The Journey North-Westward

As calm descended we thought we’d take a wander along the cycle route. We found our small caravan family tucked in behind an old station building, and comfortably out of earshot. 

We then discovered that some of previously mentioned school horde had in fact stayed, no doubt to camp out. Fortunately there were three teachers and about eight children that we could see anyway. The teachers were wisely well away from the children, enjoying their meal near another redundant building. Their pupils were completely out of earshot, which in retrospect we realised was not actually possible in a naturally quiet valley like this, combined with the remarkable volume that some children can achieve. I don’t think it unfair to say that the Spanish are renowned for their loudness, and sheer volume, and this particular small group of children, principally the girls in this case, were doing a fine job of driving us to distraction. 

On returning to our motorhome, we discovered our reasonably large, and growing, neighbouring family were having running races on the cycle track directly behind our motorhome. We thought we’d continue our walk and take a wander, this time up the entrance road. Then we began seriously contemplating finding somewhere to move our “home for the night” to. 

We found a good size piece of unofficial flat parking right next to the road, and that is exactly where we ended up. There couldn’t have been more than half a dozen cars go by throughout whole night, and it was definitely the best decision. Despite this, the aforementioned children in the care of their teachers, now really a long way from us could be heard shouting and screaming in this spot of natural beauty until at least 11:30pm. 

In the morning sunlight our first unofficial wild camping spot was stunning. Checking for vipers, just in case, I wandered up to the crest of an adjacent bank and the view was very nice indeed. At that moment half a dozen trial motorbikers ploughed their way through the undergrowth just below me, but soon they disappeared, their selfish noise pollution following them about 10 minutes later. 

In normal circumstances this would have been a very pleasant overnighting experience, but I think we managed it well and enjoyed ourselves in the end. We’ve learnt that wherever you overnight, weekends can be high risk from a noise point of view. This is our third weekend this trip and only the first time we’ve experienced such distractions. 

Yesterday the heat was definitely rising to levels we’re not comfortable with. After consulting weather forecasts, we could see temperatures only rising from here Southwards, compared to more modest low 20s towards the North West of the country. It was always our intention to drive as far South as we could before the temperature beat us and so this is the point we’re changing direction. 

Checking Dorling Kindersley, I can see an interesting “Backroads of Spain” drive entitled “The Land of Rioja”, and for some reason I’m drawn to it. 

We stopped en route for a lunch break, which extended into catching up on our blogging. This was next to a lake, just outside the town of Caspe. Sophie, determined to practice her skills in distinguishing between men and women, braved it as I sent her into a garage in the town to get a loaf. She returned triumphantly holding the “Barra” aloft, having successfully used the word “senora”. I can only presume a lady served her. 

Despite all the planning that goes into each day, I generally have no idea what the terrain will be like round the next corner. Spain is definitely a country of surprises, and very varied, often spectacular scenery, with generally excellent roads, and so far not busy unless on motorways. 

After our afternoon break we headed on Westwards, and within moments of commenting to Sophie on the great quality of most Spanish roads, we began a journey on one of the bumpiest tarmac roads I can remember. I’d understood some of the Eastern European roads to be a little lacking, but this was really bouncy. After 10k of this I was delighted to join a decent road again. 

However, the Satnav had me turning off pretty sharpish onto another poor quality road. Knowing our goal was only 20k down the road we gritted our teeth and carried on, but only after I promised we wouldn’t come down this one again. Halfway down we came across a vast solar farm, which put our solar panel to shame. As you might imagine, we are loving solar energy, with batteries being topped up to capacity daily, particularly so in this weather. 

Final destination was the interestingly named Belchite. In case you were wondering, Sophie tells me it is actually pronounced “Bell Cheater”. It turns out to be a very interesting town, and whilst I’d like to take credit for bringing Sophie here because of its history, I only aimed here because I saw an interesting Park4night I thought we should give a go. Described as “A lovely dusty car park behind the church. Very quiet. Very dark. Only noise is the church bells every hour. No Services!” It’s a really big, semi-derelict red brick church set on a hill overlooking a vast plain. I’ll take the sound of bells over youngsters any day, but let’s see how I feel on the subject in the morning. 

Other than “the area around Belchite being one of the most arid places of Aragon, in the Spanish Civil War the Battle of Belchite was fought in and around the town. After 1939 a new village of Belchite was built adjacent to the ruins of the old, which remain a ghost town as a memorial to the war. The remains of the old village have been used as filming locations.”

Progress since Siurana:

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