Bernia is a mountain in that you can go both up and through! Although it is within Alicante provinces there are epic views along all of the Mediterranean coastline.
Our hike began at Casas de Bernia, which is a restaurant with a great view of the area towards the sea. Although it took some convincing for the restaurant to let us in for coffee, once were were inside, the warm fire was much appreciated on the cold winter morning.
From Casas de Bernia, we walked along the road for a short distance before turning onto the trail. The trail was single track, mostly made of mud, dirt and rocks. There were lots of great viewpoints of along this trail. Another great feature of this trail were the rocks. Parts of the trails involved scrambling over rocks and on more than one occasion, there was an easy scramble or a more difficult way to ascend.
At the end of the trail we arrived at a long tunnel, Forat de Bernia. The tunnel’s ceiling is low so we had to crouch down to go through it in single file. We went towards the light at the end of the tunnel and came out on a rock shelf / balcony overlooking Alicante province and even further down the coast. The main viewpoints were the Benidorm and the Costa Blanca as well as Serra Gelada and Puig Campana.
Our route now turned away from the ocean and towards the ruins of the Fort of Bernia. The terrain of the path changed to rocks and stones. The route was spectacular, with views of the coast, towns, farmland and mountains. In addition, we were walking in the shadow of the Peak of Bernia which was our intended destination.
We stopped for a rest when we reached the Fort of Bernia. In 1568, King Philip II ordered the Italian military engineer Antonelli to build the fortifications. Although Antonelli chose and undeniably beautiful location, the fort was barely used. This was because of the difficulty in accessing the fort from either the surrounding villages or the coast.
From the Fort there was the option to go to the peak. Getting to the peak was certainly a challenge! The ascent started on loose rocks and it wasn’t always easy to see the path. The mountain goats that were watching us did not have the same problems. After a lot of sliding and effort we reached the ridge itself.
The Peak of Bernia (1115m) is at the end of the ridge. To traverse the ridge we had to scramble for much of it and sometimes use chains and ropes to climb the rocks. Every time we got over one boulder, another one seemed to appear. The wind did not help either. Despite the cold wind and obstacles it was actually rather fun getting to the peak. Certainly a good challenge for experienced hikers.
Once we got there, it was clear that efforts were not in vain. We had amazing views from all angles and of the entire coastline. At the peak we found a sheltered place for lunch which had great views of Benidorm and further down the coast. The cold temperatures had kept our food nice and refrigerated too.
We had to return the way we came so there was more scrambling on the way back. The loose rocks however, needed a different technique, some people went slow and steady whereas others tried running. Personally, I found a combination of running, sliding and what can best be described as rock surfing was the best way down.
From the Fort we took another path back towards our start point. Here we met the goats again, one of whom had blocked the narrow path for another group which resulted in an amusing standoff which I think the goat won.
The last part of our hike was through a forest that led us back to the road and our starting point. The hike had been a challenging route, but a fun one! There are options to just go to Bernia viewpoint or to do the route without going to the peak. However, the climb to the peak meant the hike had lived up to the group’s motto “making people tired but happy.”
Thank you to Anxo López and Cate for the additional photos. You’re both awesome!
P.S. Sarcastic retort at Dmitry