A sojourn in South East England

The shingle and high tides are the perfect conditions for having a careening based shipyard at the old fishing port at Hastings.

Trawlers sit on the shingle while their catch is sold in the huts on the foreshore.

The fishing port and old town sit under high cliffs where a funicular to the top of the cliffs gives a great view.

And the old town has the buildings that are so out of square that I wonder how they have stood for a week yet they have for centuries.

Old out of square Tudor style building are part the village of Rye. Especially, the beautiful Mermaid Street.

And around Church Hill where some of the oldest buildings in the village are found.

Once the sea lapped at the edge of the town of Rye but that was many many centuries ago. The beach is now a couple of miles down the Rother River with marshland in between.

From the mouth of the Rother the shingle beach curves gently for just over 10 miles to the the cliff at Fairlight.

The tide of 4 metres means an ever changing view along the beach. It also means ever changing water conditions.

My favourite little beach is at Pett Level especially at high tide where the drop away from the high tide line is steep. This means on a hot day a couple of steps off the shingle and you can plunge into the cool Atlantic waters in the English Chanel.

Fishing is part of the culture of the South East be it the small fishing boats on the shingle at Pett Level

Or the commercial boats like at Hastings and at Rye.

And bounty from the sea such as a pan of plump fresh scallops.

Upstream of Rye, the Rother River winds its way through the country side.

Past little villages like Newenden where the local pub provides a spot for a cool ale or bite to eat.

But, for me, the most special place is the Rye Nature Reserve. With its walks, wildflowers and birdlife. It was my solice when I was locked down in Rye Harbour in April 2020. It is a most beautiful place.

There has recently been a heat wave in the UK and Europe. Rye Harbour was the perfect place to escape the heat and to see the storm to end of the heat wave roll in.

Photo Sketches in Spain

Travelling in Spain is one of my joys. I love the people the culture the landscape.

This year it seemed different. Traversing Spain between the intended destinations of Morocco and Portugal and the UK. A day or two here and there as I moved north and south through the country

The sketches are places I stopped along the way.

Jerez de la Frontera

Jerez is a couple of hours from Tarifa. It’s also the sherry capital of the world so a good place to stop on the way to Morocco. Who would have guessed there was a Flamenco and Sherry festival on!

Such a difference to 2020, Andalusia already in tight restriction and the the whole of Spain going into lockdown.

Cadiz and Rota

While Cadiz is quite the tourist centre Playa Aquadulce is a quiet Rota beach and a restful place to stop after hopping off the ferry from Morocco.

And in Cadiz the covid delayed carnival gave the old city a certain buzz

Stops in Aragon

Caspe is on the Mar de Aragon a huge dam in the mountains of Aragon. Lake Caspe camping is a fantastic camping ground right on the edge of the lake.

The lake is wonderful for swimming, boating, exploring and birdwatching. Sighting Egyptian vultures, peregrine falcons, and grey cranes.

Why stop in Calanda one might ask. The answer is it’s 2pm and the temperature is already 39c! The surprise is a pretty little village in the centre of great motorcycle roads that is the birthplace of Luis Bunuel

Then to find the site of a miracle in the village.

The miracle of a regrown leg. I dubbed the church the house of the holy legless. I wish I had known about this miracle in my younger years when I was more likely to be legless and in need of redemption!!!

Finding little villages like these is the joy of taking the back roads on a motorbike with a loose plan of where and when to stop. Serendipity as a guide book.

Finding the first communion parade in Tomelloso in Castille de La Mancha. Or Goya’s birthplace

Truly serendipity has been my wonderful travel guide.

Final days on the Atlantic Coast of Morocco-Volubilis Moulay Bousselham and Asilah

From Fez to the Atlantic Coast one passes Volubilis, the ruins of a Roman city close to Meknes. The site is most recognised for its intact mosaic floors.

Volubilis was basically deserted when Fez became the centre of power in Morocco.

The northern part of Morocco between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean is rich fertile farming land.

Moulay Bousselham is a small fishing town on the Atantic coast with a large inland lake which is a major site for endemic and migratory birds.

The ocean here is quite wild and the beach strewn with rubbish so the estuary is the towns main attraction. As well as the fishing boats and market.

And it’s at the fish market that you may find a guide to take you bird watching. Or more accurately he will find you as you stop at the gates of the camping ground that has closed down.

But the Moulay Bousselham estuary is a fantastic site for bird watching and a 3 hour boat tour with Khalil is great. You see;

Greater Flamingos

Spoonbills

Egrets

And an array of gulls, terns, storks, cranes and plovers.

The Atlantic here is wild a steep shore and cross currents from the tidal river making it treacherous.

The estuary provides a safe place to swim after unfortunately picking a path through the litter.

It is such a beautiful beach such a shame the litter is so overwhelming.

Asilah is another beach town a couple of hours north of Moulay Bousselham along the coast. It’s also only a short ride from Tanger and the last night in Morocco was spent there.

The Medina, built within the old Portugese fort is mainly residential with a strong art presence. It was in Spanish control into the 1970s and still retains a strong Spanish influence.

I think I can leave my tales of Morocco here. What an amazing journey saw so much but I feel I missed so much more.

There was Belgian couple at the Hotel in Rissani. They had travelled to Morocco 9 time 7 on a motorbike. Mmm so Im thinking a second trip will not be too indulgent!!!

The Ferry from Santander to Portsmouth

Santander is capital of the Spanish Provence of Cantabria and a major seaside city. Beaches and a ferry port all part of the the mix the city offers.

It was so different leaving Santander March 2 years ago when the pandemic and a lockdown drove me out of Spain. http://piecemealadventurer.com/2020/03/23/travelling-in-the-time-of-coronavirus-the-last-ferry-from-santander/

A beautiful summers day a yacht on the water sailing alongside the ferry.

As it left the harbour

Up on deck we spotted whales in the Bay of Biscay Abyss. Can you see the spout?

Agh how I missed the sight of the open sea when I was confined to cabin. At that time, like all of us, unaware how much time confined to hotel rooms, to our houses and neighbourhoods lay ahead.

How amazing to travelling internationally adventuring and watching the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean.

White cliffs up the Solent welcomed me back to Great Britain.

It’s a bit of a heatwave as I sit in my sister’s house in London. Covid 19 hasn’t gone away and being in a big city like London requires caution but life is an adventure to be lived so let’s live it.

Goodbye Portugal and Hello Spain

The Atlantic Coast of Portugal can be a bit crowded so a route east of Porto along the Duoro River into the Mountains then north to the spa city of Chaves was the best option

It was a great choice; clear windy roads and wonderful scenery.

It was a short ride to Chaves less than 150km but storms ahead dictated the length of the ride.

And the storm came casting an grey pall over the old centre of Chaves.

While Chaves is a Spa town the waters are used primarily for therapeutic use rather than leisure so lolling in a hot spa wasn’t an option. But drinking warm mineralised spa water straight from the spring was.

Cups are filled straight from the Spring.

The rain cleared over night and it was a clear run over the mountains into Spain

So it was goodbye Portugal

And hello Spain,

Confirmation I was in Spain came at Astorga and its Gaudi designed building.

The route headed around Leon and into the Picos de Europa.

I had travelled to the Picos in 2018 and it was a great opportunity to revisit.

The road to Riano to Potes is just beautiful.

From Potes in the town plaza there is a magnificent view of the central Massif of the Picos de Europa

Just 23km on from Potes is Fuene De in the heart of the Picos and one of the most beautiful camp grounds I have stayed at in all my travels

From Fuente De there is a Cable Car that ascents 753 Metres to a high plateau at about 1600 metres. There are number of walks in the mountains. One is an 11km return walk the ascends 770 metres to a refuge.

It’s a hard walk but the views spectacular.

Being up with the eagles.

Fuente De is a short ride back to the ferry port city of Santander. It was such very different circumstances arriving in Santander than it was in 2020.