to Sa Calobra, we drove around to the next village (Cala Tuent) for a swim in the big(ish) waves before making our way back along the winding road.
A bit late in the day, sorry, but my excuse is IT issues. Last month I went to Crete for some sunshine – and found it (unlike in Portugal). I stayed in Chania old town, on the western third of the island. Crete has been Greek only since 1913 and had a very colourful history before that:
• 3000 – 2800 BC
Archaeological artifacts prove the existence of ancient Kydonia.
• 2800 – 1150 BC
Minoan civilisation. Ancient Kydonia is one of the most powerful cities in Crete.
1st millennium AD Kydonia prevails until the 7th century AD
• 823 – 961 AD
Occupation by the Arabs
• 961 – 1252 AD
• 1252 – 1645 AD
Occupation by the Venetians
• 1645 – 1897 AD
Occupation by the Turks (I could, but won’t, add photos of Islamic architecture here)
• 1898 AD
Foundation of the Cretan State. Chania is the capital of Crete
• 1913 AD
Unification of Crete with Greece
This eventful history continued with WW2 and the Battle of Crete, 1941 – scene of awful atrocities which are still clearly remembered as shown by this contemporary child’s artwork:
However, the real aim of this trip was to do some walking in the White Mountains – a truly wild and undeveloped area. It is easy to see how resistance fighters could be so successful over the centuries. There is a climbing hut in this area though I did not see it.
The big walking tick in Crete is the descent of the Samaria Gorge and, although it can be expensive to get to, it is worthwhile – my one tip would be to make sure you leave very early (just after dawn) and are in the first half dozen people because hundreds and hundreds of tourists do this walk every day and it must be atrocious in crowds.
And some more general scenery from the mountains:
And for me the highlight had to be the museum’s fragments of Linear A and Linear B script, the first time I had ever seen this other than in pictures. 🙂 🙂
My company had a bumper year and so we got packed off on a “mystery” trip. Luckily I got the inside info on where this was to be and persuaded my work colleague & caver Jim to join me on a canyoning jolly. We had a great day out in Torrent del Guix near Lluc in the northern mountains. The canyon was pretty much dry but with 20+ drops still provided plenty of fun. A 2 hour slog back up the hill to the road and then we managed to hitch a ride back to the car from a couple of local lads. A top day out!