MTB - Sella

Vuelta a Aitana

etapa de montaña

Sella - Aitana

​This route goes through one of the most famous must-visit places for road bikers in our province: the Sierra de Aitana mountain range. However, we'll take our mountain bike with us this time, in order to see otherwise unreachable areas and enjoy some views that seem to belong to the Pyrenees instead of somewhere so close to the sea.

We'll start our route in Sella. This town has had great historical relevance for the province of Alicante due to its location, since it's the gateway to the inland areas if you're coming from the Marina Baixa subregion, where it's located. As we get close to Sella through the CV-770 road, the first thing that will catch our eye is the size of the Sierra de Aitana at the back of the town and behind its typically Mediterranean white houses. We'll leave the car at the public parking area that we'll see on our right-hand side as soon as we enter the town from the CV-770 road (if we're coming from the inland areas, we'll have to cross the whole town to get to this parking lot).

This is not a very long route, but it's quite intense. We'll start with a 16-kilometre climb which is clearly divided into three different sections.

The first one, which will be quite useful for us to start warming up, covers 5 kilometres through the CV-770 towards Alcoleja. This is the first part of the classic climb to Tudons. It's quite a gradual uphill slope with some spots where we can rest for a while.

When we reach the 5th kilometre, we'll turn right onto an area called Ombría de Fardacho, and we'll start a 6-kilometre climb on an old paved road that is not in great conditions. We'll go through the Ombría de Tagarina area, always with the presence of the Aitana mountain (Hors catégorie) on our left. This part has very gradual slopes, except for a few steeper segments and the last section, where the gradient goes up slightly, but not enough to become a problem for someone with a mountain bike and a minimum level of fitness.

After the 11th kilometre of the route, we'll reach the end of the paved road. At this point, we can take a detour to climb to the top of El Divino and enjoy the unbelievable view of the Puig Campana, "Els Castellets" and the Mediterranean Sea all the way to Alicante's bay.  If we keep going, we'll start the hardest part of the climb. It's not only the steep slopes that make this climb difficult, but also the fact that some parts have loose rubble, which means we'll need to use more strength and apply more technique.

However, we recommend stopping and admiring the landscape from a few points on this route, in order to enjoy the views of the whole valley we just climbed, as well as the different sides of the mountains of Alicante, with the Mediterranean Sea in the distance.

We shouldn't forget that, despite it being quite close to the sea, some mountains in the Sierra de Aitana reach an altitude of 1,600 metres, so we advise you to bring along some warm clothes -even if it's just a windproof vest- to put on while going through this part of the route and the descent afterwards.

We'll then reach the highest point of the route, between the Alto de Tagarina (1,434 m) and the Peñón Molero (1,308 m). On a clear day, we'll have the chance to see how much we've climbed so far and admire the mesmerising views all the way from Confrides to Castell de Guadalest. We'll also be able to check out the 8-kilometre road we need to follow on our way down, only interrupted by a short uphill slope in the area we know as El Albirec.

You'll probably be happy to know that, at about the 18th kilometre of the route, we'll come across the Font del Partagat fountain, where we can fill up our bottles and rest for a moment, while appreciating the peculiar geological shapes in the Peña del Partagat. We will have to take a small detour to do so, but we'll soon go back to the same road we used before and we'll keep going downhill until we get really close to the CV-70 road (which will still be far below us). We'll ride parallel to that road before facing the last climb of the day: the Paso del Contador.

This is quite an intense climb that gets harder towards the end, but being able to complete it is just a question of fitness, since the road is in very good conditions and the last part, where gradients go over 20%, is fully paved. However, the views of the whole Guadalest Valley, the Bernia mountain range, the Peñón de Ifach and the Mediterranean Sea will make the climb a lot more bearable.

We'll then reach the Paso del Contador, an impressive mountain pass between the rocks of the Peñón Roc hill (1,108 m) that was created by farmers who wanted to get their livestock from one valley to the next. Once we've caught our breath again, we'll go back down to Sella following the PR-CV 9 road on the Barranc de L´Arc. This 11-kilometre descent will let us finish the route in a good mood and enjoy the beautiful landscape in the area, with the wall of El Divino and the Font de L´Arc, among other things.


What to see

Sella is renowned for having managed to preserve its old quarter in good conditions, with its sloping streets and its whitewashed houses. The most famous attractions in this town are the Castle of Saint Barbara, the old watermill, Saint Anne's Parish Church (16th century) and the Baron palace.

Sella has some hidden magical places, such as the Font Major and the Font de l'Alcàntara areas. The town has really learned how to take advantage of its natural resources for the irrigation of the fields, as proved by its complex network of canals and aqueducts.

What to eat

Despite its proximity to the sea, Sella's cuisine is evidence of the town's relation with the mountains. Some of the most popular dishes are the coca amb pebrera y tomaca (a sort of pizza with pepper and tomato), the borreta de melva (salted fish and vegetable stew) or the arròs caldós amb fesols, cards i naps (brothy rice with beans, cardoons and turnips).

Did you know?

Sella is a good example of the effects of the decree approved by King Phillip III for the expulsion of the Moriscos (former Muslims who converted to Christianity) from the Iberian Peninsula. By doing that, he sent away some of the best and hardest-working farmers in the province of Alicante. Back in the day, Sella was the most prosperous town in the area and all the inhabitants were Moriscos. With this depopulation, the town went into poverty and lost its cultural identity. Years later, it was repopulated with people from Majorca and some other municipalities in the area.