Before reaching the 3rd kilometre of the route, we'll turn right onto an uphill dirt road with some paved sections that leads to the "Barranc Salat".
This segment of the route, before getting to the CV-758 road, is part of a diversion that is virtually unknown to most people: the "Camí del Peix". This is actually a very interesting cultural and artistic project aimed at promoting the flow of visitors between the inland areas and the coast, managed by the towns and villages of
Villajoyosa/La Vila Joiosa, Orxeta, Relleu, Sella, Torremanzanas/La Torre de les Maçanes, Benifallím, Penáguila and Alcoy/Alcoi. More specifically, they've agreed to turn it into a new "product" based on hiking, culture, nature and tourism, by recovering one of the oldest routes in the whole of the Iberian Peninsula.
We should warn you that, at the end of the "Barranc Salat", there is a part of the road that can be quite technically demanding. However, since it's a short section, we can get off the bike and walk if we find it too hard.
We'll turn left once we reach the CV-758 road and, after 400 metres, we'll turn right again. Here we'll begin a hard and long climb to El Xarquer through a road which is almost completely paved. During the climb, we'll have the chance to enjoy the stunning view of the western side of Els Castellets, a well-known mountain range to rock climbers all over Europe.
After reaching the top of El Xarquer at the 16th kilometre of the route, we'll begin a fast descent to the "Barranc de l'Arc" cliff, with the beautiful view of the town of
Sella in the distance. Just before we get to the dirt road, we'll see a fountain next to a house on our left-hand side. This fountain, known by locals as "Font de L'Alcàntara", is quite hidden and not easy to find, and has water all year round.
Once we reach the trail that runs at the bottom of the cliff, we'll head towards
Benimantell. The road that joins the towns of
Benimantell is called PR-CV 9. We'll keep going until we arrive at the Font de l'Arc fountain. This is a good spot to rest for a while due to the beauty of the area and the fact that, even in the summer, it stays quite cool regardless of the temperatures. From there, we'll be able to admire one of the most magnificent sanctuaries for rock climbers in our province: the Divino hill.
We'll go past the Font de l'Arc climbers' shelter and the Casas de l'Arc and Bodegueta areas to join the PR-CV 12 road towards
Finestrat. At this point, we'll have to face one of the last and hardest climbs of the day, going through an area known as Barranc del Xarquer until we reach the Alt de Sacarest. This road runs between some impressive limestone mountains until it reaches its highest point through a tree-covered road, just before facing the descent to
Finestrat by the Font del Molí (1851). The Font del Molí is one of the most remarkable fountains in the province, with a volume of flow of 20 litres per second (according to the average measurement taken over the last years), which is really high and rare for this area.
From this point, the highest on our way at 732 metres of altitude, to the end of the route in
Finestrat, we'll always feel the presence of the magnificent Puig Campana watching over us. On the way down, we'll need to pay attention in order to avoid going the wrong way when we get to the paved road that gives access to the residential area. Once we go past the fence at the entrance of the Sacarest area, we'll keep going down until we get to a fork on the 29th kilometre of the route and we'll take the road on the left. After this, and up until the recreational area by the Font del Molí, we'll just need to follow the paved road.
We can either stop again at this recreational area or carry on all the way down to
Finestrat to enjoy its varied cuisine and its colourful streets. By doing this, we'll have finished a physically-demanding route that doesn't present any difficulties from a technical point of view and offers amazing views, which will help us forget we're as close as 6 kilometres away from one of the biggest towns in our province,
Villajoyosa/Vila Joiosa (La)
Alfàs del Pi (L')
Alicante / Alacant
What to see
Finestrat is one of the towns in Costa Blanca that has kept a traditional structure for its houses. The most peculiar ones are the ones perched on the gypsum rock, at the back of the Puig Campana and overlooking the sea. If we take a stroll through its quiet and colourful streets, we'll be able to see the San Bartolomé de Finestrat Parish Church (1751), the 'El Castell' viewpoint, the Santísimo Cristo del Remedio Church (1925) and the Font del Molí (1851), surrounded by the natural scenery that covers the side of the Puig Campana.
What to eat
Due to its unusual location right between the coast and the mountains, Finestrat's cuisine combines the vegetables from its fields, the game meat from the mountains and the seafood from the Mediterranean. This imbues its food with a lot of personality, creating dishes such as the arroz a banda (rice and fish), the arroz con bogavante (rice and lobster), the arroz con marisco (rice and shellfish), together with the arroz con conejo (rice and rabbit), the calderetas de carne (meat stews) or the guisos de perdiz y conejo (partridge and rabbit casserole). As we said, vegetables are also a big part of the local diet, with recipes like the traditional arròs amb fesols i naps (rice with green beans and turnips), the pebrera tallada (vegetable and fish stew), the coca boba (sponge cake), la coca girada (vegetable and meat pie) and the tarongetes (meatballs with corn flour, egg and vegetable stock).
Did you know?
The Puig Campana, with its 1,408 metres of altitude, is the second highest mountain in the province of Alicante and also the second highest one in Spain that is next to the coast (it's only 10 kilometres away from the Mediterranean Sea).
The legend of the Puig Campana. The clear cut that we can see at the top of the Puig Campana has brought forth many legends or, to be precise, multiple versions of the same legend. The French hero Roland was fighting a Moor commander on the top of the mountain. When the Muslim leader was already defeated, Roland raised his sword to give him the coup de grace. However, his opponent dodged the blow, which was so hard that a big chunk of the rock was cut out of the mountain and fell into the sea. This rock is still visible as Benidorm Island and the gash that Roland made in the peak of the mountain still bears his name.
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