Blogs » Motorhome Touring » Voyage of the M.H. Hana Hobby.

Voyage of the M.H. Hana Hobby.

  • I had promised some people that I'd keep sending in reports during my recent trip to Northern Spain. Due to bad internet and bad internet advice this proved impossible so over the coming weeks I'll write an account of my travels here. For anyone not wanting to bore themselves with all the details here are the final figures. Left home at 6:30 am Monday 30th April and arrived back at 11 pm Friday 15th June. Total distance travelled 6549 Km. Total spent on diesel €833.64. Total spent on road tolls €11.47. The numbers which appear in brackets after town names is the number of the Aire as it appears in "All the Aires Spain and Portugal". At the end of each day I'll put in the road numbers as they appear in the excellent Michelin zoom maps.


    Day 1.

    Took the ferry from Rosslare to Fishguard and set off towards Portsmouth. By the time we got to Bristol I was bored and fed up with motorways so we headed across country with the odd detour along the way, no we weren't lost, just exploring :-). Found the Rockingham Arms in Romsey and had a very nice and filling meal. Unfortunately no overnighting allowed so we carried on to Portsmouth. Brittany ferries and security allowed us to park up for the night as we had sailing tickets for the following evening. The only condition imposed was that we had to be out before 6:30 am as that's when they would be starting to load for the morning sailing.


    Day 2.

    We were up bright and early at 5:30 which was just as well because at 5:45 everyone was being woken up with a very firm knock on the door by security. We had a full day to kill in Portsmouth so a visit to Mary Rose was essential. Another item off the bucket list. We managed to find a parking spot here…312!8i6656 and paid £12 for 24 hr parking. We spent the day at The Mary Rose and in the dockyard, you could easly spend a week and see everything. We checked in at the ferry about 4:45 pm without any hassle or problems, they did however check our length against markings on the ground. Good job I had the bike inside. :-) Nice ship ( Pont Avon) comfortable cabin and good grub.


    Day 3.

    Arrived in Santander around 18:30, they apologised over the intercom for being 1 hour late due to the storm! My buddy and I looked at one another in surprise and said " what f*&%ing storm". we had had a very peaceful night and weren't aware of any excessive rolling or movement of the ship. Disembarkation was smooth and easy and we had to just show our passports and then we were in Spain, in the rain, and the low cloud, and the low temperature, and the wind. This was my bible for my time in Spain,…th-edition it is essential and worth every penny and will save you time and money. We headed for the Aire in Cabárceno, (365), for the night. Lots of motorhomes already there but plenty of room for more. Walked two minutes to a bar/restaurant for our first Spanish meal. 1 large bowl of mixed bean stew, 2 steak and chips, 2 disserts, 1 bottle of local wine and 1 large bottle of mineral water for a total cost of €23:85. Route S10, A8, CA-406.


    Day 4.

    Left Cabárceno via Sarón heading for Ojo Guarea, http://www.merindaddesotoscuev…an-bernabe Some spectacular driving through the hills and mountains, pity the weather was so bad with showers and low cloud.

    Found the cave closed so we decided to go back to Espinosa de los Monteros to get some grub, which we did with difficulty as there were very few places open. Found the Aires, (358), and spent a peaceful night along with two other campers.

    Route CA-406, CA-142, CA-262, CA-631, BU-570, BU-526, BU-V-5626.


    Day 5.

    Woke to the sound of bells, not church bells but a wandering Shepard and his flock of rather scrawny looking sheep passing slowly along graising as they went. the sheep may have looked scrawny but I bet they tasted good. Went back to Ojo Guareo for a fantastic tour of the cave and chapel. Salinas de Anana was our next stop for an hour long very interesting tour of the salt pans which date back to Roman times.…-de-anana/

    As it was still reasonably early we pressed on to Vitoria - Gasteiz, capitol of the Basque Country. We ended up in the centre of the city "exploring" at night but that's what campers are for. Eventually found the Aires (393) and joined a lot of other motorhomes in a dedicated section of a large carpark. Some road noise but otherwise a quiet night.

    Route BU-526, BU-542, N-629, BU-552, A-2625, A-2622, A1, N102.


    Day 6.

    As the fridge had started to act up we decided to stay put and get a few bits and pieces and work on it. Found a large shopping centre about 20 min walk from the Aires with the largest supermarket I've seen, 36 checkout desks. Got the stuff we wanted and then found a fantastic buffet on the top floor of the shopping centre. A very well stocked salad bar, a few pasta dishes, cooked rice dishes, chips, fried potatoes, a couple of different chicken dishes and my favourite, a good selection of raw fish, prawns and meats which you brought up to the chef who cooked them for you on a hotplate. Desert, coffee and drink of your choice all for €12.45 per person. You could return to any of the dishes as often as you wanted. The crew of the Hana Hobby did not help the company profits very much that day. Spent the afternoon working on the fridge, adjusted the igniter and got it sparking very well. Put everything back in place and the f*&%$ng bi*&% wouldn't fire up. Too late to do anything other than SSS a brew up and bed.


    Day 7.

    I had more or less come to terms with not having a fridge or using campsites to work it on mains power. Before heading off we went back to the buffet but as it was Sunday there was a massive que, expected waiting time 1 hour minium. Dined in a nearby restaurant and some more great driving towards Durango and Zumaia where we spotted the Aires, (365), beside the river where it enters the port. This Aires is in an industrial area and about 9.30 the engineering factory opposite started using some heavy noisy machinery so we moved a couple of hundred metres down river towards the road for peace and quiet.

    Route N-240, BI-623, N-634.


    Day 8.

    After a night of thinking about the fridge we took it out again and completely dismantled the burner. Knocked a lot of soot and cinder out of it re-assembled everything and fired her up, worked perfectly first time, fantastic.


    We had a good look around the port and shipyard then followed some shipyard workers into a local bar / restaurant and had a very nice meal for €12.50 per person including coffee and wine. Set off towards Elorrio and got stuck behind a very slow oversized load with no chance of passing, we counted 32 low size wheels on the trailer. The pace suited us fine as we were travelling up through some glorious wooded mountain scenery and it gave us a good opportunity to look around. We were sorry when the truck turned off and we had to start driving at a normal speed again. We found ourselves near the Aire in Bergara (375) so decided to dump and pump before moving on to our final destination. As we were taking on water a local who was on a smoke break from an adjacent factory came over for a chat. It turned out that his nephew was working on some large road building project in Ireland. Small world. Onward to Elorrio and found the Aire (376) without too much trouble. Nice quiet Aire on a height overlooking the town with apartments on either side and Park / woodland behind. If you ever come here and find a large Motorhome Craic sticker it's mine. I had it propped against the back window until I decided where to put it and as this was the warmest evening so far I opened all the windows and it must have fallen out. <img class = " width="64" height="64"> <img class = " width="64" height="64"> If Motorhome Craic get a fine for littering in Elorrio, I was never there! <img class = " width="64" height="64">

    Route GI-631, GI-632, GI-2632.


    Day 9.

    Woke up to a dull morning with very low cloud so decided to head for the coast. Went astray somewhere but kept going in the general direction, always something new to see. Some more nice driving and stopped in the small port of Ondarroa for lunch. Off again for some fabulous twisting driving through forest and along the coast to Lekeito (364) which was to be our stop that evening. After levelling up the camper we both fell asleep for about an hour or more, must have been too much lunch. Went exploring, nice old town and port with a fabulous church that's well worth a visit. As there was a bitter wind coming in off the sea we went back to the camper and put the kettle on.

    Route God knows! Then BI-2632, BI-633, BI-3438.


    Day 10.

    Left Lekeito on the coast road for the short drive to Bermeo. Took a detour to have a look at the harbour in Elantxobe and I'm glad we did. A fabulous little harbour full of pleasure and working craft. During summer I'd imagine it would be every bit as busy as Howth.


    Very narrow cobbled streets in the main part of the village perched on top of the cliff. At the end of the main road in there is a turntable for the bus to enable it to turn around.


    Stopped in the village of Zelaieta for a brew up at an Aire that's not in the book, 2 min walk down the road is the Urdaibai Bird Centre. This could be of interest to anyone who's in to bird watching.


    Drove on to Bermeo and found the Aire (352) almost immediatly in the highest part of the town up some very steep streets. The graveyard near the Aire is well worth a visit to see the different type of burial system they have. Bermeo is a large port with lots of commercial and pleasure craft to look at. You can also get a train into Bilbao from here but you have that tiring walk back uphill to the Aire at the end of the day.


    Day 11.

    A short 25 min drive to the airport to drop Declan who was flying home. The only place that I could pull in was at the bus stop and in the 30 seconds it took him to get his bag out of the habitation door a "jobsworth" policeman started giving out and telling me to move on despite the fact that he saw us pull in, there was still room for two buses to park and my engine was still running. It probably made him feel important, moving on that nasty law breaking Paddy. <img class = " width="64" height="64"> I drove on to the Aire in Sopelana, (361), where I had planned on spending the night. The Aire is in a carpark attached to a sports centre with a lot of coming and going until about 10pm, peaceful and quiet after that.

    Route BI-631, BI-634.


    Day 12.

    First day solo in Spain. After breakfast I decided to head for the beaches north of Bilbao with the intention of soaking up a few rays as it was such a glorious day. Some nice beaches and lovely sunshine but there was a bitter bitter wind coming in off the sea, you'd need a good long slieved winter jacket to feel any degree of comfort. Decided to spend the day driving and hit the motorways to get clear of Bilbao and then headed cross country towards Cabárceno (356). Again some great driving including a loooong high climb up the CA-261. Unfortunatly the weather had become a bit dull and hazy when I hit the hills so the view from the top was not as spectacular as it could have been, but still well worth it. I saw this set up in Cabárceno and had to complement him on his excellent colour scheme. :happy:


    It belonged to an English couple who travelled a lot and had covered much of Ireland.

    Route BI-673, N-673, A8, AP-68, A-625, A-624, BI-2701, BI-630, CA-152, CA-150, N-629, CA-261, CA260.


    Day 13.

    It started raining heavily around 5am and continued all morning so I decided to stay put. Rain eased off enough for me to get some lunch in one of the local restaurants, good feed for a tenner. Spent the afternoon reading and sleeping. I had to put the heating on in the late afternoon as the temperature dropped so much. Rain eased to showers towards evening with occasional small patches of blue sky.


    Day 14.

    Decided to go south to try and find some sun and less wind. What an incredible day's driving and sightseeing. Potes,…66&bih=635

    Fuente De,…66&bih=635 And a fabulous drive through the mountains on the N-621. Unfortunatly I had low cloud and occasional showers for part of the day so again I missed out on a lot of the scenery. In fine weather Fuente De would be worth taking the cablecar to the top and spending a few hours walking back down. No problem staying in the carpark overnight if you want to.


    Rain and cloud cleared and the sun started shining as I came down into flat country heading towards Palencia. Finally after a very long but satisfying days drive I dropped anchor in Valladolid, (223), around midnight.

    Route A8, A67, CL-626, CL-627, CA-184, CA-185, N-621, LE-215, P-215, CL-615,P11, A67.


    Day 15.

    I had set my alarm for 8:30 to ensure that I was up in time to purchase a parking ticket for the day. I needn't have worried, woke at 8:15 and got ticket, €2.60 for 24 hours. Few shops open but I found a small fruit & veg shop that also sold bread, then went back for some breakfast. I decided to walk to the Carrefour supermarket to stock up on some groceries and get a taxi back. I estimated that it was 2 - 3 Km to the supermarket. I didn't put much pass on the lack of people as we had been through plenty of towns and villages where it was very unusual to see people about during the day. Got to Carrefour and found the whole place in lock down, no one about and worse no taxis. Walked all the way back again, just over 6.5 Km round trip. :shock: Now I know that distance is only a spit in the ocean for some of ye ramblers but it's a hell of a distance for someone like me with LFBS. It was a local festival and everything was closed for the day. Worse part was I could have saved my €2.60 as there is no charge for holidays. :bh: :bh: I didn't want to hang about a "dead" city so I took off for León. Mainly flat driving through wide open countryside with great views of Picos de Europa in the distance displaying their snow covered peaks. Despite road works and having to do a 10 point turn in traffic at a bridge with a 2.5M height clearance I found the León Aires, (238), with four slots still vacant. The Aire in León is beside this roundabout opposite a Mercadona supermarket.


    Route A60, N-601, A60, E30.


    Day 16

    Very peaceful night even though I was in the middle of a city. I found a laundromat and did the laundry, no need to bring detergent as it's all automatic in the machines.…312!8i6656

    After the laundry I decided to go to Grado for the night, mainly because the road looked interesting on the map. Steep gradient in places but fantastic views, I treated myself to grub and a brew up on the summit where I could look down both sides. Pity it was so hazey that I couldn't get a decent photo.


    Got into Grado and found the Aire, (327), after a lot of searching, it helps if you come into town from the same side that the directions are given from. ;-)

    Route N-630, AS-242, AS-230, AS-229, AS-228, N634.


    Day 17.

    Not a great night's sleep, perhaps it's a guilty conscience because I'm enjoying myself so much. <img class = " width="64" height="64"> Got under way before 8 o'clock, nice driving as the road sneaked it's way down the mountain through densely wooded forest. Logging is big business all across northern Spain with loads of small sawmills dotted all over the country. There's a lot of road building going on in this region with some spectacular tunnels, bridges and viaducts.



    When it comes to road building we could learn a lot from the Spaniards. If only they'd make their hard shoulders a little wider and put down a little soil to the side when they put on an extra 100mm of tarmac on the roads. Dropped anchor in Tapia de Casariego, (317), around midday. This is a nice Aire on the edge of the village overlooking a small rocky cove with a fairly flat beach.


    The ticket machine wasn't working but the local police came along about 1:30 and collected the €4 parking fee and issued a permit which was valid for 24 hours. Nice small harbour but with the cool wind off the sea I didn't hang about too much. Fantastic sunset.


    Route N-634, A-63, A8, N-634.


    Day 18.

    I had intended staying in Tapia for another day but the wind decided differently, strong, cold and uninviting. Some idiot, as I thought, drove around the site about 9:30 blaring his horn, it was the local bread man selling from the back of the van. A very common practice in these parts. A Coruna caught my attention so I set off down the motorway to eat up the miles. Nothing of great interest on the motorway except that some of the bridges and viaducts are very high and definitely not for someone who suffers from vertigo. The Aire in A Coruna, (293), is a sloping cobbled carpark overlooking a small harbour with a couple of restaurants and bars. Very nice but levellers are a must. Unfortunately some of the local boy racers were using the service area as a car wash and drinking meet with the brain-dead music to match their mentality. I was going to stay hoping they'd go but then said to myself, "sod it, life's too short to put up with that sort of crap", so I put the levellers back in the garage and headed off. Went further west to Mordomo, (290), a very nice purpose built Aire (but with no services, so arrive with appropriate tanks full and empty) in the middle of nowhere.

    San dunes and the Atlantic in front and plenty of houses scattered around. One small bar/restaurant 2 min walk.


    Route N-634, A8, N-V1, AP-9, AC-552, AC-432, AC-433.


    Day 19.

    Cold sandblasting wind on the beach so I decided to go inland again. When I topped up with diesel and was checking my tyres I noticed one valve was letting air escape if you pushed it to one side but was fine if no sideways pressure was applied. Went looking for a tyre fitters and found these guys.

    The bloke with the beard in the picture was who I dealt with and the older guy in the centre actually did the work. Without being asked he checked the pressure in the other three tyres and found a similar problem with one of the back tyres so I got him to replace that valve as well. It took about 45 min to take off both wheels and replace the valves, excellent efficient work for a grand total of €16. I'd highly recommend this garage for any work, clean, efficient and well run. I headed for Palas de Rei where I dumped but wasn't too pushed about the look of the place so drove on to A Pontenova, (314), for the night. Not a fantastic Aire and felt a bit isolated as I was the only one there. Too late to go elsewhere so I battened down the hatches for the night and turned in. Around midnight a Spanish motorhome pulled in beside me.

    Route AC-433, AC-430, AC-422, AC-418, AC-413, AC-524, N-634, AC-840, N-547, A-54, A6, N-640, LU-741.


    Day 20.

    When I got up I discovered that the Spanard was so close that there wasn't enough room for us both to open our windows fully had we wanted to, strange. Decided on a short run to day so after having a look at the old iron smelting furnaces in A Pontenova I headed to Ortiguera, (318).


    Stopped off at a large market in Vegadeo on the way, disappointing. Apart from a few locally produced breads, meats and cheeses it was full of the usual cheap and shoddy clothes and Chinese crap that you can get in any market here. There are actually two Aires in Ortiguera, One in a carpark ,without services, across the road from the hospital.…-7.1926708

    The other is up near the lighthouse, I was lucky enough to get a spot near the Lighthouse. Fabulous views out to sea and a sandy cove just below.



    Route LU-714. N-640, N-634.


    Day 21.

    As the wind had eased off and wasn't near as cool as it had been I decided to stay put and get in a bit of beach time. 300m of an incline and 238 steps saw me down at beach level. Dead easy, not so nice coming back up. :o I found a spot out of the breeze and lay down in the very warm sunshine, first time in three weeks. Dry basting for about 45min each side was enough for the first day. Went for a bit of a walkabout and then tackled those steps back to the camper.


    Day 22.

    Set off for Luarca and dumped and pumped at the Aire in Navia (319) on the way. Handy Aire in the town behind a supermarket and filling station. Not a hope of parking anything bigger than a wheelbarrow in Luarca as it was market day and packed to the gills. Pity, as it is a lovely looking port town and I would have liked to spend a few hours there. I headed for Navelgas and the gold museum which was on my list of things to visit. A nice drive but a bit narrow and bumpy in places. Navelgas is a small village in a valley with a river flowing through the middle of it.

    The national gold panning championships are held in the river here every July. Found the museum but..... CLOSED ON MONDAYS :bh::bh: . I found an Aire that's not in the book and as there was no sign banning overnight parking I decided to stay. Very hot in the afternoon so I just read and dozed with the sound of the river a few feet from by back bumper.

    Route N-634, AS-219.


    Day 23.

    After another very peaceful and undisturbed night I went back to the museum when it opened at ten. A fascinating two hours were spent viewing all the exhibits, I wish I could have understood a little more Spanish. The lady on reception had spent a year in Bray in 2000! Drove through Tineo and across country to Salinas (331) on the coast for the night.

    Got to lie out on another beach for a couple of hours but It was very hot and after two hours I was overheating so a bit of retail therapy was in order. Peaceful Aire even though it was on the side of a street.

    Route. AS-219, AS-350, AS-217, AS-215, AS-15, AS-16, N-632.


    Day 24.

    I got under way before 8o'clock with Santillana del Mar as my ultimate destination. I drove a mixture of motorway and minor roads to clear the rush hour traffic close to Gijón. As it was another dull overcast day it was ideal for shooting up and down side roads exploring the coast.

    There are some fabulous bays, inlets and beaches just waiting to be discovered.

    Finally got to Santillana del Mar (354) around 5 o'clock and put the kettle on. As there are no services here it is best to arrive with the appropiate tanks full and empty. Went for a 10 min stroll down town and came back two and a half hours later.…66&bih=635 What a place, a beautiful medieval town with cobbled streets. Utterly fantastic if you ignore the tourists, even with the tourists it's still fabulous. Not to be missed.

    Route. N-632, A8, N-632, A8, N-634, CA-131, S-474, CA-132, CA-131.



    Went down town early before the tourists arrived to spoil it and had a very relaxed stroll around. I found a launderette and decided to get the washing done.…312!8i6656 The laundry is to the left of the supermarket, hard to see on Google. There was free parking just up the hill a little from the laundry, maybe they charge in high season. Nice pleasant drive through the mountains to Liérganes (357) where I dumped but didn't take on water as there was only one tap. There's a very nice old part to the town with a fabulous Roman bridge spanning the river.

    The Aires is beside the train station where you can get a train into Santander. I don't know why I didn't stay but as it was so close to Cabárceno (365) I moved on there for the night.

    Route. CA-131, A8, CA-142, CA-264, CA-260.


    Day 26.

    I met Ahab, a fellow Craicer in the carpark before leaving. I hope you had a pleasant trip Maurice, a pleasure to meet you. Headed along the coast towards Bilbao. Some interesting coastal towns and places which will need further investigation on future trips. Ended up back at the Aire in Sopelanna (361).

    Route. A8, N-634, A8, N-637, BI-637, B-2122.



    Apart from a few prats shouting, revving their engines and driving up and down the carpark for about 10 min around midnight all was peaceful. As this was D day, Mrs Dipper arriving, I tidied up the motorhome and got everything shipshape before heading for the airport. Bilbao airport is difficult for collecting or dropping off people if you're using a motorhome as there is no place to pull in for a few minutes. The police don't want you using the bus stop / parking area even though there is plenty of room. I managed to find a spot where I could "hide" in a courier warehouse area until flight time.…a=!3m1!1e3

    10 min before Mrs Dipper was due I was approached by a security guard who was checking cars in the area. I had been spotted on the cameras and they told him to move me on. When I explained, as best I could, he allowed me to drive around for about 10 min and return to where I was after he had gone. After 10 min of loving molestation by Mrs D I had to strap her down in the navigators seat and we headded for Cabárceno (356) for the night.

    Route. BI-364, BI-2704, N-637, BI-631, Bi_631, N-637, A8, N-634.


    Day 28.

    We spent the full day in the nature park which is beside the Aire, you can see into the elephant enclosure on your way in. At €30 each it wasn't cheap but we felt it was well worth it, we clocked up about 20 K driving around the park. Had it been a clear day the view from the cable car, (included in price), would have been fantastic looking over the surrounding countryside. Left the park shortly after six, dumped grey and black waste and headed for Santillana del Mar. Topped up diesel and water at a garage on the way. Got to the Aires (354) about 7:45 on a dirty, wet, drizzly and showery evening.

    Route. CA-406, CA-407, CA-142, A8, CA-136, CA-133.


    Day 29.

    Woke up to another dirty wet showery day. Set off towards the coast with no definite plan in mind and so no pressure to get anywhere. We stopped of in Comillas for a coffee and delicious potato cake and then walked it off with a stroll around the harbour. We decided to head for Ortiguera, (318), and bombed it down the motorway just to eat up the miles and get there quickly. The day improved as we drove and ended up in bright sunshine. We got parking at the lighthouse beside a German motorhome and were treated to a glorious sunset.


    Route. CA-131, N-634, A8, N-634.


    Day 30.

    While having breakfast we spotted a pod of dolphins in close to the cliff so it was tea al fresco as we watched. Not a great show as they were very spread out and it was hard to predict their direction. They went off after seven or eight minutes but it was still nice to see them in the wild. Drove into Navia and had a look around town and a coffee. Decided to head for the hills so we dumped and pumped, never miss an opportunity even if it's only a small amount, and drove towards Cangas de Onis, (343).

    Route. N-634, A8, A66, AS-17, N-634, N625.


    Day 31.

    Cangas de Onis struck us as being a very touristy town with a lot of walkers and climbers. An interesting looking place which could be worthy of a much longer stay. We left around 10 o' clock hoping the day would improve and headed for the mountains and Poncebos.…HY2P6wGCrM: Our faith in the weather was justified and it steadily improved during the morning. Pleasant rural driving until we turned off on to the AS-264 which follows a small fast flowing river up through a fantastic gorge to Poncbos and the funicular railway to Bulnes.

    The funicular runs through a tunnel about two kilometres long at an angle of around 18 degrees.

    Parking can be a problem so early arrival would be advised. From the top station you can walk back down again about 1 1/2 hours or carry on uphill for about 10 min to the small hamlet of Bulnes.

    For the experienced walkers this area could be heaven. We descended the mountain and set our course for Potes. After a few kilometres we had to turn back due to road works and take a detour up through the mountains in drizzle and low cloud. Some fantastic scenery in spite of the poor visibility especially up near the Cohilla dam. Finally got into Potes tired and hungry and cold. After some grub as we couldn't find a spot to park for the night we booked into a campsite just outside town, my first in Spain. Nice clean well kept campsite with all amenities, €22.27 for the night without electricity.

    Route. AS-114, AS-264, AS-114, N-621, PB-1, CA-855, CA-181, CA-281, CA-184, CA-885.


    Day 32.

    Passed a pleasant quiet night in the campsite in spite of the rain and enjoyed the luxury of a loooooooong hot shower before coffee and the hardest toast I've ever had. Set off up the N-621 but the higher we climbed the worse the cloud got and the less we saw. As we neared the summit we suddenly broke through into glorious clear sunshine where we could see for miles. Had a brew as we soaked up the scenery and then descended through fantastic countryside towards Palancia.

    We spotted a sign for a Roman villa as we travelled down the CL-615 and promptly did a U turn and went for a look. Brilliant decision, incredible ruins with a purpose built "shed" covering the entire site. Some fabulous well preserved mosaic floors.

    Very easy to spend a few hours admiring the skill of the craftsmen and soaking up the history. Drove through some very flat open countryside with lots of wild poppies adding a nice splash of colour to the scenery.

    Got to the Aire in Ampudia (224) about 7:30, two English motorhomes already parked up.

    Route. N-621, LE-215, CL-615, P-961, P-952, P-940, CL-612, P-921.


    Day 33.

    Ampudia is a fabulous old town with covered footpaths. The first floor of the houses extends out over the footpaths and is held up by stone or timber pillars.

    We got a Personal tour of the cathedral which is very old and interesting. Went for a look around the local castle which was a bit disappointing, A vast collection of all types of artefacts but as the castle is still a family home the tour was only on the ground floor.

    As we were close to the Canal de Castilla we went for a look at the locks at Grijota…312!8i6656and at Ribas deCampos…728!8i4864 Unfortunately the water level was down at Ribas and there was no flow over the lock sides. The canal is undergoing restoration and should be fully operational in the not too distant future. Balanás (226) was our chosen destination, pleasant driving through open countryside with miles and miles of cereal crops and loads of wild flowers and poppies in the fields and on the road verges.


    Route. P-921, PL-612, P-9535, P-9533, P-990, N-611, P-984, N-611, PP-4103, P-410, P-411, P-130.


    Day 34.

    We had a very heavy shower of hailstones the size of marbles late last evening, I was worried that the windscreen was going to get smashed. Thank God it held.

    Mrs Dipper got caught out in it and came back like a drowned rat, I didn't laugh, much. <img class = " width="64" height="64"> ;-) Otherwise a quiet night even though the Aires wasn't the best looking I'd seen. Pumped and dumped and pointed our nose for Cigales in wine country. Drove by hundreds and hundreds of acres of wheat and other cereal crops and a very large modern prison near the end of the P-110. Seeing it from the road is as close as I ever want to get to one of those places. Stopped off in Cabezón de Pisuerga to replenish supplies. Just outside Cigales we came across a large wine museum but it was closed until Monday. We decided to go back to the Aire in Ampudia (224) as it was close and we liked the town.

    Route. CL-619, P-114, P-110, P-1222, P-1221, P-110, P-102, VP-3003, VA-113, VP-3402, VP-4402, VP-4000, P-910.


    Day 35.

    Went down town in time to catch a procession through the streets which had been decorated for Corpus Christi. Very colourful with musicians and a group of Spanish mummers / morris dancers.

    Went looking for grub and got in here…=303384756 They had a coach load of 50 booked in for lunch but still managed to get us a table in the shady side of the courtyard, magic. Great meal for €15 each then waddled back to the camper for a nice siesta. In the cool of the evening I dismantled and cleaned the shower pump which had been giving trouble. No driving but still a good day.


    Day 36.

    Discovered we had picked up a load of painful cargo.

    Some sort of seeds, they probably got caught on our clothes or shoes and then fell off as we moved about. We were still finding some days later, very painful if you found them with your feet. Dumped grey and black waste, hit the kerb trying to drive out of the dump area and ended up reversing out. Headed back to the wine museum we had spotted on Saturday. The gates were closed but there were people and cars about the place so I pressed the intercom. After a brief conversation in "Spanglish" the gates opened and we drove in. Now I knew that the Spanish for museum is Museo but for some reason the old grey matter wasn't working properly. What we had entered was a very large wine warehouse selling wine. :happy: The dearest bottle they had in stock was € 350, :shock:we opted for half a dozen of their cheapest @ € 6.50 per bottle. :lol: Drove to another wholesaler who had been recommended and bought a dozen mixed bottles for a little under € 50. Some motorway driving and then nice pleasant routes through plains, hills and minor mountains on mostly empty roads saw us enter the Aire in Casalarreina (392) about 7:30. Just as I was finishing topping up with water it started pi**ing rain. Parked up and levelled and then discovered nothing electrical working in habitation area. Went down town, coats and umbrellas, to look for some grub but ended up coming back for tea and sambos, and the rain stopped! Started checking the electrics, batteries fuses and switches all OK but no power getting to habitation area. Then I remembered hitting the kerb earlier in the morning and had a look underneath. This is what I found.

    The flexible conduit the cables were in came down one side of the chassis member in a loop and back up the other side. German engineering me ar$e. Mrs Dipper lay down on a nice comfortable bed and I lay down on a piece of cardboard under the van with a fistful of tools for company. An hour later I was back inside with everything working again. Hero of the hour. <img class = " width="64" height="64">

    Route. P-943, VP-4000, VA-900, VP-4003, A62, N-622, BU-904, BU-905, N-234, BU-825, LR-113, A12, LR-111.


    Day 37.

    Decided to head the short distance straight up the motorway to Vitoria. We weren't driving very long when we spotted a collection of wine warehouses in Haro. The first was too fancy, probably with prices to match, so we went across the road to another and bought a few bottles. Being an old hand it was no problem finding the Aire in Vitoria (393) and after parking up I introduced Mrs Dipper to the buffet at the shopping centre. After the fulfilling meal we had a siesta and then did the laundry here.…312!8i6656 Back to the camper, put away the neatly folded laundry and then went across the road to Mercadona for supplies.…312!8i6656

    Route. LR-111, N-124, A1, N-622.


    Day 38.

    Woke to find a market had set up in the carpark at the Aire, the dump station is closed for the duration of the market. Had a look around the stalls for some bargains, usual rubbish. A few good stalls selling local wine, cheese, bread, meat and plants. After breakfast we bought 80L of water in Mercadona to top up our fresh water tank and headed for Zegama. After about half an hour we pulled into a small bit of a lay by and as we were pouring the water into the tank a cyclist sped past and shouted "up the Irish". :happy: A mixture of motorway and country driving, nice but nothing spectacular. Stopped in Onati (377) to dump grey and black, a nice looking Aire with a separate tap for topping up the fresh water. Found a nice viewing point at Puerto de Udana on the GI-2630 and had a brew.

    Got to Zegama (379) and found the Aire up a very steep hill on the edge of a park. There is a lift down to street level for those with LFBS. Small town / village which we walked around in about 15 min. Aire is on a slope and it's hard to get level, peaceful night.

    Route. N-240, A-627, GI-627, GI-3310, GI-627, GI-2630, GI-632, Ni, GI-2637.


    Day 39.

    Left Zegama around 8:30 intending to stop for breakfast at a viewing point on the GI-2634 but when we found it we couldn't risk pulling in as there was a lot of forest debris from recent logging operations. It was a pity as 10 metres down the road the most incredible view opened up before us. I was able to slow down but not stop. We were looking down on houses, farms and a village way down in a valley with rocky mountains in the background. Had someone told us we were in Switzerland we'd have believed them. I returned another day but as it was cloudy this is the best I could do.

    Stopped for coffee in Azpeitia and then on to Zumaia to examine the incredible rock formations.

    Returned to the bar/restaurant near the shipyard and had another excellent lunch before driving to Lekeitio (364) where we got one of the few remaining spaces. Went for a walk around the town and harbour then back for a cuppa. The local police arrived in the evening and rearranged some french motorhomers, (who didn't want to be rearranged), in the top of the carpark.

    Route. GI-2637, N1, GI-2634, GI-631, N-634, GI-638, BI-3438.


    Day 40.

    A nice warm sunny day so after breakfast we went for a walk around the port to dream and drool over some of the boats there. We sat down at a quayside cafe with coffee and tapas and just watched the world go by, one of my favourite pastimes. The day was getting very hot so we headed back to the motorhome, I decided on a siesta and Mrs Dipper decided to head for a swim. The family of misfits beside us started off again in the afternoon. Loud voices arguing and two bitches yapping constantly with no effort made to shut them up. I don't know which one I'd have shot first, the four legged one or the two legged one. :o :bh: As soon as Mrs Dipper returned we hauled ass and got the hell outa there. We went the few miles down the road to Zelaieta and the Aire near the Urdaibai Bird Centre. Peace and quiet and sanity returned to normal levels.

    Route. BI-2238, BI-3238, BI-3239, BI-2238.


    Day 41.

    Drove into Gernica for supplies and then set off at a leisurely pace towards Bermeo. We had intended exploring the coast between Bermeo and Sopelana but I missed the turn off and we eventually ended up in Bakio. The was a rally on in the town, we obviously missed out as there was a lot of traditional bands all dressed up making their way back to their cars or to cafes/bars following the mornings events. Some roads were closed off for the rally but we eventually made it to the coast road but missed out on the viewing points. Stopped at a campsite in Gorlitz as it was Mrs Dipper's last night, €20 for the night including electricity if we wanted it. The owner apologised as some longterm residents were having a 50th birthday party in the bar. He said that his bar had the best food around but as the music wasn't to our taste we went into town for a meal. If I ever have to go in to hospital in Spain I want to go to Gorliz Hospital. Check it out, that view would be enough medication for anyone.…508!8i1254

    Route. BI-2238, BI-2235, BI-2101, BI-631, BI-2101, BI-3151, BI-3154, BI-2122.


    Day 42.

    We had a nice relaxing morning then went to the bar for lunch to check out the owner's claim that it was the best grub around. He was right, first class food and reasonably priced, bar and restaurant open to non residents. Pumped and dumped on the way out and then a short uneventful drive to the airport to drop Mrs Dipper. <img class = " width="64" height="64"> <img class = " width="64" height="64"> I hung about until she cleared security and then after about an hour "exploring" Bilbao's motorways I finally got on the N-634 and headed east to Zestoa. I didn't fancy the look of the area where the Aires was in Zestoa (373), a bit run down looking, so I drove the short distance to Zumaia (365) for the night.

    Route. BI-3154, BI-2120, BI-631, N-637, N-634, GI-2634, GI-631, N-634.


    Day 43.

    Up early and left Zumaia before 8 o'clock to try and photograph the fabulous view that we saw on day 39. It was a dull cloudy morning and wasn't great for getting photos.

    The cloud kept coming and going but after nearly two hours there wasn't any significant change. It could have cleared in 10 min or 10 hours so I pushed on closer to Santander. Stopped in Santona for lunch, a port and area worth exploring more on another visit. Explored most of the roads between the CA-141 and the coast before wandering into Somo. I found a privately run Aire just outside town, I think it may belong to the camping park next door.…312!8i6656 Flat and well laid out and not bad value @ €12 / night including electricity and WiFi.


    Route. N-634, GI-631, GI-2634, GI-631, GI-2634, N-634, AP-8, A8, N-634, CA-241, CA-141, CA-147, CA-449, CA-446, CA-440.


    Day 44.

    It rained all night and I woke to a dirty dark morning with half a gale blowing. I eventually put the book down, hauled myself out of bed, showered and had breakfast. I had intended taking the passenger ferry from Somo to Santander for a bit of shopping but due to the high seas they were cancelled. <img class = " width="64" height="64"> Drove around locally and checked out one of the largest cheap Chinese rubbish shops I had ever seen. I never realised there was such a huge market for junk. :-) I decided to head back to the Aire and book in for my last two nights in Spain. <img class = " width="64" height="64">

    Route. CA-141 and various roads and streets around El Astillero and Somo.


    Day 45.

    Not a great start to the day, overcast but warm. The wind was still coming in off the sea and cool, the windsurfers were about the only ones enjoying it.

    Did a bit of shopping locally for a few items to bring home. Went back to the Aire and tidied up Hana in preparation for her return journey. Spent some time storing the liquid cargo and lashing it down in readiness for the forthcoming voyage. Relaxed.


    Local driving only.


    DAY 46.

    Dumped my last drop of grey and black waste in Spain and left the Aire about 11:15. Called in to the supermarket for sheep's cheese, delicious stuff highly recommended, to bring home. Filled with diesel, cheaper than in Ireland, and headed for the ferry. Straightforward drive following the S10 all the way to the port. Check in was smooth and easy, I could have left by a small passenger gate to do a bit of last minute shopping in Santander and used my boarding card to get back in but I didn't bother. Had a brew while I waited for the Connaught to arrive.

    Loading was easy and as the ship was only about half full nobody ended up on the top outer deck. I think the ramp up to the top deck may be too narrow for anything other than cars.

    Very comfortable cabin but as expected not much facilities on board. Small bar and perfectly adequate self service restaurant with 4 or 5 choices for dinner. Similar standard to good motorway services. Seating area not the most comfortable so you'll probably spend most of your time in your cabin, I'd recommend an outside one just to look out occasionally and bring laptop and or plenty of reading material.


    Day 47.

    Arrived in Cork around 7 PM after a reasonably smooth crossing. It got a bit lumpy around 3 am but had settled to a long rolling swell by 8 o'clock which lessened out as we got closer to Ireland. Had a good view of the Kinsale gas rigs coming in.

    Cleared Roches point

    and then up the harbour to Ringaskiddy. It was nice of the navy to come out to welcome me home. :-)

    Disembarking in Ringaskiddy was smooth and efficient then into Cork and onto the N25. Crossed the Barrow into The Sunny Southeast around 10 o'clock and twenty minutes later I was sitting down in my favourite armchair. :-)



    A very enjoyable trip, I covered a lot of ground and put up a lot of milage but as I love driving it wasn't a chore for me. If Mrs Dipper had been with me I wouldn't have covered half the distance. Northern Spain is a fantastic part of the country with stunning views and great people. There's some fantastic drives, on mainly empty roads, through the mountains and loads of places I'd like to return to. In general the quality of roads and the standard of driving was very good, nothing like some of the horror stories I had heard. The pace of life is slow and easy so switch on auto relax and go with the flow. Cork to Santander ferry is a bit on the dear side for me and as I'm not tied to time I probably wouldn't use it again. I could save up to €400 by going Rosslare to Cherbourg and driving through France avoiding toll roads. If you are stuck for time and only have 2/3 weeks holidays then Cork to Santander is the way to go. Next time I'll probably spend more time in each location I visit, but then there are so many roads waiting to be discovered. Decisions decisions, it's a hard life.  VIVA ESPANIA. :up: :up: :up: