Anything But Paella

Novelda and the Stone Church

On a sunny spring Sunday we headed to Novelda (Alicante) for a walk in the countryside. It turned out to be a wonderful day helped by the weather and the fact that it wasn’t a particularly difficult route – most of the time!

Your route for the day!

On the Plaza Santa Maria Magdalena there is a lovely fountain. Nearby, an information board sets out the route of the CV311 footpath which makes up most of this walk. The first step is walking North along the road out of town which passes the Carmencita factory. Novelda is known for its saffron production but this company produce a wide range of spices commonly found in Spanish supermarkets. They even sell sachets of paella spices!

The fountain in the square

As you leave town you soon come across the marble factories which dominate the banks of the Vinopoló river. Keep an eye out for the C3V11 signpost which takes you to the river itself. Alongside one of the marble yards the path crosses the river and continues to track the edge. The waters ran an inky black and seemed to contain some kind of seaweed judging by both the colour and the smell!

The River Vinolopó

The Santuario de Santa Maria Magdalena can easily be seen on the hill ahead. The riverside path takes you right past it so look out for the track leading back towards that hill after passing the aqueduct a few kilometres out of town. As you climb the hill you have two options. The road is by far the easier but the track has more rewarding views over the surrounding countryside.

Your first view of the church.

As you approach the church it becomes clear why it is sometimes called the small Sagrada Familia. The intricate stonework outside is certainly similar to some parts of Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece in Barcelona. Indeed, the design of this church was inspired by its more famous counterpart. Inside it is quite plain by comparison but a cool sanctuary from the fierce sun outside. Free to enter, you can visit every day from 10am until the early evening but it does close for a couple of hours at 2pm.

Santuario de Santa Maria Magdalena

Nearby is the Castillo de la Mola, a ruined castle which has been somewhat over-restored. Again it is free to enter with similar opening hours. Truth be told, there’s not a lot to see in there but you do have the opportunity to climb up to the top of the tower where magnificent views of the surrounding countryside await.

Castillo de la Mola

If an hour or so each way is enough of a walk for you then just head back to town the way you came. We felt more energetic though and set out to walk around the hill known as La Mola. The green and white signposts took us along dusty tracks and were easy to follow until we were at the far side. We sat on rocks with our packed lunches and felt that life really was good. Then perhaps we took a wrong turn or maybe a sign was missing and we found ourselves clearly heading in the wrong direction. We ended up cutting across olive fields to get back on the right track! Despite that frustration it was a very fulfilling walk on an amazing day in early March. The sun shone all day and we were thankful that the public toilets at the church had drinking water available in the taps. It didn’t taste great but beggars can’t be choosers!

Footpath round La Mola.

Still not energetic enough for you? There is another track, the continuation of the CV311, which takes you all the way up to the summit of La Mola. That was too much for us though, so if you do go up there, please send a picture so we can see what we missed!!

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