Beach Walks and Cycles in the Devesa - Albufera Nature Reserve, Valencia - Saying Farewell to the Mediterranean

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Saturday 7 March 2015

Beach Walks and Cycles in the Devesa - Albufera Nature Reserve, Valencia - Saying Farewell to the Mediterranean

After 3 wonderful days and nights in the beautiful Val de Laguar, it was time to continue our journey north once more. With over 2300km to reach Holland and our journeys goal, a ferry to Newcastle, we knew we had a long way to. However, we also knew we had a few days in hand to enjoy the journey as well, the only question was where to pause en route? Should we pause by the Pyrenees, tarry in Tarbes or pay a visit to Paris? All enticing prospects, however, saying farewell to the sunshine and blue sky of the Mediterranean Spanish coast for the chill of northern Europe felt like a big step. In the end it was the weather that made our choice for us, we'd stay by the coast and where better to relax than the place we had loved so much on our way south, the Albufera nature reserve.

Situated just south of Valencia, this narrow nature reserve containing a network of lagoons separated from the sea by the Devesa dune system, had been a fantastic discovery back in December. With miles of golden sandy beaches, rolling dunes and pine forests interlaced with a network of cycling and hiking tracks we had enjoyed a wonderfully peaceful stay here before and so knew it would be the perfect place to say goodbye to the Mediterranean coast for this visit as well.

Arriving at the motorhome aire in El Saler in mid afternoon on Tuesday we wasted no time in unhitching our bikes to make the short cycle south through the park to our favourite beach walk. Joining the sands at Casal d'Esplai we blissfully shed our shoes and waded straight into the rolling blue and white waves, feeling an immediate rush of elation. We don't know what it is about this spot, perhaps the expansive sky, endless sea or extensive beach so far from urban sprawl, but the moment we stepped onto the beach we knew we made the right decision to pause here once more.

Walking gently south to the small river inlet around 3-4km away before doubling back, we reveled in the warmth of the afternoon, taking deep breaths of the fresh, salty air. After a pleasant cycle home we completed the day with an evening reading in the setting sun and a clear sky full of stars. Perfect.

The following day we were out and about in the beach once more. After a morning jog north along the promenade at El Pinedo, we began Wednesday's beach walk straight from the motorhome aire, this time starting at Platja de el saler and heading south to the inlet Gola del Pujol.

It was incredible how different a beach can feel each day, still beautiful but ever in motion and changed. This stretch of beach does have a few buildings along it, but they are so understated in comparison to other Spanish beach resorts they barely detract from the walk. Another blue sky treated us to a hot sun which made for another wonderful walk, full of joy, followed by another peaceful evening and a spectacular sunset.

As you might expect Thursday also followed a similar pattern with a morning jog again, followed by a return to our favourite section of beach.

This time we decided to extend our walk, starting out at the beautiful lake (Estany del Pujol) at the start of Platja del Malladeta, right next to the inlet which connects the inland lagoon to the sea before walking the entire length of the beach to the inlet at El Perellonet and back again. Quite a long way, but invigorating. Even though it had only been 2 days since we were last here it was incredible how different the beach felt once more. The different sea mists, breeze, clouds, birds wheeling on the horizon etc create such a different mood and feel on each visit that it is like another world each time. It is this variation that ensures that every visit is unique and always full of wonder.

Which brings us to Friday and finally time to really say farewell to the Mediterranean for this adventure. With our planned route cutting inland then north to Zaragoza and up through the Pyrenees into France, this would be the last time we would gaze on the sparkling sea beneath a cloudless sky.

So, before departing in mid afternoon we made an early morning dash to our favourite stretch of beach once more, although we only strolled a short way before resting ourselves on a handy log to drink in the view and absorb as much of this feeling as we could. Collecting shells and feeling the waves splashing sand up our legs bought a child-like happiness that we'd often forgotten in the past.

Lying in the sand, listening to the waves and feeling the breeze we reflected on our time in Spain. Already Cabo de Gata felt like a dream, although we'd only left a week before. It seems to be the nature of travelling that continuous change really emphasises each moment and fades the past quickly, reminding us to appreciate everything to the full and then look ahead. It is a lesson we hope we always carry with us, whatever the future holds.

Although we felt sad to be saying goodbye to the coast, and especially this beach, we also felt excited to find out what was to come. With over 2300km to cover we have no idea what we will find in our final days on the road before our boat to the UK.

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