One place I wanted to visit on my way out of Spain was the Fonts d’Algar. Australia had made me a bit of a connoisseur of waterfalls and while it lost points for the €4 entry fee and landscaping there is little better than swimming in fast-flowing water on a hot day. Being 20km from Benidorm I identified a fellow English speaker by their vest tan and asked for a picture of myself:
The landscape here was still mountainous, and my riding—as it had been throughout Spain—was improving all the time. While there is a part of me that is still surprised it’s something I enjoy there is a pleasure in progressing at anything.
To find somewhere to sleep that night my tyres got a different kind of workout. I had found another campsite on the same website that led me to the Balcon d’Alicant. It was fairly late when I got near it, and the signs pointed off down a gravel road. I thought it couldn’t be far, and thought the same after the first 1, 5 and 10km, eventually arriving not at a camp site but a hiker’s refuge. I wasn’t about to turn down free shelter, plus a fire is a comfort I can’t usually have wild camping (though I found in the morning that only one of the three windows had any glass remaining so it hadn’t been doing much to keep me warm). I’m unsure of the ettiquette of sleeping in one when not actually hiking, but I at least replaced what I burned by collecting dead wood.
I woke up with a lot of kilometers ahead of me and had learned my lesson from my previous experience in Northern Spain: long days with uncertain weather are much better with somewhere to stay afterwards. I was glad of this foresight when I crossed the Pyranean mountains, from a cloudless 25˚C in Spain, to 5˚C and limited visibility the other side of the Col de Somport, and something in between the two once I descended into France for the Hotel F1 in Pau.
I’d been to this area when I was about 6. I remembered (and wanted to revisit) the Kakuetta Gorges and the Holzarte footbridge. At the former I parked up next to a UK-registered KTM 990 Adventure. I found its owner walking back up the gorge, a guy from Bournemouth named Adrian. Turned out he’d been following a similar route to me and it was really nice to not feel totally alone—I hadn’t seen a single UK-registered bike in the rest of Spain. Even nicer was to come back to my bike and find a friendly note from him saying to give him a call if I had any problems along the way. It sucked to check his website again while writing this up to find that he’s back in the UK temporarily because of mechanical issues that started a day after we met. I feel very thankful for my own mechanical fortune, and guilty that maybe I could have helped if I’d been friendly enough to give him my details straight away.
I was hoping to stay in the Pyranees longer but at least two of the high mountain passes I wanted/needed to cross were closed because there was still too much snow. So with some regret I picked up the autoroute in a westerly direction, which is where I will also pick up the next post…