During the winter of 2011-2012, we’d spent all our time on Spanish campsites, which had cost us around €450 per month. An acquaintance of ours rented out an apartment in the Murcia region for much less than that, so we’d arranged to stay there for three to four months during the winter of 2012-2013. A few home comforts for less dosh seemed like a good idea.

 

 

First we had to get down to Murcia. We had decided to follow the Rio Ebro across Spain; this turned out to be a wonderful idea! Having spent a night on the aire in Liérganes, we took a route through Miranda de Ebro and Zaragoza, eventually reaching the coast at Tarragona. The scenery from Valdenoceda to Oña was stunning; I like to describe it as 'Cheddar Gorge on steroids'. It was no less beautiful from Miranda de Ebro to Logroño, where the vineyards were dressed in autumn colours.

             

 
           The rocky gorge of the upper reaches of the Rio Ebro

 

 

Upon reaching the coast, we turned south and headed for the Delta de l'Ebro, where the aire is surrounded by paddy fields; a more tranquil aire is hard to find.

 
                The tranquil and beautiful Delta de l'Ebro
 

 

Continuing south, we spent time in Peñiscola, Valencia and Calpe and loved all three. We caught a bus into Valencia from the Camperstop in El Saler, and were impressed with Valencia's blend of ancient and modern buildings. We even managed to climb Calpe's Penyal d'Ifach, from which we enjoyed the stunning views.

 

 

 

                                Penyal d'Ifach in Calpe 

 

We were gradually building up our experience of off-site parking on this journey, staying on just two campsites and spending the rest of our nights either on aires or wild-camping. However, the next four months were spent in the relative comfort of an apartment in Puerto de Mazarrón, with all the modern conveniences one takes for granted; our own flushing loo, for a start!

We used the apartment as a base to explore locally and also to extend our experience of wild-camping, whilst having a safe haven to which to return. By the time we went back on the road in April, we were firm fans of this cost saving way of overnighting! On our month-long journey along the coast to San Pedro de Alcántara, near Málaga, we spent just five nights on campsites, plus three on the aire in Almerimar; the rest of the time was free.

We did, however, take good care to behave in a manner which would not upset locals: never to stay more than one or two nights in each place; to only park in discrete locations and not abuse local beauty spots; to spend locally; to "take nothing but pictures, and leave nothing behind but footprints".

By the end of April, the winter snow had cleared from the mountains inland; we turned our backs to the sea and set off on yet another adventure.