On a Dark Desert Footpath,Cool Wind in My Hair……..

Silent footsteps on the sandy path remind me of some kind of spooky night time adventure as I  make my way through the darkness following the footpath  by the moonlight. I glance at the purply pink hue on the horizon to check that dawn is coming.

Desert Beach with Pita tree

The cool light breeze doesn’t mask the fact that all around me are strange noises of the night which are a little scary even if you can identify some of them. The vegetation is  not familiar and in the half-darkness even slightly frightening. Cactus plants as well as pita  and eucalyptus trees guard the footpath to the beach. The shimmering light in the distance is the moon reflected on the bay‘s  inky looking water which rhythmically rolls towards the shadowy beaches. I am walking in what is said to be the only desert on the European  mainland and when you walk into its wilderness you understand that it is really a desert.

Early morning light in the desert

As the subtle colours of dawn slowly turn into weak sunlight the shadows are no more and  I can see hares(yes hares in a desert!) darting into the cactus for cover and further down the path a a couple of foxes are stopped at a crossroads  in the path surrounded by exotic looking trees as they stand stock still staring in my direction to see if I go  in theirs. Upon seeing my intention of invading their territory they turn and trot in a relaxed but purposeful manner  towards the hills at the end of the bay where somewhere they have their den.

Desert Fox on the footpath

I skirt the main beach. The wide sandy expanse here is in the shape of a  crescent  and  is now visible, wide and sandy and deserted except for a lone yacht  at anchor two hundred metres out into the bay, riding the small waves in the semi-darkness and in silence. No-one awake onboard. I then climb a small headland by way of a stone(volcanic looking) strewn path which takes me down to a long narrow sandy beach with rocks and cliffs for a backdrop.

Desert Hare on the look out

As I reach the sand I take off my shoes and feel the cold sand on the soles of my feet. Walking along at the edge of the surf, just where the waves lap against the beach I walk leaving footprints  which when I look back remind me of  Robinson Crusoe type prints receding in the distance.They are the only ones visible along the beach and as I look back I definitely have a feeling of being completely on my own on one of Spain’s best beaches and in July; and not just on my own but in a positively wild and isolated place.

Those Robinson Crusoe footprints

There is probably no one within 3 or 4 kilometres, maybe on one of the  beaches a couple of  sleeping baggers, but as I dive into the sea for a quick dip I am conscious of the dangers of swimming on one’s own. The cold and refreshing water brings a surprising shock to the system.

Volcanic coastline and beaches give the desert a unique natural border

The water here on this desert coast is strangely cold. According to a local fisherman it is because there are currents of very cold water that come in from the Atlantic deep down in the sea and  surface off the coast after hundreds of kilometres travelling into the Mediterranean. Nice theory but not sure if it is true.

Desert vegetation next to the beach

After the swim, I walk back with that fresh tingling feeling all over my body and wind my way through the pita trees  on cool sandy paths which eventually lead to the edge of town after an hour´s walk.

Here comes the desert sun

There are not many places  on mainland Spain were you can see such desert wilderness so  near to mankind and in such a totally unique environment.

Little Owl in the desert

The strange plants, the flowers, the reptiles and the amazing variety of birds such as Bonelli’s Eagles,sparrow hawks and countless smaller birds. I love visiting this wonderland and  it never ceases to surprise me that it is a desert and it is on mainland Europe. For me it is a desert that is an oasis.Does that make sense?

The Spanish Thyme Traveller offers trips to SE Spain specialising in Valencia and Teruel.

8 thoughts on “On a Dark Desert Footpath,Cool Wind in My Hair……..

  1. Want, want, want! It’s amazing the huge differences there are in Spain. Spain Is Different as Graham Hunt frequently proves and you have confirmed . 8000 kms of beach in Spain and you go from crammed to deserted within miles. Whatever you prefer #spain is DIFFERENT!

  2. Hi Patrick,
    I enjoyed your letter and photos.
    I have been to Spain several times but I missed the desert.
    My last trip to Spain was almost ten years ago. I went to Extremadura and I was so happy with my decision. The sights were splended.
    Here is the link to my photos and Travel Letter from Extremadura.
    Jan Polatschek


  3. Wonderful! But where is it? Am new to Spain…moved to Barcelona a few months ago, and it’s time to start exploring the rest of the country!
    Ian’s very nice blog, congratulations