Benidorm, Friday. Last night was exceptional as we returned to the Nepali and we’re extremely upbeat today as we intend walking to variously named La Creu, La Cruz, and The Cross. Then, time permitting, we’ll carry on to close the gap left when we did a loop walk last year.
La Creu sits imposingly on a hill at the western edge of the Sierra Gelada and was put there in 1961 to redeem the city from its reputation as a sinner! (Yes, really) I think that during the 1970’s and 1980’s it must have been bedding itself in as the city really did bottom out. Since then it seems to have bounced and although there is occasional evidence of stag or hen parties, they seem to be more controlled and certainly not threatening as they have been in the past.
The route is almost entirely on footpaths or roads although there is very little traffic. We’re dressed in shorts and walking boots and I’m carrying a rucksack with water and pullovers as the intent is to walk beyond the cross to try to close the gap that we left last year when we walked the loop from Albir very nearly back to the cross then peeled off in a huge arc returning to our starting point to pick up the car. Whilst it’s only another couple of kilometres past the cross it’s very steeply ‘up’ and we’re against the clock as we need to be back by 1400.
We dodge a few mobility scooters as we leave the hotel their numbers have increased exponentially since our visit last year and we’ve really seen it all. I claim the ultimate ‘spot’ when I saw a twin seater with a family of 2 adults and 3 children towing a trailer with one of the children in it and all of their beach gear in a kind of semi-roof-rack over part of the trailer. Sadly, I only thought to take a photo after it had gone by and whilst I raced out to get the permanent evidence it I was too late.
Yet again we are blessed with blue skies and sunshine and we’re well sun-creamed and are wearing hats. The route leads us along the main route into the City where we’ll see numerous roads all named after major world cities, we’re looking for Calle Dorada followed by Av Tokio and Av Taywan (spellings correct). I’m not sure of the reasoning behind this naming convention but as I did the research I came across a few stats.
Benidorm is populated by about 70,000 and approximately 5,500 are Brits (7.5%). In 1950 it had about 25,000 inhabitants and its main occupation was fishing. It has the greatest number of high-rise buildings per capita in the world. In the 1950’s the mayor Pedro Zaragoza Orts created planning regulations that imposed a responsibility for all developers to allocate an element of all their projects to leisure land and this is about the only town in Spain that still adheres to this formula.
We begin the ascent and within the first few minutes our heart rate is up and we’re happy that we’ve taken water. As we leave the built-up areas there is still development on our left but open views to the sea on the right. There is a breeze today and it helps as we continue the walk.
After a few zigs and a zag, we’re on the final couple of bends and the view down to Benidorm is well worth the walk. The road suddenly ends and to our right and up the steps is the cross. It’s impressive in terms of height but suffers from heavy graffiti as do many of the statues and works of art in Spain. There is also a growing tradition of pinning photographs and other memorabilia to the cross and the railings that surround the area.
It takes about 50 minutes to an hour to walk from the base of the hill. We took a little longer as we walked from the hotel.
We remain for a few minutes then make our way to the ‘off-road’ start of the walk. Now it gets a little more tricky but not difficult.
The path is well trodden and identified with coloured marks on rocks etc. As we head towards the gully there’s a sign that indicates the path and the various heights of the ‘peaks’ that are associated with it. We make our way into the shallow dip and I promptly slip and bend my ankle but it’s still useable. The Pilgrim is in front now and making her way on to the slope proper and I tell her to make her way to the top and I would follow if I can as the terrain that I am currently on isn’t doing my ankle any good. After another three hundred feet or so the loose rocks that are giving me lots of hassle end and flat rafts of rock start and this perks me up considerably. The Pilgrim is only 50 metres or so in front of me so all’s well.
Looking back it’s great to look down on the skyscrapers and it’s interesting where the old town ends and the new town – and also the new parts of town – begin.
I catch up with the pilgrim and we make it to the top. It’s a little further than where I came last year and within reason enables us to claim the completion of the walk from Albir to La Creu and we spend 20 minutes or so enjoying the views and taking photographs in every direction.
The descent is steep but easy going although it becomes a little more challenging and as we re-enter the small gully I note it is still in shade. I’m usually sure-footed but today is my day off and as I tread on a rock that’s slightly damp and has a fine coating of lichen my foot shoots out from under me and I spend a few seconds trying not to slide down into the gully, it’s not far but it would most certainly have hurt. Two incidents in one day, It’s a good job I’m not superstitious!
The rest of the return journey is uneventful but bathed in glorious sunshine and we top it off with a drink in one of the seafront bars on return.
If you come to Benidorm and you’re fit enough you really ought to try to do this walk, it’s exhilarating and the views spectacular.
Enjoy the snaps…G..x
Here’s a satellite view: