Valencia (Valencia, Castellon), Catalunia (Tarragona)

Xeraco to La Rapita - 273.9 km - December 2008

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Languedoc Roussillon:

Perpignan Beziers Nîmes


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2012 - Italy

Liguria, Piedmont, Lombardy:

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Beccles Walks     Tenerife Walks     Eel's Foot, Minsmere

20th December 2008 - Sat Arrival
21st December 2008 - Sun Xeraco to Cullera
22nd December 2008 - Mon Cullera to El Romani
23rd December 2008 - Tue El Romani to Valencia
24th December 2008 - Wed Valencia to Pucol
25th December 2008 - Thu Pucol to Almenara
26th December 2008 - Fri Almenara Alqueries
27th December 2008 - Sat Alqueries Benicasim
28th December 2008 - Sun Benicasim Orpesa
29th December 2008 - Mon Orpesa Torreblanca
30th December 2008 - Tue Torreblanca Alcala
31st December 2008 - Wed Alcala Benicarlo
1st January 2009 - Thu Benicarlo Vinaros
2nd January 2009 - Fri Vinaros La Rapita
3rd January 2009 - Sat Barcelona Stansted


2008-12-Xeraco-to-La-Rapita.kml - Download this KML file. If installed, this loads into Google Earth.
2008-12-Xeraco-to-La-Rapita.gdb - Download this GDB file. If installed, this loads into Garmin MapSource.
2008-12-Xeraco-to-La-Rapita.gpx - Download this Garmin GPX file. This can be loaded into any application that recognises the GPX format.
GPS Babel is a really useful tool for translating between GPS file formats.

We had to cancel our October trip because our mother Margaret became quite seriously ill with a stroke and complications including pneumonia and deep vein thrombosis. She may have had a heart attack too. At 87 years old we were worried. Fortunately by Christmas she was much better so we have resumed our walk. One side effect is that our base is about 100 km too far east so we have had some very long car drives to get the walk done. We decided that this was cheaper and easier than canceling our Christmas accommodation and finding a new base further west. We prefer to use public transport but for this trip we had a hire car. We hope that the insurance claim for the missed October trip will offset this extra cost. The hire car with short train rides has worked well. Each day, we walked from the train's destination back to our car.

This part of Spain seems to be the major orange growing district. We have spent hours passing orchards with no outside view because of the trees. Fortunately these orchards are pleasant so the walking has been nice. We have mostly avoided the built-up coastal strip. Mile after mile of high rise building and concrete and tile sea front gets quite dull. Also in December the coast can be windy and decidedly cool. Inland there is shelter and the sun has a chance to warm things up. The mainline railway the A7/AP7 autovia and the main N340 coast road have been both a blessing and a curse. Frequently agricultural roads often run parallel with these major arteries. These "cami rural" roads provided useful routes. Mainly we tried to avoid the AP7. The railway was much nicer to walk beside. We had to be careful not to get trapped on the wrong side of these arteries. Google Earth has been a wonderful planning tool but we only got about half the routes properly planned before hospital visiting took up most of our free time. Also Spain has a major infrastructure update going on so the Google Earth images are not always up-to-date.

We made very good progress on this trip. Our routes were both pleasant and direct. We were able to avoid most of the towns and industrial areas and find efficient routes. This was mainly because of the open and flat countryside. When the mountains come close to the sea, the choice of path is much more limited. In the worst case the choice is between the beach and the main road. When the shore line consists of high cliffs, the main road is the only option.

Bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger. What had to happen eventually has happened. My little Psion 5 which has faithfully recorded all these walks so far and, indeed, recorded this holiday’s walks too has decided to go bananas. This happened when I connected it to my PC at home. There was an unholy screech and nothing I tried would stop it. With any more up-to-date appliance you can remove the batteries and the machine will reboot. This also applies to the Psion but, although the systems are maintained, any documents are lost. I always keep my notes until everything is safely transferred and these are what I shall be using to recreate our Xeraco Sant Carles leg.

The original document was in excess of 10,000 words and it will be interesting to see how doing it from memory rather than at the time affects the length.

Our last trip was over Easter 2008 and we had intended to go again in May as we are really getting into the swing of it now. I was due to have a hysteroscopy in April and provided that didn’t throw up anything untoward, we were all set to go. That went smoothly. There was an endometrial polyp and once this was removed I was right as rain within a week. It was benign so there was no follow-up treatment.

Then Peter Sabberton who is building us a house said he would not be able to complete it by the end of April and that our new moving date was 15th May. This was too soon to our proposed departure date and we decided not to go ahead but to go in October instead.

With this in view, we booked accommodation at Borriol near Castellon. We had tried to get an apartment in Valencia as this was a hub for all our transportation links. However, as the Valencia Grand Prix was on that week, there was nowhere affordable available. Most owners had inflated their prices for the four days of the event and the apartments of those who had not were all fully booked. We found this apartment at Borriol sufficiently far away not to be affected by the Grand Prix and with good transportation links into Castellon from where we could commute to our various starting points.

We had flights to Valencia with Ryanair and were all set to go. Then in September, I found a lump on my pectoral muscle. On investigation, this proved to be cancerous and our October trip was now in question. Luckily, the hospital team decided to try medication to reduce the tumour as surgery would adversely affect my left arm. This was excellent news and the trip was once again on although my insurance company refused to cover anything linked to the tumour. I was prepared to take the risk as it is most unlikely that anything could occur at short notice which would prevent you completing your week and seeking treatment on your return. The trip was on.

Then just a week before we were due to depart Mini was taken into hospital with an irregular heart beat. We were not too concerned as this had happened before and she was OK again once her heartbeat had been regularised. We were so confident that we checked in on the Monday. Then on the Tuesday when we went to visit, we noted a marked deterioration. It seemed to us that Mini had had a stroke. She had difficulty finding the right words and most of what she said was gibberish. The hospital staff said they had done a scan and there was no sign of a stroke. They attributed the gibberish to an infection as she now also has pneumonia. We were unconvinced because while you may rave with a temperature, you can still say proper words even if they make no sense. Still we deferred to the staff’s knowledge and accepted it. Once her temperature was down, she should revert to normal. Then a second scan was carried out and she had indeed had a stroke. We decided to defer our decision on whether to travel or not until the last possible minute. If she was so confused as not to know who we were, we could go on the basis of maintaining frequent contact so we could be back quickly if necessary. If she had recovered sufficiently for us to be able to remind her about our trip we would also be able to go. But she remained confused and the one thing that seemed to bring her some comfort was to have us all there and to be able to count us. We decided to cancel and to hope that our insurance companies would reimburse flight and accommodation costs.

The owner of the Borriol property refused to charge us anything for her house even though we said we could reclaim the money and we are indebted to her for her forbearance and generosity. We are due to enter France in June and I would like to be able to thank her in person if possible. We know she lives in the south but for the moment no more than that.

By Christmas, Mini was a lot better. She is back home and still has a problem finding the right words. At one point she went through a German phase which surprised us as she did not learn German until she was an adult but she has got over that and is coping reasonably well.

Our December trip was therefore now on but with an apartment in Vinaros well north of Xeraco and not especially convenient for transport links. We had chosen it because it was in a nice location for Mini ad fairly central assuming we had done the October leg.

I had spent the evening prior to departure singing carols round the pubs in Beccles with the Beccles Singers. Ian is our director and he was not pleased with our performance. I think the singers did not give it the concentration they would for a concert and also several had had a minimal amount of lubrication before setting off. Having once done the same one evening when I was due to play string quartets with friends and one of the players was late, we filled in the time with a glass or two of wine. Our playing when he eventually arrived was atrocious. Since then I have tried never to drink anything before driving because I know what even one drink can do.

I was already in my journey clothes and planned to have a little lie down on my return prior to our 2.30am departure for Stansted. Ryanair had cancelled our original flights to Valencia and had offered us flights on the previous Friday instead. As Neil is a teacher we couldn’t use the alternative offered and asked for our money back. This was a blessing in disguise because it meant we also got Mini’s money back which would not otherwise have been the case as she had not yet taken out holiday insurance. We then rebooked with Easyjet but had to come back on Saturday 2nd January rather than Sunday 3rd as we had been able to do with Ryanair. The Easyjet flight on Sunday got in late and as Neil had to starto work the next day that was not ideal.

Date / Distance

Transport and Route Summary

Sat 20th Dec 2008

London Stansted to Barcelona.
Car, fly, car. We drove to Stansted at 02:15 in the morning. The Pink Elephant was on better form than usual. Our on-line check-in worked and the Easyjet flight to Barcelona was uneventful. We had hoped to fly to Valencia with Ryanair but the flight was cancelled, presumably through lack of demand after the credit crunch. We also lost a day of holiday because of this.

Sun 21stDec 2008
21.7 km

Xeraco to Cullera
Car, train, walk, car. The walk was on quiet roads parallel with the coast and railway. The terrain was flat and agricultural. We passed through orchards, mostly orange, and later paddy fields. We avoided the built-up coastal strip and the main roads. Beside the railway, we encountered a freshly severed dog's head. Of the body there was no sign.

Mon 22ndDec 2008
23.5 km

Cullera to El Romaní
Car, train, walk, car. Most of the walk was through wetlands and paddy fields. We also passed through two small towns. The roads were deserted and the weather was fine. This was lucky because there is absolutely no shelter here. We walked parallel with the railway and the main road. We were successful in avoiding the main road.

Tue 23rd Dec 2008
23.8 km

El Romaní to Valencia
Car, train, train, walk, train, car. Change at Valencia Nord. Part one of the walk was rural and delightful. Part two was urban, interesting but often unpleasant because of road traffic.

Wed 24th Dec 2008
21.5 km

Valencia to Puçol
Car, train, walk, car. About one hour out of Spain's third city, we picked up a disused railway cycle route. We followed this for most of the day. Later a new road, not yet on Google Earth had been built on top of our route but there was a parallel agricultural road that served very well. There were lots of orchards with oranges and tangerines.

Thu 25th Dec 2008
24.7 km

Puçol to Almenara
Car, train, walk, car. We walked for hours through pleasant orange groves laden with fruit. At Sagunto there were three hill top castles and a shop selling tuna and tomato pasties for a Christmas day treat. Sagunto also had some heavy industry and railway lines and sidings. These did not spoil the walk.

Fri 26th Dec 2008
22.6 km

Almenara to Alqueríes
Car, train, walk, car. This was a pleasant walk through orange and tangerine orchards. There was a stretch parallel with the AP7 autovia. Even this was bearable because our agricultural access road was far enough away from the traffic. We were surprised to encounter prostitutes at a featureless crossroads with nothing but orchards nearby.

Sat 27th Dec 2008
28.9 km

Alqueríes to Benicàssim
Car, train, train, walk, car. Change at Castelló. In the morning, we walked beside a canal with orchards on both sides. We avoided most of the main roads by using parallel agricultural roads. There was a 10 km slog along the coast into a cold headwind. We had a late start because of the train times so we got benighted. Read the full log for details of the penises and more prostitutes!

Sun 28th Dec 2008

Benicàssim to Orpesa
Car, taxi, walk, car. On a dull wet morning, we reached the coast where we met some local ramblers. They led us along a useful cliff path. Later we picked up the disused railway, being converted into a foot and cycle way. We followed this through deep cuttings, across steep embankments and through a long dark tunnel. We would have found a torch useful!
Mon 29th Dec 2008
16.4 km
Orpesa to Torreblanca
Car, train, walk, car. We walked along the coast to the end of Marina d'Or. Then we took a farm track with reeds on one side and orchards on the other. This was totally quiet and very nice. Torreblanca station is outside the town and we stayed on nice quiet lanes all the way.
Tue 30th Dec 2008
18.8 km
Torreblanca to Alcalà de Xivert
Car, train, walk, car. The walk started parallel with the railway line on empty farm tracks. Later after getting muddy in a clay pit, clearly visible on Google Earth, the route went round the back of a mountain across very nice terrain. This was part of the Sierra de Irta Natural Park. This is a good area for an undemanding walking holiday based at Alcalà de Xivert.
Wed 31st Dec 2008
26.8 km
Alcalà de Xivert to Benicarló
Car, train, walk, car. Much of the walk was parallel with the AP7 autovia. As this was new years day it was fairly quiet and often we were some distance from the traffic. The route itself was delightful with almond orchards and mountain terrain. There were next to no cars and a few mountain bikers. Nearer Benicarló it was harder to find nice tracks but we succeeded apart for the last couple of kilometres.
Thu 1st Jan 2009
16.2 km
Benicarló to Vinarós, Zona Triadors
Taxi, walk. We walked through deserted the back streets of Benicarló and then along the coastal paths and sea front parades. We passed police guarding the body of a dead woman, washed up on the beach. Not the most pleasant experience for the onlookers and decidedly bad for the victim!
Fri 2nd Jan 2009
18.1 km
Vinarós, Zona Triadors to Sant Carles de la Ràpita
Walk, bus. A walk along coastal paths and lanes with very short stretches on the N340 main road.
Sat 3rd Jan 2009
Vinarós to Beccles via Barcelona and Stansted
Car, fly, car. A straightforward journey with Easyjet. There were no delays or long waits for car park buses.

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