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 Walk Across Europe

2005-03-29 - Trip 4 - Leg 24

Spain, Andalucia and Cadiz

Rota to Santa Maria

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25.5 km today.
3.2 km/h average today.
7 hours 51 mins walking time.
56.1 km this trip.
445.2 km from start.
0 metres minimum height.
50 metres maximum height.
105 metres ascent.
92 metres descent.
 Track Log: Logged.
 Travel: Bus.

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Busy road often bypassed by a pecuaria. American air base.

Rota to El Puerto de Santa Maria. This walk was much longer than expected because we had to skirt a military, naval and air base. The shorter route along the cost was closed to the public and the inland route went all round the air base. Fortunately a pleasant Via Pecuaria (farm track) ran parallel with the main road for much of the route.

Today I have not got the Muvo. Neil took it away to delete files already typed up and replaced it exactly where I left it but normally I put it in my coat pocket the night before to ensure I bring it. I make notes on paper.

We went back to Rota on the bus (8.30 from Playa Barrossa; 9.00 to Cádiz and 10.00 to Rota) - a relatively late start for this holiday! Because the 8.30 bus was very late, we missed our connection to Cádiz, a town where explorers come from and leave from, and had to take the following one. In order not to miss our Rota bus of which there are relatively few, we got off the bus at the start of the town, which is little more than one long street and crossed over hoping to find a Rota bus along this stretch. We fiddled about a bit looking at and admiring the sea and then thought perhaps not all buses stopped at all stops so I asked the man at the Cádiz Madrid booking office which was right there - an unlikely location as the bus station is miles away and he said we would have to get on at the hospital. There was little chance of us getting that far in the time, but we gave it a go., Luckily, there was a stop clearly marked Rota just a few hundred yards along, so we made it easily. We can now save 40 minutes when necessary by using this technique.

We hoped to get to Puerto de Santa Maria or even Puerto Real along the coast but suspected that a Navy Base would prevent it. We tried two different approaches, one ending with barbed wire and the other with a beach with a fence across it at the far end. We returned the way we had gone and, as a last attempt, had a talk with the Spanish guard at the gate of the Base to ask if we might be allowed through. The answer not surprisingly was no.

When we got back home, we particularly enjoyed seeing the Google Earth pictures of this and other camps which showed us all the sensitive things we shouldn’t have seen.

We had seen planes flying over the previous day clearly marked US Airforce so obviously they have a presence here. With this and the presence of Spanish Troops in Iraq it is not so surprising that they had been victims of a terrorist attack in Madrid.

After that, the walk was simply a matter of following the route taken by the bus to circumvent the camp. This added 11km to our walk and meant it would be impossible to get to Puerto Real today. Although we enjoyed looking at the various different types of aircraft flying over including a very large tank-carrier that flew over us very low over and over again obviously for training purposes, we had some sympathy for the Yanks go home type slogans painted up here and there.

Luckily as the walk was going to be very long, all along this stretch, apart from the section in the town itself, was bordered by an unmade-up path or track. Tractors do not seem to be allowed on some major trunk roads in Spain and this means that other routes have to be provided for them. They are called pecuarias which has a suitably rural feel to it. I haven’t yet located a dictionary with it in but it feels drover-like.

From Rota to the junction, we used the Camino Rota -Chipiona and once we rejoined the Chipiona road, ours was labelled Via Pecuaria - sheep route? (check – tried but failed) Once we had walked right round three sides of the base, we hoped to pick up the road going back down to the sea to complete our walk as we had hoped to start it - along the coast and up the River Guadalete to Puerto Santa Maria.

In the event, we found a much better route - another unmade-up track heading in exactly the right direction. We saw Chillean bell flowers along this stretch, some pale spiky daisies, also seen earlier, and a large pink convolvulus.

Meals today were even more unusual than usual. We didn't really start making any headway until 12.00 and had our main lunch at the junction with the Chipiona road. We are normally careful to remove our rubbish, but quite enjoyed making an exception today as the only shade we could find was more or less a rubbish dump any way and we simply added our contribution to it.

Portuguese is French upside down said Michael. (Add to Portuguese section)

There seems to be a network of well signed Vias Pecuarias. We must look these up on a website because details would be really useful for future walks. Planned use is safer than just picking them up as you go.

Towards the end, our track started to veer to the left rather than to the right as we had hoped and, as the land was agricultural, we couldn't go across country. We had to turn left, rejoin up the San Lucar Puerto de Santa Maria Road and follow it back into the town. Once there we had to make for the Bull Ring in the centre. As Neil had way-marked this on his GPS during the bus journey we were able to go there avoiding main roads. Finding it is not difficult as it is well sign-posted.