February 27th 2004
Grade – Easy
Once again the weather dictated our day. Heavy overnight rain meant that the rocky slopes of the Sierra Bernia would be very slippery and the path to the high ground would be muddy. Vanessa decided on a low level walk along the Pinos Valley.
The day started off bright but cloud increased during the day and it started to rain about 3.00pm, soon turning into a hailstorm.
We parked close to the Sierra Bernia restaurant and followed a trail into the valley. Soon we came to an abandoned finca which has an attractive old well close to the main building.
We had to take care as we passed several pine trees because there were nests of the processional caterpillar. Thanet Opea Pitycampa. These caterpillars spin their nests in the pine trees and in the spring they form a procession to find a suitable place to pupate. All parts of the caterpillar are poisonous and if the hairs get on your skin they can cause a nasty rash.
We entered an area where there was some old terracing stretching across the hillside. At one time nearly all of the area had been cultivated. A fire swept through the area in 2003 and a lot of the trees and shrubs were charred. However plants with bulbs or corms were now thriving and the hills were covered with Asphodels and Verascums. We also saw grape hyacinth and patches of wild rush leaved daffodils Narcissus requienti. These were very colourful set against a backdrop of the Sierra Bernia and blue sky. We had lunch close to an abandoned finca and then walked through an area where I spotted several species of orchid. I managed to get photographs of the Bee Orchid and the Pyramid Orchid.
Later on, I came across a rock with a red cross painted on it. Perhaps it marked the remains of a lost walker but John assured me it was only a surveyor’s mark. As the weather deteriorated we climbed out of the valley to make our way back to our transport.