Great night. A couple of neighbours. Very quiet. Surprisingly cold and the big brown “bear” blankets had to come out. Beautifully clear night sky.
So, today we take our first dip back into our essential touring guide of Spain, DK Books’ Back Roads Spain. Bearing in mind our current position, we’re going to leave out the 3 stops to our North West.
It turns out that Santa Cruz de la Seros features in Drive 6, which has the grand title of “To the Roof of Aragon”. Next stop are the monasteries of San Juan de la Peña. You first come to the monestary founded in the 10th century, and then 1.5km further up there is the Monasterio Nuevo.
We’d understood that we bought tickets at the higher monastery, and then would be shuttled by bus down the steep road to visit the old monastery. It actually turned out that this is not the case off-season and you’d have to drive back down yourself, or walk. Sophie’s not a great fan of steep hikes, and I wasn’t keen to tackle that steep hill again in the van afterwards as our direction of travel would require this. It’s absolutely fine as a one off, but much of it required first gear, which always makes Sophie nervous as she’s worked out that by the time you get to that stage you’ve run out of gears.
So, dream scenario for this Philistine, who doesn’t mind glancing at these buildings, but then just wants to drive on. It was agreed this is what we’d do. Result.
Having come all the way up, I suppose we must be on Aragon’s roof, and what a great drive it was after the monasteries. It was a long time before we saw another car, and there were plenty of places to pull over for breaks as required, and no shortage of overnighting opportunities should it have been the right time of day.
We’d intended fitting in a Lidl today, as we were low on drinking water. Whilst we carry around 60 litres of fresh water for washing and washing up, we buy bottled water for drinking as we go. Sophie reminded me that I had an app with the slightly off-putting name of WeTap, which whilst not sounding too appetising, does in fact show where there are drinking water fountains wherever you are. Spain is an excellent country for water fountains, but I didn’t hold out much hope of finding one on an app, bearing in mind how far we were out in the sticks.
WeTap came up trumps though, and a few km down the road we’d pulled up next to the drinking water tap, which WeTap informed me was actually working and that the flow was good. All our empty water bottles were filled, plus our water tank. Whilst parked up we’d noticed a sign for a panaderia, or bakers, pointing behind the post office, and leading to a little white building. So we braved it, knowing English was not an option in these parts and successfully bought our first Spanish lunchtime loaf of the trip.
A few more km down the road we found a stop overlooking a reservoir and surrounding mountains and tucked in to our bread with cheese, and unusually, beetroot. I think Sophie just grabbed what was left in the cupboards when we left home just over a week ago.
Once we’d passed the reservoir, the scenery went into overdrive, with remarkable orangey red rock formations soaring 300 metres into the sky. Absolutely stunning. After a quick visit to the attractive town of Murillo de Gallego, which sits within this amazing landscape, we went in the direction of the town of Aguero. This involved a detour, but I thought we should go for it. It turned out to be arguably one of the most amazing sights we’ve seen, and were so very pleased not to have missed it.
Finally, we headed for another town in a most spectacular setting. Los Mallos de Riglos actually sits right at the foot of those 300m high rock towers, and we’ve parked high up opposite with a spectacular view of the scene and of the valley below. The Park4night we chose has a particularly steep access road, which required first gear most of the way. Anyway, what a place to spend the night. Well worth it.