With the weather set fair for awhile I set out for the wild northwest and North Coast somewhat weighed down by a pack full of provisions, and stopping at the last mini market to load up on sugary pastries. At the end of the tarmac
i met a couple of middle aged ladies coming back from the wildzone in sandles and flip flops so figured I’d be ok. I don’t know how they got far cos the track was rough across sharp and jagged limestone. The first point of interest was a nice rock arch.
The track made its way up to an old fortification though from what conflict I don’t know. It meandered across a landscape very similar to home on the western seaboard of Ireland. To the Burren or the Aran Islands, denuded of trees, with wind shaped vegetation
and a labyrinth of dry stone walls. But there was a lot more heat here which made it even less hospitable to plant growth.
Although the seed pods of Amarilis (?) showed that they liked the conditions more than they do in my garden.
The sea cliffs and views were pretty stunning and the azure blue of the water tempted some high diving.
The way was well signed with very frequent posts that even had reflective strips for anyone out after dark.
Another feature on the route are the self closing gates, hinged on slant with beautifully crafted latches.
This section was littered not only with miles of drystone wall but also unique animal shelters known as baracas and looking like fantastical towers of Babel.
They obviously had a lot of rock to clear. But suddenly it was no longer clear and the scrubs had taken over for awhile with the path hacked through the undergrowth an attractive environment for exotic creepy crawlies.
In the afternoon Cala Morell, the only little settlement on this stretch came into view, nicely situated above a sandy cove and with a fantastic necropolis that I’d have been tempted to stay the night in if I hadn’t wanted to push on further.
I met Olof here, a German living in Barcelona for the last 10 years, who was also hiking the Cami de Cavalls but in the opposite direction. He’d just come from where I was going , the empty quarter , and was able to give me some handy info. He warned me it was hard going and not to underestimate how long sections would take. I had been pondering this as Paddy Dillons guide had timings of 2km per hour hiking time, not including any photo, eating or exhaustion breaks and the man is no hiking slouch. Anyway Olof was a nice guy to spend some talk time with after the lonely trail.
The rock had changed completely as had the house style with everything, including the roofs painted white.
On I went up and down along the rocky shoreline and even though I had filled up with water in Cala Morell by the time I came upon some little fisherman huts and a spring I was glad to resupply.
Again there was a dramatic change with rock giving way to fields of sand and pine trees.
It was along this undulating area of forest and little sandy fields that I caught up with David, a Spaniard who had given up his job as fitness trainer and football ref to embark upon the project , a life of adventure eventually and hopefully funded by his youtube offerings. We carried on together, back over rocky shores again until just before dark making camp at a little house high above a bay.
A long day completing nearly 4 official stages and nearly 2 of Paddy’s. It was more of the same the next day made even longer by the fact that we missed a signpost through concentrating on our mutual Spanish and English lessons and not on the route. This meant we climbed a long long hill needlessly, had to retrace our steps and then climb the right long long hill. And we had to spend half an hour fixing my broken pack Macgiver style. Still the effort was rewarded with nice scenery, another holy spring and interesting geological stuff.
We came to a signboard at an official stage beginning indicating the rather off putting profile of the way ahead.
It was much worse than that. The graph had evened out all the short but very steep up and downs. 2 km a hour started looking like the stuff of champions.
But efforts were eventually and continuously rewarded at peaks along the way.
It was way too hot for that kind of effort and when we came down into a particularly attractive isolated beach I had to cool off braking my own rule of not swimming in salt water if I can’t wash off the salt afterwards for fear of chaffing.
Refreshed we were able to carry on, up and down again,and again on cliff top and level ground till we came a glorious beach that had a road to it. Glorious not only for the colour of the sand but mainly because there was a restaurant there. Sunday Lunch.
After satisfying the craving for food and drink I couldn’t resist the sea again before we carried on for another 3 hours and finding home for the night, a simple shelter with level concrete floor on a beautiful clear water cove where I yet again could not resist its allure. Later David also had to go diving to retrieve his dropped saucepan.
We were joined by a couple of gents from the mountains of Alicante where me and Sally had once wandered. The place looked nice at sunset.
With the foreseen salt rubbing a reality I hurried on in the morning past beaches of driftwood and nice rocks
hoping the little resort an hour or so further on would have a freshwater shower on the beach. It did but only one for washing feet. So I had to perform Houdini like writings to hold the button in whilst getting my body under the low tap. Felt better.
The place was obviously in the process of shutdown with amusements(?) of all kinds being taken away.
The others caught up with me at the supermarket and David and I carried on while the rest went for coffee There was too much road walking for my liking but eventually we got off road again.
Passed some lovely dragon trees
and down trails that could have been borreens.
We hit another beach resort and stopped for a drink and admired the mornings catch.
David was suffering for salt chaffing badly and stayed for a shower so we made our farewells and I carried on.
More sandy paths, more woods and then more resorts. I decided to join the holiday makers in a place right on the trail and attend to domestic affairs again. I’m gonna avail of the Buffett breakfast. Reckon I can gat enough in to last a day or so.
How the other half live eh.
Glad to hear you are surviving the slog and that it isn’t quite as much of an empty quarter as you thought. Looks like a fine landscape to keep drawing you through anyway
WALK ON WALK ON WITH HOPE IN YOUR HEARTS AND YOULL NEBVER WALK ALONE ALONE
Truly through Hell and High Water, Steve! The wanderings of Odysseus! What a great bit of walking! Your previous travels got to me so much that I’ve recently returned from a week cycling in France, from Poitiers to Caen. I love those dry Mediterranean landscapes after time spent in Israel and Crete. Stride on Wanderer and keep showing us the results. Reminds me of Antonio Machado, “Caminante, no hay camino, se hace al andar!”