Spain - 2011

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This was out first real trip in the Land Rover Camper Van. I had spent a lot of time rearranging and improving the furniture inside the van and also making sure it was more than just roadworthy.

We set off from South Low on the 23rd of April and stayed the night with Linda at Lee-On-Solent. The ferry left at midnight the following day so we had a full day with Linda and had a look around Lee-on-Solent and met up with Claire and George.

The ferry was several hours late leaving so we had an unscheduled wait at the port but eventually we were loaded on and found our way to a very pleasant cabin on the Cap Finistere. The ferry we chose stops off at Roscoff en-route which extended the time on board and we had two nights at sea; we arrived at Bilbao at 7.30 a.m. on the 26th.

The trip was uneventful but we did see a few gannets and Cory's and sooty shearwaters.


Cattle grazing in the woodland

The bedroom

Top on the hill in the mist


We had booked a B&B just outside Bilbao for Tuesday evening so we had most of the day to explore and get used to driving on the right.

I avoided Bilbao itself - it does not appear to be an attractive city - and decided to find out where our B&B was and spend a bit of time looking around the area.

We parked up on the side of minor road for breakfast with delightful views or the Basque countryside even though much of it was shrouded in mist.

The local farmer spoke to us in Spanish for the best part of half an hour - with a smattering of Spanish and his gesticulations we managed something of a conversation.

We arrived at our B&B just after lunch and were introduced to our host, Mikel. He has a marvellous house and his cooking is amazing. Have a look at his web site

We spent the afternoon wandering around the adjoining forest and hillside - strill shrouded in mist.


Rather than take the motorway and dash southwards we decided to take a minor road and drive about 100 miles to Burgos where there was a recommended campsite on the edge of town.

The road took us out of the Picos mountains and onto the relative plains around Orduña. It then headed straight for the huge escarpment of Monte Santiago. How many hairpin bends? - I lost count. I had been concerned that the landrover might overheat pulling 3 to 4 tonnes but I need not have been.

We stopped at the top of the escarpment and wandered around for a couple of hours - it was a delight. Lots of flowers in the meadows and dozens of griffon vultures and choughs wheeling around.

Finding the camp site in Burgos was fun; there seemed to be roadworks everywhere. We eventually asked a couple of lads, in very limited Spanish, and they waved their arms and pointed us in the right direction. Not a bad camp site by any means but probably the least attractive of the ones we stayed at.


Monte Santiago escarpment



Western dappled white


It was a fairly short hop from Burgos to Tordesillas. The campsite is outside the town on the eastern side of the Douro River. Although the site is more of a stopover site it is well layed out and the restuarant was good although not exceptional. Although the town is interesting it does not seem to have a lot to offer. We visited the museum, that was largely taken over by Treaty of Tordesillas of 1494 which established the division of the New World between Spain and Portugal. Golden oriole's in the trees by the river were of note and, from subsequent visits, seem to be resident.


The Bull

Town Square

Typical street

El Camping de Gredos

Lots of red squirrels

The river below the
camp site

Herding cattle on horseback across a ford

The Gredos Mountains

We were booked into Parador de Gredos for two nights in the middle of the trip but we first had to find a camp site for a couple of nights after leaving Tordesillas; this proved more difficult that we expected. Three sites we visited were either closed or shut down completely; I was beginning to think we would have to find a quiet spot on a minor road for the night when we found El Camping de Gredos; a quiet site in a pine forest - our kind of site. We spent two nights there; it was cool, as we were 5000ft up.

Walking around the area adjoining the campsiste was a delight and the weather was kind to us. A very similar feel to parts of Scoland but not as harsh with a fiver adjoining the site and pasture between the forest plantation.

Like many parts of Spain horses seemed to play an important part in the local life and the horsemanship we saw was impressive - no quad bikes here! All the fields around either had horses or cattle with cow bells.

We drove to La Platforma, a moorland area in the mountains, but the weather turned against us. We saw the Spanish Ibex in the distance but the blue throat eluded us.



Parador de Gredos

For us the Parador was quite smart. The land rover looked a bit out of place parked next to the Porche 4x4. I was not quite sure what to expect; I had got the price wrong (it was quite a lot more expensive that I expected) but then the location, the accomodation and the food was far better than I had anticipated and, in retrospect, was well worth it. An extended stay would break the budget but for a couple of night of luxury it was great.

Our room was facing towards the mountains on the top floor of the hotel. The views were special.

We drove back into the Gredos foothills while we were at the hotel and in the evening wandered around the adjoining forest. Birding was particulalry good and we amassed 40 species that day but not the citril finch that was a bird special to the Parador.

Next day however, after we had checked out, we spent an hour or so on the balcony overlooking the grounds and - a pair of citril finches appeared.

We set of for Extramadurra that morning. The drive south was spectactular, particularly through the cherry orchards in the valley bewteen El Barco de Avila and Plasencia.

It was an easy run on to the campsite at Monfrague.


Parador de Gredos

View from the room.

A fountain out of a waggon wheel

Our room at the top.
The middle window.

The snow capped Gredos Mountains.

Spanish Festoon

Extramadura and Monfrague



Gum cistus

Smart little bird
.. the woodchat shrike!

Crested lark

Griffon vulture with chick

Clouded yellow

Dehesa - a carpet of daisies and marigolds

We stayed here for four nights.

A very comfortable campsite with an excellent restaurant; we ate there most evenings. The elegant azure magpies were everywhere and very tame.

The Monfrague National Park was well worth the visit; we toured the area on a couple of days and walked some miles by the reservoirs. It is the best raptor site in Spain and there is a variety of habitats from open grassland, wooded valleys, scrub-covered hillsides and rocky crags. In spring the wild flowers are something special. We did not see the Spanish Imperial Eagle (we had done on a previous visit) but hundreds of Griffon vultures.

For our last day at Monfrague we walked from the campsite along a farm track for a few miles. The fields were stuning; the dehesa habitat is typical of this araea with isolated trees in the fields with cattle (and pigs) often grazing on the meadow. We stopped for lunch and sat on some rocks fallen from a collapsed stone wall; I moved a couple of large slabs and disturbed a large Montpelier snake that slithered away into the wall.



Click here for a list of birds seen on the trip.