Another Spanish Hidden Gem – Albaraccin. The Most Beautiful Village in Spain?

We enjoyed a wonderful stopover in Albarracin and would highly recommend a visit to those touring Spain. Possible if you’re heading north either towards France (via Somport Tunnel) or to either of the ferry ports.

Sometimes, when you have no idea where to go next, the ACSI book supplies a corker!

When unsure where exactly to head we decide on a general direction and roughly how far we want to travel – then we simply get the ACSI book out and see what’s available!  (This doesn’t always work of course.  At which point we get out the ‘Motorhome Stopover’ book and/or defer to the internet).

On this occasion though we knew that we were heading for the Somport Tunnel as our way out of Spain (as we were towing the little car we were avoiding Northern Spain), so we were to head in the direction of Zaragoza – further away from Valencia than you would think!

We were originally considering the town of Teruel but on checking the ACSI map saw a site a little further on at a place called Albaraccin.  A quick check online confirmed that this could be a nice place so the satnav was set accordingly.  The A23 (non-toll) took us most of the way before we headed off onto the 234 just after Teruel, and finally onto the road running into Albaraccin.  This is where we really started to get a feel for where we were heading as the scenery was stunning as we headed through gorges and past ruins high up on the hills.

(This YouTube video from ‘Spain Speaks‘ gives a fair idea of what we experienced – but remember we are sat up higher in the motorhome.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=MtIlBbAtbD0 )

Camping Ciudad de Albaraccin is located on the outskirts in the ‘new’ part of town.  By going this way you also understand that there is more to this region than just the beautiful old town (cave paintings/bouldering/walking/dinosaurs…)

Once parked up (with amazing views of the old fortification walls forming a spine on the mountain) we set off to explore immediately (we were only staying overnight).

The old town beckoned.  With little time we took the little car and headed back out to park in the big car park we’d seen as we took our first left towards the campsite.  Even this was pretty with a little stream running alongside.

Wandering through the lower part of town we found a couple more carparks (possible for motorhomes perhaps to park –  not sure about overnighting though) before starting on the long climb up to the main old town.  One thing we didn’t manage to find though, on a warm Tuesday afternoon near the beginning of March, was a cafe!

No matter, what we did find more than made up for the lack of a beverage 🙂

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After finding the Torre Blanca (sadly closed for visits) and the stunning scenery surrounding it we made our way towards the castle, the el Salvador cathedral and, eventually after a wander around the narrow, steep, winding cobbled streets – at times together, at times separated by my desire to explore a little set of steps or a covered alley, we found the Plaza Mayor (from where the main picture was taken).  On my circuitous route to this spot I also found the base of the wall snaking it’s way up the mountain.  Although there were 3 lads clambering up towards the wall itself it was definitely way beyond my capabilities!

Entering the Plaza Mayor is shown in the following video which will, hopefully, also give you an idea of what to expect from Albaraccin. Continue reading “Another Spanish Hidden Gem – Albaraccin. The Most Beautiful Village in Spain?”

Valencia, Pucol and Sagunto

We decided on a final visit to the coast before heading for home, choosing a site near Valencia (Camping Valencia) in a small town called Pucol.

Van on site in Pucol

Even though first impressions of our chosen site were, shall we say, less than favourable, we managed to move to the nicer part of the site on the 2nd day and ended up extending our stay to a whole week 🙂

We did spend a fair bit of time simply relaxing here, but we also visited the nearby town of Pucol on our bikes – there are many opportunities for cycling, with a really good cycle/running path into town.  We also cycled the other way along many green lanes/farm tracks – of which there are many 🙂

Days out were 1 day driving to Valencia, failing miserably to find a parking space so parking on the outskirts and riding back in!  More on that later 🙂

We also drove in the opposite direction to visit the ancient town of Sagunto, which is well worth a visit.

So let’s start with our visit to Valencia.  Having parked on the outskirts (I’m sorry I can’t tell you where exactly (it might have been Benimaclet), but it was adjacent to the cycle path and we parked for nothing).  I do know that we headed past the university and into the city before finding our destination of The Turia Gardens.  We had heard that this was a wonderful way to cycle the city situated as it is through it’s heart where the Turia River flowed until it was diverted to prevent further flooding.

With numerous exits and entrances to this 8km long area we joined a little way before the futuristic Museum of Arts and Sciences, an amazing building bordered by numerous wasterways and fountains.  A beautiful, tranquil area to relax.

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We simply cycled along the paths of the gardens, eventually stopping for some lunch near the old city – I think it was the Bar Baja la Puente Calatrava (no. 7 on this list of Turia Garden eateries from JuliaEats).  I do know that we enjoyed our lunch and that there was plenty of parking available for our bikes 🙂  I also know that whilst we were sat there there was a long series of VERY loud bangs, which startled us but seemingly nobody else!  We later discovered that this is a daily occurrence in the weeks leading up to The Fallas Festival – The Mascleta; read all about it here.

We left the gardens at the Puente de Flores, bordered as it is on both sides with beautiful floral displays 🙂

We came out by the old gateway to the city (that we saw on our last visit), had a little cycle around the fountains before returning to the gardens and heading towards the car.  Which we eventually found – even though we took a completely different route!!

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Our other day out was to Sagunto, a small town with a big history.  There was a market on the day we visited so we couldn’t drive directly into the old town; after a detour of about 2 miles (well it felt like it anyway) we found ourselves about 100m up the road and on the other side of the old town – these were very narrow streets!  Even in the little car it felt tiny.  We had to be really careful as many of the streets turned out to be dead-ends and it was pretty awkward reversing back down the steep hills whilst navigating the amazing Spanish parking!!  We finally spotted a space by the side of the road.  Leaving the car we headed up one of the steep roads towards the hill holding the massive castle.

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I say massive – this castle is visible from miles away (including from the campsite), and during our visit we discovered it actually ranges across the top of the hill for about 1/2 mile.

We followed stone steps and pathways up, up and then down, down the hill.  Which was a little disconcerting!  We passed a small white chapel on the way before coming across the Roman Ampitheatre, free to visit and definitely worth a visit.

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Around the hilloutside the ampitheatre was the old cemetry (Judio Cemeterio) consisting of graves dug into the hill itself.  We walked passed many more as we made our way up the steep hill towards the castle itself.  Also free to visit we maybe managed to see half of what there was to see!  There are extensive ruins to be seen, although it is a work in process of renovation.  I would suggest taking a picnic and spending the day exploring 🙂

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I need to point out that the beach at Pucol was lovely, but unfortunately we didn’t really have the weather to take advantage of it 😦

All in all we had a lovely time here and there were a couple more excursions that we could have taken, but we just wanted to relax by then!

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Here’s hoping I manage to finish off posting about our last trip before we head off on our next one (in a couple of month’s time!!)

 

We stayed:  Camping Valencia, Pucol 

Previous Post:  Banos de Fortuna

Next Post:    Albarracin

Algodonales – a paragliders dream

On leaving the coast behind in El Puerto de Santa Maria and heading back into the mountains, we were going to head to a site in Olvera, but at the last minute I spotted a free motorhome service area shortly before Olvera in a little town called Algodonales, about 20 miles north of Ronda.  Not only free but with electricity included – seemed too good to be true?  It wasn’t!  We ended up staying 4 nights 🙂

Once parked up we became aware of lots of music that seemed to emanate from the town itself, which was about a 10 minute walk away.  We also spotted a number of walkers heading that way; so we decided that we should head into town ourselves.  It’s quite a steep climb past chickens, building yards, lemon & orange groves and numerous streams.

The noise escalated as we neared the main square, where we found a finishing tunnel and an announcer with a microphone welcoming runners (and walkers) back on finishing the Viboras Trail (a run/hike up into the mountains and back – see below).

  • The route of the Algodonales Víboras Trail (which translates literally as “Cotton Snakes Trail) is a homage by us to one of the most testing routes in Andalusia. At 16 km in length and 916 meters of accumulated ascent, this route is a level three, and is a speciality trip that can only be accessed by club members.       https://xcmag.com/travel-guide/guide-to-algodonales-spain/

We sat at a bar (very busy but we still managed to sit after a few minutes) and enjoyed a drink while watching these amazing people returning from their latest challenge 🙂

On the way back to the van we could see a white town in the distance.  We thought we might cycle there in the morning, but then we looked on Google maps and saw how far it actually was!  Back at the motorhome area the paragliders, that we’d spotted jumping off the mountain when we first arrived, Continue reading “Algodonales – a paragliders dream”

Delights on our Doorstep – Days out from Cabopino

Staying at Cabopino Camping? Here are some ideas for days out and what to find in the surrounding area.

This is my last post from our time at Cabopino and I’m aiming to mop up all the places that didn’t merit individual posts.  So this post is just a bit of a mash up 🙂

I have dealt with the following days out already (click to go directly to the relevant post):-

Malaga

Banos de la Hedionda

Embalse de la Concepcion

Ronda

Camino del Rey  (also our 1st visit was covered back in 2017)

Gibraltar (from our visit in 2017)

Many people also visit Antequera and El Torcal from here, but we actually stayed near there instead so this will be recorded in a later post.

But this wasn’t all we did (of course not – we were at Cabopino for over 6 weeks this time!)  There follows a short summary of all other days out during our time there.

Benalmadena

I visited Benalmadena years ago with my boys (staying in the Flatotel which was perfect for us at the time).  Whilst we were there that time we visited the theme park, Tivoli World (I was never going to get away with not going was I with 2 young boys in tow!)

This time though we were determined to go up the mountain in the cable car.  We tried twice….  The 1st time we got to Benalmadena before realising that the weather wasn’t as warm there as back at Cabopino, and would, of course, be cooler still at the top of the mountain – plus neither of us had bought any sort of warm top with us.  So we had to abort.  The trip wasn’t a complete wash-out though – we sat and had a drink in a cafe and found a cheap perfume shop where Calv managed to buy me a birthday present 🙂

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A month later we finally found the time to return to head up the cable car.  This time it was much warmer but we went fully ready for all eventualities – except for the fact that the day before we arrived it had closed for a month (as, apparently, it does every year…)  We are completely useless and really must be better prepared. Continue reading “Delights on our Doorstep – Days out from Cabopino”

Cycle ride to Portchester Castle

This is the 1st time we have actually cycled to Portchester Castle (despite the fact that we only live a couple of miles away…)

And what a beautiful day we chose to do it!  We headed off down the hill and took the road towards the water.  We first visited Wicor Marine from where you can access the Salt Café, sitting directly on the shores of Fareham Creek and well worth a visit for a cuppa and a slice of cake (or perhaps even a glass of wine 🙂 ).

(There is actually a lovely walk around Fareham Creek that can be started from the café (or the castle itself), that takes you around the golf course at Cams Hall (covering much of the Fareham park run route).  Click here for details.

Having stopped by Calv’s sister’s for a cuppa and some oil for Calv’s bike chain we took the path along the shoreline as far as Hospital Lane where we emerged into the heart of old Portchester.  The path was good (although there is a bit with steep drops on either side, 1 down to the shingle beach, the other a grassy ditch, so if you’re not very confident on your bike you would probably get off and walk here!)  The views are just lovely, particularly on a beautiful sunny day (which we are experiencing so many of at the moment 🙂 )

 

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View from our ride along the shore of Fareham Creek towards Portchester Castle

At the end of the path you can continue straight to the castle along the shore – although a short section is on the beach so it’s not really suitable for cycling.  Therefore when you get to the end of the fence separating the shore from the lane down to Turret House, turn left to go up Hospital Lane, where you will found a couple of lovely old houses.  The view of Castle Street when you get to the top is lovely 🙂  (I didn’t take a picture as on a sunny Sunday afternoon the cars have sort of taken over!)

From here it’s just a short hop to the castle (about 20 seconds on bikes, maybe 2 mins if you’re on foot.  Continue reading “Cycle ride to Portchester Castle”

More Northumberland Beaches. And Castles :)

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Bambrugh Castle from the beach

 

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Bambrugh Beach
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Bambrugh Castle landside

 

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Looking towards Dunstanburgh Castle
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One of the towers at Dunstanburgh Castle, Northumberland
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Looking ‘through the keyhole’ at Dunstanburgh Castle!
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Dunstanburgh Castle, Northumberland

We still weren’t finished with Northumberland.  Our remaining days there before we headed into Scotland took in beaches and castles.  We headed slightly inland to visit Ford & Etal and we even had a daytrip into Scotland, visiting Eyemouth as well as a couple of hidden coves.  We were busy!

We weren’t experiencing wonderful weather; we had some extremely windy conditions – but the sun was out too at times 🙂

From Holy Island we had spotted, what looked like, some rather lovely beaches across the channel, so we headed a couple of miles back down the A1 and took a left.  The 1st turn took us to a dead end.  We did get out to have a look, but there were bird hides and this wasn’t on the agenda for us so we carried on and took the next left!

After a while we found a lay-by from where we could access the shoreline, so we stopped and headed out for a walk along the shore.

Unfortunately this wasn’t the most pleasant experience as the tide was coming in and we had to negotiate the muddy shoreline around the bay.  However we eventually came across the sand  which very nearly made the challenging walk to find it worth it!  Rather than tackle the shoreline, with the tide even further in, we left the beach via a footpath that took us out to a lane, past a caravan site and finally back to the main road.  Although there was no pavement there was room on the verge to walk on when cars went past so it was fine.

Not necessarily my favourite afternoon out, but we did get a fair bit of exercise 🙂

The next day dawned bright and sunny but windy.  We had already decided to head down the coast to Bambrugh, which has an amazing stretch of beautiful wide sandy beach backed by dunes you can get lost in!  We very nearly did!  Continue reading “More Northumberland Beaches. And Castles :)”

A few more days on the Moors and seeing the Transporter Bridge

We did a lot of walking in the North York Moors – even when we were ‘going’ somewhere!  So this post will deal with 1 of the days that we were, sort of at least, heading somewhere and I will do a separate post for the days we actually set out just to walk (to the top of Roseberry Topping and to see Captain Cook’s Monument to be precise).

On day 2 in the Moors we headed to the nearest decent sized town, Stokesley, which turned out to be extremely pleasant.  The parking system was disc parking and, not having a disc, we drove through and parked as soon as we could, giving us a short walk back into town.  There are an awful lot of old buildings in Stokesley and the centre has a really nice feel about it, with lots of independent shops and several butchers, bakers and greengrocers.

We also found a dedicated running shop here (I needed a new water bottle).  The 1st bottle they showed me was £35 – I politely explained I wasn’t actually THAT much of a runner!  I did get what I wanted though, and then realised that I recognised the couple from my previous morning’s ‘run’ – I had stopped to wait for them to pass me with their 4 dogs as I was embarrassed by my shambling and didn’t want them to observe it!  These 2 are proper runners – he went up the hill like it  was a Sunday afternoon stroll, whereas I had to bully myself up this hill (all 20m or so of it…).  The shop is called Let’s Run, and they are very involved in coaching and getting beginners out with groups.

From here we headed towards Middlesborough as we both wanted to see the Transporter Bridge that crosses the Tees there.

We found it, and we went across the river on it (£1.30!), a very quick crossing after which we found ourselves in an area called Port Clarence, which used to be very busy, but which is now less so.

We had a quick drive around Middlesborough and were impressed by the evidence of past grandeur, and also the clear evidence of ongoing regeneration.

Making our way back the, slightly long way, we saw another bridge that appears to lift.  I have since discovered this to be the Newport Vertical Lift Bridge which is no longer in use, so no chance of seeing it in action unfortunately 😦

A couple of days later we decided to head south through the moors towards Helmsley.  Continue reading “A few more days on the Moors and seeing the Transporter Bridge”