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The South Lakes Group

Your local off-road cycle touring club

 For cyclists who love off road leisure cycling in South Lakes and Yorkshire Dales

Part of the ‘Where the Brew Stop? The off-road cycle touring website’. The site about off-road cycle touring routes, cyclist’s cafes, local group events , the South Lakes Group and good photos.

Circular ride from/to Cartagena (Murcia) Approx 40 miles

 Cartegena (pronounced Cartaheena) is a very beautiful architectural city, most people have never heard of. If you try looking it up on a web site, you will see that it is a city of great importance to Spain. It is reported that it was the last Spanish city to fall to Rome, and a restored Roman amphitheatre is to be found in the centre of the city. The city also has historical connections to Hannibal and his army. The last two weeks in September are dedicated to the Roman/Carthaginian Festival. It is very colourful; the residents all belong to different legions and each legion dress up in their traditional clothes, even the children dress up. Re-enactments of great battles, and chariot races take place in the huge football stadium in the centre of the city, making it a great time to visit. Its harbour is home to the Spanish Navy and the city includes a walled arsenal and plenty of museums. The harbour is protected from attack by huge fortresses and canons that sit on the hills surrounding the port.

 This ride is for the main part on quiet roads/lanes. The rough stuff starts at the fishing village of La Azohia.

 From the port of Cartagena we travelled on the E22 through the village of the Canteras joining the E16 just south of Perin. The road here climbs quite dramatically through a mountain gorge; it is an uphill grind for the next 5miles. Eventually the road drops down a steep incline then climbs again dramatically to reach the highest point on the ride. With great views of the Sierra de la Muela range through which we are riding, with La Muela’s peak visible to our left. We then drop down scary hairpin bends to the village of La Azohia and a vast market garden complex at the base of the valley. From Los Madriles we take a tarmac road north through the plastic greenhouses. After only about 1mile the road becomes a Rambla or dirt track that carries floodwater away from the mountains down to the sea. These rambla’s are great for riding and walking and provide the equivalent of our bridleways in the UK. Continuing on the rambla we are now in a gorge with sheer rock walls on each side. To the east is the highest peak in the range Penas Blancas. The rambla is very dusty, but quite rideable. We progress well for about 8miles then we again hit tarmac and the climb out of the gorge. This is very steep for about 1.5 miles. On reaching the summit you get a fabulous view over the flat plain to the north and our next destination Tallante. The drop down from this high point is great and we freewheel almost to the village, with the few inclines on route taken with our downhill momentum. At Tallante we turn right on the N332 heading for the little rural villages of Questa Blanca and Marfagones, both of which have great coffee stops. In the past we have had 9 coffees and liquors for less than ten euros. (Now there’s value). Both villages also have restaurants were you can get a Menu Del Dia (Lunch of the day) again for around 10 euros. These menus include a local dish three-course meal and a drink. After this refreshment stop we headed back to Cartagena on the N332.

The maps used for the trip were the Mapa Topografico Nacional de Espana 977-1 and 977-111.

Adios for now.

 Rob Burrow