Viewpoint nr Cava Grande Nature ReserveFebruary 26, 2017 in Italy
The Grey Gappers who we met at Giardini Naxos had recommended finding parking spots on surfing websites and so Will had entered several in the sat nav. Rolling up at the one in Avola, who should we meet but the German couple we'd seen only yesterday! They'd stayed there the previous night with two Italians but had returned from a ten minute dog walk on the beach that morning to find their quarter light window smashed! Apparently a fisher had been casting close by, but there was nobody near when they returned. They'd reported it to the police but were now going to get it fixed and return to Germany. We were able to give them a roll of duct tape to stick over the gaping hole and wished them luck. It brought home to us how quickly things can change.
Vicky had read about Cava Grande del Fiume Cassabile, a huge gorge that had stunning walks descending to the river and natural swimming pools along its floor. On the journey we passed the now common lemon groves and climbed back and forth up the terraced and striated hillside. Passing into the cloud layer we eventually arrived at the start of the walk, 513m above sea level. However, looking over the precipice of the gorge, all we could see was a small bare tree against a background of light grey cloud vapour. The entrance to the walk was behind a locked gate and it wouldn't have been sensible to attempt the hike in those conditions, so we put the kettle on and brewed us up a cuppa. By the time we'd finished, the view had cleared. The precipitous sides, dotted with caves, dropped down to what looked like a relatively small river hundreds of meters below, its pools a beautiful blue.
Moving on, we drove along the border of the national park surrounding the gorge. Along the way we met a tractor driving four horses towards us but with a bit of shuffling we just managed to pass on the narrow road. Although the scenery was pretty, the views and opportunity for parking were limited and so we doubled back down the hill to a viewpoint jutting out from the road that we'd seen earlier. It offered a fabulous vantage point of the valley, where rock strata accentuated the stark relief, before it opened up and flattened out to the peach coloured buildings of Avola and the grey Ionian sea beyond.
Vicky donned a fetching fluorescent vest and walked round the hairpin bends to take an overnight photo of the van from above. She passed a wide variety of wildflowers and saw the apple trees beginning to blossom. The air smelled like a mixture of nectar and goats! Back at our viewpoint we watched the clouds rolling over the sea, casting their dark shadows over its rippling steel coloured surface, while other spots were highlighted in sparkling silver by the sun. We watched a weather front roll in and boy what a front it was! Rain lashed the side of the van while gail force gusts blasted it, creaking the suspension, chinking the glass bottles in the cupboards and causing the tape that held the canoe to vibrate loudly. We slept very little but that's what you get for choosing to spend the night at an exposed viewpoint half way up a mountainside and it wasn't so bad that we'd not do it again!Read more