Tag Archives: Valencia

Sierra de Espadán Natural Park

  • Region: Valencian Community
  • Province: Castellón
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1998
  • Park surface area: 31,180 hectares
  • Towns and villages: Aín, Alcudia de Veo, Algimia de Almonacid, Alfondeguilla, Almedijar, Artana, Ayódar, Azuébar, Chóvar, Eslida, Fuentes de Ayódar, Higueras, Matet, Pavías, Tales, Torralba del Pinar, Sueras, Vall de Almonacid, Villamalur

Points of interest

The Sierra de Espadán Natural Park mountain range is located between the regions of Alto Palancia , Alto Mijares and Plana Baja and is home to one of the very few sandstone outcrops in this part of Spain. With an abrupt and broken relief made up of peaks and ridges accompanied by deep ravines and valleys this is the second largest protected area in the Valencian Community.

The area has also become famous as a starlight destination. The Starlight Foundation is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2009 to promote the protection of the night sky and the development of “astrotourism” and there is an ever growing list of starlight destinations in Spain to visit.

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Sierra de Irta Natural Park

  • Region: Valencian Community
  • Province: Castellón
  • Declared a Natural Park: 2002 (Also declared a Marine Reserve of fishing interest.)
  • Park surface area: 7743 hectares
  • Towns and villages: Alcalá de Chivert, Peñíscola, Santa Magdalena de Pulpis

Points of interest

The Sierra de Irta Natural Park (in Valencian Parc Natural de la Serra d’Irta) is located in the Baix Maestrat region at the northern end of the province of Castellón. It was declared a Natural Park and Marine Natural Reserve in order to also conserve the maritime strip bordering the coast of the Sierra de Irta and is a fine example of the Valencian coastal marine environment.

This protected area constitutes one of the most beautiful landscapes on the Valencian coast and represents one of the last mountain ranges that remain undeveloped on the Mediterranean coast and along with the Campanilles peak at 572 metres, the cliff of Torre Badum and 12 km of coastline there are numerous cliffs and coves in an area that, historically, was scarcely populated.

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Flora

“Maquis” scrubland occupies most of the surface area with the most frequent species being Pistacia (Pistacia lentiscus), juniper (Juniperus oxycedrus), white and broom heather (Erica arborea and E. scoparia), Cistus such as (Cistus monspeliensis, C. salviifolius, C. albidus), and gorse (Calicotome spinosa).

The geranium of Irta , an endemism of the mountains, is also apparently noteworthy (but I have failed to find a scientific name for this plant nor ever seen one! 🙂

Fauna

Marine bird life includes yellow-footed gull (Larus cachinnans), Sandwich tern (Sterna sandvicensis) and Audouin’s gull (Larus audouinii). Bonelli’s eagle, peregrine falcon, Eleonor’s falcon and the Eurasian eagle owl have breeding populations present along with ravens, Eurasian scops owl, tawny owl and the little owl.

The Mediterranean tortoise (Testudo hermanni). is present in the area following a reintroduction project that started in 2005 and over 1000 individuals have been released to date.

Other places to visit

The Sierra de Irta Natural Park is rich in heritage and it is worth highlighting the castles of Alcalá de Chivert and Santa Magdalena de Pulpis which belonged to the Order of the Temple Knights. (Also there is the remains of an Iberian settlement from the 7th century BC next to the castle of Alcalá de Chivert).

There is a network of watchtowers that were designed to protect the area from maritime incursions, the most important of which are the Ebrí tower and the Badum tower.

Information/Visitors Centers

Centro de Interpretación del Parque Natural de la Serra d’Irta y Reserva Natural Marina d’Irta

The Interpretation Center of the Serra d’Irta Natural Park and Marina d’Irta Natural Reserve is located at kilometer 1.5 of the CV-141 (entrance road to the town of Peñíscola from the N-340).

There are two rooms filled with information about the natural, cultural and landscape values ​​of the protected area.

There is also an audiovisual film about the Natural Park and its main places of interest.

The official website for the Parque Natural de la Serra d’Irta y Reserva Natural Marina d’Irta is here: https://parquesnaturales.gva.es/es/web/pn-serra-d-irta/centro-de-visitantes


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Carrascar de la Font Roja Natural Park

  • Region: Valencian Community
  • Province: Alicante
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1987
  • Park surface area: 2298 hectares
  • Towns and villages: Alcoy, Ibi

Points of interest

Located in the region of La Hoya de Alcoy in the north of the province of Alicante and between the municipalities of Alcoy and Ibi, the Carrascar de la Font Roja Natural Park is made up by the mountainous terrain of of El Alto de San Antonio (L’Alt de Sant Antoni), El Carrascar de la Font Roja and La Teixereta. The summit of the Sierra del Menejador at 1,356 m is the highest point in the protected area.

Due to the harsh and rugged terrain here, intensive agricultural practices have always been limited but during the 18th century, the snow trade played an important role in the mountain regions, which led to the birth of the ice cream industry in Jijona and other nearby municipalities and there are six snow wells present in the natural park that can be visited.

In the area of ​​the Sanctuary of the Font Roja is the hermitage dedicated to the Virgen de los Lirios and an old hotel that is now into the visitor center and park offices.

Other nearby places of interest and worth a visit are:
  • Cave paintings of “La Sarga“.
  • Iberian villages of “Puig” and “La Serreta“.
  • The snow pits.
  • Charcoal kilns and lime kilns.
  • Hermitage of “Sant Antoni“.
  • Hermitage of “Sant Pascual“.
  • Municipal Natural Area of ​​”Racó de Sant Bonaventura-Canalons“.
  • The mountain area of “La Serreta“.
  • Beauty spot “Barranc del Sinc“.
  • Beauty “Sant Cristòfol“.

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Flora

In the Carrascar de la Font Roja Natural Park there are some exclusive endemisms such as the Mariola salvia (Salvia blancoana ssp mariolensis) and others with a very limited distribution area including Candytuft (Iberis carnosa ssp hegelmaieri), Valencian pea (Lathyrus tremolsianus), saxifraga (Saxifraga corsica ssp cossoniana) and “Pebrella” (Thymus piperella) a variety of wild thyme which grows in the mountains of the north of Alicante and south of Valencia. (The flavour is similar to a combination of thyme, oregano and savoury and it is used mainly with meat dishes.)

Aleppo pines (Pinus halepensis) are the dominant tree species along with shrubs of Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), Gorse (Genista scorpius), Rockroses (Cistus sp) and heathers. Other tree types are Holm oak (Quercus ilex), Portuguese Oak (Q. faginea), Manna Ash (Fraxinus ornus), Maple (Acer opalus ssp granatense), Field Elm (Ulmus minor) and Laurustinus (Viburnum tinus) intermingled with Butcher’s broom (Ruscus aculeatus) and Honeysuckle.

Fauna

There are many species of raptors to look out for, the endangered Bonelli’s eagle, Golden, Booted and Short-toed eagles, Common buzzard, Peregrine falcon, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Goshawk. Nocturnal raptors include Eagle, Long-eared, Tawny, Scops, Barn and Little owls. Common birds of the locality are Chaffinch, Serin, Robin, Great-tit, Red-legged partridge and Green woodpecker.

Mammals are less likely to be observed as they are generally nocturnal, never the less within the park are Wild boar, Wild cat, Badger and Fox, smaller ones include Stone marten, Weasel, Genet and Rabbit.

Amphibians and reptiles within the area are Iberian water frog (Rana perezi), Iberian spiny toad (Bufo spinosus), Iberian wall lizard (Podarcis hispanica), Spanish Psammodromus (Psammodromus hispanicus), Spanish sand racer (Psammodromus algirus), Ocellated lizard (Timon lepida), Viperine snake (Natrix maura), Ladder snake (Elaphe scalaris), Montpellier snake (Malpolon monspessulanus), Horseshoe whip snake (Hemorrhois hippocrepis) and Lataste’s viper (Vipera latastei).

The two most popular walking routes in the Carrascar de la Font Roja Natural Park
  • Menejador peak : This route is about 6.5 km long and takes about 2.5 hours Rest and view points are Cova Gelada, Pla de la Mina, Pla dels Galers, Mirador de Pilatos, Mas de Tetuán, Cava Coloma and of course the peak of el Menejador.
  • Barranc de l’Infern: This route is about 5 km long and usually takes about 2 hours. It crosses the northern side of the mountain between 950 and 1.190 meters. Rest and view points are Cova Gelada, Pla de la Mina, Pla dels Galers and Barranc de l’Infern.

Information/Visitors Centers

Centro de Visitantes Carrascar de la Font Roja Natural Park

The visitor center and management offices of the Carrascal de la Font Roja Natural Park are located next to the Sanctuary and Font Roja itself, about 8.5 km from Alcoy following the CV-797.

Entrance is free and there is a variety of material available on the environmental and cultural values ​​of the protected area: thematic panels, a small botanical garden, audiovisuals, photographic exhibitions, models, biological samples, fossils, etc.

The official website for the Carrascar de la Font Roja Natural Park is: https://parquesnaturales.gva.es/es/web/pn-font-roja/centro-visitantes


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Prado de Cabanes -Torreblanca Natural Park

  • Region: Valencian Community
  • Province: Castellón
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1994
  • Park surface area: 865 hectares
  • Towns and villages: Cabanes, Torreblanca, Ribera de Cabanes, Torrenostra

Points of interest

The Prado de Cabanes -Torreblanca Natural Park (in Valencian, Parc Natural del Prat de Cabanes-Torreblanca) consists of an area of ​​wetlands separated from the sea by a natural dam of gravels and sandy marshes. the area is popular with birdwatchers for the various species of waterfowl present.

Considering the population nucleos very close to this protected area, the fauna numbers of Prado de Cabanes -Torreblanca Natural Park is very high with the presence of endemic species such as the decapod crustacean Palaemonetes zariquieyi, a typical species of coastal wetlands with un polluted waters.

Among fish, the Spanish toothcarp, fartet (Aphanius iberus) also known as the Spanish pupfish or Iberian killifish, is a small species of fish endemic to the south of Catalonia and the Valencian Community in the family Cyprinodontidae. Its risk of extinction is one of the greatest of any Iberian vertebrate.

The presence of the European pond terrapin (Emys orbicularis) stands out. A species in serious decline in the Valencian Community (and Spain in general) due to the degradation of water quality and the appearance of exotic invasive species such as the red-eared slider. For this reason the Prado de Cabanes -Torreblanca Natural Park participates in the LIFE TRACHEMYS Project. whos sole objective is to reclaim the historical territories of the European pond terrapin.

Bird fauna is well represented with the most important nesting colony of collared pratincole (Glareola pratincola) on the Spanish Mediterranean coast with international importance according to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. Moustached warbler (Acrocephalus melanopogon) has one of its best populations in the peninsula and nesting pairs of Montagu’s harrier (Circus pygargus) and marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus) are also present in good numbers.

Other species present are little grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis), little bittern (Ixobrychus minutus), mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), water rail (Rallus aquaticus), European redfish (common moorhen), coot (Fulica atra), black-winged stilt (Himantopus himantopus), Kentish plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) and various marsh passerines, such as Eurasian reed warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus) and great reed warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus).

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Close to this area you can also explore the natural parks of the Sierra de Irta and the Desierto de las Palmas.

Information/Visitors Centers

The general tourist information centres in Cabanes and Torreblanca have good information and recomendations for getting the most out of a visit to this area.

The interpretation centre for the park is located next to the Instituto de Acuicultura de Torre de la Sal in Ribera de Cabanes. There is also an information centre located in Torrenostra called Espai Natura (Avenida de Castellón 34)


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