Bike & Family - Guardamar del Segura

Guardamar del Segura - Rojales

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Guardamar del Segura - Rojales

The course of a river can help us understand the different relationships that bind together all towns and villages that depend somehow on this kind of natural element. Our route today will take us through the green corridor that runs along the Segura River. The fact that we'll be doing this route by bike means we'll cover a much longer distance than if we just walked, allowing us to get clear insight on the role that the river plays in all towns and villages along it.

The Segura River rises in the Segura mountain range, only 5 kilometres away from  Pontón Bajo, in a small village called Fuente Segura, which belongs to the municipality of Santiago-Pontones (Jaén). It runs through the provinces of JaénAlbaceteMurcia and Alicante and it flows into the Mediterranean Sea by Guardamar del Segura (Alicante) after 325 kilometres. It's one of the most exploited rivers in the whole of Spain, and the route we'll present here goes through a part of its lower course, more precisely through the section that runs between the towns of Guardamar del Segura and Orihuela, even though we won't go all the way to the latter because we'll turn back when we are near Bigastro.

We'll start the route at the roundabout that gives access to the N-332 road, at the end of Calle Madrid and only 200 metres away from the Local Police station. We've chosen this point because it's easy to access and the beginning of the route is next to it. As soon as we cross the bridge over the river, we'll take the Corredor Verde del Segura (the Green Corridor of the Segura River) towards the west. At first, we'll ride on the southern side of the river, but we'll soon cross over to the northern side, because the idea is to go upstream on the northern side and then come back through the southern side (to us, this means we'll always have the river on our left-hand side). The fact that we'll be riding on both sides offers us the opportunity to see the river from a different perspective, together with the croplands and the towns and villages in the area.  

The route of the Corridor is interrupted by the town of Rojales. In spite of this and the fact that we'll have to go across the whole town, we will be able to see the river all the time and follow its course. Since we'll only have been going for about 6 kilometres by then, we won't stop at this town. 2.5 kilometres later, we'll get to Formentera del Segura, where the road is very well taken care of, paved with concrete and with some nice gardening on the sides. Apart from this, we'll also have the chance to check out the 17th century waterwheel in the village of Benijófar (on the other side of the road). It's located by a meander of the river in the outskirts of the village, and it belongs to a hydraulic set which also includes the Formentera del Segura gristmill and the weir. It was built using ashlar blocks during the second half of the 17th century (1659) and it has become a symbol for the local agricultural lands and the village of Benijófar.  

The next milestone on our route is between Almoradí and Algorfa, where we'll come across a roundabout with some traffic when crossing the CV-935 road. We'll then keep going west until we arrive at the municipality of Benejúzar, which we'll leave behind by staying on the same road we're on, since the actual town is on the other side of the river.

At about the 25.5 kilometre point, we'll see a wooden bridge that we'll use later, on our way back, to go over the Segura River as it passes through Jacarilla. When we reach the halfway point of the route, by the village of Bigastro, we'll cross the river again to begin the way back on its southern side. We'll do this turn between the neighbourhoods of La Campaneta and Molins, using the bridge in the Vereda El Rincón.

We'll start the way back at this point. However, contrary to what happens with most routes that run along river courses, where we can easily appreciate how the road goes up or downhill, this route is so flat (don't forget Bigastro is only at 35 m a.s.l.) that the difficulty of this section will be determined by the wind direction instead of the virtually non-existing gradient.

At the 26th kilometre of the route, we'll cross the Reguerón river (a tributary of the Segura) between Bigastro and Molins, and after just one kilometre we'll arrive at the wooden bridge over the Segura River in Jacarilla. This area is known as the Jacarilla meander and it has been subjected to several development projects, both for flood control when the river swells and for the ecological restoration of the area, the bridge being a sign of this latter improvement.

When we get to Benejúzar, we'll have to ride through a roundabout as we pass the CV-914 road and then we'll continue all the way to Algorfa. Even though we think it's better to keep going, we can also stop and admire this village's beautiful skyline, with the Nuestra Señora del Carmen Parish Church as the most remarkable building. If we actually choose to go to Algorfa, we recommend visiting the Castle of Montemar. This stately home was built during the last part of the 18th century, was never used for military purposes despite its appearance, and has a somewhat French-like style, which is quite uncommon in this area.

At the 40th kilometre of the route we'll pass by the 17th century waterwheel in Benijófar and we'll keep going until we reach the town of Rojales. Considering we'll have already covered 40 kilometres, we recommend stopping for a drink in one of the bar terraces in Calle Malecón Diputación de Alicante, while we enjoy the view of the extraordinary masonry bridge built by King Charles III. Its construction, during the 18th century, defied the natural separation imposed by the river and brought the two halves of the municipality together through its three big basket-handle arches. 

Once we've regained our strength, we'll finish the route by going back to Guardamar del Segura. One of the biggest advantages of this route is that, since it follows the river all the time, we can adjust it to the needs of our group and turn back at any time, using one of the many level crossings and bridges we'll find on the way. 


What to see

Even though Guardamar del Segura is known mainly as a holiday town where tourists go to enjoy the sun and the beaches, it also has a vast cultural and natural heritage, including the dunes, the pine forests and the La Mata Lagoons Nature Reserve, amongst other things.

What to eat

Guardamar del Segura's ñora (dried pepper) is one of the most typical agricultural products in traditional Valencian cuisine. It's used mainly as a spice due to its distinctive flavour and colour. The main difference between the ñora from Guardamar del Segura and the ones produced in other places in Spain is the fact that it is sun-dried on the fine sand of the dunes, which provides it with a very homogeneous level of dehydration that is the main reason for its good reputation and high quality. King prawns from Guardamar del Segura are also highly regarded in the area and have become one of the most sought-after types of seafood.

The ñoras from Guardamar del Segura, together with the quality of the king prawns produced there, are the base ingredients for many flavourful dishes and new culinary sensations. In fact, the "Setmana Gastronòmica de la Nyora i el Llagostí" (Ñora and King Prawn cuisine week) is already on its 9th edition. This is an annual event addressed to those who love good food and it takes place around mid-June.

Did you know?

The destruction and abandonment of the walled village of Guardamar del Segura was a consequence of the earthquakes that took place on 1829, which forced its inhabitants to move to the plains and build a whole new town. The planning for the current layout of the town was designed by the famous engineer Larramendi.

Another example of a municipality that was affected by this earthquake is Benejúzar. This town's layout is really unique, because it's shaped like a perfect grid. The reason for this is that the town was completely destroyed by the earthquake in 1829 and had to be rebuilt from scratch.

During the last decades of the 19th century, Guardamar del Segura endured what is known as the "sand invasion". At that time, there was a very peculiar desert-like area within the municipality, located between the town, the mouth of the river and the seashore. The forest engineer Francisco Mira was in charge of stopping the advance of the dunes, which were ruining the crops and had even buried some of the houses in town.  The reforestation resulted in the creation of 14 kilometres of antidunes and in an 800-hectare area being covered by vegetation, thus turning the threatening and desert-like landscape of Guardamar del Segura into a dense littoral forest.