With our autumn visit to the UK at an end, it was time to turn our thoughts to our winter plans. We still wanted winter sun but didn’t want to rent an apartment, so we planned to head to Spain and wild camp (or free park) as much as possible.

 

For a change, we decided to sail from Plymouth to Roscoff, France and drive down into Spain. We arrived in Roscoff in the early hours, on a still-dark, wet and windy day. The aire was conveniently close and also free; we parked there for a couple of days before heading further south.

 

 

 The free aire near Roscoff has lovely views 

 

We stayed at a variety of aires on the way south, most of which were free. Although we'd driven along the west coast of France before, there were many places we hadn't visited, including Quimperlé. The aire was walking distance to town and we were intrigued to see that the flood defences were already in place. Quimperlé is where the rivers Isole and Ellé combine and become the River Laïta, so it's hardly surprising they take their flood defences seriously.

 

 

 

 The River Laïta in Quimperlé

 

 

Another favourite stop, and another free aire, is at Mazères sur Salat, which as the name suggests, is on the River Salat. The aire is right on the river bank so the view is spectacular, although the noise is overwhelming on occasions! The autumn colours in that area were absolutely stunning, no doubt helped along by the mixture of sunshine and rain we'd been experiencing!

 

 

One of the most stunning locations for an aire 

 

 

Going to Spain meant crossing the Pyrenees; we decided to use the Vielha Pass, a route I'd recommend to anyone who wants to cross the Pyrenees in the winter. The Vielha Tunnel is over five kilometres long and although the route on either side of the tunnel is a little steep and winding in places, it's apparently kept snow-free during the winter months. We drove it at the end of October and it was nothing less than stunning. To see what I mean, check out this YouTube video 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edBJJh6WGFo

 

 

A great lunchtime stop, just after crossing the Vielha Pass

 

 

Having reached the Spanish coast, we trundled south and spent much of the winter months in the area between La Manga, near Cartagena, and Puerto de Mazarrón, with a trip along the Costa del Sol thrown in for good measure. The weather was mostly good, although February saw gale force winds and coastal damage, during our time in Almerimar. 

 

 

 Sunset on La Manga del Mar Menor

 

 

Before we knew it, it was March and time to start heading north again. We had a house-sit booked in early April, in Garraf (near Barcelona), so March saw us trundling up the coast, mostly just keeping the sea on our right, until we reached Garraf. En route to Garraf, we detoured inland a bit and visited El Castell de Guadalest and Xávia. Although the route was a little tricky in places, it was worth it for the views and Spring colours.

 

 

The views from Guadalest made up for the tricky driving! 

 

 

In the six month period, we'd spent €386 on campsites or aires; €304 of that was when we were holed up in Almerimar during either ill health or bad weather. On the whole, wild camping spots had been easy to find, although we tended to stay away from the big crowds of long-term wild campers and find our own, quiet places, where we only stayed for a night or two at a time - keeping a low profile and not annoying the locals was our aim.

We felt the winter had been a success; although we'd missed a few of the conveniences of an apartment, we'd enjoyed the feeling of freedom. And summer was still ahead of us!