Just some weeks ago I was enjoying a completely different Monday than today. Today will be just a normal day, with work, a rehearsal and some inevitable common tasks, but Easter Monday was a unique one. We went to Chulilla with our friends, a small village that some of your already could see here some weeks ago.
The village itself was not the goal to visit. We wanted to do the route of the hanging bridges which goes between the walls of the mountains, following the course of the river Turia. However, there were too many people. We could not enter that path as the access to it was closed because of the crowd. When you go super hyped for something, as was the case with me, and you can not achieve it, a bit of disappointment attacks your mood. I have wanted to do that route already for months, if not even more. A year, or so. But that is what we had. We were offered to wait an hour and a half at the entrance or go to the village and Charco Azul, which were free to visit. Going home was not an option. Two of us wanted to stay, two wanted to go to the village and the fifth member of our small gang was neutral.
We flipped a coin!!!
Yes, the coin decided what we were doing that day, as we used it later for several other decisions too. That was so funny, the mood immediately improved and we headed on foot towards the village. (note - because of the crowd, there was no parking plot so we had to find a free spot by the road, far away). When we approached the village Chulilla, the view amazed me. You can see the same in the first photo of this post. Awesome, isn't it?
Arriving at the village we have seen several boards with the hiking paths that can be opted for. There are also climbing zones, in fact, we saw a few people climbing the almost vertical walls of the huge rocks. From there, to our destination, Charco Azul we had to find Chulilla Barony Square and then take the path marked as SL-CV 74.
Already in the village, from the square, we followed the signs. There were some caves, that we didn't visit as we already spent more time than we planned. Well, that whole walking to the village was not planned, but once we saw the sign to Charco Azul, the hopes to be finally in nature started to feel closer.
The first part of that route was a bit steep. It consists of the descent to the bottom of the Turia Canyon, so logically we had to go down focused on where we step all the time. There were some forks, towards someone's house where we saw some interesting contemporary artworks scattered in the yard, but we continued towards the river.
Observing the canyon with its vertical walls was a great source of pleasure for me. It maybe sounds weird, why would those rocks mean anything, how they can bring happiness to someone. Those are just some rock formations... But just imagine, how much time was needed for their formation?! A lot of water from the river Turia passed there to make that landscape.
The canyon can be seen from that spot from where I saw the village still approaching it. Impressive view, in my opinion!! But don't listen to me, decide for yourself is it indeed that great or not:
Once we were down, we reached a small natural pool next to the place called Peña Judía. It was a spot where families had a nice time and picnic. Chilling time was voted for us too, and some food came out of our backpacks. That place, Peña Judía, was sheltered by a riverside forest.
There were those who entered the water. It was shallow, and no real swimming skills were required to take a bath, but after a short rest and food and water intake, we continued our hiking adventures.
So, we continued to walk towards Charco Azul. We had to pass some small wooden bridges crossing the river.
Sometimes we had to go through the rocks, but don't worry, we didn't need superpowers. We had the road secured and open:
The day was warming up, the sun worked that day for us and provided a beautiful day. Although, we didn't complain when we could enjoy a bit of shed. The vegetation consists of pine trees, shrubs, reeds, and other trees.
The path was not so long, soon, we arrived at the destination. Charco Azul. Who speaks Spanish knows that Charco means puddle, pool. Azul is blue. Although, the colour of it is indeed something between blue and green, well turquoise is the better description, but the name is not connected to the colour of it. It comes from the Arabic term "azud" - weir, which indicates the existence of a small dam in the zone that was used to irrigate the orchards of Chulilla.
So, in the 12th century, the Muslims who lived in this area built a dam on the Turia riverbed which allowed them to irrigate the orchards around the settlement. Agriculture was already developed here. Nowadays, we can still see many orchards with fertile land, thanks to the water from the river. The pool, which was used for irrigation back in time was nice, not too big, but again too many people have gathered around. We took a super short rest, observing some more adventured ones who found a path to go along the rock walls. I was ok just sitting on that wooden dock.
From here, we could go just back, as the canyon here is too narrow, it can not be passed from this point. However, not to go back on the same trail, we crossed the river (on an improvised path made from some rocks) and took an elevated path with bridges and walkways.
In the XX century, this small dam and the water from it were used as a source of electricity. A small hydroelectric power plant was built there (actually a small building that is now not used anymore for its initial purpose) and these paths were used to approach it. We also saw many holes in the rock walls, I suppose they were part of the hydroelectric power plant project, canaling the water, but I am not sure. Maybe those holes were already here for the irrigation system from the 12th century?
One of my favourite parts of this route was this bridge. On one side was the irrigation canal, on the other side down was the forest and up we were surrounded by the vertical rock walls. I was amazed again.
The trail continued, still up in the middle section. Narrow paths, that after some time started to descend slowly. I also loved this section, well you could ask yourself was there something that I didn't like?
Oh yes, it was. The fact we couldn't visit the longer hanging bridges route, but in the end, this one was super interesting too.
Once on the initial level of our route and walking again by the river, we headed back to the village but with a different transit. We didn't climb the path from where we came down but instead did a long walk through nature and this landscape. Finally, we reached the village from its other side, still enjoying the presence of the small bridges and pools.
After arriving at the civilisation, we also climbed to the fortress, but don't worry, the story of it will not come now. We hiked enough for this post, don't you agree?
Also, I can assure you, that evening when we went back to the home of our friends in Valencia (we stayed with them for some days doing these hiking adventures), the homemade veggie dinner tasted perfect and we all slept more than well.