Stage 1.19: Castillo de Baños – Balerma, Spain

In which I take a long coastal road with glorious views, see some cats, take some kind of selfie, and enter the province of Almería.

It is a beautiful day, and the path from Castillo de Baños initially runs alongside the sea.

I expand my ever-growing collection of animals, spotting these among the rocks hills.
There’s someone walking along with a pram on the road, fenced there by the barrier. I offer to help them over to the path, but they decline. I soon realise why: the path ends abruptly at the cliff, and there’s no way back onto the road. I have to climb the barrier, to enter the tunnel.
Today is very, very hot. There’s no cloud cover and very little wind, meaning two things: the views are absolutely beautiful; the run is absolutely sweltering.
Briefly, a run along the beach. Again, there’s not much to say, here, except that everything is so beautiful. I have things on my mind, today, but droplet-by-droplet, the sun is filtering in to my soul.
Much of these kilometres is along the coastal road, banking left and right, rolling on eastwards, sometimes with a climb, sometimes with a gentle roll downhill.
I get some much-needed shade behind a few trees. These are rather far-between on the road.
There are increasingly more greenhouses, or similar. Spread out over the coastline, these become more and more numerous, and are a regular site for more than tens of kilometres.
After stopping at a small petrol-station to refill, I take a break under the exit from a tunnel under the road. This affords me a little shade.
Almería is closer than you might think. At least, it would be by motorway; it’s a fair bit longer, for me. A lorry hoots, presumably at me, as it goes past on the other road. This makes no sense to me.
Whole clusters of buildings spread out periodically, as the road is away from the sea for a while.
The hills change in texture, for just a few. It’s funny how this feels like variety. Going every step by foot, you really notice every nuance in the surrounding countryside. If if you look away for five minutes, you’re unlikely to miss much, travelling so slowly.
As the signs bid me, I pay attention to dangerous curves. Food for thought.
I enter the province of Almería. Cádiz is now left far, far behind. If you don’t believe me, check the map. Or run it. ;)
Intriguing. But I don’t investigate, since it is uphill—and in the wrong direction.
This really is a remarkably pleasant setting for a road. It’s a shame more roads aren’t like this. When I think of all the hours I’ve spent running inner-city routes…
I like how buildings perch on the cliffs in layers, each getting plenty of sunlight.
And, in a dramatic break with tradition, I take a sort of selfie. ;) Where’s Wally?
The road rejoins the sea.
And then, another promenade. This makes a nice change, and I encounter more people onwards.
Not to mention cats! I encounter lots in a group; here are some of them.
I’m really rather tired, by now, and have an extended break on the rocks running alongside the sea.
A couple of paragliders soar overhead, sailing on the blue sky. When writing this, I turn to the website of the US Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association to check the differences. It advises me that ‘You can enjoy paragliding if you’re a 12 year old girl, an 80 year old man, or someone in between.’
Peppers! Lots of peppers. And even more peppers. The road runs through one of the farms I’ve been seeing, and it’s huge! Row after row, enclosure after enclosure. Looking through the netting, I see what’s growing: more peppers. And again more peppers. This goes on for at least a couple of kilometres, and I’ve only been cutting through the middle of it all. Who knew there were so many vegetables in the world?!
I am glad when I finally escape from the peppers. Now and then, there have been some other things growing, but mostly, it’s peppers until the bitter end. And thousands of metres of farm tenting is, quick frankly, mind-numbingly dull. As I rejoin the beach, I’m losing the light.
Ahead of me, the world is momentarily picked out in extremely delicate pastels. I’m almost there. Almost…
I see this silhouette against the fading sky.
And onwards I go, again glad I brought a torch. Which reminds me, I need some new batteries…
Shortly after this, I reach the end of today’s journey. I include a photo of here, instead, since my arrival is in almost-complete darkness. Checkpoint. 45.0km (stage) / 557.1 km (total)