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LIVE from the Camino Villajoyosa alternative start to the Lana

alansykes

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
Rather than walking straight from Alicante, it is possible to start the Ruta de la Lana camino at either Benidorm (at the church of Santiago) or Villajoyosa, taking about 110km to join the main route at Villena.

I started at Villajoyosa yesterday morning, after an hour's tram ride from central Alicante. Villajoyosa is a pretty polychrome village which seems more Spanish than much of the rest of the coast. You then spend a pleasant hour or so ambling slowly upwards through orange and lemon groves, currently dripping with ripe fruit, before reaching the reservoir of the Amadorio River. Another few km and you are having coffee or a caña in Orxeta. You're already surrounded by beautiful hills, with the imposing 1400m bulk of Puig Campana dominating the views. The last few km up to Relleu are on a narrow steep path, paso de la mula, according to somebody I bumped in to, through wild thyme, rosemary and juniper. It felt like summer again after a month in the north, with bees buzzing around, a few butterflies, even a lizard or two. Relleu is an attractive hill village (with a modern church of Santiago) and I was soon tucking in to an excellent menú del día, including local capers in the salad. Yum. If you ring ahead, which I forgot to do, you can apparently sleep in the polidiportivo, but I had a very nice room in an (empty) casa rural for 22$. This was the view from the sitting room:

_20181205_190759.JPG
 
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Donna Sch

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
VdLP-Sanabres-Fisterra (Summer 2015); Levante-Invierno (Feb/Mar 2019);
England Camino routes ?2024
Hey Alan, someone on one of my Camino groups accidentally stumbled onto a Camino marker for the Camino Mendocino
https://www.rayyrosa.com/camino-mendocino/informacion which has a connection with the Lana in Riofrío del Llano. Are you planning to go anywhere near this? It has me intrigued.
 

Canuck

Veteran wanderer
Year of past OR future Camino
?
Rather than walking straight from Alicante, it is possible to start the Ruta de la Lana camino at either Benidorm (at the church of Santiago) or Villajoyosa, taking about 110km to join the main route at Villena.

I started at Villajoyosa yesterday morning, after an hour's tram ride from central Alicante. Villajoyosa is a pretty polychrome village which seems more Spanish than much of the rest of the coast. You then spend a pleasant hour or so ambling slowly upwards through orange and lemon groves, currently dripping with ripe fruit, before reaching the reservoir of the Amadorio River. Another few km and you are having coffee or a caña in Orxeta. You're already surrounded by beautiful hills, with the imposing 1400m bulk of Puig Campana dominating the views. The last few km up to Relleu are on a narrow steep path, paso de la mula, according to somebody I bumped in to, through wild thyme, rosemary and juniper. It felt like summer again after a month in the north, with bees buzzing around, a few butterflies, even a lizard or two. Relleu is an attractive hill village (with a modern church of Santiago) and I was soon tucking in to an excellent menú del día, including local capers in the salad. Yum. If you ring ahead, which I forgot to do, you can apparently sleep in the polidiportivo, but I had a very nice room in an (empty) casa rural for 22$. This was the view from the sitting room:

View attachment 49612
Hi Alan!
You can also walk the Camino Del Alba, starting in Xabia and join the Lana at Almansa.
https://www.caminodelalba.com/
I'll be there next spring to tell you more about it.
Cheers and have a good one,
Jean-Marc
 

Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
Alan
Have you heard of the Iron Curtain Trail? It’s a 7,000km cycletrail - I had a dream of being the first person to walk it end to end, but now that you know about it I bet you’ll beat me to it!
 
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alansykes

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
What, wait. Is this the same peregrino who two days ago posted a picture of the Santiago cathedral?!
Can't get a handy flight home until Monday, and can't cope with more than a day or so on the beach, so might as well walk.
Hi Alan!
You can also walk the Camino Del Alba, starting in Xabia and join the Lana at Almansa.
The Alba is very pleasant, especially in spring with the smell of the orange blossom. https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/on-the-camino-del-alba.54426/
Hey Alan, someone on one of my Camino groups accidentally stumbled onto a Camino marker for the Camino Mendocino
https://www.rayyrosa.com/camino-mendocino/informacion which has a connection with the Lana in Riofrío del Llano. Are you planning to go anywhere near this? It has me intrigued.
The Lana goes through Riofrío del Llano a bit after Sigüenza. Very tasty water. One of the few villages in that part of the Lana without a romanesque church. Not sure if my wikiloc is much use to you unless you want to detour to Carabias, but this was my day from Sigüenza to Atienza https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/siguenza-to-atienza-via-carabias-29924640
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
Relleu to Torremanzanas:

4 or 5 stars. Sunrise from my balcony was spectacular, with the view down to a little castle that was used as a lookout for when corsairs were raiding the coast, and the more modern equivalent, a radar station, higher up.

The bar near my casa rural was open from 6.30 - it may be the only bar open in winter. It also seemed to be the only one in the village not offering "English breakfast", so I assume in summer the place must be full of tourists.

Just out of the village takes you down into the gorge of the Amadoiro. Almost dry at the moment, but according to the barman last night, after spring and autumn storms it can be a raging torrent.

Then there is a continuous, mostly relatively gentle, climb for the next 11km, with fabulous views at every turn, as Puig Cardena recedes into the distance, the hazy flat of the coast to the south, and with the neat terraces reaching up to the sky on every side. After 8km some pillock has painted over the arrows, but once you see the shade of paint used, it's relatively easy to spot where they were, or just follow a wikiloc. The isolation is total, and it was easy to believe that some of the remoter valleys up here apparently stayed muslim for a generation or two after the fall of Granada, rather like the Alpujarras.

Once over the top, the descent towards Torremanzanas, mostly through fruit trees and olive groves, is less spectacular until the first sight of the 12th century almohad Torre Alta dominating the village. Lunch was still being served at gone 4pm when I arrived (I do like southern habits - one Galician restaurant I went to recently had shut its kitchen by about 2.30) and was another treat, with pomegranite seeds and almost raw fresh tuna in the salad, and olive oil from the local co-op. The albergue (donativo) is above the medical centre, 3 bedrooms, a nice sitting room and well equipped kitchen. According to the register, I was the 4th person to stay in it this year, a record for me. Luckily the friendly hospitalera lives opposite and I don't think is often away. The register quotes the hospital archives of Villajoyosa which report, for example, that a Neapolitan pilgrim on his way to Santiago had a fever and was given a chicken and some money in 1740, so this has been a genuine Jacobeo pilgrim route for centuries.
 

Kevin F. O*brien

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2002-2019 Via Podiensis, Camino Frances, Via de la plata, Camino del Norte, Camino Primitivo, etc.
Incredible Alan. First the Lana, then the Olvidado and now on the road from Villajoyosa. Plus all the insights into Spanish history. Thanks. Fascinating reading.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I am starting to poke around to explore different Lana starting points and found a bit on gronze.

And Alan, did you write up any more of your camino on this variant?

Any ideas about the difference between starting in Benidorm vs. Villajoyosa? I see they merge before the first night in Relleu.
 

Isca-camigo

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Various ones.
Hope you don't mind if chip in here but I looked at the various options before starting in Alicante last year, the Benidorm route is harder I think, not just because it's longer but also it has a harder higher elevation gain on the 1st section before it merges with the Villajoisa route. There is another tantalising option out there of Alcoi/Alcoy, it is a start point which has a variant which goes on a mountain route but the descent on the pictures looked perilous, it may be possible to deviate to Alcoi if you start in Benidorm and Villajoisa.
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Del Estrecho, Ruta Fray Leopoldo,
Vía Serrana, Camino Francés
I am starting to poke around to explore different Lana starting points
And Alan's comments on the Via Serrana can inspire you to consider that gem for another year!

But back to the Lana, this morning a friend sent me this link to an article about the beautiful Júcar Gorge in Spain. I wondered if it might be near where you are going, so looked it up on Wikiloc. Turns out the Lana goes right though Alcalá de Júcar. There are some other Wikiloc tracks that explore the gorge if you want to take an extra day there.
 

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alansykes

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Except the Francés
Alan, did you write up any more of your camino on this variant?
I forgot to write up the last two days, briefly:

Torremanzanas to Onil: the village bars were open before dawn, and you then head steadily up (nearly 500m up in 5km) to a beautiful high ridge at over 1000m up. The camino follows the camí del peix here, a route that was used to take fish inland since Roman times. It regularly snows here and there were several "pou de nei" (pozo de nieve) stone structures designed to hold snow for several months, and used to make an early form of ice cream. From the Puerto de la Carrasqueta you have fabulous views over the Sierra, out to sea and down to Xixona/Jijona (in the pic) of turron fame (with the turron and the ice cream, Xixona seems justified in calling itself "el lugar mas dulce del mundo").

From the pass you go down to the town of Ibi, where I met a friendly couple who had compostelas from Tui and Sarria and were astonished to learn that they lived on a camino de Santiago. They walked me to El Cordobés, a restaurant run by a friend of theirs and insisted that he feed me. It was a holiday so every place in town was packed with people, and I doubt I'd have got a meal without their help. Very good mdd for 10 or 11€. The final 10km to Onil are flat and fairly dull on a vía verde. At Onil acogida is provided in his slightly Warholian workshop by José Mocho. You share the space with a vintage car and some avant garde art. José made salad and grilled some meat over his fire an we had a convivial evening with some harsh local vi nou from a friend's vines.

In the morning José dropped me off at a truck stop in Onil for coffee and tostada. The camino goes sharply back up to over 1000m at the Casa de la Virgen de las Nieves, and soon after you look down on the imposing almohad castle of Biar and on to Villena. Biar has some bustling bars and it is then flat on to Villena, which you enter going past some partly derelict buildings which have been taken over by squatters protesting against the desahucio policy.

At Villena you join the main Lana from Alicante, and the next albergue is at Cuadete. I took the train back to Alicante for my flight home.

I liked my ~93km on this variant of the Lana. Good food, friendly people, stunning mountain scenery and views and surprisingly decent pilgrim accommodation.

_20181206_210143.JPG
 
Last edited:

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I forgot to write up the last two days, briefly:

Torremanzanas to Onil: the village bars were open before dawn, and you then head steadily up (nearly 500m up in 5km) to a beautiful high ridge at over 1000m up. The camino follows the camí del peix here, a route that was used to take fish inland since Roman times. It regularly snows here and there were several "pou de nei" (pozo de nieve) stone structures designed to hold snow for several months, and used to make an early form of ice cream. From the Puerto de la Carrasqueta you have fabulous views over the Sierra, out to sea and down to Xixona/Jijona (in the pic) of turron fame (with the turron and the ice cream, Xixona seems justified in calling itself "el lugar mas dulce del mundo").

From the pass you go down to the town of Ibi, where I met a friendly couple who had compostelas from Tui and Sarria and were astonished to learn that they lived on a camino de Santiago. They walked me to El Cordobés, a restaurant run by a friend of theirs and insisted that he feed me. It was a holiday so every place in town was packed with people, and I doubt I'd have got a meal without their help. Very good mdd for 10 or 11€. The final 10km to Onil are flat and fairly dull on a vía verde. At Onil acogida is provided in his slightly Warholian workshop by José Mocho. You share the space with a vintage car and some avant garde art. José made salad and grilled some meat over his fire an we had a convivial evening with some harsh local vi nou from a friend's vines.

In the morning José dropped me off at a truck stop in Onil for coffee and tostada. The camino goes sharply back up to over 1000m at the Casa de la Virgen de las Nieves, and soon after you look down on the imposing almohad castle of Biar and on to Villena. Biar has some bustling bars and it is then flat on to Villena, which you enter going past some partly derelict buildings which have been taken over by squatters protesting against the desahucio policy.

At Villena you join the main Lana from Alicante, and the next albergue is at Cuadete. I took the train back to Alicante for my flight home.

I liked my ~93km on this variant of the Lana. Good food, friendly people, stunning mountain scenery and views and surprisingly decent pilgrim accommodation.

View attachment 63547
So many thanks. One more (for now) question — how did you choose Villajoyosa over Benidorm? I have never been to Benidorm but it is the poster child for terrible beach development, so maybe that’s your reason. Looks like the route from Villajoyosa has a little more elevation gain, so that might also be your reason!
 

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