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Posts Tagged ‘walking’

Last week Sharon and I followed in the footsteps of Spain’s King Alfonso XIII.

The king (el Rey) perambulated the 5k long walkway/boardwalk, which hangs on the sides of a river gorge, in 1921, quite a while after it had first been constructed to allow access to hydroelectric power plants situated along the way. Although the construction was completed by 1905, the king:

“…crossed the walkway in 1921 for the inauguration of the dam Conde del Guadalhorce, (which is at the north end of the walkway) and it became known by its present name (The King’s Little Pathway)” (1)

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We’d heard of it before, but never really took any notice until last year, when my brothers and their wives accompanied Sharon and I to Ronda, by train (2). It looked remarkable, so Sharon and I set about trying to fix a date to complete the walk ourselves. We’d looked at doing it last January – but were too late to get ourselves a booking and at Easter, we were just too busy – until again we were too late.

IMG_0558The walk costs around €10 each and YOU HAVE TO BOOK a starting slot.  Timetables are available on the website (3). These are currently being updated, but I believe they were in half hour slots from 10:00am. We’re told that you can just turn up at the kiosk, but for all sorts of reasons, I wouldn’t risk it.

The pathway is one-way, going north to south and parking can be found at both ends – although beware, there’s not a lot of parking.  At the north end, there is a small group of lakes – the Guadalhorce-Guadalteba Reservoirs, around which cafes, hotels and other recreational activities have been established. This is where you begin your walk.

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“The actual entrance to Caminito del Rey is either 1 mile or 1¾ mile from the road, depending on which route you take.  There is a car park of sorts but it does not have the capacity that this attraction requires.  Cars are abandoned all the way down the road leading to the lakes.  There is a walkway that heads out towards the Caminito ‘entrance’, which starts around the side of El Kiosko restaurant/bar, under a short tunnel (with cars parked along it) and then through the woods and along a winding forest track that covers some stunning views. Another entrance begins closer to the main car park – via a pedestrian tunnel.” (4)

There is a bus service that shuttles walkers to and from either end of the walkway. For example: If you arrive by train at El Chorro railway station, close to the southern entrance, you can catch the bus right outside the platform. 15-20 minutes later it drops you outside El Kiosko (northern entrance), so you can begin your walk back to the station. However, do beware – there are not many trains per day. (5)

The bus also stops at the entrance to the small car park by the Mirador Restaurant.  So, if you’ve parked at the north and walked all the way to the south entrance – the bus will bring you back to your car. The bus cost us €1.55 each.

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The walkway itself is probably less than 5k in length but overall, expect to walk 8-9k, with the extra walks to and from each entrance.

None of it is strenuous, other than you needing a head for heights.

Unlike days gone by, when unfortunate people died whilst attempting the route as it began to decay, the walkway is perfectly safe and staff patrol it all the time in case of incident. Half way along, there is a fairly lengthy stretch of normal walking – so it’s not all hanging boardwalks and scary stuff. This area would be a good place to stop and maybe have a small snack. Our photographs don’t really do it justice at all. The colours are more magnificent (and we went on a day that was overcast), the views are much ‘closer’, much higher and much deeper. It really was worth the hour or so drive to get there from Fuengirola and the parking problems (actually, we did ok for parking because we arrived about 09:45am in plenty of time for our 10:30am booking).

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They don’t allow umbrellas and a guide seemed to be asking someone why he’d brought sticks (I don’t think they are allowed either – they’re certainly not needed).  Everyone is issued with a hardhat and sanitary head cover.  You need good strong footwear, some water (the amount depends on the weather I suppose) and possibly a fleece or lightweight rain coat if walking late/early in the year.

There are toilets at the IMG_0560northern entrance, so if the coffee you had at El Kioski has worked its way through by the time you reach the entrance barrier, don’t worry. If you see groups of people milling about – ignore them: look for an official, get your ticket scanned and follow instructions. What we didn’t know was that the people milling about were parts of organised groups waiting for their time slot – get past them, they are like cats being herded.

It’s not a long walk, you don’t need lots of food or drink. Judge your water needs on the weather and take a small snack (we took a couple of tiny pastries each) to keep you going.

We were advised not to bother with photographs and to soak it all up as we walked instead – and to be honest, I wish I’d heeded that advice. When I go again, I will not take my camera – I will feel the moment.

1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caminito_del_Rey

2 https://dsugdenholidays.wordpress.com/2016/07/14/hermanos-y-cunadas/

3 http://www.caminitodelrey.info/en/

4 https://dsugdenholidays.wordpress.com/2017/09/16/a-day-out-ardales/

5 https://www.rome2rio.com/s/M%C3%A1laga/El-Chorro-Andalusia-Spain

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I took advantage of an unusually dry day today,  to take a bus up to the top of Varley Road (I wasn’t walking up; it’s too steep, too busy and there are no footpaths) and I then walked along Chain Road (B6107) to Marsden.  The views from up here are tremendous and now that we’re a good way into August the heather is beginning to populate the hillsides and tops.  Along with the purple thistles, and other pink/white flowering wild flowers – the colours are just beautiful.

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There is a slightly higher route, on Marsden Moor proper, alongside the water channels originally designed to move water to and from Deerhill and Butterly reservoirs, but I fancied the road route as I would return to Slaithwaite along the canal.

The canal was wet and muddy after all the rain and in places, showed signs of having been flooded at some point. Still the rain stayed off and I had a pleasant five-mile walk.

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When the weather is nice here in the UK, we can experience the most wonderful scenery. From where we live, rugged countryside is never more than a few minutes away.

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My friend John (Gav’s dad) and I spend hours talking about this and that whilst we’re out walking. Anything, in fact – not just this and that. We talk about politics, religion, sex, marriage, shopping, gardening, DIY – and more surreal things that wouldn’t stand the reaction of others, not attuned to our range of discussion.

However, one disturbing discussion that we often drift into, perhaps more surreal than the others; is that we might in fact be just two old men, already gaga, lost our memories, pumped with drugs and sat outside a care facility – dreaming that ALL THIS, is JUST A DREAM. ‘This’ being the world around us.img_0163

Imagine if you took a powerful sleeping draught at some point early in 2016 and you have just woken to the news that your favourite celebrity was dead: http://www.legacy.com/news/galleries/celebrity-deaths/gallery/2016-celebrity-deaths/292092, that Britain had narrowly voted to leave Europe, that Boris Johnson was now foreign secretary, that David Cameron had stepped aside for Theresa May and that Donald Trump, would in January 2017 become leader of the free world, having just won the U.S. presidential election. WHAT!!!

First of all – leave Europe?  How did that happen?  http://www.richardcorbett.org.uk/long-list-leave-lies/ how will that turn out!

Then Donald Trump – really? The wall building, Mexican hating, misogynistic racist Donald Trump? http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-deport-immigrants-immediately-when-mexico-wall-a7415116.html how will that turn out!

I think I need to go back to my rocking chair, plug in to some David Bowie and go back to sleep.

 

 

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I’ve used Google Maps a lot over the years. But recent updates may prevent me using them as much.

Screen Shot 2014-11-29 at 18.25.59When this mapping service introduced street view, perhaps a thousand years ago, it was really exciting. We were planning our trip of a lifetime across America and to see Seattle, San Fransisco and Apalachicola at ground level was phenomenal. It took a while for us to see bits of the UK but whilst we waited, holidats in France were also planned. Well done Google with street view, perhaps you could do Germany some time soon?

However, my main use of Google maps has been to detail walks I’ve made (originally on Saturdays – hence Saturday Walks) with my friend (and over a thousand years ago – best man) John Rousell and sometimes others – Example. Some of these walks (most of these walks) avoid roads and a good while is spent walking across country. With the ability to ‘draw a line’ across the map, it was easy to record the walk and to assess the distance walked.  However, the update, whilst purporting to ‘Add walking route’ seems to assume that the ‘walk’ will be along the roadside and refuses to cross country and follow MY (the user!)’s route.

I really don’t have a problem with progress – it might seem that I have, because many ‘new’ ‘updates’ are put forward as that – progress. But they are often just ‘new’ and not often so progressive. Developers often forget the user and concentrate on the advertisers. I’m sure (please tell me I’m wrong Mr. Google) that the better, shinier, superb updates to the mapping service are just to make it easier for advertisers to place links to their businesses on the map.

Go on tell me I’m wrong – then put the ability to ‘walk’ across the map back like it used to be.

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Given this year’s unseasonable March weather, I decided a couple of weeks ago not to sit at my desk hoping that new work would come in (I’m currently waiting for feedback on work already done before wading back in to it) and to spend the time doing other things.

So far I’ve started to work on the garden: potatoes are chitting (and the soil is turned and waiting for them), tomato plants and courgette plants have been potted-on and their tubs are full of riddled compost ready to go; I’ve been to stay with Karen and Dave and ‘done’ Llangollen and I’ve taken my parents for a day out in Blackpool, which was fun.

When I was a child Blackpool was our yearly holiday destination. Huddersfield’s ‘textile’ weeks always seemed to follow the holiday week then taken by Glaswegians. The first time I remember being taken away was by train but all I remember is being frightened to death by the enormous smoke (steam) breathing, scarily noisy monster coming out of the tunnel at Huddersfield railway station. After that and every year until I was 10½ we went by coach (Hanson’s), via Todmordon, Whalley, and Preston – a trip of about three hours (including a stop at the ‘Half Way House’ for pop and crisps). The coaches used to line up in Sparrow Park (now gone) and take hundreds of factory and mill workers and their family’s en convoy for a week (sometimes two) in Blackpool.

We often stayed in ‘digs’ up around the north shore, above the north pier, in between Gynn Square and Uncle Tom’s Cabin and that’s where I headed with my parents this week. They were delighted to have a day out in such fine weather and, like me, were amazed by the changes made to Blackpool’s ‘front’ and promenade. We parked for free, alongside the Savoy Hotel and set off looking for somewhere to eat and I have to say that I’ve never seen two stick-wielding pensioners scurry around so fast. They loved it.

When we used to go as a family group in the 50’s and early 60’s walking in Blackpool was never so easy. There were so many people bustling around that walking in a straight line was so very very hard. It was even difficult to find space on the beach to pitch your deckchairs.

They’ve done a good job with the redevelopment of the Blackpool seafront, which hopefully will help to make the town feel less seedy – it used to be (and may well still be, for those who stay over and visit the town itself) SO seedy, smelly and downright unkempt. New trams start running on April 4th – so good luck Blackpool, I’ll be back. I may even manage to bring my parents along and, if you’re lucky – Sharon may even take my word for it!

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