Med – Costa Brava
We were sat in the tent, being buffeted by a Hebridean gale when someone said “This is my summer holidays.
Why don’t we go somewhere warm next year!”. So it happened, 12 months later, that we arrived at Girona Airport,
being met by Guifre, who works at Kayaking Costa Brava with Toni Albert.
We had flown to Girona from Bournemouth by Ryanair with no problems.
Guifre was to take us to the store where Toni Albert keeps his kayaking equipment, so we could be kitted out. Toni arrived while we were there and gave us considerable help to plan our route. Toni has over a 110 kayaks of all types, some sit-ons and others are enclosed. We used a Nordkapp, an Avocet and a Rainbow Laser. All were plastic. Paddles were made by Lendal. The one thing we had not been able to resolve was the type of stove to use. We prefer Triangas but meths does not appear to be sold in Spain. With the kayaks on the roof, we toured several local towns trying to buy gas cylinders. Alas, we were not lucky so it was to be a cold dinner that night, and most other nights of the trip!
Guifre took us to Roses, north of the bay and from here we set off to follow the coast northwards. It was about 7:30pm when we left so we needed to find a campsite quickly before nightfall at 9pm. We found a suitable spot on the northern side of Cap de Norfeu; a National Park. Camping is not allowed here, and camping is not permitted on any beach, so we had to be discrete and camp well away from habitation. We had some bread, cheese, sausage and fruit, which we had bought so our first meal set the scene for the week. Each evening we were on the water it was basically the same meal, and the same for breakfast, but we omitted the wine and San Miguel for breakfast.
The next day was cloudy but warm. What bliss to paddle in the warm. This section of coast was superb. The countryside was originally oak forests that were cut down to make vineyards. These were wiped out in 1879 by a plague and the land has since been left to return to its wild state. The terracing is still evident and the sedimentary rocks have formed strange, face-like forms due to erosion by the wind and sea. It was a coastline of ever changing interest. Although there is no tide in the Mediterranean there was some assistance giving us half a knot of push as we passed by some headlands. On the way we called in at Cadaques, for elevenses, and then continued on past the island where Salvador Dali lived.
Port de la Selva,
The extent of our journey to the north was Port de la Selva, a quiet fishing and yachting port. I landed first, on a building site. John then spotted a sandy beach to the right where he and Dave went. I decided to walk across and pull the kayak after me. Oops, I should have spotted the freshly laid concrete path before I walked across it. I tried to repair it with my wet suit-booted foot but I was spotted by a despairing workman who shook his head in frustration. Nowhere was open for a decent meal – the Spanish begin eating at 8pm – so it was another trip to the “supermercado” to top up the supplies of bread, sausage, cheese and San Miguel. Our campsite that night was a pleasant cove about a mile back the way we had come.
Next day we returned to our first campsite, where we were pinned down for 24 hours by very strong winds. Even so, it was a big improvement on Northern Scotland. We may have had strong winds but there was not a cloud in the sky and the sun was beautifully warm. The following day we left early to cross the Golf de Roses, about 8Nm. across towards L’Escala. On this beach there was a restaurant that was open so we had our first Spanish meal of the trip. After another trip to the supermarket we continued south east along a different type of coastline. Here there were stupendous limestone cliffs with caves and passages through the rocks. The ever-changing views were wonderful but the coast here is not a place to be in bad weather. On this whole section, of about 4Nm, there was only one landing spot. We were not the only ones to visit this small cove, the Cala Ferriol. Several power boats arrived and there were several small walking groups who had come over the L’Alt de la Pedrosa.
We waited and waited and eventually we had the place to ourselves. We moved the kayaks away from the rocky beach and put our tents up in the woods. Space for tents was sparse so Dave and John shared a tent. Since they had both been eating spring onions I was glad my tent was 20 metres from them. Next morning was also windy so we when we reached L’Estartit we stayed for a coffee and Mars Bar. This is a popular scuba diving area because of the Illes Medes, offshore. I collected a few brochures on diving deals with another trip here in mind. The crossing from here to Cala de se Riera was painfully slow because of a strong headwind that was consistently Force 5 to 6. When we landed on the beach and looked back the sea looked so serene with hardly a white horse in sight. But after a 2 hour break the wind had not abated and would not let us go on to the Cap de Begur. We were pinned down again at another delightful beach looking across to a picturesque Spanish village. Putting tents up was too risky so we slept on the beach with the plan to leave early next day.
We were on the water by 7am with a maximum wind strength of Force 2 and another delightful section of rocky coastline to explore. This was our last day on the water and may be the most memorable. The low angle of the sun enhanced the warm brown colours of the rock. There were vertical and horizontal bands of contrasting rocks running through the bedrock, making fascinating patterns along the cliffs. Too soon we arrived near to the beach where we had agreed to meet Guifre. We had rung ahead to advise them of our expected arrival time and we all arrived at the same time. Kayaks were emptied, kit was stuffed into bags and soon were on our way back to Girona. We were dropped off in the centre so we could explore the old town. A restaurant beckoned and a delightful midday meal was washed down with more San Miguel. It is a simple bus ride from here to the airport, where we slept overnight ready for the 8am booking-in time. As with the outgoing flight there were no problems and we even arrived back in Bournemouth half an hour early. Brrrrr…it was cold even with the sun shining.
Thanks to John and Dave for making it such a good trip and also thanks to Ingrid and Phil, for the contacts, and Toni and Guifre for their assistance. If you want to paddle this coastline then I recommend you to Toni’s at