Not far from the large city of Murcia is a wild and unspoilt region which I first visited one February, on a coach trip to see the almond blossom. I retrace my steps from the town of Totana, up into the pine-clad hills. When I first came, we stopped at the Santa Eulalia Monastery for lunch and I discovered the delights of slow-cooked pig’s cheeks. Afterwards, I followed the way of the cross up the hill opposite to a large statue of Christ the Redeemer, who looks down across the plains to the sea beyond.
This time, I stopped at the small village of Aledo which I had seen from the main road, jutting out on a rocky outcrop. The streets of the village are too narrow for Trixie, so I leave her next to the main road and continue on foot to the tip of the village where an 11th century tower and 18th century church stand proudly, surveying the surrounding countryside and the mountains of the Sierra D’Espuna.
There’s a minor road which traverses the Sierra but, before I drive along it, I check that it’s suitable for a motorhome. I’m assured by staff of a restaurant that it’s fine but to proceed slowly and with care because the road is narrow and winding. After lunch in the neighbouring picnic area, shaded by tall pine trees, I begin my ascent up to the Collado Pilon mirador, 1065m above sea level. There are fine views back down the valley and up to the Morron D’Espuna, a white, rocky, domed mountain which must surely entice climbers from miles around. Tommy, a pensioner from Scotland, has also stopped to admire the view. He’s out for the day on his motorbike and, when I ask about the road, he tells me that it gets worse. However, at that moment, a small tour bus passes us and I’m reassured that if they can make it, so can Trixie.
The route down is spectacular with a long series of switchbacks which could make you quite dizzy. I see very few other people in the park, but a few masochistic cyclists are slowly climbing up to the mirador. I follow signs for another viewpoint at the northern edge of the park and end up at an area of abandoned buildings and wonder what they were once for. There is no information about the area and I leave, wondering who may have lived or worked here many years ago.