All a bit more complicated. You need to cross the river at Sancti Petri by finding a friendly fisherman or tour operator. We couldn’t, but this saved us having to walk to the Centro de Interpretacion of the Natural Park (large and informative), skirt an active military complex (actually firing shells into the Straits), before, by the end of the military buildings at a CA33 roundabout, rejoining the beach for the final couple of hours into Cadiz. This takes you all the way to the town centre, past the University’s rugby pitch on the beach.
Leave Conil by going along the beach right to the end of the alarmingly eroded cliffs. Then rise to the top of the cliff along a path. At the top at Puerto Conil you have to cross a river and go past an anchor graveyard. Then along the top of the cliff into the village of Roche. At the restaurant Timon de Roche (v. posh, but forgiving of sandy boots) descend down the alley to the beach. 8kms later you will be in Sancti Petri, having gone past some large new hotels. Staying at the beachfront Hostal Campanario.
Birdwatch pause: Plovers, Cattle Egret, Lesser Egret, Stonechats, Hoopoes, Red-legged Stilts, Flamingoes, Lesser Kestrels, and two unidentifiable squeaky ones.
Leave Barbate through the port, and as the road starts to climb go up along a path through a pine forest past the Torre de Tajo on a good path all the way to Canos de Meca. Going through this seaside town will take you past a garage converted into a sherry bar where you will be unable not to stop. Resume refreshed through the town and exit along the road until a left turn to the Trafalgar Lighthouse opposite a minigolf and through a campsite. Follow the beach all the way past Zahora, and the teen dream surf shacks of El Palmar. Then there’s a grassy inland path (beware the Spanish Navy practising beach manouevres) that takes you to the footbridge into Conil. This is a larger, more touristy pueblo with a very good Argentinian pizzeria, Pizza 10. Staying at Hostal Campito – new, clean, warm and calming.
Leave Bolonia by going past the Roman ruins along the boardwalk (the ruins are closed on Mondays, as if they were the Louvre). Go up to the right of the famous and impressive dune, because along the coast to the left of it is a military installation. Then keep veering left and up through a pine forest past Punta Camarinal and an abandoned military camp and a goat farm. At the lighthouse, ignore ‘Rule One of not getting lost’ and go down through the shrubbery – it gets you to the beach at Zahara de los Atunes and a long long row of stunning villas (local celebs only) that eventually lead into the pueblo itself. Sudden rainstorm just at the town walls not necessary. Made for a good lunch break in a chiringuito, where the drunk lady at the bar was apparently a magistrate who knew the secrets of all of Spain. Then go along the next beach and a grassy path towards Barbate (which used to be called Barbate de Franco until 1998 so it’s easy to see which side they were on in the Civil War) . Then you have to take the road and cross a road bridge to get into Barbate Pueblo itself. It’s a working town in atmosphere if not in rather sad economic reality. We had a nice dinner at a table next to a silent Moroccan fishing crew who were stocking up on fried fish before heading out to the South Atlantic or similar. Staying in the Hostal Barbate. Friendly.
Day One: Tarifa to Bolonia
Set off along the first of the long, deserted beaches at Playa de Los Lances, go over Punto Paloma following the yellow arrows through the sand dune. These yellow arrows are signs for a part of the Camino de Santiago that later veers up towards Jerez and joins the Ruta de la Plata going north through Salamanca. There’s also a long distance walk Tarifa-Athens, so don’t turn the wrong way out of Tarifa. The arrows take you over a big sand dune through a pine forest past the local Retinto cows (delicious as steak). Then there’s some scrambling and some boggy bits, including a bridge in the middle of a swamp, which we tried to cross, but it was better to just take the road to the campsite Rio Jara at this point and get back to the beach that way. Some rain in the afternoon made our arrival in Bolonia wet, and our walk back from La Jabega restaurant (Retinto steak) after dinner even wetter. Staying in the rather damp Hostal Bellavista that was the only one open, thouh hardly their fault it was damp given the weather.. Friendly receptionists.
Navigation: ask the locals, and keep the sea on your left.
Refuelling strategy: Pan con tomate for breakfast, large sandwich for lunch, big dinner. Some random fruit.
Distances: Approx 20km each day.
Previous experience: Jim walked the Pyrenees, Pete and Mel crossed Turkey with a donkey, Mel and Mercedes completed the Camino Ingles from Ferrol to Santiago.
First aid kit: Compeed, Savlon, Paracetamol.
Culture shock: Pateras on the beach.
Interpreter of Andaluz accent: Mercedes.
I think you look
like the girl in one of those books
I wish I had read
or like the older sister of the ideal friend
that I’ve not yet met
I think you’d feel
as soft as a dream
if I could touch you
so I hold out my hand
and hope yours is there