Alicante in February Rosie Gilligan, writer | Posted: 17 March 2015
The beautiful almond blossom is reason enough to book a walking holiday in Alicante in February
Book your walking holiday in Alicante for February and you'll see almond blossom like this
Enjoy views such as this one over the Gallinera Valley on a walking holiday in Alicante

While in the UK February is associated with cold weather and general drabness, in eastern Spain the appearance of delicate almond blosson heralds the arrival of spring.

Our first sight of the almond blossom is of a dusky pink haze – early buds and flowers blending seamlessly into the grey-green of the surrounding olive trees. As the week progresses and the weather warms, the blossoms emerge in shades of pastel and candy pink. Close up they give off a delicate perfume.

Almond trees are cultivated everywhere in the Alicante region and are one of the first signs that spring is on the way. They flourish on terraces originally built by the Moors on the slopes of the Marina Alta mountains and below in the gorges carved through the landscape by rivers. Only the terraces are flat: the roads, excellent in quality with not a pothole in sight, are virtually traffic-free. They twist, turn, rise and fall, passing villages perched on hillsides, forests of pine trees, and quiet orchards and olive groves.

But when you look carefully there is activity. Small birds flit restlessly through the woods, and we see a red squirrel do a balancing act along an electricity cable. On the terraces farmers are at work, pruning cherry trees into their distinctive flat-topped shape, and lighting bonfires to burn the cuttings.

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Occasionally we see intriguing brown blocks resembling giant dominoes, piled up along the verges – dried manure that will be spread around the base of the olive trees. In the groves we walk through, the gnarled and twisted trunks suggest many of the trees are hundreds of years old. We had often wondered how much care they need from those who look after them. It’s only by being here in February that we’re able to see one of the secrets of their continued productivity.

If the roads are quiet the tracks and footpaths are even quieter. We walk through a village, Vall d’Alcala, head for the Alcala Valley, and pass a ruined village occupied by the Moors until 1609. Many of its walls still stand. The Moors farmed the land and built houses, grain stores and towers out of stone, all of which we see on this walk. Most impressive, though, are the terraces they constructed. From a distance they resemble striations in the limestone that run horizontally and impossibly high along the hillsides. The Moors would have cultivated wheat on them, but they have long been abandoned as uneconomic.  Today they support native plants such as gorse – now in full flower – euphorbia, hellebores, orchids, lavender, rosemary and thyme, and numerous spring flowers that have yet to emerge from their winter hibernation.

At the top is a ridge and a rock arch, one of many in this region eroded by time and weather. We climb up to it, sit in the February sun and look along the ridge to the towers that formed the Moorish defences. Far below we gain our first sight of the Gallinera Valley, endless terraces of almond, olive, cherry and orange trees. Spring has arrived there, but here in the Alcala, we still have a while to go.

Rosie Gilligan is a regular contributor to Reflections Magazine. Photos © Rosie Gilligan


Comments
Ann Hutcheson
A great read, fantastically written. Also personally; interesting and enlightening re the fact there is cherry blossoming in the Gallinera Valley in Spain & the timing of it too. Thanks.
18/03/2015 08:52:46

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