The First Ebike Holiday in the Cabo de Gata

Some of the group on the coastal path

Some of the group on the coastal path

It was Sean Popplewell, a regular visitor to the Cabo de Gata from Ireland, who came up with the idea. Earlier this year he suggested to me that I should put together a cycling tour of the Parque Natural using electric bikes. I was apprehensive at first because I thought that bike tours usually covered a much larger area, staying in a different town or village each night. Nevertheless, I put together an itinerary staying 3 nights in San Jose, 4 nights in Las Negras and routes to explore the beautiful, beaches and scenery of the Cabo de Gata.
Reliable electric bikes were difficult to source but I found a German – Felix – based in Granada who rented out top of the range Swiss built Flyer bikes which, though expensive, are well built and sturdy enough to cope with a week’s hard use.
Olivier Vander Elst, who has a business in Dublin, GreenAer, selling electric bikes, marketed the holiday to his client base and was able to put together a small group of 11 who arrived here on the 30th September, including himself.

The track above Las Presillas

The track above Las Presillas

The first two days were sometimes cloudy and quite breezy. This suited the cyclists as it gave them a chance to get used to the warmer climate in Southern Spain before the arrival of uninterrupted sunshine for the final five days. On the first day I took them up to the little village of Las Presillas Altas above Los Escullos. From here I sent the most intrepid up the sandy and rocky rambla to Las Presillas Altas and back while the rest enjoyed a leisurely nature walk.

The group at La Isleta

The group at La Isleta

We then cycled down to the little fishing village of La Isletta for a lunch of fried fish and calamares. On the way back some of the group, led by Olivier, took the coastal route back to San Jose. This challenging track is steep and rocky in places but they were rewarded with some wonderful coastal scenery.

The track to Genoveses beach

The track to Genoveses beach

The rest returned via the road to San Jose. As they arrived at the village before the others, I took them over the hill to the fabulous Genoveses beach for a swim. It was a good day’s introduction to the Cabo de Gata and Olivier and I were able to assess the capabilities and wishes of the group members.

On Monsul beach

On Monsul beach

On the second day we made a longer trip along the coastal path from San Jose to the Faro de Cabo de Gata and then along the coastal road to San Miguel. We cycled past Genoveses beach and stopped at Playa de Monsul. I told the group about the films shot here, including the scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade with Sean Connery and Harrison Ford. We then ascended along the track to its highest point at Cerro de Vela Blanca and dropped down to the lighthouse at Faro de Gata, the south eastern tip of Spain.

Las Sirenas

Las Sirenas

On one side are the jagged rocks of Las Sirenas and to the other we looked along the flat coastline towards Almeria.

La Iglesia de Las Salinas and the beach at Almadraba.

La Iglesia de Las Salinas and the beach at Almadraba.

Along the coast we stopped for lunch and a swim at Almadraba, looked around the church, Iglesia de Las Salinas and the salt workers’ cottages where the award winning Spanish film, Vivir es Facil, was shot.

Inside the hide

Inside the hide

We looked at the flamingoes on the salt flats through a hide and finally stopped at the beach of San Miguel de Cabo de Gata with its colourful fishing boats and shacks.

Flamingoes

Flamingoes

The group split for the return journey. Some took the track behind the salt flats and went back along the coastal cliff tracks while the rest took the easier option of returning by road.

Olivier and Jim on the coastal path from San Jose to Los Escullos

Olivier and Jim on the coastal path from San Jose to Los Escullos

On the third day the group transferred from San Jose to Las Negras. The hotels took care of the luggage transfer so the bikers could cycle to Las Negras.

El Playazo

El Playazo

They stopped at Rodalquilar for lunch and then went down to the beach at El Playazo for a swim. I met them here and escorted them to the Hotel Cala Grande in Las Negras.

Cycling through the fields of Cortijo de Los Frailes

Cycling through the fields of Cortijo de Los Frailes

The group posing in front of La Ermita de Los Frailes

The group posing in front of La Ermita de Los Frailes

The next day we followed the tracks between Las Hortichuelas and Rodalquilar exploring the ruins of Cortijo Montana and on to Cortijo and Ermita de los Frailes, the old mine workings used as a set for the soon to be released blockbuster Exodus, Planta Denver gold processing works before lunch again at Rodalquilar and a swim at El Playazo.

Brigitte and Beatrice recovering in the square at Nijar

Brigitte and Beatrice recovering in the square at Nijar

The following day, Sunday, we headed inland along the road to Nijar. After relaxing with a drink in the main square, the group split again.

Jim, Dave and Olivier at Huebro

Jim, Dave and Olivier at Huebro

Some of the group returned to Las Negras ro spend the afternoon on the beach while the rest went on up a steep, winding road to the mountain village of Huebro. Here the annual fiesta was in full swing.

Brigitte and dave dancing in the square at Huebro

Brigitte and dave dancing in the square at Huebro

A group was playing in the square below the church, stalls and makeshift bars had been set up all around and some of us who made the steep ride up danced amongst the locals.

an old photo I took of Las Totobias when we lived there

An old photo I took of Las Totobias when we lived there

On the final full day we rode from Las Negras to Agua Amarga but instead of following the road we turned off before Fernan Perez and followed the tracks across the estepa. I know these well as we lived here for 20 months before we moved down to Las Negras. When we stopped by our old home, Las Totobias, the group seemed amazed that we could live in such an isolated location but we loved it.

The beach at Agua Amarga

The beach at Agua Amarga

At Agua Amarga a swim off the beautiful beach was followed by lunch and returning to Las Negras we took the easier route and followed the road.

San Pedro

San Pedro

Their flight back to Dublin was on Tuesday afternoon so I suggested that a good morning’s activity would be to walk along the cliffs from Las Negras to San Pedro, relax and have a swim there and catch the water taxi back. There is no regular boat service particularly out of season but I found the skipper in a bar during the morning and asked him to pick them up from San Pedro. Readers of this blog will be familiar with San Pedro but to the people in the group who walked there it was a revelation.

Posing along a track

Posing along a track

The holiday was a great success. Everybody enjoyed the excursions, the evenings were fun, the group got on well with each other and the people of Las Negras.

Outside El Brindi Negro, Las Negras

Outside El Brindi Negro, Las Negras

Certainly the bar and restaurant owners liked the group. We must do this again. Perhaps Spring next year when the wild flowers are in bloom. The photos are a mixture of ones taken by me and members of the group plus a few from my archives.

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About Margaret Merry

I grew up in Falmouth, Cornwall, England where, after leaving Falmouth High School, I spent a year at Falmouth School of Art. Then followed three years at Hornsey College of Art in London where I obtained a Diploma in Art and Design. I then spent a post-graduate year at the West of England College of Art in Bristol where I gained an Art Teacher?s Diploma and a Certificate in Education of the University of Bristol. I lived and worked in Truro for over 30 years and became one of Cornwall's most popular artists. My paintings have been exhibited in New York, Tokyo, Paris and London and have been bought by collectors from all over the world. I have published 4 books which became local bestsellers - 'The Natural History of a Westcountry City', 'Margaret Merry's Cornish Garden Sketchbook', 'Sea & Sail' and 'Tidal Reaches'. In 2002 I moved to Spain and now live in the little coastal village of Las Negras in the heart of the Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata. I now get my inspiration from the dramatic scenery of Andalucia and its old cities, towns and villages which I usually capture in watercolour. I also enjoy figurative art, particularly nudes and dancers. For these paintings I use artists' soft pastels. I have written and illustrated 3 children's books - The Wise Old Boar, The Lonely Digger and The Adventure of Princess The Pony - which have been published in the USA.
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4 Responses to The First Ebike Holiday in the Cabo de Gata

  1. Angela says:

    Well, I was there with you! It looks so amazing and the guys all looked very jolly.That scenery is magic.I should let go of my fear of flying and come back sometime. What a good idea to have biking holidays.How about biking botanists too!!!

  2. jeune01 says:

    Lovely portfolio Margaret and Digby………………..looks like you had good weather too……………love……………June

  3. Denise says:

    Lovely blog.. Got great feedback from my friend Dara Hayes who went on your recent Ebike trip.
    I would love to take the flora trip at some stage when finances permit! Your poppy artwork is beautiful.. Thank you.

    • Hello Denise
      We may do a botanical walking holiday next spring. It will be cheaper than the bike holiday as no expensive bikes to hire. The walks will not be arduous as there will be so much flora and fauna to look at and discuss en route.
      Best wishes Margaret

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