Calpe & Climbing Penyal d’Ifac
We arrived in Calp (Pronounced Calpe) via the amazing N322 and then the CV746 which twisted it’s way into town.
The first two Aires we tried were full the third and fourth wanted €32 a night and although we had just had 3 free nights it was just too much. We found the fifth up the hill and it was only €10 with bigger pitches. GPS N38.658060 E000.077500 Our Aires & Stop Overs We walked to the all you can eat Chinese and overfilled our tummies. After a quick snooze back at the van we needed a walk to combat the massive calorie intake we had just inflicted on ourselves and I also wanted to check out the details on climbing the rock. Calp is a lovely town set on two gorgeous beaches one either side of a huge lump of rock that sticks out into the sea called “del Penyal d’Ifac” and resembling a mini Gibraltar. The information on the board was typically Spanish in its vagueness but said that dogs were allowed but only on a lead, appropriate footwear should be worn and it would take about 2.5 hours to complete. Sorted! It was on the agenda for tomorrow. We wandered along the promenade on the South beach for a while before returning home.
11.45 am – After a 15 min steep twisting walk to the entrance we were informed that the path was closed today until at least 2pm. We trudged back to the car wondering why a simple notice at the car park (the only way in) could not have been provided to save scores of people walking to the entrance only to be turned around and sent back down again. No matter, we would grab a coffee from a beach cafe and return in couple of hours.
1.45 pm – The ‘walk’ had been opened before 1.30 so we made our way up. NOW – one guide book classes this as a walk on gentle slopes, the other calls it a strenuous walk and the Spanish information board didn’t bother to give any difficulty rating at all. I have done a lot of walking and a bit of scrambling in Wales, The Lake District and Scotland in my time and let me say that this is a difficult walk on exposed rock with perilous shear drops and is more similar to a “grade 1 scramble” than a walk. The first part to the tunnel was easy on a fenced path. The small upward sloping tunnel that was made in 1958 gives access to the rear of the rock.
Immediately after leaving the tunnel however it gets a whole lot more exposed. Don’t get me wrong if you have done hill walking and scrambling in the past and are physically fit then this is a relatively easy scramble/walk and in fairness there are ropes and chains attached to the very exposed bits of the cliff face (quite a few of them) to hold on to but you do need to use both of your hands and feet on occasions. if you do not have a head for heights then think twice or just go as far as you feel safe to do so.
We also had Molly with us and she was required to remain on the lead which was ‘interesting‘ on some of the more difficult parts, but we managed despite her occasional excited lurch towards a perched seagull. After about 1.5 hours of climbing we finally reached the summit which was a major achievement especially for Angie who had become very nervous and a bit wobbly on her feet on occasions. She was however determined to make it to the top despite many suggestions by me that we could head back or she could wait for me if she wanted. The top was smelly and we didn’t stay long. Covered in Seagull mess and the Feral cats that seemed to live up there had also contributed their fair share. Molly was having a lovely time eating various bones (seagull we presumed) which we were worried about.
The views however were truly stunning
but it was not a place to linger so we made our tentative way back down taking in a detour to another viewpoint on the way.
We were pleased to see the entrance to the tunnel and firmer ground. Although I have climbed and topped out many mountains and Munro’s in my younger days I can honestly say this one was my most nervous. Perhaps it’s my age, or perhaps it was that I was worried for Angie’s safety, Mollys antics and continually pulling and getting tangled in her lead didn’t help and the smelly, bone strewn summit was the first that I was not sad to leave. We had however DONE IT and I was immensely proud of Angie who tackled her fears and topped it out with me.