Hiking Spain: Spanish Walking Holidays

Winter Walks in and around Cabo de Gata Natural Park

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by Jane Lauriston Seigal

From San Jose to Monsul beach


Hiking Spain: I started out from near the port and up through the small original town of San Jose. Early on a Sunday morning, no-one was about and with my dogs eagerly anticipating something better than the stale smell of urban dog, the hill up past the small hotel, Dona Pakyta, stretched our legs.

Cabo de Gata: Restored windmill just outside San Jose
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Restored windmill just outside San Jose

Find my other Almeria articles here:

Winter Walks in Cabo de Gata:
  • From San Jose to Escullo Beach
  • From Escullo Beach to Isleta del Moro

    and here is an excerpt from my book:
  • The Shepherd Girl’s God
  • Beyond the old castle now home to the Guardia Civil, the misty promise of what was to come began to open up. Dogs off their restraints by now we veered to the left and the beautifully restored windmill. From here, one of my favourite views opened up in front of us. Last winter there must have been more rain than usual because I have not seen such promise of Spring with its fresh flush of green sprouting. I lingered savouring this immense panorama remembering my ride with Antonio from El Sotillo across the glorious expanse of Genoveses beach.



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    Playa de los Genoveses
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    One of my favourite views: Genoveses

    We did not hurry now. The dogs were busy with all the wonderful scents of wild boar and smaller animals. I took the route towards the northern end of Genoveses, always wilder and with a remote feel. Past the remains of old cobbled wheat threshing circles, almost all gone today, I idly wondered just how cold the sea would be in January. It looked so inviting but from past experience, I knew it would be cold, too cold for me anyhow!

    Genoveses Beach
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    Genoveses through the agaves

    From the beach car park of Genoveses, I love the old track meandering across the yellow trumpeting flowers and keeping the beach to my left we followed this old path. Muted sounds of 4 x 4’s occasionally penetrate the silence also the odd motor caravan pulling into the car park but it does not disturb. It is all just so awe-inspiring. Glimpses into the hills on the right produce questions of who lives in the startlingly white cortijos that nestle so perfectly into the folds of the hillside. The dogs took my attention as the big boy, a blonde and black German Shepherd definitely found traces of a hare or partridge and gave chase. He didn’t catch it and came back disconsolately.

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    Ben and Jessie partridge spotting Cortijos in the hills

    The local Guardia waved at me from the road and at last we arrived at the bar. We all needed a drink! I just adore these typical drinking troughs and when we first discovered this area nearly 30 years ago, shepherds, their animals and dogs far outnumbered people, and tourists were almost non-existent. BUT the whole is not spoilt, it is still un-peopled and has the restorative ‘feel good’ factor that lifts the spirit.

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    Nearly at Monsul and despite a few alternative motor caravans in situ, the beach that sunny Sunday was bare and magical.

    The Bar !
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    For me it is unusual to find such bright green sea-weedy growth on the rocks near the sea in this region - nature’s incredible pairing of colour just to be marvelled at. Again I questioned the liquid petrification of rock that must have slid down with volcanic activity centuries ago and just stopped mid-flow! You can walk under it and study all the different stones and fossils that are embedded in the molten mass!

    A lone figure stirred under a cover on the beach. At 10am, the dogs had disturbed a female form evidently napping on the soft sands. Other dogs appeared from the parked vehicles and a good romp was had by all. No more chance of rest for this sleepy person! I walked round to the far beach and looked up to the lighthouse at Cabo de Gata itself. Could I go that extra mile? Not that day I decided.

    Monsul Beach
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    The spilling rock shapes at Monsul

    I sat and watched cormorants fishing and remembered another story. Some years ago, with other dogs, we had driven to Monsul in our old motor caravan. It was December 8th ( Immaculate Conception). The sun was warm and hordes of happy Spanish arrived at the beach laden with cool boxes, blankets and children. On this day too, there were alternative travellers. Young flower bedecked bodies of indeterminate sex had arrived in the middle of the previous night waking us with bagpipes and willowy beauties high on something who danced the rest of the night away!!!

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    Monsul Beach
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    View towards Cabo de Gata and lighthouse

    They also had dogs, huge dogs of no particular breed and these dogs were uncontrolled appearing extremely fearsome. The morning of this special holiday dawned bright and sunny but the night owls slept abed after the nights frivolities. Not so the dogs! They ran and barked at each new arrival of Spanish families and understandably really scared children and adults who scurried onto the beach nervously keeping an eye to their rear. Often blocking the most popular access the dogs ruled the roost. We viewed all this from above. Our dogs were controlled and our biggest male German Shepherd needed to be. However, fed up with the scene below and with our dogs longing to join in, we let them. They both honed in on the biggest black brute and more than sent him packing. Beaten, he slunk off to the nearest hippy lorry and slid underneath. The crowd on the beach had watched all this with interest and when the victors ran back to us, they set up a huge cheer of Muy Bueno! It is a lovely story and one we cherish. The errant pack of dogs under the leadership of ‘Black Bosh’ as we named him, did not bother anyone again whilst we were there!

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    Continuing our walk after my reverie and a picnic break and paddle in the sea, the dogs and I made our way back to Genoveses on the road this time. The same friendly Guardia policeman drove back past us and called out a cheerful greeting. Another drink at the bar for the dogs and shame to say, I did not walk all the way back to San Jose. My transport had arrived and we climbed gratefully aboard – well me anyway! A pizza with Paulo at San Jose was definitely on the cards that night!

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    Monsul Beach
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    My lift!

    I suppose this walk is between 6/9kms from San Jose to Monsul depending on the starting point. I allow half a day purely for enjoyments sake – nothing to do with me being of a ‘certain age’ of course!

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    Map Hiking Trail: From San Jose to Monsul Beach



    Find more Hiking Spain holiday suggestions here >>


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