One of the ‘must do’ hiking routes of the Valencian province is The Hanging Bridges of Chulilla. This is a route along the Turia river, through the impressive canyon to Charco Azul, the Loriguilla Reservoir and of course, across the famous hanging bridges.
The route started in Chulilla, the weather was cloudy and a little chilly but that didn’t dampen our spirits. In fact, it made it the perfect day to do this route as the route is often very busy on sunny days. We walked down from Chulilla where we soon discovered some interesting sculptures. It was only a short walk to Charco Azul, a striking natural turquoise blue lake between the walls of the canyon.
At Charco Azul, we had fun jumping on the wooden pontoon over the lake. We could also see the old wooden and metal path that reservoir workers used to use as a shortcut. The path goes along the side of the gorge, and metal struts support the weather worn wooden planks. The route is no longer used, but that was not going to stop me testing it out anyway. Honestly, it didn’t seem very safe, but it was fun.
From Charco Azul, we followed a wide path along the River Turia. There were numerous bridges to cross over the river but these were all easy to pass over (even when Dmitry threatens to push you off). As well as the bridges, another (much older) feature of the route are the 6000 year old cave paintings.
To get to the cave paintings, we went down into a ravine and had a short climb up some steep steps. Compared to other cave paintings in the Valencian Community, such as those in Corrales de Silla caves in Tuéjar, these were quite clear. You could see the shapes of figures and animals on the walls.
After leaving the caves, we started going up and soon had great views across the area. Even the light rain that had started did not diminish them. In fact, the clouds added to the drama of the scene as we got higher. This trail took us above the Loriguilla Reservoir. We found a decent place for lunch overlooking the entire reservoir. I also discovered that wild rosemary tastes good in mozzarella and tomato sandwiches, so now you know.
The construction of the Loriguilla Reservoir started in the 1950s and was completed in 1965. During the building of the reservoir the towns of Loriguilla and Domeño had to be moved to their current locations. The reservoir is now supplies water to the hydroelectric power plant and irrigation to farmland. Kayaking and finishing are also popular activities in the summer.
From our lunch spot, it was a short walk down to the dam across the reservoir. After walking over the dam, we turned into the canyon of the River Turia and towards the hanging bridges. The rock walls either side of the river are absolutely gigantic, and very popular with rock climbers. We saw plenty of ropes but no climbers this time. As well as the rocks, there are information signs about the various birds and animals native to the area. It is certainly a beautiful area and walking under some of the overhangs makes you feel very small.
The canyon took us to the famous hanging bridges of Chulilla. The building of the reservoir led to a increase in Chulilla’s population as workers on the reservoir moved to the town. After the workers got fed up of taking the long way round to do the daily journey to and from work they had an idea. They decided to get over this problem by making the route much shorter by building bridges. One bridge across the canyon was a hanging bridge and the other was fixed. This was all well and good until disaster struck in October 1957! The worst flood in Valencian history meant that the bridges were washed away by the force and amount of water that flowed through the Turia canyon.
It was only in 2013 that the bridges were rebuilt. This time the aim was to attract tourists to the area. The highest bridge is 15m above the river. The bridges move when jumped on, and as you can probably imagine, we did jump on them. Both bridges also provide epic views through the canyon and along the River Turia.
After hanging out on the hanging bridges for a bit, we finished the route with a short walk back to Chulilla. There we found a bar that deserves a special mention for it’s delicious cheesecake.
Although the hanging bridges are the most famous attraction of this route, there are plenty more things to see. Whilst it is possible to make a short visit the hanging bridges from Chulilla, you would miss out on the natural beauty of the area as well as the interesting features such as the dam and cave paintings.
Should you want to follow in our footsteps, here is our route on Wikiloc.
Photo credits, Me, Dmitry, Luke and Skye.