I´ve been fortunate enough to spend the past few days with two great clients from Rotterdam in The Netherlands. Harry and his son Lars contacted me early this year to discuss the possibility of arranging a Guided Active Tourism Short Break prior to their family holiday in Valencia. Both fit and keen bikers, they wanted to explore this beautiful area of Spain and to enjoy the mountains and countryside that it has to offer. Following some discussion, I proposed an itinerary that would comprise a day of mountain walking and two days of mountain biking.
On our first day together, we completed an ascent of the rocky peak of Benicadell, a spectacular mountain of 1,104 metres dominating the Valle de Albaida.
The walk up through the steep pine forest soon gave way to an airy rocky ridge that we followed to the summit. No sooner had we arrived on the summit when we were treated to stunning views of four Griffon Vultures soaring on the thermals.
We admired the views across the Valencian peaks and out to the Mediterranean before carefully retracing our steps along the ridge and back down to the minibus.
Our second day was hot with midday temperatures hitting 30C. We therefore opted for a mountain bike ride along a rocky riverside trail. The breeze that blew through the narrow limestone valley was very welcome as we made our way up the trail and eventually out into an area of olive and almond groves.
After a coffee break at a small farming village, we biked alongside a reservoir before making a detour that involved walking through a river – very refreshing in the heat of the afternoon! We soon rejoined the rocky trail that took us back into the narrow valley and then up through the woods to the minibus.
The third day was essentially a rest day although Harry and Lars opted to hire a couple of bikes from us for the day and spent some time exploring the local Mediterranean coastline.
Day four was our final day together and both Harry and Lars were now becoming well accustomed to the weather. Therefore we opted for a 54km mountain bike route. After an initial section of road ascent up and out of the Valle de Albaida, we started out on a rocky trail that took us over a remote pass and down into the Valle de Barxeta. This is a trail that demands respect, as although not particularly technical, it requires constant attention and is in an area of virtually no mobile phone coverage.
Once down in the valley, a section of dirt track took us to a small village where we stopped for coffee in the square before following lanes through orange groves, eventually arriving at the historical town of Xativa. We ate lunch in some pretty gardens beside the original Roman wall then biked a circular tour around the ancient streets of the town.
Our return route took us into a beautiful limestone valley, along a singletrack trail high above the river. Harry and Lars managed the trail extremely well, including a descent of some steps built into the track. A final section of rocky riding brought us out beside a reservoir beside which we rested for a few minutes before completing the final few kilometres of road back to the minibus.
It had been a superb trip and for me personally it had been a pleasure to spend time with Harry and Lars. Having had some adventure time together they´ll now meet up with the rest of their family for a week´s holiday around Valencia.
Written by David Warrington