We had a deadline to meet this last week as we had planned to meet our friends Di and Chris in Córdoba on Monday 5th October 2016. A direct drive of 600km or so would have got us there in maybe 8 or 9 hours in the van but, as we have the luxury of time on our side, we made the journey across country over a few days to take in some of the scenery bordering the Segura National Park west of Murcia.
After a two night stop at the free aire at Louqui near Murcia, where we were able to wash and wax the van, we headed across country in the vague direction of Córdoba.
Whitewashed hillside villages nestling between the mountains gave way to vast open plains where we didn’t pass another vehicle for an hour. What first appeared to be an abandoned village was in fact a little hamlet built into the shallow hills presumably to be protected from the heat in the summer and the cold in the winter. The temperature was well into the mid thirties so I can imagine how hot it must be in July and August.
We stopped to have a look around feeling a little unsettled at the silence not really having experienced silence quite like it before.
Coming out of the plains we were back into the mountains with reservoirs, dams and gorge’s marking out our route.
We stopped for the night at Embalse de San Clemente (reservoir) at a parking area having the whole place to ourselves watching the changing colours of the water as the sun set.
Embalse de San Clemente (reservoir)
We continued on the following day through quiet winding roads stopping at the Embalse del Portillo at Castril.
Another whitewashed hillside town, Castril was in the middle of a week long fiesta. Preparations were being made for the bull run that evening through the town.
We watched a religious festival parade through the town before we dropped down to the river to discover a boardwalk built into the side of the gorge which took us down the river, across a suspended bridge and through a tunnel to the bottom end of the town.
Back in the van three hours later we continued on through a patchwork quilt of thousands and thousands of acres of olive trees as far as the eye could see. I felt like I’d had spectacular scenery overload by this point so it was just as well, after two days, we were back on the dual carriageway near Ubeda (should have stopped there, need to go back!).
We were bowled over by the scenery and we are planning on returning to the area next year on our way back through Spain to explore some more but we needed to press on to Córdoba.