Valderrobres to Calaceite

This was to be our first quiet morning and a chance to catch up with our respective blogging duties, and I think we made some progress following a pretty non-stop week. We exchanged blog addresses and waved goodbye to some Autotrail neighbours, T&J, from Devon. Their’s was probably the largest Autotrail motorhome we’ve ever seen, whereas ours is way down the other end of the scale.

Actually, after a quick look at our Random Motorhome Travels blog (, that we’ve been publishing for a few years now, it was T&J’s suggestion that our regular travelling updates, including loads of photos, would go down well on Facebook. So thanks to them I was prompted to look into how I could do this – one of those jobs I’d been putting off.

So thanks T&J, our Facebook Page, Random Motorhome Travels, has had a very encouraging response in its first few days, with over 50 follows at the time of writing. To put this into context, our web-based blog currently has about 80 followers, but that’s after a few years of publishing. If you haven’t followed us on Facebook yet, please check us out there and see if it’s the sort of highly visual content that might inspire your travels.

Anyway, after a trip to the local grocery store we had a simple lunch onboard at Valderrobres lovely aire, and then headed up the beautiful mountainous valley using our essential Backroads Spain book by Dorling Kindersley. This guided us on our tour last year and it’s looking promising for this trip.

First brief stop was the small town of Belceite, which is highly recommended for a proper visit by many, but ours was a fleeting stop. We then headed through the hilltop town of Cretas, and stopped at the next town, Calaceite, which was also situated on a hill, and overlooking a vast plain. They have a simple, but well-appointed, motorhome aire there and a very generous two-tier gravel carpark that gave us incredible open views over the plain. There were a few rumbles of thunder plus a few drops of rain but this soon passed and were then treated to the sun illuminating the terrain plus a complete double rainbow.

We had the place totally to ourselves for the night and other than the odd agricultural vehicle passing along the track below, we only saw a solitary dog-walker in the whole time we were there. Chatting to the lady in the Tourist Information office we found out that the aire had only been there about 6 months, which explains why it wasn’t in our Aires book, but was on the Park4night app, which is updated constantly by users.

A highly recommended stop, even if you’re on your long slog North after the Winter, or on your way South. Definitely worth a small detour and a lovely town to visit too.


Cunit to Valderrobres

• Day 5 – In the morning, a pleasant policeman asked us, and our neighbours to move to the parking area just behind where we were, which was easy. Temperature began to rise to the high teens. We headed off with the plan to start heading for the hills at Tortosa, where we stopped at a well-appointed aire for a late lunch and to take advantage of all the services. We then found ourselves in some spectacular mountainous scenery and, also with it being the weekend, began to feel that our trip had truly begun


Peralada to Cunit

After crossing the border, we overnighted at the aire at the pleasant Spanish town of Peralada, with its roosting storks nearby, where we’d had a successful night last year.

• Day 4 – My plan was to head SE to the coast and work our way along it for a bit until we would head inland to reach roughly where we’d given up travelling South last year. We’re not great lovers of built up coastlines but thought we’d cover it as part of our journey anyway. Nothing really grabbed us on this route, but we were pleased after a bit of research (thank you “Free Camping UK and Europe” Facebook group), to find a handy park4night next to the beach with palm trees in the coastal town of Cunit


Dordogne to the Spanish Border

Stop Press – Have just created a Facebook group (Random Motorhome Travels) for our blog & photos, so please feel free to join us there if your preference is Facebook, and spread the word to others who might be interested.

• Day 2 – Realised that our decision to head this way, although a very pleasant route and geographically correct as we were heading for the Mediterranean entry point to Spain, would be slower. Overnighted at a perfectly decent aire at Salles sur l’Hers

• Day 3 – This would be the day we crossed that Spanish border. It didn’t look far on the map, but turned out to be quite a long journey. SatNav lady was directing us over the foothills of the Pyrenees, which would have been OK, but it was a route we took last year and I fancied a change, plus faster roads. We did take in some of the lovely foothill roads, but were mainly on the major roads


2018 Trip to Spain Begins

We have finally managed to get away this year, following a couple of false starts due to unexpected work commitments & sudden extreme Winter weather.

And, now on our 6th day, I have finally managed to make a start on our blog. In my defence, up until yesterday evening we have been constantly driving and/or I’ve had quite a lot of work to be getting on with.

So, 900 miles later we have finally picked up at the point last year where we stopped heading South and turned Westward due to the heat. If all goes well you should be able to see our route in the photos below.

We are currently in the “largely undiscovered area of Matarraña, an area of abundant wildlife, medieval villages, waterfalls, rivers, and constant views of an ancient mountain range.” What’s not to love about that lot? We’re about to find out for ourselves.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, what of the last 5 days. My summary begins as follows, but please bear with us as we play catch-up:

• Evening boat to St Malo. Drove just South of Rennes to a pleasant aire at Messac overlooking a small marina on the Nantes Brest canal

• Day 1 – Made good progress South, then took a sudden executive decision to head across the Dordogne for a change of scenery. Completely coincidentally found ourselves outside the chateau in Charras which was where we stayed on our first ever French holiday as a family of 4. How strange was that? Kept on driving and overnighted at the beautiful town of Bourdeilles, right next to the river

More to follow shortly…


Green with a touch too much of the Industrial

We survived our night in the wildlife park, and a very quiet night it was. Considering where we were on the map, and my rough plan to be back in France by Monday, we decided to motor through Bilbao and on Eastward, and think what to do after that. After a few distractions we were gone by Midday. 

The motorway to Bilbao was busier than we’d experienced so far in Spain, and we were genuinely surprised by the extreme size of some of the industrial plants plus the not particularly attractive high rise mass accommodation that seems to go hand in hand with them. 

Even approaching Bilbao itself it was clear that this was a particularly large and sprawling city. I had always wanted to see the Guggenheim Museum and so thought it would be rude to not at least pass by it. I so dislike driving in towns, and cities I’d rather avoid altogether. Fortunately, the Satnav lady got us, eventually, within spitting distance of the amazing museum building, and I was able to give it the once over when fortunately stuck at a red light. 

I was delighted to be back out and on sensible roads again and before long Sophie had spotted a Lidl. After a very convoluted route that almost took us onto a toll road, we were safely parked at a very smart Lidl. Sophie was straight in and at the pastry counter in the blink of an eye. As a result of yesterday’s lack of cakes, desperate measures were taken and quite a number and variety were purchased. Although this was only meant to be a pastry run, a few other items did slip into the basket too. 

By this time it was past 2:30pm and we still hadn’t stopped for lunch. I thought we’d look out for some likely spot along the road that was to weave us to the coast. Surprisingly, althound the road wound along a very lovely valley, it was constantly blighted by eyesore towns and decrepit industrial buildings. So with no inclination to stop anywhere for a picnic, we soldiered on. 

We then reached the coast at Deba, and I headed for a Park4night picnic area that was about 1.3k off the main road along a very narrow road that became even narrower. Encouraged to continue by a big shiny sign we kept on going and found an absolutely cracking spot for lunch (at 4:40pm) with incredible mountain views. I think we’d have stayed the night if it weren’t for tomorrow being Saturday and the increased prospect of meeting traffic on the way down. 


Donkeys and Elephants

After Ribadesella we thought we’d give Llanes (easier to write than pronounce) a try. I know they have a shiny new aire, and I appreciate that €3 is only a modest amount to spend on a night’s accommodation for two, but the thing is tonight is night 55, we haven’t paid a cent for an overnight yet, we didn’t even want to stay there overnight, so it would be shame to break that record. 

We’d hoped to find a simple parking space, which is rarely difficult for a modest van like ours, and out of season, but the good folk of Llanes have decided to ban motorhome parking other than presumably in their aire. I can see their point to a certain extent, but we just wanted to have a quick nose around to see if the place was worth a proper visit. Anyway, Google will have to suffice for us Philistines. 

20k or so down the motorway we tried a Park4night which was just 4k up a road to a viewing point. We had to play the usual game of are we going to fit through this tiny village, which today entailed pulling over and me running ahead to check that we had at least a fighting chance of making it through. So here we are with amazing views across to the Picos mountains as they meet the sea. 

We did notice another motorhome parked just off the motorway near a cemetery and we wondered whether seeing us bomb up the hill next to them might encourage them to follow suit. I think it did and so we do have neighbours tonight and they’re from Morbihan in Brittany. 

After a super quiet night I awoke to Sophie photographing a local chap with his donkey and cart in the field adjacent to us. This was followed by a busy morning all round. I surfacing from my laptop for poached egg on toast & we then planned a stroll up to the nearest village, before continuing on our way. 

And who should appear around the corner, but our old friends we’d met in Galicia a few times, Jeremy and Deb. I have to say that we were in quite an obscure parking spot, in what I term Park4night’s “parking amongst nature” category. This spot was an absolute gem, and it was great to see D&J again, who planned to spend the night there. 

We sat and had coffee and biscuits watching the omenous dark clouds that dominated the panoramic Picos mountain range to the West, but we were in glorious sunshine. Choosing, again, to avoid another emotional goodbye, given that we’ll no doubt bump into them another day, we had a casual goodbye and left, just as it started to spit. 

We headed further East and had a really pleasant scenic ride in the countryside, briefly touching on the coast. Unfortunately three things upset Sophie’s delicate equilibrium. 1) I missed an opportunity to buy some super cheap diesel at under €1 because I was unable to read the price in time to make the motorway exit. 

2) My chosen route was so impressive that I hadn’t banked on the lovely waterside town of San Vicente de la Barquera, amazing vast beautiful buildings in Comillas, and the very promising ancient town of Santillana del Mar. As I had assumed that this would be a merely scenic country drive, I hadn’t done a complete parking review of the region to ascertain the optimum parking spots, so these had to be drive throughs. 

3) Hoping to placate Sophie I’d mapped in a Lidl visit, but hadn’t banked on a Lidl without a pastry section, so that didn’t go down at all well. 

Finally, we headed for the well-known motorhome aire at Cabarceno, a very large wildlife park set in beautiful surroundings, just a little South of Santander. Popular with all nationalities but a favourite for Brits arriving or heading home from Santander or Bilbao, so a sort of transit camp for UK travellers. 

So here we are for the night. If we do get disturbed by any of the wildlife tonight I’ll just send Sophie out to have a word, and she’ll be on particularly good form given her current pastry deficiency. 

Progress so far:


Keeping ahead of the Rain

After Ribadeo, we headed towards Ortiguera aire, popping in on a couple of potential Park4nights just in case, but we are now comfortably parked up at the cliff-top aire, and although the rain seems to have settled in the aspect is very impressive. The bad news is that the cook has decided that tonight’s main meal will be a pastry from Lidl, and if I’m good, apparently I can also have a couple of bits of ham. Maybe I should see if I can find a tapas bar. 

Ortiguera aire was excellent and the rain abated before long and in fact we awoke to bright skies, and the sun even came out. The views were stunning. 

Before we strolled down to the lighthouse we could hear the sound of strimming and were aware of flying debris. Our motorhome habitation/side door still bears the scar of being around strimmers on our first trip in this motorhome. We were with Nick and Sal at the time and Nick even took a blow to the head with some flying gravel. We were left with our “bullet hole” as we affectionately refer to it. Anyway, after a little strategic manoeuvring to put us out of harm’s way from the strimmer ladies we continued our visit. 

The forecast for this whole North coast looked dreadful until about Sunday, with nonstop rain and thunderstorms. I therefore took the executive decision to floor it along the motorway for a couple of hours, and then reassess the situation. We’ve given the Galician coast a reasonable run for its money, given the constraints of time and vehicular access, and given that the motorway, being between the mountains and the sea makes the drive picturesque, and the sun was still shining, it seemed like a good move. 

By lunchtime we’d reached the attractive waterside town of Ribadesella, and after a lunch break we had a very pleasant visit. 


Rocks and Cliffs

After Foz, first stop was at the Praia das Catedrais, that Brian and Patricia from Northern Ireland had recommended yesterday. Great parking plus boardwalks to make a tour of the impressive rock formations very straightforward. This was also a convenient work and coffee stop. 

After that we soon came to the Playa de los Castros, with similar really interesting low lying cliffs surrounded by the boiling Atlantic. Another great stop for work plus lunch, then another stroll. 

Ribadeo was meant to be a functional stop for Lidl, cassette emptying, and a cheeky top-up of cheap diesel. Now I don’t like to go into too much detail about cassette emptying, but when I lifted the lid at Ribadeo’s service point there was a vast chasm beneath, at least 10 feet deep, with everything just piled up in it. A first for me, and hopefully a last too. 

Trying to quickly escape a biggish town, Sophie unfortunately became interested in taking a closer look. It was busy, it wasn’t early, and I could see some potentially dodgy streets I would rather avoid. We compromised by aiming for a Park4night down in the port, on the basis that the route down might offer Sophie a chance to see some of the sights. I thinking we achieved that objective, saw the port and I was out of there as soon as I was confident I wouldn’t end up down too tight a road.