Posted by: Stevie D | March 20, 2013

Heading for home.

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.

Warm sun and few people to share it with made for a lovely day.

Warm sun and few people to share it with made for a lovely day.

The picturesque harbour at Fuseta.

The picturesque harbour at Fuseta.

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.

You see all sorts of vehicles on Portuguese roads.

You see all sorts of vehicles on Portuguese roads.

It almost felt like an honour to be able to overnight at Pego Do Alta.

It almost felt like an honour to be able to overnight at Pego Do Alta.

The view from above the dam.

The view from above the dam.

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 don't see many Storks in the UK. That's why we love to see them when we travel.

We don’t see many Storks in the UK. That’s why we love to see them when we travel.

We passed by the town of Obidos, with it's ancient castle walls.

We passed by the town of Obidos, with it’s ancient castle walls.

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.

The old fort at Peniche.

The old fort at Peniche.

It's the waves that make Peniche so popular.

It’s the waves that make Peniche so popular.

It would be busy in summer, but in late November, it was all ours.

It would be busy in summer, but in late November, it was all ours.

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.

The famous 'Old Town' is so unspoilt, it's often used as a setting for films needing a Middle ages' backdrop.

The famous ‘Old Town’ is so unspoilt, it’s often used as a setting for films needing a Middle ages’ backdrop.

The whole area is completely devoid of modern day clutter. And all the better for that.

The whole area is completely devoid of modern day clutter. And all the better for that.

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.

It was one of those trips you just don't want to end.

It was one of those trips you just don’t want to end.

I could post a hundred photos, just of this day.

I could post a hundred photos, just of this day.

Seemingly endless rural landscapes.

Seemingly endless rural landscapes.

As we drew closer to Avila, the clouds began to build.

As we drew closer to Avila, the clouds began to build.

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.

As we approached Riaza, the writing was on the wall,so to speak.

As we approached Riaza, the writing was on the wall,so to speak.

Just glad we don't have to put the tent up.

Just glad we don’t have to put the tent up.

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.

Not the first time we'd had snow whilst crossing the Pyrennees.

Not the first time we’d had snow whilst crossing the Pyrennees.

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.

Travelling was much more pleasant than on the previous day.

Travelling was much more pleasant than on the previous day.

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.

It's quite a view to wake up to.

It’s quite a view to wake up to.

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. 

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Responses

  1. Awesome!

    • That’s the way I like comments. Short and to the point. 🙂

  2. Great to hear the final part. What a wonderful trip. Will have to talk to you about the Bordeaux coast area as we intend to travel in that part in September. Thanks for your tale.

    • The coast to the south of Bordeaux is amazing, if you like the beach that is.

  3. Hey Stevie D! Long time no see. Great post my friend, love the pictures and the writing. Thought you guys were back in the UK already. FYI, think Suzy and I are bringing the kids over next summer.

    Again, great post and good to see you writing. Don’t be a stranger and if you haven’t checked out the new http://www.bikermonkey.com site, please do….. totally different.

    Take care,
    BikerMonkey

    • Yeah, back in the groove now BM. We’ve been home since Christmas but I just couldn’t get my head around doing the last post until now.It’s been a bit weird being home again but I think I’ve finally got myself up and running again.
      So, you may be crossing the great divide soon. Would that be to Britain or one of those strange, non-english speaking countries? Sure hope we can catch up at some point, wherever you’re heading.
      Just tried your new site but it wouldn’t load. You can be sure I’ll keep trying.
      Great to hear from you again man.

  4. I was beginning to wonder if you ever made it home! 😉
    What a terrific end to an incredible trip! I bet it was extremely difficult to open up the door to your home. Reality tends to hit pretty hard.
    I’ll be sticking around to find out what’s next for you!

    • Hi Shadowrun, good to hear from you again.
      Yeah, it was a great trip but, as they say, life can never be the same afterwards. I’ll be posting again soon with thoughts and plans, some of which are already in progress, some still to be finalised.
      Whatever, there can be no standing still.
      Either way, summers coming…..yippee 🙂

  5. Hi Stevie, Thank you so much for taking me on your fantastic adventure over the last year. I’ve enjoyed every post and look forward to hearing all about your next escapades very soon 🙂 Avis x

  6. My pleasure Avis. You made a very undemanding travelling companion. 🙂 Plans are now afoot for more as one thing is for sure, life can never go back to being just how it was.

  7. Hey Stevie – how are your plans for the next trip going? I have finally made mine a reality….the bikes are on the ship to the USA and I look forward to sharing the trip!
    http://www.thorntonah.wordpress.com 😜

    • Hey Thornton, great to hear from you again. Can’t wait to read your tales of fulfilling what must be almost every bikers dream. Keep the camera clicking man and you and your friends RIDE SAFE.

      • Cheers Stevie…its gonna be a blast!


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