The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Friday, 12 February 2016

Friday 12 February – SL-A 175 Failure at Benarraba

View from Colin, when the cloud isn’t hanging right down into the valley

Whilst today didn’t dawn fine, it was dry and with a higher cloud base than the last couple of days, so after I’d presented Mick with a postcard and sung Happy Birthday to him, off we headed to walk route SL-A 175.

Due to the location of the village of Benarrabas, this circular walk starts with the downhill and ends with the up. As much as I’d rather have things the other way around, this was the only circular trail in the area, so off we went – steeply down.

I commented a couple of days ago about how green and forested is the area in which we’re now travelling and today we learned that we’re in a cork oak area. It was these trees, just a few minutes into our walk, which initially gave it away:

and a while later (just as we were wondering how long it takes for the bark to regrow) we came across an information sign telling us that the valley side on which we were standing is split up into ninths, with one section being harvested each year on a 9-year cycle.

very green!

The down went on violently for some time until, after crossing a stream and ascending a little way the other side, I began to get suspicious that we weren’t on the right path. In fact, it seemed to me that we were on the wrong side of the valley. I’d not been able to find a gpx file for this route (and I now believe that’s probably because no-one has been able to follow it in order to record a track!), and the map on the official leaflet was so lacking in detail as to make it only of marginally more value than that on the information sign at the start point (which was a line on an aerial photo). However, the map on the leaflet (which I had downloaded onto my phone) did have some contour lines, telling us that we shouldn’t have dropped below 350m. We were now at 280m…

Back we went, huffing and puffing up the steepest section, to get to a multi-way junction we’d passed a while before. All possible alternative tracks were explored, without a single waymark being found and with none feeling right, before we conceded defeat and headed back the way we had come.

By then a light mizzly rain was falling, so any passing thoughts of trying the circuit from the other direction were pushed firmly out of my mind, and via the village shop (for the poorest imaginable excuse for a birthday cake) we headed back to Colin.

Having moved on to Casares, where there are plentiful walk options, Mick vetoed the notion of going out again, pointing at the rain being lashed at Colin’s windward window:

So, once again we hope for better tomorrow (only two more days before the forecast turns good again, but we’ll be back on the coast by then).

In the absence of another outing, the eventfulness of the afternoon has been witnessing a driverless car (and not in the manner of modern technology) roll backwards across the car park, coming to rest on a kerb and against some road signs. Mick managed to locate the owners in the Tourist Office – a couple from Basingstoke. They were quite relaxed about what had happened “At least it’s only a hire car!” they said.

(Note for anyone reading both this and my Colin blog over at I've saved you some reading as I've lazily duplicated the same post in both places today.)


  1. I was struck with an acute case of déjà vu with your exploration of alternative tracks looking for way-marks. Something similar happened on my GR10. In the end I opted for the one that made the most sense with the compass, and although not correct it did get me where I was going in the end.

  2. Never mind, at least you can enjoy the greenery and the lengthening days and the .... library?