We had decided to write about a winter sport for our next post, a difficult task to carry out in Requena. I had thought of going to Sierra de Javalambre, located in Teruel (Aragón), where there is a ski resort. This would have been a new experience, as I’ve never been skiing. Diana and I had also wanted to go sledding, it sounded really fun! But bad weather predictions for the chosen weekend in Javalambre, and a chronic injury in my ankle, made us change our minds.
So, I didn’t have a lot of possibilities, as winter in my area is really mild. While temperatures at night sometimes get below freezing, during the day we have nice sunny days and the temperatures can reach almost 20 ºC (about 68 ºF). January and February are usually the chilliest months here, which I well know, as I work outdoors. However this year is different.
After a short but restful nap on the first of February, I went for my winter activity. Since I can’t go for a run, because of the injury I mentioned, my favourite activity now is going for a stroll.
I grabbed my camera, my gloves and my hat, but only ended up using the camera. According to my phone, at 5 p.m. it was 15 ºC (59 ºF) with just a soft breeze. I left my house and headed south until I arrived Puente de las Ollerías, one of the most historical bridges of Requena and an old border outpost between Valencia and Castilla.This neighbourhood is named Las Ollerías for the plethora of pottery factories that used to be here. Below the bridge is just a tiny stream.
I love to walk next to a river, so I walked towards a small, well-known chapel called San Blas. From here, you can walk a path that follows the course of the Magro River. It isn’t a very mighty river (rather the opposite!), but it is a tributary of the much larger Jucar River, which flows through Cuenca to the Mediterranean Sea. The Magro River’s water quality has improved quite a bit in recent years–it used to be a very polluted river.
The weather was really nice, and my intention was to follow the river to reach El Atrafal, another symbolic place in the countryside, but the sun started to go down and my time was limited. I realized I couldn’t get to El Atrafal just as I arrived La Cueva del León. This little cave, literally translated as Cave of the Lion, gets its name because, seen from a few hundred meters, one can make out the shape of a lion’s head in the rock formations. The passage of the years has given the mountain its curious shape.
When I was a kid, I climbed to the cave several times, but not last Tuesday. I stopped for a while to watch the little waterfall just below the cave. That was the last stop of my outing. I turned around there, and retraced my steps to go home. For most of my walk, I was surrounded by views of vineyards, the typical image of Requena all year round. My picture of winter, on the other hand, was not typical at all: sunny and warm even for this mild climate.