Caminito del Rey – a return visit

When Sam came to visit we knew we had to give him an experience to remember, so we scheduled our return visit to Camino del Rey to coincide with his visit and my birthday (18th December).  We didn’t have much notice – he sent me a text on Saturday to say ‘do you fancy a visitor’ and arrived on Monday!

The weather wasn’t as kind to us this time, just in that it was rather cloudy with the odd sunny spell.  But we did need our tops most of the time we were walking.

As we approached the gorge this time we could see lots of soldiers in evidence.  It seems there were some exercises going on in the area.  I have to say they didn’t look very professional at all; a bit sloppy!

As we got closer, and the road got narrower we started to see signs of the recent bad weather, with parts of the road washed away. Continue reading “Caminito del Rey – a return visit”

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3 days around Camino del Rey (which will have it’s own post!)

So, let’s get up to date.

Sunday dawned a little brighter than Saturday (to be honest that really wasn’t difficult as it rained most of the day on Saturday…).  We took the opportunity to sit and relax a little outside and Calv gave the van a clean – he can’t bear it dirty!

We then agreed to meet up with Elaine and Chris to walk up to a cake shop that they know in La Cala.  They came to get us and then we left their car where they’re staying, Dona Lola, and set off on foot along the boardwalk.  The boardwalk then takes you miles along the coast but we were only going just over 2 1/2 miles to La Canasta, the cake shop.  Calv had 2 pasties (empanadas) and then a little later a massive slice of carrot cake.  I had a slice of cheesecake and very nice it was too!

Being a Sunday there was some sort of festival going on in the park behind us; we think there was maybe a fancy dress competition involved.

 

We then walked up to a little square on the seafront and then headed back along the boardwalk to Chris and Elaine’s apartment for a cup of tea.

Chris offered us a lift home but we decided to walk – another 2 1/2 miles 🙂

On Monday morning I finally got my bike out and we went to do a bit of shopping in the Supersol – it was a bit of a faff and I’m surprised we managed to get back with no accidents as Calv decided to buy a 6 pack of 1ltr, glass, bottles of San Miguel which he had to strap to the back of his bike – funny how he’d magically managed to bring some bungee cords with him….

We then relaxed for a while, then just as we were thinking about moving and heading down to the beach for a couple of hours Chris and Elaine arrived, running!  So we had a cup of tea before heading down to the beach together.  I finally got all the way into the sea and swam.  Chris did too, but he went in too soon and couldn’t stay in for very long.  In the evening we walked back to Dona Lola to meet up with them to do a quiz (I love a quiz!)  We came 3rd (with 2 other couples….) and then went for a Chinese.

We decided not to walk home after all and got a taxi.  However, we were surprised at how much it cost to go just a couple of miles – 8 euros!  So we wouldn’t do that again.

And then it was Tuesday 🙂 (See Camino del Rey for what we did on Tuesday!)

 

 

Camino del Rey – a must see….

Back at the end of last year Elaine and Chris told us they were going to be in Calahonda in early March and had booked to visit the Camino del Rey.  When they told us what it was we asked if we could join them.  Within minutes Chris came back and said ‘All booked’, and we’ve been looking forward to the trip ever since.

Little did we know just what a treat this was to be!  Trust me, if you are visiting the Costa del Sol and get the opportunity to go on an excursion here then do it – hang the cost!!  If not, hire a car and go yourself.  It would probably be a good idea to book though as numbers are limited to ensure the walkway is not over-loaded (or should I say ‘over-weight’??)

Anyway Tuesday 7th March finally arrived.  Chris and Elaine were picking us up at 8am (!!) – well the Ty were meant to….! We took along our trusty SatNav which expertly guided us towards our destination.  All was going swimmingly until within sight of our goal, and a good way up the side of a mountain, the road was suddenly, and completely, closed.  No way round, no diversion and no warning.

We realised that we needed to re-direct towards Ardales but I was having trouble getting the SatNav to re-route (not helped that I was suddenly feeling pretty nauseous and had to hand over to Calv.  So we decided to head for Alora first.  Once re-programmed the SatNav took over again.

Okay.  This is where the fun started!  The town was very small and the roads very narrow.  We tried to follow the 1st instruction which was to go up a very steep hill, which our little Seat Mii was having none of.  So to the smell of burning rubber we freewheeled back down the few metres covered and kept going up the ‘main’ road.  I think we missed a couple of instructions and found ourselves in narrower and narrower roads, all with cars parked alongside.  Calv was itching to have a go at driving and in the end Chris let him.  At this stage we were at the top this time of a steep hill, at the bottom of which we had to take a right.  There were cars parked at the bottom and we couldn’t even see the right turn….

But we made it, and continued following the instructions, or at least thinking we were, until we ended up at the top of the hill at the castle.  Ordinarily we would have liked to visit and explore but we were booked for 11am for the Camino del Rey, so we couldn’t.

We finally found our way towards Ardales and pretty soon we saw signs – you need to follow signs to the North Access.   The scenery was already breathtaking before we even parked up and started towards the trail.

You can choose to take a walk, initially through a, very dark, tunnel which is 1.5km to the beginning of the trail, or a little further up by the restaurant a 2.7km walk.

There is 1 toilet before you go through to collect your helmet (obligatory).  The thin papery thing inside is your hair net!  We were a little late but at this time of year it wasn’t a problem – I suspect it will be later in the season though.  We saw a British man turning away when he found out it cost 10 Euros, plus 1.50 for the bus back.  Fool!  His wife looked suitably embarrassed.  We felt a bit sorry for her.

 

They let you go on in groups – I think it’s at 15 minute intervals.  You don’t have a guide and don’t have to stay in the groups, it’s just a way of managing the flow and ensuring that the walkway isn’t overloaded!  There were 3 guides at different sections along the way – although they were a bit miserable…

You don’t go straight onto the boardwalk; you join that after a couple of km.  But even before then the scenery is spectacular.  However, all our pictures on here are from the boardwalk as we just can’t post them all!

The Camino del Rey was originally build for the king so that he can visit the works where a reservoir was being built.  You can see it beneath your feet as you walk along (and also the gaps where it has collapsed).  People used to walk this before the new boardwalk was put in until it was closed in 2000 when 3 climbers died whilst navigating it. 2 had also died the previous year.

Read more about it in this Guardian article (which includes a pretty scary video!)

There are many ‘wow’ moments as you turn corners, or simply look down to the river below!  You can also see small sections of walkway on the opposite side of the gorge.

There is a glass floor for you to walk on (no more than 4 people at a time please)!

We think that about 3 later groups overtook us but that was fine as we were just trying to take it all in!  At regular intervals we watched the trains going past on the other side of the gorge, and wondered at the view they were getting on their commute from Malaga to Seville!

There is lots of wildlife around but we only saw griffon vultures.

Finally, after about 5km, I think, we came to the final section, which involved crossing the gorge on, what turned out to be, a rather wobbly bridge.

The final section is quite spectacular and the green bridge you can see here was in the film Von Ryan’s Express (with Frank Sinatra) – Chris told us that!

We then had a quick drink at the café at El Churro train station before boarding the bus to go back to the start.  This in itself was an experience.  I did take a video for a few minutes but couldn’t upload it unfortunately.

When we got back we had an ice cream before taking in some more of the scenery from the beach by the lake.  I forgot to mention the colour of the water everywhere – it was just a beautiful green glistening in the sun.  I’m not sure we’ve captured it properly in these photos.  Just after I took my feet out of the water I saw a snake poke it’s head up!  Nobody believed me – but it was definitely a snake 🙂

All in all a rather wonderful day, the best experience of our trip thus far – hands down.  Don’t miss it if you ever get the opportunity – you’ll be missing a treat if you do.  And don’t let a fear of heights put you off – Elaine didn’t; in fact she went back and did it all again on Friday!

 

Happy New Year! 2017 has finally arrived :)

Update on our final preparations for leaving our house and spending a year in the van 🙂

The 1st day of 2017 finds us doing very little, after putting the house back to normal that is…  As anybody who has ever hosted a New Year party knows this is a pretty monumental task, and even though we sent bottles away with as many people as we could, we still ended up with more alcohol than we started with!  Well it feels like that anyway.

I’m starting to feel pretty emotional now – the house is sold, my car has gone, we’ve had our last Christmas and new year in the house….. you get the picture.

And I really miss my car.  I know it’s pathetic.  But now I have to get used to driving the tow car (the most basic Citroen C1 model) all the time.  At the moment I’m still comparing it, you know, the fact that I have to use a key to get in and start the car (I don’t just put my keys in my pocket and press a button), I have to wind the windows down, there’s no heated seat to help when I’ve got a slightly aching back, no rear camera, no steering wheel controls and no sat nav and so on and so on……

So the other day I was trying to think of all the positives of the Citroen:-

  • It’s easy to park (being so short – I noticed the other day that it fills about a half of a parking space)
  • Really good fuel consumption
  • £0 car tax
  • We can tow it behind the van
  • We have a towbar on it (yes, we really do) which means we can tow a trailer and also carry the bikes on a towbar bike rack.
  • It’s petrol so it’s cheaper to run (my car was a diesel)
  • We really don’t mind it getting dirty!

I’m almost over it now 🙂

So tomorrow the hard work starts.  We have already started packing up the house (regardless of when completion is we will be leaving by Monday 16th at the latest), we’ve sorted storage and a van.  Now I’ve got to sort through my worldly goods and then Calv will go round after me packing it all up – an easy job for him as he used to be a removal man 🙂

The other part of the hard work is to get back to the gym and stop eating!  It would be good to have lost the excess Christmas poundage before we leave – I’ll do my very best.  Although this will be made more difficult by some more goodbye nights out!  Although I am looking forward to them all of course!

I think I will definitely be in Spain by the time I get another opportunity to post, although I have no idea of where we will actually be pitched!  We have organised though to meet friends in March and walk the Camanito del Rey near Marbella, which looks absolutely spectacular.  Can’t wait Elaine & Chris 🙂

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So that’s the first actual plans we’ve made for our year!

We hope you’ve all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year and that 2017 is good for you 🙂