Sardinia, during the month of August, sees a considerable decrease in trips (hike & trek) since the high temperatures and the lack of places to stock up on water along the route make trekking and hiking activities to be done with extreme caution, knowing perfectly places and meticulously planning the way ahead and the water supply to carry around.
In late August we have the opportunity to hike a path that were planning for some time in one of the most rugged, hard, but also fascinating place of Sardinia: Montalbo.
Montalbo is a limestone massif of about 20 km of lenght that goes from Siniscola to Lula and whose ridge extends for about 13 km in the territory of the Baronie, characterized by ravines and steep walls, plowed fields and vast plateaus with an average height of 1,000 meters, it is a Site of Community Interest (SCI) and is home to endemic species such as the salamander of Montalbo.
The planned route includes a loop of about 10 km with an elevation gain of about 610m and am elevation loss of approximately 665m to be made in 7 hours. The land that we will face will be mainly made up of limestone, furrowed fields, grassy clearings with a couple of steep climbs and descents on unstable ground (stony limestone).
After reaching Siniscola with the SS 131 DCN, we drive through the SP03 that leads to Lula; We park the car in the space in front of the Fontana Sa Mela (Fountain Sa Mela) and from here we mov along the same SP03 towards north to the intersection with the dirt road leading to the eastern wall of Montalbo. After a short walk at teh cross sign we head to the right in Punta Cupetti direction.
Arriving at the base of the rock we found a sign: Scale of Su Tassu.
The climb, though steep in places, it is easy and kept in excellent condition by the work of the Ente Foreste (National Forest Guard) which installed balustrades made of trunks of oak in the most exposed turns, making it extremely enjoyable.
At the top opens in front of us an immense plateau Sas Vinizolas completely covered with Helichrysum that, although the flowering season is long past, fills the air with its heady scent.
We walk along the path until you get to an intersection marked by signs of Ente Foreste and head left towards Punta Pizzu (Punta Su Piciu) and following the path clearly visible crossing Sas Vinizolas eastwards. The view from Punta Pizzu is extraordinary and gives us the chance to admire (starting from the northeast clockwise) Lake Posada and the massif of Mount Nieddu behind him, the valley of Torpè and Posada, in the distance the Gulf of Olbia, San Teodoro and the Tavolara Island, the coast with Budoni, La Caletta, Siniscola, Monte Senes and in the distance, towards the south-south-west, the Corrasi.
After a short break we walk retracing the same path until you reach the junction with the signs, this time taking the path towards Punta Cupeti (Punta Cupetti). Shortly before tackling the easy climb to the point we stop to visit the Cuile Cupeti rising at the edge of the Sas Vinizolas. The Cuile is small and unfortunately is in a state of neglect although the Forestry Agency has installed a pair of signals indicating the sheepfold, now reduced to little more than an area defined by a dry stone wall.
After a short climb we are on top of Punta Cupeti (Punta Cupetti), also reported here with a small structure of stones, admiring the scenery while the strong winds lash us as hard as quite impossible to stand.
The view that opens in front of us is magnificent and exterminated. Valleys, peaks, gorges, beautiful green fields in the distance and we can see a part of the path that lies ahead.
There is some way to go, and after the usual photo we face down along the paths eroded by the water since we get in the Central Plateau Ena Cupetti that we cross from north to south-west and maintaining target on two pear trees, the only trees across the valley that is completely covered with bushes of Helichrysum. From here on we will not find any sort of any marked or visible path.
Sa Ena Cupetti
The crossing of the plateau presents no sort of difficulty apart of the massive presence of bushes (mostly helichrysum) that may scratch your legs in the absence of adequate protection.
Arrived on the edge of the gorge of the Riu Siccu we stop to admire the new landscape that opens in front of us. From where we are the gorge is steep and deep 170m, on the right we S’Adde (S’Adde plain) with its cuili (ancient shepherds house) and the SP03 street, in front of the opposite side of the gourge we watch the hardest part of the entire trip.
We find no noticeable path and the hard stone with no sign of passage and then the descent takes place with even greater attention as is mandatory in situations of such level of difficulty. Only a distraction, a Biacco carbonarius (black whip snake) that runned away as soon as I approached, he found refuge in the rocks of stony ground.
The Cuili S’Adde
Once at the bottom of the gorge we went to S’Adde and cuili we had seen just before the crest, following the course of the Riu Siccu [meaning: dry river] (of course there was the presence of water!!).
Unfortunately the disappointment and anger was much.
Each cuile was surrounded by an iron fence mesh, in many parts demolished, and all cuili were set on fire and then largely destroyed.
This is not intended as a reproach against the city administration, which indeed has been working to preserve the cuili (although the steel nets are really bad and clearly not oppose much resistance to vandals) but a complaint against those who, since the cuili proximity of the main road, it is a wicked and destructive use lighting fires inside them and camp during sunday picnics.
The climb – Sa Ena Longa – Sa Ena Manna
After a brief pause we walked on the path along the gorge of the Riu Siccu until reaching a rock formation on the right wall that, from our planning, indicated in the attachment point for the ascent of the wall.
It was immediately clear that there wouldn’t be an easy climb because of steep slopes (average 60%) and the type of terrain.
At the top on the right side there was Sa Ena Minor, who will always keep to our right down along the ridge of a hill that leads us to Sa Ena Longa, another plateau almost completely covered by the typical bushy vegetation. From this we head to another plateau called Sa Ena Manna, the last of this series of valleys that characterize the upper northern Montalbo. Sa Ena Manna has the characteristic of having many wild pear trees from which it is best to stay away from their long spines.
The ascent is hard for the fatigue accumulated along the way and for the presence of limestone pavement very deep and wide in addition to the total absence of ventilation.
S’Iscala de Ramallete
At the top we admire the valley S’Adde the opposite side from where, a few hours earlier, we had seen and we begin the descent throught S’Iscala Su Ramallete where we find a semblance of trail, probably created by the passage of livestock that we see a little further down.
The “scale” is nothing more than a series of tight switchbacks behind the perpendicular wall which, in the most characteristic feature, a rock formation protrudes completely covered with a beautiful vine that I could not identify. Finally we come to the Provincial Road 3 that following it for some kilometers will take us back to the car, not before watching S’Adde by another, wonderful perspective, towards the throat of Riu Siccu; view that all the people passing by the road can admire ….
… But a few hours ago we were there.
GPS track is available from Wikiloc at this link: DOWNLOAD