Decided on a long driving day, heading north for Valencia. Departed the beach camping area at 1030 and took the coast road, hugging the cliffs with the sea just below. It’s great to have a proper road atlas, purchased in Almeria (but published by Michelin), which shows all the smaller roads and contours! We won’t need TomTom much today hopefully. The coast road seems to be very popular with cyclists but at El Pozo we head for the Autovia and a change of landscape. We drive through an area of mixed cultivation with quite a bit of plastic tunnels and greenhouses amongst volcanic plugs.
The Anibal Camper Area, near Aquilas, is an excellent service area for campervans/motorhomes: we got reasonably cheap diesel, LPG (attended service), filled up with fresh drinking water and even washed the van! We decided to use the peaje, to get the miles covered more quickly. There were several sections where tunnels were being repaired, with big flashing arrows which made driving through them a bit scary though! We noticed the rock colour changed near Mazarron and there were some tall chimneys, not sure what industrial heritage this represents, and research so far has gleaned no answers. The A7 motorway runs all along the coast through a pretty barren landscape with rocky outcrops and a mix of scrub, oranges and lemons interspersed with the now familiar fruit and vegetable crops under huge plastic greenhouses. As we passed Alicante there were some impressive mountains inland. We gave Benidorm a wide berth but marvelled at the huge skyscrapers of holiday apartments shimmering in the sunshine.
Our plan was to stay on the Autovia all the way to Valencia, with a couple of stops at service areas, to find a place to stay in the Parque Natural d’Albufera de Valencia. We made an unfortunate decision late afternoon to take a diversion along a ‘scenic’ route closer to the coast at Gandia to make the day a bit shorter. This found us at a pretty horrible looking campsite with ‘Dunas’ in the name, tucked into a residential area quite some way from sand or dunes! It was nearly dusk, but we returned to the A7 (Plan A), drove all the way to Valencia then doubled back south to find the Camping Coll Vert at Pinedo – not very promising on first sight, but too late to try elsewhere. A very friendly receptionist made us most welcome, offering one of the two remaining pitches, and it’s only €17. We’d driven 263 miles, the tolls were less than €14 (much cheaper than France!) and there was electricity and hot showers.