Our route around the Murcia area has been convoluted to say the least, driving back to Mazarron to pick up the computer, and passing through lovely countryside with pine trees and small lakes on the lower mountain slopes. Areas of semi barren land with the pale, sandy coloured soil interspersed with bushes and flowers that flash by outside Della’s windows, which makes it quite tricky to get photos as the scenery changes and disappears with the miles. Some acres under cultivation can be seen with rows of crops making man-made patterns in the landscape, olive trees with their grey-green leaves and the vibrant green, shiny leaves of the citrus fruit trees making a great contrast against the soil.
The yellow Bermuda Buttercup (Oxalis pes-Caprae) has other names African wood sorrel, bermuda sorrel and buttercup oxalis among others; originally from Africa it is an invasive species in many parts of the world.
It propagates through its underground bulbs, is extremely prolific and hard to eradicate, covering any spare bit of land available. However, I think it does make a very pretty picture under the citrus orchards, by rivers and literally everywhere in between.
Soon we got to Los Delphines Campsite, close to the coast but set back into the scrubland with views up towards the hills. We have got our set up timing down to 15 minutes with levelling Della on ramps if required, (spirit level is useful for this), this is because apparently the fridge doesn’t work well if the vehicle is too sloped. We usually fill up with drinking water at the previous site and empty the grey water tank. Hook up to electricity requires little effort, connecting the cables but you do have to check for reverse polarity as it could cause a potential shock hazard. A handy little light inside tells us if this is the case! We can then turn the continental two pin electric plug upside down and unplug any gadget we are using after use, very technical!
Soon we are checking out the facilities of the site and here the showers, washing machines and dryer are all housed in a well maintained block. There is a bar and small covered terrace area where the internet is free. The site has small deciduous trees so we are not shaded thank goodness, anyway we do tend to avoid pitches that have any shade. All the pitches we have been on are compressed gravel which is great because there is no churned up ground and no getting stuck in mud. It is quick and easy to put the matting outside with chairs and tables and the wind-out awning provides a nice bit of shade, if required.
In temperatures of 25C we walked down to the coast past lovely mimosa trees which glowed yellow against the blue sky. The coastline is dotted with palm trees and has a rocky beach with a curved edge across to the distant end with huge rocks down to the sea.
Walking up onto a promontory gave a good view of the entire area and I found pretty purple wild irises growing only around 5 inches tall to keep out of the wind.
A longer walk the following day onto the wild area behind the campsite provided wonderful views of the hills looking very craggy and barren against the sky.
We did lots of stopping to find birds in our binoculars but apart from lots of sparrows, starlings and crested larks there seemed to be little else until a new bird popped up onto a small bare twiggy tree. Neither of us had seen one before and thankfully it stayed close by for ages, allowing us to remember a good description so we could look it up later. We found out it was a black eared wheatear! (This is an image from Google.)
We listened to stone curlews calling in the evening but although we knew they were behind the site, their camouflage is so complete they are rarely to be seen in the daytime unless they move, and they don’t, being a mainly nocturnal species. (This is another image from Google.)
We enjoyed our first BBQ with a 3-course meal of garlic prawn tapas, dorada fish fillets and vegetable skewer, with strawberries and cream, all accompanied by delicious Spanish white wine at 1.79 euros a bottle!
Moving on again, we stopped off at El Hondo Nature Reserve with some saline lagoons and boarded walkways. We soon spotted red crested pochard, marbled teal, white faced duck, black necked grebe, avocets and more fabulous flamingos. In total we added another 8 birds to our burgeoning list, currently standing at 90! Not bad for happy amateurs.
From the new campsite at Santa Pola and walked along the coast passing a sad old corpse of a boat now only a skeleton, and along dunes where we added a great grey shrike to our bird sightings. Further along pine trees had established themselves along with various plants and as we followed the path one of the huge black metal Spanish Bulls made a good sight nearer the road. Other than that, there was little of interest but it was a good walk in sunny weather so no complaints.
Having previously enjoyed a good walk in temperatures of 26-27C we were due for a shock. That evening the weather grew windy and the forecast rain came down in torrents. Thunder rolled in and the sky was lit up by lightening which was stunning to watch through the skylight window from the comfort of a cosy, warm bed. The sound of the rain lashing outside and the wind buffeting Della around we were very glad we were not outside. We heard on the radio that the downpour had caused considerable damage in the Alicante area, road chaos and flooding during one of heaviest rain storms in the last 80 years.
We visited friends Trevor and Irene and stayed for three nights. They live in a lovely little village called Parcent, located in the hills west from the ‘nose’ of land that is the Calpé – Dénia area, and a few miles west of Xaló. We had a very happy time catching up where we left off a few years earlier, eating lunch and having a beer. Through the afternoon, sitting on their sunny terrace overlooking stunning views, surrounded by plants, their own lemon tree with the smell of jasmine it is easy to see why they love it, and so do we! The people in the village are very friendly and always appreciate you trying a little Spanish with them, the café/bar/shop is a hive of activity in the morning and a meeting place for a chat with friends.
We had a couple of walks after breakfast walking out along the tracks passing orange trees and vegetables and heading up hill to the pine trees which smell lovely with the warm sun on them. Views from the top are breath-taking, the valleys below with small houses dotted here and there as they spread out from the village. We passed olive groves, almond trees, orange blossom, trimmed vineyards, artichokes with their grey spiky leaves and rough, barren looking land dotted with bushes and rocks providing a great habitat for birds and presumably wildlife, although we have seen only one red squirrel and two rabbits in our entire trip around Spain so far! Further along we turn a corner and another vista awaits our eyes, spreading miles towards more mountains with puffy white clouds hovering over the tops.
Immediately beside the track we admired some tall young trees, slender and topped with wonderful purple flowers that the bees were very busy visiting. We found out from a local that the trees were only planted a couple of years ago for wood chip production and were fast growing so producing revenue very quickly. From Google we found out they are Paulownia Trees.
We passed by the Lavadero de Parcent, which was a public wash house built before there was running water in the village. The water comes from a spring ‘La Font del Llavador’ which rises just beside the wash house where there is also a drinking trough. It passes into a central reservoir in the wash house, lower passages situated either side for the women to complete their washing on stones set on an angle allowing washing and rinsing in one open air ‘room’. The used water continues on its way and is then used for watering the vegetable gardens. When the village houses were supplied with water the use of the wash house decreased, however, renovation started in the 1990s and some people still use it today.
On our way back up the hill we finally see the lovely church in Parcent, it’s spire surrounded by pretty clouds.
After 3 days we collected Della from the Tramonti Restaurant car park at the bottom of the village where Trevor had arranged with the owner for us to park up.
We have been to this restaurant on previous visits, enjoyed the owner’s company and another amazing meal here on this occasion too. We have been made so welcome and will no doubt return in the future.
The map has been updated again, see where we are now on the website.