Ardales to Malaga

The Camino del Rey is above Christine, halfway up the rock face.
The Camino del Rey is above Christine, halfway up the rock face.

A quick start today, leaving the apartment at 09:10 after breakfast. Only white bread was on offer at the panaderia but you can’t be too fussy in these small towns and lunch is essential. There followed a superb ride through the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes, a deep gorge with the frightening looking Camino del Rey emerging from a cleft in the rock over a bridge and along the rock face. The path provides access to a hydro-electric plant and took its name after an official visit by king Alfonso XIII 1921. Official access to the path was removed in 2000 on grounds of safety. At present though the walkway is accessible by climbers, it is dangerous. Take a look at this youtube clip to see how scary it is.

It wasn’t so windy today but similar temperature to yesterday, pleasantly warm for outdoor activity. We stopped for our picnic at Alora then carried on southwards past plantations of oranges and lemons. The countryside became more built up as we made our way towards Malaga airport. The access looked straightforward on the map, but as I’d expected, the reality was different and some of the roads had been remodelled. We had to stay alert to avoid being led onto slip roads to major highways around the airport, eventually we found our way to the terminal and then it took an age to find the Holiday Inn, access was via a very busy roundabout, along an industrial road and down a scrubby track under a road bridge. The transport infrastructure around the airport is geared only to motor traffic.

We locked our bikes in the hotel’s store room, showered, changed and walked back to check out the morning’s route to the airport terminal. With no pedestrian crossing, the fast busy road by the roundabout was too dangerous to attempt so we returned and ate at the hotel. This was the only really poor meal of the holiday, the veg noodles incorporated just a few thin strips of peppers for veg and the chocolate crepe was so tough I had great difficulty cutting it. The air conditioning in our room wasn’t working, which we discovered just before getting into bed, so we had a choice of a hot and stuffy room or opening the window to the noisy traffic. It’s the closest hotel to the airport but we’ll avoid Malaga in future.

The Holiday Inn breakfast exceeded our expectations though it wasn’t served until 07:00 so we had to be quick. We felt reasonably safe cycling the short distance to the terminal as we were then part of the traffic, found the EasyJet check in desks and prepared our bikes for the flight. Despite arriving in plenty of time, we spent almost an hour queuing to check in, there were several EasyJet flights leaving at similar times, and with the bikes to go through the outsize baggage scanner, we were getting concerned. Predictably, the scanner was too small for our bikes, we found a Menzies representative who took us down in the lift to the security section where there was a bigger scanner which just accommodated our bikes. We then had only a few minutes to spare so were relieved to be on the plane after a similar scare to last year’s at Sevilla.

The bikes arrived undamaged at Liverpool and after a quick lunch at the airport we rode to Hunts Cross station for the connection to Chester at Liverpool Central. The Arriva two car class 158 unit that took us home from Chester was packed, people standing all the way and large suitcases filling the bike storage area. We were glad to alight at Bangor to ride the seven miles home, when you’re cycling you always have a seat.