We revisited Los Escullos, a campsite in a enviable situation, surrounded by National Park and 15 minutes walk from the sea. The two dormant volcanoes tower above the flater lands below, wildflowers still blooming, crested larks, black redstarts and the black wheatears were all seen on the rocky scrubland of the lower slopes.
We met Claudia and Alex from Bavaria, both speaking excellent English, and Lucy their gentle cocker spaniel. As we all enjoyed walking we headed to Las Isleta del Moro along a track with rough grass and a few palm trees to a pretty white coastal village. There was a small collection of boats near a pretty bar where we enjoyed free tapas with a couple of drinks before walking back, and stopping to look at the natural rocky sculptures. There was one piece of rock that looked like a turtle’s head and another that looked like a crocodiles head, so we had fun with the cameras.
The campsite is close to the foothills of the volcanoes with the views over the sea, where our 3 hour walk end in a steep rocky decent onto the deserted small road leading to San José. Having been there before, we knew where to head for a wonderful mixed fish and salad lunch to recharge our batteries. We had decided to order a taxi for the return journey but one of the guys from the restaurant gave us a lift back to the campsite in his car, how very nice of him, and it saved walking 7 miles back the way we came or 5 miles around the road so we were well chuffed! His driving seat made us chuckle, almost lying down and then padded with cushions, his seat belt was useful too!
We all stayed at Las Negras and Agua Amaga for a couple of nights at each site and enjoyed many more walks together. There was some beautiful scenery with coastal walks, steep rocky inclines and great views of the hills as well as the villages below. Over 6 days we walked over 26 miles enjoyed beers in the sun, a couple of evenings chatting in our motorhome, a beautiful paella at a beachside restaurant with coffee and a brandy, we had a really great time together with lots of fun and laughter.
Going our separate ways, we headed to Mojácar, not close to the beach but a couple of miles inland and away from the small town at the top of a hill. A classic ‘pueblo blanco’ or white town, it has commanding views over a huge area, flat lands below, hills in the distance and right down to the sea.
It was an uphill walk the whole way but although it was sunny it wasn’t too hot; entering the town itself we found narrow streets, a few small plazas, tourist shops and cafe bars. Recently built, the large Plaza Nueva overlooks the amazing views and it is possible to walk around the four sides, it was incredibly windy so we didn’t stop too long and went to find a more sheltered spot for refreshments. After walking down to Mojácar Costa, on a much cooler day, we did nothing more than find somewhere to eat lunch and walk back again. Maybe on a warmer sunny day or if it was busier, we may have been more inclined to stay a while, but I’ve certainly seen much nicer places.
For a change of air and scenery we headed inland to the hills staying on an Aire in Ricote, 25 north west from Murcia. The rugged mountains looked spectacular as we travelled along the scenic twisting roads, along valleys and up to over 960 feet above sea level. Our friends Jess and Martin live nearby, further into the hills and through a very narrow entrance. The lemon groves were all around Martin told us that they have long sharp spines unlike orange trees which have none, very useful to remember when scrumping a few lemons for your gin and tonic!
We enjoyed time together birding over a vast area taking his car off-road on tracks between fields, to isolated tumble down barns, and out to large lakes and reservoirs. We were lucky to find a group of 14 great bustards feeding in the fields and several single ones including one flying which was a wonderful sight. These are large turkey sized birds with males weighing between 17 and 35 pounds, long blue grey neck, pale belly with chestnut and black over their back, wings and tail. These birds have also been successfully reintroduced to the UK with a breeding population on Salisbury Plain close to where we live. Another highlight were 13 dotterel, a wading bird now in non breeding plumage with a distinctive paler crescent on the sandy brown plumage just above the chest, a pale eye stripe, standing about 10 inches tall and well camoflauged. None one of us had seen this bird before so we all very pleased. In total we saw 49 species including farmland birds, ducks, herons, birds of prey including a young golden eagle which was a great sight as it flew overhead. It was a bright day but cold with a raw wind and in need of some warmth we found a local bar for a late lunch of the a Menu del Día; a large sharing salad with crusty bread, starter, main course, pudding, coffee, a large of bottle water, bottle of red wine and a pint of beer; all for €10 a head – unbelievable!
Heading back to the coast to warm up we paid Bolnuevo a return visit to use up a pre-paid camping bond we had purchased two years ago. Our friends Claudia and Alex soon joined us for 2 days having beaten a hasty retreat all the way from Malaga to avoid the unpleasant weather. We showed them the wonderful sandstone sculptures nearby that are constantly being developed by wind and rain, and which look their best against a blue sky.
There is a small working fishing harbour and a more attractive yacht marina at nearby Puerta de Marrazón where we tried a superb Morocan meal while watching the boats.
We walked somewhere every day and found a couple of tiny rocky islands close to the shore with a walkway over to them giving a good view of the coast line. It was lovely to return to Bolnuevo again and we clocked up quite a few miles along it’s promenade, wide sandy beaches and hillside above and had a couple of beers as you would expect!!!