I've been back in Spain since late October and Kate arrived a few weeks later. I'll firstly talk a little about how the journeys were for both of us, as quite a few people have been in touch for general advice on this.
I travelled here before restrictions on travel were in place in either Spain or the UK, so had no issues, the journey was like any other really (well, apart from some technical issues with a newly bought bike rack, but that's another story).
For Kate, there was more anxiety as travel restrictions were back on here in Spain and lockdown number two loomed in. the UK. The Guardia Civil (national police force) here are not to be messed with, they have a reputation for being harsh and are generally feared by the locals. So best steer clear. Easier said than done when the government announce travel restrictions and a ferry is already booked. Kate went for it anyway. Ensuring the car was well fuelled up before leaving the UK meant only one brief stop between Santander and Jesus Pobre. There were no road blocks and thankfully she was not stopped and checked by the Police, so the journey was completely incident free, phew!
Still, it was far from an ideal situation and not what we had wished for. Stress levels were certainly high. Currently the restrictions here have eased markedly and travel is straightforward, although of course it's best to check the official channels if planning a trip to Spain, or anywhere else for that matter. For those who use Facebook, there's a very useful page operated by Police officers called N-332. Up to date information can be found out easily on there.
Now back to the adventure stuff.
We have been taking it easy here and being extra careful in order to reduce any risk of injury, just like at home during the summer. But there have been some fantastic days out had. A big climb on the Puig Campana a few weeks ago, some via ferratas, mountain runs, lots of cycling, and days out with the camera trying to capture the perfect shots for my forthcoming guidebook 'Costa Blanca Mountain Adventures' - due to be published about this time next year.
And this week a traverse over the Bernia ridge with a couple of climber friends. This time was a little different though. A friend had suggested an alternative starting point that was much further East. I have always shied away from this idea as plenty have simply become lost in the sea of rock. But thought it worth a go with the additional information I had gleaned.
In short, it was well worth the extra effort. What an amazing adventure. Whilst it would be fine to nip up to the East summit from the regular starting col, a better way is to go through the tunnel under the ridge and walk towards the coast before meeting the ridge above some vegetated slopes. Once on the rocky crest a few red blobs of paint mark the way. There are a couple of additional abseils, although it would be feasible to down climb these if confident / competent on the terrain.
We caught up with a group of 5 once on the main ridge. Some rather odd rope tricks were being employed, so we decided it best to get ahead of them asap. As we were flying along this was easy. We reached the descent col and had a quick chat about whether to carry on to the main summit or not, but all feeling tired and the interesting sections now behind us, the decision was unanimous, let's go down here and be back in the valley in time for coffee and cake.
We really hope some of you can make it abroad for some sunshine this winter. If visiting the Costa Blanca and wanting advice about current logistics and restrictions, please feel free to get in touch. We can give advice about mountain routes too and will be happy to arrange days out in the mountains during your visit.
Thanks for reading, I'll be sure not to leave it so long again until my next post.
Best wishes all
Mark & Kate