Camping La Fresneda and days out

The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plane. It also falls in the mountains as, after our week at La Fresneda, we can attest.

As we checked out last night, Joost, one half of the campsite-owning couple, told us we'd been particularly unlucky. April is rainy season but usually only for half a day per week. This week had also been unseasonably cold - colder than winter, he said.

But Tony and I hadn't let the weather spoil our enjoyment of our second week in Spain. To be fair the rain had mostly waited until we had returned from a day out hiking and we still enjoyed evenings sitting outside under shelter, just wearing a few more layers than we'd hoped to in Spain at Easter.

Camping La Fresneda is a little gem of a campsite with around 20 pitches nestled in a valley, three kilometres from the nearest town, of the same name. Whichever pitch you choose you'll have amazing views of the surrounding mountains. Watching the peaks turn from olive green to dusty pink as the sun sets on our last, sunny evening was a real treat. There's no light pollution either and so the night sky on a cloudless night is similarly rewarding.

When we checked in we were presented with a thoughtfully-put-together ring binder overflowing with information about local walks and days out. The site is blessed with an abundance of hiking trails across the nearby mountains and these walks would give us plenty to do throughout our stay.

Several walks start out at the top of the mountain behind the campsite. It's a twenty-minute trek to reach the top but then the path levels out as it meets dozens of other tracks leading in all manner of directions.

Snapping a photo on your mobile phone of the walk instructions is a good idea but the campsite hosts have thoughtfully added waymarkers along the routes and so green dots painted on the rocks or little towers of stones will help you along the way.

As mentioned in my previous post we loved our walk to El Salt, the (dry) waterfall on our first day. The walk to La Fresneda's abandoned convent, Virgin de Gracia, is similarly rewarding. Glimpsing the tremendous stone building for the first time as you round a bend in the path is both unexpected and spectacular. The magnificent structure feels lost in the mountains so distant from the town and any kind of life.

The town of La Fresneda is also well worth a visit or two during a stay here. It was declared an Historic-Artistic Monument in 1983. At the height of the hill on which the town nestles are the calatravo Castle and the ruins of the great Ermita de Santa B├írbara church. Make sure you have enough phone storage for all the photos you'll want to take up here.

Slightly further afield, and requiring a 45 minute drive, is a rewarding walk to a hot spring. Once in the town of Prat de Compte you are instructed to park in the old train station car park, the surprise being just how far away from the town its train station was - about four kilometres along a narrow and winding road.

The railway's tracks have been taken up and the route lovingly turned into a cycle way. Setting out on foot, you pass through two long tunnels before emerging and descending down to a gurgling river and dozens of little waterfalls. On a summer's day I defy anyone not to want to swim here in the small pools of clear water. 

We followed the stepped path upwards for a while, looking for the hot spring which turned out to be back where we'd emerged from the second tunnel. We shared the walk only with several swallows darting about the narrow gorge.

The hot spring turned out to be not-so hot. A small pool is fed by a luke-warm trickle of water. It's nothing to write home about but the bubbling river running alongside is ample reason to visit. Bring your swimming trunks and a picnic.

Our little excursions filled our mornings and early afternoons nicely. Had the sun been out we'd have enjoyed chilling out and topping up our tans back on our camping pitch, rather than huddling around the warmth of our saucepan as dinner cooked.

The campsite bar opens from 5pm until 11pm each evening. The small bar is built into the rock which has been left piercing menacingly into its back wall, butting up to the coffee machine. Drinks are incredibly inexpensive with a small beer priced 1€ and glass of wine the same. Wine by the bottle, sourced locally from a biodynamic winery, starts at 7€. Several boardgames and hundreds of books fill the walls in between pictures, posters and memorabilia. On a cold rainy evening Tony and I spent an hour or so with a bottle of red and a card game next to the gas stove turned on for us by Jet.

Bread and pastries can be ordered the night before and collected from the bar in the morning - a nice touch considering the 45-minute walk to the bakery in La Fresneda town. Evening meals are offered every night with Saturday's paella night being cooked by the hosts and on the other nights being delivered from a local restaurant.

The small facilities block is immaculate and very well cared for. Two showers and four sinks in the mens and the same in the ladies. There is plentiful hot water and no annoying push button in the shower.

The price is a nice surprise too, and if you stay for seven nights or more it drops further to just 18€ per pitch, per night.

Our first visit into the Spanish interior has given us an appetite to come back and see more, though I doubt we'll ever be as spoiled as we were at Camping La Fresneda.

The site is well worthy of a place in the Ending Up Anywhere recommended campsites.

Comments

  1. Happy to read this post. Sorry you had bad weather but very happy you loved the site. Hopefully the SheltaPod stood up to it all. The last couple of weeks have been dreary and rainy to say the least. We've been wanting to go to La Fresneda but not sure how good it is for kids but I think we'll go in May for a weekend and check it out, based on your report! Yes, Catalonia, a land where red wine and beer are not much more expensive than water, and why it's very normal to see people drinking at breakfast time here.

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