This stage is set in the Serra de Mariola Natural Park after commencing in Alcoi, allowing us to get to know landscapes such as the Barranc del Cint and climb to the summit of the Montcabrer (1.390 m). We leave behind the district of L'Alcoià to move into the district of El Comtat, surrounded by high mountains and small villages. Along the route we will visit several interesting ice pits.
We begin the journey for this stage by accessing the Serra de Mariola via the Barranc del Cint, in the municipality of Alcoi, with its endless, rugged walls from which the numerous Griffon vultures that will watch our advance from on high, seek safety, and unbeatable lookout posts. Going up the water course towards its headwaters, the ravine opens up and the initial verticality of its walls gives way to gentler slopes, covered in a forest consisting mainly of Aleppo pines.
Gradually the vegetation becomes lusher. We traverse several pine forests which contrast with the abundant aromatic and medicinal plants in the Mariola range, as well as cultivated land, until we reach the Coll d'en Sabata. We climb more steadily and start having some good panoramic views, where the peak of the Montcabrer (1.390 m), the highest point in the Serra de Mariola, will start to be visible.
At the top of Montcabrer we can enjoy good views of the Valley of Alcoi and nearby mountains such as the Benicadell, the Serrella, Aitana and the Carrascal. Towards the North: the regions of la Vall d'Albaida, la Costera, la Ribera and its villages, the mountains of la Safor, and the sharpest will even be able to recognize the Penyagolosa.
We begin the descent down the path that runs along the rocky wall of the summit and on turning we encounter the "Font del Pouet", which is often dry.
Mount Benicadell will capture our attention in this stretch of trail that descends to the forest track which leads us to the shelter of the Refugi Montcabrer. Some metres before reaching it we can visit the majestic Cava Gran ice pit dating back to the17th century, some 15 metres in diameter and duly signposted. Next to the mountain refuge, we can also visit the Cava de l'Habitació or room ice pit, on the road that climbs to the top of the Teix.
We continue our descent through a beautiful shady pine forest, next to the refuge, that offers us stunning views of the Valley of Agres, until we reach the Sanctuary of Mare de Deu de Agres.
From here we follow the asphalt track to reach the Montblanc Alcoi, where the Zamorano refuge is located. Continuing along the route, a path branches off that runs along the shady side of the Sierra which will lead us to Alfafara.
Of note is the
Agres, a temple which was built on the rock itself, at the foot of the remains of the
castle, to pay homage to the Virgin, the protagonist of the miracle which popular legend dates back to 1484, when a shepherd found an image of a virgin which showed signs of having been affected by fire. And so it was, according to the chronicles, because the day before the
Maria had burned down in
Alicante, and the image that disappeared was later to be found at
Agres. The shepherd who found it was one-armed and recovered the arm he was missing.
Perched between the sierras of
Alfafara is located among crags, foliage, waterfalls and history. It belongs to the
El Comtat district and is located in an area bordering on the province of
Valencia, next to the municipalities of
Ontinyent. This location offers charming spots that are ideal for excursions.
The main agricultural product of the area is
oil and aromatic herbs have a special role to play. In both municipalities you can taste dishes such as
pericana, a sauce made with cod, dried peppers and olive oil,
espencat, a salad made with baked aubergine and red peppers and codfish,
borreta, a stew made with potatoes, spicy red peppers and a salted fish, usually codfish and
farcides (roasted peppers stuffed with rice). Very popular are chickpeas with pumpkin and Serra de Mariola style gazpacho, which is a delicious dish when seasoned with pebrella, a type of thyme.
Such as the signposted PR-CV 104 route that takes us to the Don Miguel ice pit, the PR-CV 389 for a visit to the Caves of the Windows and the Mill of Pantanet, or we can also opt to follow the Green Route of the Natural Park: In the shadow of Les Caves.
We must also visit the micro-reserve, the "Teixera de Agres", which still has monumental yews.
In order to rest we offer you beautiful corners such as the Font de l'Assut and the Alcois of Font del Molí Mató and the shrine of Agres or the Fountain of Tarragó in Alfafara.
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