We have some days off work and get the caravan ready for another expedition in Spain.
The province we choose is Murcia, but not the coast with the Mar Mayor and Cartagena but the inland.
We want to be active so on the first day we head to Murcia town where a long Via Verde starts – the Via Verde del Noroeste with 76,8 km – a former train line now a cycling route.
The route begins near the University and we can park easily just next to the old train route. (38°00’58.1″N 1°10’29.4″W)
The first part is not very interesting as we pass towns and industrial areas, but after Alguazas we reach the badlands which are really impressive with the greenish bare soil formed by the little rain this area gets.
We lose the track and head up the wrong hill so involuntary we do some more kilometers.
Our plan was to do half the route on the first day, but when we reach Campos del Rio after 2h15min and 22,7 km we decide to turn around as it is already 4pm.
We are much faster on the way back and reach the caravan just before 6pm, where we have a shower – what a luxury to have your house with you !!
Leaving the city we drive west to Mula, where the town has set up a caravan parking next to the sport complex. (38°02’22.0″N 1°28’55.1″W)
It is still warm so we sit outside and look up at the castle of Mula, with a glass of rosado from Navarra in hand and some old Gouda.
What a great day !
|one of the old train stations along the way|
|the castle of Mula from the caravan parking|
The next day we visit the tourist information situated in a beautifully restored convent not far from our parking to get informations about Mula and it’s surroundings.
Afterwards we follow the Via Verde again, which passes close to our parking, until Bullas. It’s uphill all the way and quite tiering. We pass the Sanctuary del Niño and a couple of short tunnels and a viaduct before we reach Bullas after 2 hours and 19 km. We make a big circle through town before we stop at a Tasca for lunch. On the way back we have the wind in our faces, but its still much easier than to go uphill. The area is very green with different cultivations and also pine trees, a difference to the badlands from the day before.
We sit a little bit in the sun before we walk into Mula. Our first stop is the museum Fundacion Casa Pintada, which has a beautiful facade and houses the local painter Cristobal Gabarrón. Most of his work is very colorful and some remind me of Miró.
We walk past the museum El Cigarralejo, which is closed but the building is also an interesting palace, before we go uphill to the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, where the blue clock tower, the Iglesia de San Miguel and the old Casion form a beautiful city center.
Further uphill we come past the Eremita del Carmen and the Iglesia de Santa Domingo just below the castle before we walk back down and home.
With a bottle of red wine, cheese and bread the day finds an end.
|Casa de Cultura in Bullas|
|Detail of the entrance at the Casa de Cultura|
|Casa Pintada – Mula|
|Plaza del Ayuntamiento – Mula|
|Sunset at Mula|
Instead of starting in Bullas today for the last part of the Via Verde, we drive to Caravaca de la Cruz and park directly at the old train station where the via verde ends. (38°06’09.6″N 1°51’13.3″W) Starting from here, we cycle upwards to Bullas first.
It’s overcast and starts to drizzle very soon, but the route is very nice, taking us through pine forests, over sone viaducts and through one tunnel.
When we reach Bullas, I’m wet and cold so we take the first bar we see and have some tapas while warming up. On the way back the drizzle is over and we can enjoy the landscape.
After a warm shower we leave the caravan where it is and walk into Carvaca de la Cruz and up to the cathedral.
The sacristan opens us the chapel where the real cross is kept. Even if you are not religious, the importance of this cross for so many people makes it special. It was worth going up, the view is amazing and the cathedral is very interesting.
Returning to the caravan, we drive back to Bullas, to visit the wine museum (38°03’04.0″N 1°39’52.6″W). It is in an old wine cellar where you see the amphoras in the ground of the cellar where the wine was kept. The museum is new and very interesting. At the end we buy a bottle of the D.O. Bullas: Las Reñas Crianza, which we have with our dinner at Camping La Rafa this night and it is delicious! (38°02’12.6″N 1°40’12.0″W) The camping is just outside of Bullas and very green with a lot of permanent campers.
|Via Verde between Bullas and Caravaca de la Cruz|
|Castle which houses the archeologic museum in Caravaca de la Cruz|
|Santísima and Vera Cruz Basilica|
|Convent next to the Basilica|
In the morning we take our time before we walk to the Salto del Usero. Its a half an hour walk from the camping. There is also a parking at the outskirts of Bullas from where you can start. (38°02’18.1″N 1°40’22.4″W) You can’t drive down as the street ends at a beam with no parking possibility.
The waterfall is beautiful and something special if you bear the surrounding in mind. I would not recommend going there on a summer weekend, it will we packed.
When we return to the camping site, a family has their weekend paella with flamenco guitar music accompanied by clapping and singing, others are just getting started with their barbacoa.
We leave and drive back to Mula and via Pliego into the Sierra Espuña. After Pliego the street gets windy and we drive uphill over a pass and through beautiful forests. We stop at the Restaurante Mirador of Gebas, but they are very busy and don’t let us have a table. I expected to see the lunar landscape of Gebas from there, but the Restaurant has no special view at all. So we drive a kilometer back and turn onto the road to El Berro where we are lucky to get one of the last spots at the Camping Sierra Espuña. (37°53’16.9″N 1°29’34.8″W)
The village lies in a valley and the street to get to the camping is quite small, but we make it. A part of the plots are covered, which is to low for us, but we get a nice spot at the top. For longer caravans this Camping is not recommendable.
We prepare a nice lunch and sit in the sun as long as possible. When the sun is down we walk through the village which has 2 small supermarkets, a bakery, restaurants and bars. We stop at the bar close to the camping for some drinks, very nice owner.
We spend the evening with radio communication and scrabble.
|Camping La Rafa – Bullas|
|Salto del Usero – Bullas|
|Salto del Usero – Bullas|
|Relaxing at Camping Sierra Espuña|
Today we leave the camp to discover Sierra Espuña. We got a map from the reception with 2 circular routes and we decide on the one leading into the mountains. It takes us 3,5 h through mostly dense forests. We come past a suspension bridge and the abandoned sanatorium for tuberculosis. From a higher point we can see the vast extension of the forest, really special for this area.
The afternoon we relax and enjoy the sun, interrupted by a visit to the restaurant next to the camping for a delicious home made cookie and chocolate cake with coffee and tee.
|Nice trail through the Sierra|
|Forest as far as you can see – something special for this part of Spain|
Before we leave we try to start early and do the second route from our map. It leads us in the direction of Gebas and the route is amazing. The view over Gebas is spectacular, but we don’t walk into the village to shorten the walk. On the way back we walk along a planned train route which was dug into the mountain, crossing a tunnel. As it looks like the works stopped long before being finished. Later we walk along an old water channel before we reach El Berro again.
We leave the way we came as recommended. There is a street coming up from the side of Alhama de Murcia which seems to be not very appropriate for caravans.
The street is windy and in not very good condition until Alhama de Murcia. We let the navigation guide us to Avd Antonio Fuertes where we find a parking close to a nice looking restaurant.
We first walk into town but discover that the museum of the roman bath is closed. We do a circle through the center below the castle before we hurry back to the restaurant. We get so many nice starters that we are already full when the paella arrives but we do our best. It is very delicious, the service is very good the wine too and we really enjoy our lunch. (Restaurant La Masia, Avda. Antonio Fuertes, 54)
After this opulent meal we need a rest before we continue our way past Murcia to Elche, where we want to be at a shop before 6pm. We make it through the city to the address but the shop is closed 🙁
We leave Elche again and drive to Torrevieja for our last day.
When we arrive it is already dark and we take the first spot to park I found online. (37°59’34.5″N 0°39’16.6″W)
We go for a walk, but the area is not very interesting. As we only want to sleep here, we don’t look for a better place.
|Unfinished railway track near El Berro|
|View over the dry land around Gebas|
|Delicious Huevos Revueltos en Rest. La Masia|
|Alhama de Murcia|
|Sunset south of Elche|
During the night we heard cars coming and going which was a little disturbing.
In the morning we take our bikes and go first south to the center of Torrevieja. It has a big harbour, but no interesting beaches. The place could use some polish. There is a closer parking for caravans if you are interested to go there. (37°59’00.2″N 0°39’24.5″W)
We then take the direction north to La Mata. There are 2 beautiful beaches, one with restaurants and the second completely natural. In the middle is a place for caravans. So if you want some sun at the coast, I would go there. (38°01’45.3″N 0°39’01.3″W)
We turn inland to the smaller of the 2 lakes behind town. The intention is to make a circle around it but after getting lost in a half finished Urbanization and no nice route to follow we turn around and go back.
Torrevieja has a vast extension of small houses with little gardens and a very good infrastructure especially on the main road before you get into town. Big supermarkets and malls, a perfect place to do shopping.
When we are back we pack up and drive north. We come past St. Pola and numerous flamingos before we turn of the N323 to go to the lighthouse from where you have a great view. (38°12’31.6″N 0°30’50.4″W) Down at the coast we see small beaches and caravans parked there, so we decide to go there for our late lunch. (38°13’32.0″N 0°30’39.4″W)
Now it is time to head home – just one more recommendation: there is a very cheap gas station just off the highway in Alicante: exit 10 Villafranqueza (38°22’59.7″N 0°29’22.3″W)
And if you need to empty your deposit and fill up water – up the street in direction to Alicante is a Repsol where you can do that for 3,- (or free if you fill up your tank there) The perfect pit stop !