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Climbing Puig Campana, Finestrat (Benidorm), Spain
Puig Campana is an impressive lump of rock that stands majestically behind the towering skyscrapers of Benidorm in Alicante Province, Spain. It is the second largest mountain in the Costa Blanca region standing at 1,406 metres (4,613 ft), and with its distinctive notch, it’s easily recognisable to anyone familiar with Benidorm.
Note: to get an idea of the size of Puig Campana – Ben Nevis (the highest mountain in the UK) stands at 1,345 metres (4,411 ft); Puig Campana is slightly higher at 1,406 metres (4,613 ft).
There are two unique, natural features around Benidorm – one is Puig Campana (with its distinctive notch in the western peak), the other is Benidorm island – a wedge-shaped rock that sits about 2 miles out at sea and seems to be always directly in front of you wherever you are in Benidorm. There are a few different legends that tie the two landmarks together – one of which is a story featuring ‘Roldan’ (a giant) who cut the notch in the mountain and threw it into the sea – Benidorm Island – after he had been told by a wanderer that his wife would die when the sun set behind Puig Campana – by cutting the notch in the mountain Roldan, completely distraught, could have a few moments longer with his wife before she died.
The truth is that the two landmarks are totally unrelated. In geological terms, Puig Campana was formed in the Jurassic period and Benidorm Island in the Cretaceous. Nonetheless, the legends surrounding Puig Campana and Benidorm Island only add to the allure of the impressive mountain for those who fancy climbing it.
I climbed the mountain in May 2017. I’d been in Salou and Barcelona earlier on in the year at an international football tournament that my son’s team were playing in, and I had got talking to one of the coaches about Benidorm. All I’d ever heard about Benidorm was that it was the ‘Blackpool’ of Spain. ‘Not true,’ said the coach – Benidorm was a lovely place with a bit of everything for everyone. When I got back to Scotland I did a bit of detective work on ‘Google’ and ‘Youtube’ and that’s when I noticed Puig Campana looming large in the background. Always one for a bit of hiking, three weeks later I was on a £60 return ‘Easyjet’ flight from Glasgow to Alicante Airport to meet my cousin Stephen who was flying in from Bournemouth. Skyscanner for cheap flights
After a 9€ bus ride to Benidorm and a good nights kip in the Casa Don Juan – a small, clean €50 per night hotel in Benidorm’s old town, we were all set on the Friday morning to climb the mountain.
There are a few different routes up the mountain – the route that we chose starts just outside Finestrat village and goes around the back of Puig Campana and then up the north face to the summit. Finestrat can be reached from Levante Beach in a taxi in about 10 minutes and costs less than €20. Trail maps are available from Finestrat Tourist Office but it was closed on the day of our climb. The trail, however, is marked with painted yellow and white lines on rocks (sometimes trees). In May 2017 the markers looked quite fresh (as if they had been painted recently), although some higher up were faded.
The ascent was reasonably tough – easy enough on the rising circular approach around the mountain to the north face, but harder as the route got steeper. At one point we lost the path – just after the survival hut – and found ourselves on a very steep slope of scree, which we climbed until we hit the trail again. Temperatures were cool in the shade and hot in the sun. Further up we lost the trail again and had to backtrack after it became dangerously obvious that we had indeed drifted off the track.
Puig Campana has two peaks – the east peak, which is the higher of the two peaks, and then the more rugged west peak with the notch. The trail up the north face leads you up onto a plateau between the two peaks with magnificent views over Benidorm and the cool, blue Mediterranean sea before branching left and leading you up a rocky track through bushes towards the eastern peak summit. The ascent was roughly 4.5 hours with the descent around 3 hours.
Puig Campana is a moderate/difficult hike and a reasonable level of fitness and head for heights is required for the ascent.
A few tips for the climb are as follows:
- Take plenty of water with you – 3 to 4 litres
- Allow 8 hours for total hike – ascent, and descent if climbing the mountain from the north face.
- Use a high factor sunscreen – temperatures reached 25°C in May
- Take a light-weight, long-sleeved t-shirt and lightweight trousers to protect you from the sun – and the cold in the event you get stuck on the mountain overnight.
- Leave a note of your route with your hotel receptionist and tell them when they should expect you back in case of emergency.
- Make sure your mobile phone is fully charged before setting off – consider buying a power pack to re-charge the phone if necessary.
- Make sure you wear more than a pair of Adidas Samba for the climb
- Make sure to chillout on the beach the next day to rest your weary muscles – you’re in Benidorm after all!
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Puig Campana Gallery
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‘In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.’
Copyright © 2017 Raymond Carroll