Valldigna & El Palmar

June 2011 - trip led by Anne Cattle

Report by Rosie Sheppard  

Photos by John Sheppard  


Valldignar Monastery

I think everyone who went on the day trip to El Palmar and Valdigna on the 2nd June must have looked out of the window when they got up that morning, anxious lest the previous day's rain had persisted, but we were lucky. The sun shone, at least for most of the day, and helped to make a most enjoyable excursion even nicer.

Valldignar Monastery   Valldignar Monastery   Having set off at 9 o'clock we headed up the motorway, towards our first port of call, the site of the monastery of Santa Maria de la Valldigna. Established in the 13th century, the monastery flourished until the 19th century when having been disentailed it gradually fell into disrepair and ultimately total ruin.

Valldignar Monastery

Our next port of call was the village of El Palmar. Once an island it is now accessible via a narrow road and even narrower bridge and is situated close to the City of Valencia on the banks of the Albufera lake.
  Now the Valencian Regional Government have taken it in hand and has started the mammoth task of restoring it. In spite of its current state, it is still possible to visualise how splendid it must have been in its heyday, and enjoy the peace and beauty of the place. There was much to see and examine in the enormous area which the monastery covered and it will be interesting to see how work continues on the ambitious undertaking.

  Valldignar Monastery

El Palmar

Albufera   Once Europe's largest fresh water lake, much of the area has been turned over to the cultivation of rice, but the Albufera is still home to carp and eels and an extensive bird reserve with, among others, egrets and blue herons making their home there.

Walking into the village itself, it would be easy to think that its 28 restaurants are all it has to offer, but the fishing boats which line the canals on each side of the village bear witness to the main livelihood of its inhabitants. John and I were not brave enough to try one of the local specialities, the eels which are caught in the local waters, but we certainly sampled the paella for which the village is also famous, and very good it was too.   El Palmar

El Palmar

El Palmar   After a leisurely lunch, we all made our way to the embarkation point for a boat trip round the lake. Our group filling two of the shallow craft, we set off, in a fairly stiff breeze and under skies which were threatening rain. However this failed to materialise and we all very much enjoyed the extremely pleasant cruise amongst the tall reeds and out into more open water.

At one point one of the boats almost ran aground in a shallow stretch and the passengers were to be seen making furious movements to prevent this happening - one occasion when it was acceptable to rock the boat!   Albufera

Once back on dry land we all the chance to look inside one of the cosy little thatched cottages called Barracas which are to be seen all over the area. Though very small, inside it seemed surprisingly spacious and comfortable and indeed we were told that it was currently on the market for €600,000, testimony, if any was needed, to the popularity of the area.   El Palmar   El Palmar

Then it was time to go home. I think many of us had a little nap on the way back to Teulada after what was a very interesting and enjoyable day.

Our warmest thanks to Anne Cattle and to Carol Mantle for making it all possible.
  El Palmar   El Palmar

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