Carcaixent and Hort de Soriano
After our time in Simat, we drove only a short distance across the valley to the nearby town of Carcaixent. We parked at an aire at the train station and walked around the town centre. We found little of interest in the town, other than the large superstores on the outskirts. We walked a loop of the large shopping centre, completed a shop in the Eroski supermarket and picked up a few items of warm clothing in the Decathlon store opposite. Due to concerns over train noise, we decided not to stay in the central aire. We filled up locally with diesel earning us a free Benny wash, then continued out to an alternative free aire located in a municipal park area, at Hort de Soriano.
We waited at the gate to be let in by the site groundsman, then got shown a very specific plot to park in, even though the park was empty. We were the only motorhome staying in the entire park area and we had all the space and facilities to ourselves for the full duration of our two day stay.
After arrival we decided over a warming cup of tea to give our bikes their first outing in December, long overdue, and go see the local countryside. We cycled through continuous acres of orange trees, set in neat rows behind low stone walls. After passing through the many orange plantations on narrow concrete or cobbled roads with no traffic, we arrived back in the town of Carcaixent.
Here our cycle route took a sharp turn upwards, as we climbed up hairpins into a natural park area, with fantastic views over the town below. The tarmacked road disappeared as we slogged up stodgy, muddy tracks recently churned by tractors, then onto bumpy rocks running alongside forests. We finally made the top at some seemingly abandoned farm buildings and paused to take in the view, before the good part; we had 7 or 8km of rocky gravel descent to the valley, which we bounced and hopped our way down with great abandon and much smiling; a great way to end.
The next morning, after a slow and lazy breakfast, we started out to complete a circular walk we found on a sign board in the aire – a 12km ‘red route’ loop taking in the local hills and a mirador looking out over the valleys beyond. The path rose sharply up a narrow ravine from the campsite to the first hilltop, all in chilly shade as the sun was yet to reach in. We were breathing hard, so paused a while to rest, before continuing on a flatter, easier path around the contours of the hills. There was no one else in sight, as was now typical for our walks, and we revelled in the solitude and peacefulness. After around 7km the walk branched left to an optional mirador, so we followed this.
From the mirador we could see back to Simat de la Valldigna and the ruins of the Castell d’Alfandec that we had climbed to just a few days earlier from our previous base. The peaks of the mountains we climbed, including Cim del Penyalba, were also dominant on the horizon and we marvelled at how much of this region we had covered in a few short but active days. We ate our packed lunch staring back at the lush green valley of orange orchards below.
The final descent on our return afforded an overview and insight into the scale of modern fruit cultivation. We’d been passing fields full of orange trees for a week or so now, but seeing the extent of just this small portion of it, from an elevated position, really brought home the incredible scale of the operation. We could see thousands of acres of trees, neatly separated with gravelled service roads and irrigation channels, all fed from privately built raised reservoirs that from a distance look like huge swimming pools. Central fincas were located in the midst of the trees, the only clearings visible, like farmhouses of old but looking more like slick operation centres rather than comfortable homesteads. Like most things that economies of scale is applicable to, the orange-growing industry in this area has certainly embraced the ‘go big or go home’ mentality. The loss of hundreds of oranges to early falls and on-branch rotting seems to be of very little consequence when considered against the many millions that must be picked each season.
We spent the rest of the night in perfect solitude in and around Benny. We enjoyed a lovely sunset over the orange orchards, relaxing and planning our next moves on the ever complex and challenging chessboard of life.