Walking Holidays in Spain

Warm Mediterranean weather and a mountainous landscape make Castellón and the territory around this Spanish province a paradise for walking holidays, as visitors can enjoy hiking and walking tours all year round.  Kilometres upon kilometres of trails and paths that were dig by the first inhabitants of this region, then the Romans cobbled and signalled with milestones, and that were rebuilt by Muslims and Christians along the centuries.  Nowadays, those travellers wishing to enjoy walking holidays in Castellón will find these trails transformed into Gran Recorrido (GR) – Long Distance – footpaths or Pequeño Recorrido (PR) – Short Distance- footpaths, well signposted, which cross green areas and respectfully civilised territories, most of them preserved because of their great cultural and natural heritage.

WALKING AND HIKING ROUTES IN CASTELLÓN

walking holidays in spainIf you are lucky to enjoy walking holidays in Castellón, you will be able to follow hiking routes by the Mediterranean seashore, in the Serra d’Irta Natural Park, where mountains shape beautiful cliffs and small sandy coves, beside pine forests, almond-trees and hundred-year-old olive-trees. All this amazing scenery can be seen from the heights, from different ancient watchtowers, such as Torre Badum or from Muslim castles, being one of the most interesting, el Castell de Xivert, up in a hill overlooking the town of Alcalá de Xivert.

Not far away from Serra d’Irta, another piece of the Mediterranean coast that has been protected from the maelstrom of construction is the Natural Park of Prat de Cabanes-Torreblanca, a belt of marshland and swamps, where aquatic birds live. The Roman geographer Rufus Festus Avienus already mentioned this natural area in his journey across the Mediterranean.

Some of the best walking tours in Castellón can be enjoyed between the sea and the inland, just where the mountains of the Desert de les Palmes arise. This area is called “the desert” because of the loneliness in which the Carmelite monks chose to live, devoted to the prayer and meditation. Surrounded by pine-trees and palms or “margalló” (the local variety), the only  European native palm plant, which is common in this area.

Then visitors can head to the natural park of Serra d’Espadà where the landscape changes. In these forests the flagship tree is the cork oak, still used nowadays to produce the cork stoppers  for the best wines’ bottles.

There is no better pleasure than enjoying a slow travel experience in this territory: nice walking routes amongst the maritime pine forests, where small Muslim castles and towers emerge, discovering tiny white villages, and making a pause while savouring a lovely slice of rustic bread with olive oil and local goat cheese, together with an excellent glass of wine.  A simple but unique treat!!

WALKING IN LA “TINENÇA DE BENIFASSÀ”

If you head to the inland area of Castellón, to la Tinença de Benifassà, you will find the first Cistercian monastery of the whole region, el monasterio de Santa María, of the 13th Century. Great wilderness spaces are waiting for us. There southernmost beech forest in Europe is here, and also deep canyons and little hamlets and ‘masías’, the typical country houses. On your walking tour, you may see a Hispanic goat on the top of a rock staring at you or a group of vultures over the shiny blue sky.

And then, there is the Penyagolosa peak, a natural monument and an emblem of Castellón. No walking holidays in Castellón are complete if you do not climb to the top, around 2,000 metres height, where you will be able to sight the Columbretes Islands in a clear day. Penyagolosa is called the “rocky giant”, which harbours forests, meadows, ‘masías’, natural fountains and ancient  ice houses made of stones, in which snow was preserved long time ago, during the winter season to deliver ice to the coastal area in summer. You will be able to visit the most important spiritual centre of the region: Sant Joan de Penyagolosa, located at more than 1,200 metres height, which in the Middle Ages was a pilgrimage destination for the population who used to pray for water, peace, health and good harvests.

These are just a few walking routes in Castellón, an ideal province in which to enjoy walking holidays all year long. If you combine this activity with a superb local gastronomy and excellent accomodation, the slow travel experience is guaranteed!

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