Beach, forest, many small steep dunes and a quiet road. Two Zonas Militares.
Atlanterra to Camping Torre de la Peña 2. We followed the road south and east towards the light on the point. At the gate across the road before the light, we went north east across country for about a kilometre climbing steeply. We used builder's tracks, goat paths and fire breaks to get through. At the top we came to another empty mountain road and cheerfuly walked down passing a "no entry military zone" sign. Luckily we were leaving the zone and had not been arrested or blown up. We took the long route to the beach skirting more of the military zone. Here the easterly gale became a real problem. It was so strong that our faces were deforming like those of sky divers! This was a nudist beach but no-one was sandblasting their private parts! Later we found shelter on tracks in woods of pine and broom. The tracks had been made by dune buggies. Near the end of the walk we were blocked by another military zone. We feared we would have to walk back miles skirting a mountain but luckily we were allowed to use the beach to get through. The distance was nearly double our estimate due to the meandering dune buggy paths and cross country climb.
We think we may have gone to Algeciras on the only day when there isn't a howling gale there. Is it going to be even windier next time when we do the straits proper?
Today, according to the weather forecast, the seas are going to be gross with fuerte marejada and gruesos. I have got my big cagoule and I haven't got my swimming dress and neither has Neil. I remembered to turn on the tellingphone., We can't see any stars and it's a bit cold.
Every day our bus arrives and the cossack opens concurrently so one person has to keep the bus while the other queues for the ticket.
Mini gave my cagoule to some Germans up the pummock in Tenerife and we had to run after them to get it back. That cagoule is now dead and I using its stuff sack for my new one MIni gave me to go round Europe in.
We've just got to a three way junction and we don't know which way to go. We are going to return to the previous junction and take the coast road route instead. This takes about five minutes.
Now we are going on the road which follows the coast round. Neil has seen an algarve algarving. We've just crossed a ravine on a bridge and are going up the other side. We're ignoring the right turn where it says prohibido pasar and are heading on up the hill following.
We're now at the start of the road to the Faro Camarinal. The road is closed to traffic. We go on a track to the left of the two roads which look as if they are heading for the lighthouse.
You'll know you've got onto the right track when you get to some huge stones you have to climb over.
We have done 3.43km. Roman exfoliating sand on suncream. We shall have the most ravishing complections by the time we've finished.
There is a labyrinth of tracks going up the hill.
Initially, we head for the triangular shaped rock sticking up. When we get near this, there is a pylon on the second ridge down ahead of us which is our next objective.
We have now picked up a normaler Wanderweg (German for a normal footpath) and are heading straight for the pylon passing below the boulder.
We now turn off the normaler Wanderweg and are going straight uphill towards the stone boulder. This is because as our track came level with the boulder it began to go downhill.
Neil has photographed a lovely buttercup, pale vincas, large white cistus imminent and little white tongues, aristolochia and clematitis.
12.00 we've got to the pylon. No way to explain the route just up and left, up and left till you get to it.
Centaury thistle, white arenaria, different from the arenaria on the Barbate hills.
At the pylon we see some donkey tracks which is good news as the donkey is unlikely to have come up the way we did so we hope they will lead us to the road which the GPS says is only 360 metres away.
We are very happy to have been able to get through this bit as we had thought it might be a military zone and that would have been sad. Remember the people in Athens.
We go through a barbed wire gate. There is a loop to unhook so obviously this is the intention.
Now we go across open grass, past the pylons after the camomile lawn.
12.05 we reach the road and are hit by the full onslaught of the gale.
When we get to the top, we turn right and downhill as left is a narnula. The GPS says so.
I am using my helen as a dougal. Today we are having pepper stuffed with bacalão which came as a free gift with tomate frito. It's edible but I shan't be rushing out to buy more.
The formicas in this lunch place seem to like onion and orange which yesterday’s smaller ones didn't. They were struggling with a large bit I had put down so I kept breaking off a bit until they could manage it.
We've just reached two signs. The first says this road does not go to Zahara de los Atunes, which we knew and the next one says Prohibido el paso Zona Militar so that's a pity as we've already been on it. Luckily we were not shot or arrested.
We've just come over the pummock and the way we want to go through to the beach is a fenced military zone so we are having to go round it on a surfaced road. We hope we can find a way through beyond it. If not we may have to curtail today’s walk as time is getting on.
Some Militars have just gone past us and Neil says it is a good job that we are no longer in a Zona Militar as we could have been arrested. I'm sure we're OK as we are nowhere near a zona militar - not now any way.
We have just met some Germans from Bayern München who asked us if there was a way through the way we had come. We said there was about one kilometre not surfaced and just goat tracks where they would have to carry their bikes. We ask where they have come from in case they can confirm our route but they have come by the main road so no luck there. The cyclists set off but soon abort and come back down again. I certainly wouldn't have liked to do that stretch carrying a bike. Is a cycling shirt the answer to carrying problems? All those little pockets round the back side?
At the entrance to the village, there is a signpost to Baelo Claudia - a Roman ruin. We can see it in the distance. We buy a Guide to the Birds of the Straits of GibraltarNeil puts it in a his plistic candelabra bog. We have a frigo ice cream. The restaurant where we buy it and the one opposite Nestle are both full of a party of English people: quite young ones. One of them has a butterfly net so perhaps they are the same group we saw out of the bus window earlier.
We are back on the beach now and being fiercely exfoliated.
There are prostrata helimium, bright pink cistus colour.
We are now heading a tiny bit north of east to find a way off the beach as it is very tough going in the wind and sand. We wander about a bit but eventually come to a sandy track fairly near the beach which is not too overgrown - as were the tracks slightly further inland.
About 2km along the coastal path, we see Africa for the first time. We are now genuinely in the straits - hence the funnelling wind and storm-tossed seas.
Our sandy track which ran up and down the edge of the beach leads to a track suitable for vehicles so we are sure now there is a woo through.
We see bracken and a butterfly. Also bracken near the pylons earlier.
We have just got to the end of our track where it joins a more major road. On our left is another military base. We are happily proceeding on our way confident that now nothing can block our progress when a guard comes rushing out of his sentry box to ask us where we are going. We tell him and then he asks us where we have come from and we say Atlanterra and we are walking round the coast of Spain. We can't pass. This is a Zona Militar (Military Zone).
We ask if we can pass by on the beach. The guard looks reluctant but admits this not impossible so we return the way we have come, knowing that there is a turning signed to the beach a few hundred metres back. We were very surprised to find a military base here at the end of the promontory although we had thought it quite possible that we might have been sent back at an earlier stage.
We are now turning left and going down towards the beach. Vehicles are warned that there is no where to turn round so I suppose they'll have to go down backwards (Alentejo story).
Once on the beach we turn left and follow the fence in the teeth of a gale again and sand storms. Later, when the fence to the military zone veers inland, we climb up a sand dune and continue to follow it up where the going is less strenuous.
At our break described below, Neil gets his towel out so it's obviously going to be a serious break.
It is 5.40 and we have finished our circuit of the military enclosure. It could have been a lot bigger, possibly even making us go all the way to Tarifa along the windy beach which we didn't want to do today, so we’ve been let off relatively lightly.
We're now going along a little donkey track parallel with the road to get to the fierce main road where we turn right to get our bus back. We have our second lunch here just beyond the Zona Militar sign so we are legal. It is a lovely place to stop, under pine trees and not a soul in sight.
Later, when a bus passes us, Neil says it was this second lunch which made us miss it. Quite true. In view of the time of day, we could have made do with tea.
The last two and a half kilometres take us past a very large sand dune. The road is half covered with sand and some of the pine trees are up to their waists in it. It is absolutely enormous and with a wind like today's we can see how it got that size. As the dune grows, the pine trees at the edge die off.
We have got to the main Algeciras Cádiz road and have walked along to a café to ask where the nearest bus stop is. We are directed a hundred metres up the road. There we meet a couple of men with some cows and ask them the same question. They send us back to where we have just come from. We say we asked there and they sent us here.
The upshot of all this was that back there, was the stop for Algeciras and this was the stop for Cádiz.
Eventually we reach Camping Torre La Peña and this is where we have to get off next time in February 2006.
Now Neil can see a sign up the road which looks like a bus stop and he wants to go to it so we do but it is a bed sign for accommodation not a bus stop so we go back to our place. My feet are really killing me. We wait for about an hour, not too bad as we just missed one bus. Luckily the one that came in was from Málaga to Cádiz and went via Chiclana so we wouldn't even need to change.