This stage passes through the region of Medio Vinalopó. Our route will go along rural roads whose charm, beauty and tranquillity will surprise us time and again. The landscape provides evidence of the agricultural origins of the region: the crops, its traditional rural architecture, animal pens and, of course, the containment walls of the agricultural terraces, made using dry walling techniques.
Starting from Elda we head towards the Industrial Estate, Campo Alto. We leave it towards the beautiful rural shrine of the Virgen de los Dolores, where we come off the asphalt road and proceed along a dirt track.
If we look behind us we will see the Sierra del Cid, with its peculiar saddle- shaped Silla del Cid that dominates Elda.
We continue along dirt tracks, across barren land with a few terraces of almond trees. After going through the high speed train underpass an immense plain opens up before us, with ancient farming terraces.
We continue across an arid area between ravines, leaving the municipality of Monovar on our left before coming to a tarmac road again.
We now take the Zafra road, gently ascending to the Victoriano hill. This is where the landscape changes radically; we see a broad valley surrounded by gentle slopes, with neat farms: vineyards, almond trees, olive trees and apricots.
We cross the CV-834 to continue among vineyards towards Casas del Señor, a hamlet that forms part of the municipality of Monóvar, which we enter under a well-preserved medieval aqueduct. This aqueduct allowed the Casas del Señor irrigation channel to negotiate the watercourse which watered the districts of Casas del Señor, La Fontanella, El Toscar and El Altete de la Cruz.
We leave the village in an easy climb along a beautiful area of pines, which runs along the foot of the slopes of Monte Coto until it reaches Encebras (a district of Pinoso), passing alongside some striking ancient elms, together with a monumental fountain. The tranquillity of these lands was chosen in 1916 for the establishment of the convent of the Carmelite Sisters of Orihuela. The congregation has recently converted some of the rooms into a hostel.
We leave via an asphalt track, again amid vines, bordering the Cabezo de la Sal to Pinoso, a municipality included in Alicante's wine route, and where we can enjoy its cuisine and good wines.
Throughout the area we can find human settlements dating back to prehistoric times, although it was in the 18th century when its population grew, linked to farming and highlighting the cultivation of vines and wine production.
During our stay in
Pinoso we can admire, among other monuments,
tower, which opened in 1900 and which houses a
Canseco clock and retains its original mechanism, i.e. it must be wound by hand every day.
There are several natural routes that run through the municipality of Pinoso, and which are designed to make known and enhance the landscape, the flora, the fauna and the geological features of the municipality.
The PR-CV 3 and PR-CV 166 trails that run through Monte Coto; the local Gallers trail, which takes its name from the Valencian oak typical of this area, as well as the trail that runs through the odd Cabezo de la Sal and which we shall get to know better in the next stage of this long-distance trail. We can do all of them on foot or mountain bike.
Pinoso has a substantial biological diversity due to its great heterogeneity of habitats influenced by its relief, soils and its Mediterranean
climate with a continental influence.
We can find everything from mountain forests with the presence of pines, turpentine trees, kermes oak and even traces of Valencian oak copses or gall oaks to depressions or endorheic basins that make up the wetlands and salt marshes, protected areas of community interest, containing a wealth of unique species adapted to these environments.
In addition Pinoso is exceptionally rich in minerals and geological features, highlighting the Cabezo de la Sal mountain, which is one of the most important examples of halokinetic diapirism in Europe.
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