Duration: 2 hours return hike (including stops to admire the views!) Steep climb up from sea level. Good boots/trainers with grip are a must. Flip flops are a seriously bad idea. No shade, take water. Medium difficulty. Map at the end of this post.
This is definitely more a scramble than a walk. The Torre del Barranc d’Aigües is a lonely watchtower perched 140m (450 feet) above a stony, sparsely visited beach about 18km south of Villajoyosa.
140 metres may not sound very high, but if the sun is hot, things do get a bit sweaty, especially if you climb all the way up to the peak of Alt de Reixes (201m) overlooking the tower.
You can see the Torre del Barranc d’Aigües clearly as you drive towards Villajoyosa on the N332 coast road from Alicante, just after the tunnel de El Campello. I must have driven past it hundreds of times, wondering what the views were like from up there. Having now done the climb, the answer is – spectacular!
Start from the pebble beach at Playa Barranc d’Aigües, and you can’t miss the tower ahead of you. There’s a rough path behind the beach that takes you through low pine bushes and clumps of esparto grass to the foot of the climb.
After that, it’s really a question of finding your own way up – there are plenty of alternatives. Just be careful not to slip on the loose shale, and it’s best not to climb on the seaward side as it’s steeper and a long way down if you stumble.
Once you reach the tower, the views are stunning, down the coast towards Alicante and the mountains of Murcia beyond, and up towards Benidorm and the Peñon d’Ifach, a Rock of Gibraltar look-alike at Calpe, 40km up the coast.
The tram that goes down the coast from Benidorm to Alicante looks like a little toy train from up here as it crosses the Barranc d’Aigües gorge on a narrow girder bridge.
The tower itself is partly ruined and you can’t go up it. You probably wouldn’t want to anyway – the top is crumbling and there’s a huge crack running up the landward side. It’s in need of some TLC, especially since the local graffiti artists last paid a visit. What a pain in the arse these people are.
The tower was built in the 16th century, part of a network commissioned by King Philip II to warn of the approach of Arab corsairs raiding from North Africa, a serious menace to coastal settlements at that time. They had a nasty habit of carrying off anyone they could capture and selling them in the slave markets of Algiers, plus a fair bit of looting on the side.
Soldiers stationed on the tower would light a fire on the roof to raise the alarm and call out the militias. The smoke would have been visible from other towers in the network; look up the coast to see the next one, Torre del Xarco, six kilometres away as the crow flies. That in turn would have been visible from the castle at Villajoyosa (now long gone) and the next tower in the chain, Torre d’Aguiló, overlooking Cala de Finestrat.
Five kilometres to the south, there’s the nicely-restored Torre de La Illeta at El Campello, where you can climb a modern staircase and visit the interior.
It’s worth going even higher, to the summit of Alt de Reixes. There’s a triangulation survey point (punto geodésico) right at the top and the views are even more impressive from up here.
You can see up into the mountains to the village of Aigües and beyond. Below and to your right, just off the main coast road, is the urbanización of El Poblet.
It’s possible to walk up here from El Poblet – I’ve not done it myself, though these people have. Scroll down to the bottom of their post for a map. It looks a gentler route than my scramble up from the beach, but I’d say not so much fun.
How to get to Playa del Barranc d’Aigües:
Driving is easiest, though you can take the tram and walk from Cala Piteres stop to the beach (add 15-20 mins to your walk time).
Driving: from Villajoyosa on the N332 coast road, go through the tunel de El Campello and take the next left turn signposted La Coveta Fumá. Drive down the hill, under the tram bridge to the sea. Turn left along the coast road (Avinguda d’America) until you see signs for Platja del Barranc d’Aigües.
If you’ve enjoyed this walk, try these:
- Villajoyosa to Playa de Torres
- Playa de Torres to (almost) Benidorm
- The Faro (lighthouse) de L’Albir
- La Ermita and the Amadorio dam
- The five-beach walk to El Xarco
- Exploring the old town of Villajoyosa
- La Vila harbour to Malladeta
© Guy Pelham 2019