From Humilladero, we set off due west past Seville and Huelva and crossed into Portugal once more near Castro Marim. We then hit the coast just east of Faro at Fuseta. It’s a small town by the sea which is blessed by having nearby a huge area of coastal marshland which is a reserve for many wading birds. It is criss-crossed with pathways which enable those with an interest to stroll along and marvel at ones depth of ignorance of the natural world around us. The day we spent in Fuseta was great. The weather, for late November was brilliant. Unbroken sunshine and temperature in the low 20’s. As it happens, it was the last day of real summery weather we would enjoy on the trip.
Given more time, we would have explored further, but we wanted to spend a little time on the Atlantic coast so next day we were off once more along some typically bad Portuguese roads.Unfortunately, what looked on the map to be a reasonably straightforward route north from Olhao, turned out to be a twisty, bendy mountain road which took literally hours to negotiate. The scenery and the beautiful Portuguese villages we passed through were compensation enough however and I didn’t feel too bad about covering only half the distance I had intended at the end of the days drive. We overnighted at the Barragem Pego Do Alta, a reservoir not too far from Lisbon It was a haven of peace and tranquillity. At least, it was after a guy in a campervan had taken the hint and turned his generator off.You could almost touch the silence.
Next morning it was off once more, to the surf resort of Peniche, on the Atlantic coast north of Lisbon. It was another full day’s drive, but only because we prefer to travel off the well-beaten track. This principal has its’ rewards however.
We arrived in Peniche in the late afternoon to a cold wind whipping in off the Atlantic and an almost deserted campsite. The omens didn’t look good. Next day was a big improvement however and we went to explore this surfers summer paradise. Most of the cafe’s, bars and shops in the town were open, but customers were pretty thin on the ground. More appealing though, was the walk around the headland with great views of the town, beaches and the coast to south and north.
After a couple of days at Peniche, the weather closed in once more so we set off to the north-east and crossed back into Spain in one of my favourite regions, Extramadura. We stopped for the night at the ancient city of Caceres and decided to spend the next day looking around it’s old centre.
We had a great day in Caceres and a mighty fine campsite too. First camp we’d found with individual bathrooms for each pitch. Very plush. However, time wasn’t on our side so, luxury notwithstanding, next day we were on the road once more. We found ourselves on the N110 heading for Avila and the glorious weather and scenery made it one of the most memorable drives of the whole trip.
We stopped in Avila to stock up on provisions then off once more through Segovia. As the sun began to set, the snow began to fall and we reached the campsite at Riaza in complete darkness and a blizzard.
The campsite at Riaza was brilliant. 11 out of 10. Just as well because the weather was grim, to say the least. We would have liked to take a look around Riaza itself but time pressures and a freezing wind meant that first thing next morning we were gone and heading for the Pyrenees. Summer was well and truly finished now, for us at least and the day started cold and got colder. By the end of day we were near Pamplona and stopped at a campsite on the outskirts of the city. However, somewhere on the site road, the van’s back tyre picked up a big ugly metal spike which left it, and me, completely flat. An hour in the dark and driving sleet failed to get the wheel off, so I retreated to the warmth of the van and my lady’s bosom and comforted myself with a bottle of duty free whisky.
Next morning, the world was a different place, and by lunchtime the wheel was off, puncture fixed and wheel back on again. Thanks to the campsite owner for taking the offending wheel to a local garage, and the garage man for fixing it for only 5euros. We headed up into the hills, becoming more concerned by the mile at the worsening weather.
By the time we reached the French border, the snow had cleared. We stopped just inside Spain at a shopping mall which had been set up to tempt French bargain hunters from across the border. It had worked, and we joined the hoards of French shoppers stocking up with cheap Spanish goods. Then across into France and pressed on, ever northward.
Our only thought now was to reach the ferryport at Roscoff with the minimum ado. We cut through Mont de Marsan and wild camped in the huge forests of Gascony. Next morning was gloriously clear and cold and we had a lovely run to the east of Bordeaux and onward.
We spent the next night at a campsite at Pons, which was owned by a Dutch couple and had a very welcoming bar. We sampled the local speciality, Pineau, and spent a while recounting tales of our travels. Really very pleasant.Next morning we had an early start and travelled all day. By evening, we were back at the first place we had stopped on our trip, all those months ago, Port Louis. We slept well in a spot overlooking the estuary. When I awoke at first light, I took a walk into the old town and bought fresh Croissants and Baguettes from an artisan baker and took them back to Jayney, all proud like a returning hunter.They were delicious served with steaming hot tea, and we set off on the last leg home with a warm glow inside.
We spent our last night in Roscoff. It rained incessantly and most of the bars and eateries were closed. Thoroughly miserable in fact, so we weren’t sad to see the ferry the next morning.
We finally arrived home quite late in the evening. It was a strange feeling to be traversing familiar terrain once more and an even stranger feeling to open the door and walk inside the house again. More of that soon, and also thoughts on what next.
Thanks for reading and sorry for the delay in posting this final chapter.