Continuing from the previous blog when we were based on the Spanish coast which is here we decided to move inland. We’ve seen some parts of inland Spain in the past and always wanted to explore a little more so this seemed like a good opportunity. Initially we only moved 10 or so miles from the coast however the difference was profound. Gone were the large apartment blocks and we were in a campsite set in an old olive grove. Very peaceful and beautifully kept, another one of the best ones on the trip and again one we will hope to return to sometime. It was in Castellón province and there was a small town, Càlig, less than a 15 minute walk away. While the town was not busy it had enough basic shopping facilities for our needs and at least one pleasant cafe.
The area around the campsite, while quite well used for olives and fruit crops, still felt fairly quiet and remote. The old paths through the groves of trees were accessible from the campsite and made for pleasant and easy walking. You could just see the coastal strip from the area of the campsite however that just served to enhance its tranquility though I guess it would not appeal to everyone. In general the weather remained very good though an odd day felt a bit thundery with some heavier clouds around. Having visited one or two other areas of inland Spain for walking holidays this landscape felt quite familiar although we’d not been to this actual area before. We would certainly return here in the future to simply chill out.
Our original plan was to head back up the eastern coast of Spain reversing our journey down. However some stories about the autoroute around Barcelona and a tendency we have not not retrace our steps if possible made us look at alternative plans. We were already aware that many motorhomers come to Spain via the west coast of France and the western edge of the Pyrenees so going back that way seemed worth trying out for future reference if nothing else. Looking at ways to break up the trip we found a campsite that looked interesting towards Zaragoza from where we were on the coast. It said it was on the edge of the Mar d’Aragon – not somewhere we knew anything about or had even heard of. Some research both at the time and since we’ve come back means we now know it is also called the Mequinenza reservoir and it is 100 kilometres long meaning it is on a scale I’ve not seen for a man made body of water. In practice the river Ebro was dammed for hydroelectric purposes and the “lake” is the result.
I’ve often found such stretches of man made water rather sterile in the past however this area was spectacular on a number of levels. The views walking along the reservoir were excellent – the GR99 which runs the length of the river Ebro runs within a metre of the campsite so there was good walking there. While we didn’t see much in the way of small birds we did see a number of high level raptors and just loved walking in the area. In practice fishing is really the done thing from the campsite and we were probably the only ones there without much interest in fishing but it didn’t bother us or the others there.
A real bonus both with the run up from down by the coast, which was mostly along the valley of the Ebro, and the area around the campsite and Caspe (the local town) was the fact that the cherry trees were in blossom. The contrast between the very rugged landscape and the vast areas of cherry blossom is something I’ll remember for a long time. The photographs above were taken just outside the campsite and, particularly in the early evening light, the trees looked stunning. After this site we headed up to the northern Spanish coast near Bilbao and crossing central Spain left us with a wish to explore inland Spain far more even if some parts were far less interesting than others. We hit far less good weather when we got to the north coast and the pictures from then may be quite memorable however I can offer pictures of coasts in grey stormy weather from places nearer home! The next blog covers the run back up through France and is here.