Orchards and a canal. More prostitutes. The coast road. Cold and windy. Got benighted.
Our third crossing of the Grenwich Meridian. Now we are east of Grenwich.
This stretch was long and we started late because of the Saturday train times. We drove to Benicàssim and caught the train to Castelló. At the rail and bus station, we researched bus times but found nothing useful. Another train took us to Alqueríes.
The walk started to the right of, and parallel with the railway. The road soon diverged from the railway and came to an end. There was an orange orchard access path so we followed that. This ended in a river bed but there was an obvious way to cross. On the far side there was another orchard path that ran parallel with a canal. We followed the canal for a long time with orchards on our right and running water on the left. It was sunny and mild. Very nice.
Eventually the canal ended and we followed the main road for a time. Even this had a parallel agricultural road. Later we used a cycle path and yet another orchard road avoiding the noisy traffic.
When we stayed in Alicante, our street was obviously the red light district. What surprised us more was encountering our second batch of prostitutes hanging out in the middle of nowhere. Presumably one retires to a secluded part of an orange orchard to do business.
When we reached the autovia, we followed a parallel path. The Saturday traffic was light so it was not unpleasant.
A graffiti artist had daubed an eight foot high erect penis on a power line pole. This was faintly embarrassing. Round the next corner there was another one on a farm building. As we progressed, every suitably large area was similarly decorated. It was hard to keep a straight face as embarrassment gave way to juvenile mirth. This was a work of epic proportions if not the greatest contribution to the artistic progress of mankind.
Near the end of the autovia, we were trapped on the wrong side and had to make a long detour. Even this was rewarding because we passed an area like a miniature Venice with small canals between all the buildings and farms.
Finally we had a long slog along the coast, into a cold headwind. We passed the air strip but missed all the action. Earlier we saw sky divers in the distance. After two hours toil, it got dark and an hour later we failed to find the shortest route back to Benicàssim station. Finally our warm car with soft seats was waiting for us. Under other circumstances, we might have had a long cold wait for public transport.
We take the car to Benicássim and then the train to Castellon and use the time before the next train to find out about train and bus times between here and Vinarós. The buses seem to be at the wrong times but the trains are OK. There aren't many of them and the spaces between stations are further as this is a regional express rather than the commuter cercanias trains. Our walks will either be very long or quite short. We also asked about trains beyond Tortosa to Tarragona. The information man laboriously printed out a schedule for each week day and Sundays. Surely all weekdays are the same. I checked and they are.
When Nick Crane walked across Europe, he bought useful maps and then, to reduce weight cut out the strip he was going to need. This was mostly satisfactory except when he wanted or needed to change his route for some reason. Neil has done the electronic equivalent. Because the trains are more suitable for transit than buses we now want to go by the inland route rather than right along the coast. Neil did the electronic equivalent of cutting strips and saved on his laptop the Google Earth pictures of our expected route. He had not worked our detailed routes beyond Castellon because that was our proposed October leg. During December we were so busy going backwards and forwards to the hospital that we didn't have time for detailed route planning. Today in any case the whole thing is academic as Neil has lost the route he worked out last night and we are going to play that game where people are given a destination and they must work their way to it in as straight a line as possible. That is our plan for today.
We get the next train to Alquerías. I still don't know who the lost boy is. We set off in the right direction. We are on a quiet country lane. We are accosted by two Jehovah's Witnesses who are visiting houses in the area and want to give us a magazine about Water. I tell him that I have a friend, Keith, in England who brings me magazines and that he will probably bring that one. They say it will be good for me to read it in Spanish which is true but when walking you don't want to carry excess weight. They accept this and we carry on. I would never find such a rigid faith attractive or convincing but you have to respect people who give of their time to spread what they believe is right.
We continue and ahead of us is an incredible Richard Ball Tree (London Plane). Its leaves are bright red and silhouetted against a vivid blue sky. We end up in what looks like a small holding and a dead end. By skirting a pond and working our way round, however, we get onto another track which heads along a canal. Sometimes, we have to use the canal edge which is mostly fairly wide but occasionally so narrow that you have to be careful. Neil thinks we are more or less parallel with the track we should have been on. There is a very succulent bunny plant on the banks of the canal. It has a much more succulent stalk than others we have seen. Is it a different type? But nothing could have been nicer than this.
When we get close to Castellon, we get to a dead end and have to go back on our tracks and then plot a way through what is like a Little Venice crisscrossed with canals and ditches. Eventually we get round all this and can begin to make progress once more. Today's walk is long and because of our late start. (The first train leaves an hour later on Saturdays.) and having to change trains and research our transfers, this walk feels even longer than it is. On the far side of Castellon we walk through a lovely park. Then rather than go back on the road we stay in and end up in a golf club. We have to retrace our steps again.
We pass a little airstrip. We had previously seen people sky diving in the distance but the last flight had now landed and we didn't see this close to. We head on north. There is a stiff head wind and it is getting cold. We cross a river and by a stroke of luck witness a bore going fast upstream. I have never seen this before. Neil manages to get a picture. We didn't know it at the time but further north Spain was experiencing the worst tidal surge for 60 years. There was extensive flood damage I think in Salou.