When I sat down to write about these sceneries, I kept thinking about the one stressed syllable of the name ‘Garganta’ -Spanish version of Gorge-, stressed on the second vowel “a” out of three of them. It eventually led me to wonder how sound and space could be related. Though first, to see the petrified sound of Maestrazgo you must use a different set of eyes in the act of understanding what is profoundly above us. In this effort, meanwhile, the limestone escarpments of deep ravines are watching you.
Let’s take a first look. The variety of viewpoints and approaches to writing about these Guadalope river landscapes might be at this time:
- Location of the three most iconic gorges.
- The process, runoff and water activity.
- Primary experience.
Gargantas of Guadalope River are a popular scenic hiking area at the northwestern end of the Maestrazgo border. Many trails give different levels of challenge for hikers, including some that take you to the tops of escarpment for scenic views of the areas. The most popular are Pitarque Springs, Estrechos de Aliaga and Valloré de Montoro.
Pitarque river runs through the Mediterranean shade forest before being trap by Guadalope river. The head of the ravine is a bowl shape mountain with several connected streams usually remain dry on surface and active during wet season. They all appear at Pitarque Springs place.
Guadalope river provides a wet ring around Aliaga village and highlights geological folds and its former Mesozoic embayment 220-65 million years ago. Estrechos de Aliaga run through these stratigraphic formations to connect finally with Valloré de Montoro.
Today, the walkboards of Valloré and its ascent to the top -Vallore Balcony- are likely the best scene to convey Gargantas del Maestrazgo experience in words. It is a more meditative space, a place to lose oneself amid limestone ridges and boulders and the Earth’s grandeur.
Gargantas are associated with rocks from horizontal strata which are not uniformly resistant and carved by the erosive activity of a river over geologic timescales. Conclusion becomes a deep ravine between pairs of escarpments or cliffs. Different appearances are associated with:
- Softer or harder layers giving vertical cliffs or gentle slopes.
- Runoff. Light rain or heavy rain develop different grade of steepness.
- Vegetation, such as grass and trees, also effects the amount of runoff. Runoff slows down when it flows around plants.
- Stages of Stream Development and mature. A stream that flows swiftly through a steep valley is a young stream. A young stream may have whitewater rapids and waterfalls. Has a high level of energy and erodes the stream bottom faster than the sides.
I was thinking about primary experience, probably the essential one and the meaning to see a place for the first time. Different modes of attention by overlooks and wide and close shots. From inside the ravines spotting water-powered flour mills, paper mills and hydroelectric mills to outside where the creative mind find itself lost in motion through the longer sound of “garganta” until the horizon.
The confluence of Guadalope, Pitarque and Cañada rivers become a confluence of time and space with histories of architecture, people, geology. The hidden communicable relationship between water and inhabitants.
On any given day, it is possible to be on the trails and to be entirely solitary, or to go in company. Yet, as much as the Maestrazgo experience is individualistic, reflecting the unique perspective of each visitor, it is also collective. Gargantas are a cultural landscape shaped and interpreted for centuries. It is a huge treasure and let’s hope it exists forever.
Gorges of Maestrazgo. 8-12/10. The Eye is Delighted suggestion to walk in autumn.
- Dates: from dinner day 8th to breakfast 12th.
- Accommodation: 4 nights *** El Bailador casa rural Full board.
- Hikes: Valloré Balcony and walkboards, Estrechos de Aliaga, Circular Organos de Montoro, and Pitarque Springs.
- Grade: level A / B easy /moderate. Shortcut always posible.
- Daywalk baggage: Daysac.
- Scene: mid mountain, Mediterranean forest, limestone massif, erosive action of water.
- Price: € 335/pp. sharing double room
- Connecting landscape and emotion: Among the towns of Villarluengo, Pitarque, Aliaga and Montoro de Mezquita, the water has carved deep wrinkles on the landscape. The character of this area of Maestrazgo shaped of conglomerates and limestone, has succumbed with a gesture of scars. Yet water is also the engine of human activities and back and forth, development and ruin. Finally water is forever, in the Mediterranean world, the beauty of the scarceness.
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