Bronchales: “Lovely place”, she said. “Right in the forest”, she said.

“Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life.” – Michael Palin

Well, it was definitely true. It IS a lovely place and it IS right in the forest. It is also remote and at an altitude of 1727 metres above sea level, it seems that spring does not come to Camping Las Corralizas, near Bronchales until much later than April!! Camping Las Corralizas was recommended by a friend who had visited this area in a camper a few years ago. So I headed for this campsite on my way to Jaca, the Somport Tunnel and France.

When I arrived at Camping Las Corralizas in the afternoon of 6th April, I was surprised to find that there was snow in amongst the trees. It was here that I had had second thoughts… I continued regardless as I considered that the road was clear, the sun was shining and I was sure the same would apply tomorrow. Well…. the clouds blew in and it started to snow. Just a little bit and nothing to worry about. I was still at the entry barrier, waiting for the guy to appear to open it (no one in the cabin when I arrived). When he came, I asked about the snow. He said that it was unpredictable. Alarm bells rang in my head (again), but I ignored them (again).

The campsite was actually closed until next weekend, but the guy said I could stay free of charge, as I didn’t need any electric or anything. Never being one to ignore a freebie, I was hooked, especially as he said he would leave the barrier up in case I changed my mind!! I drove in and settled in a snow free flat area on a hard surface. I discovered that the snow covered areas were grass, as I manoeuvred into position and the traction light kept flashing on the dash.

So we settled in and the snow got worse, and worse. It was very picturesque. So we stayed. I put the heating on in the van and we (the girls and I) spent a very comfortable night. It was snowing and then not, snowing and then not. The dogs refused to go out in it. I had to drag them on their leads. I didn’t dare let them off (despite us being the sole camper in the area) in case they found a good scent of rabbit or deer and bolted after it. They are unlikely to catch said animals, but they could well run over a cliff or into a pond during the chase. I didn’t know the area so played it safe.

The snow got worse

In the morning, everything was covered in a white blanket. The sun was shining through the trees and I could see meltwater running from roofs and flakes being blown from trees. Again, lovely to behold. But would I be able to get out?

The dogs and I went for a quick recce of the road and it was obvious that we were going nowhere soon. Snow over ice. Not good!

Picturesque, but not what I wanted

Some other people turned up in their cars some time later, so I went to check the road again. Still the same and I also noticed that ALL the cars had chains on their drive wheels. OOPS!! I don’t have chains as I did not expect to encounter adverse conditions where they would be needed. I would NEVER go anywhere that it was cold enough to snow, let alone make the roads impassable!! Well, that’s what I thought previously anyway.

The camp guy (Guy from the camp, as opposed to being rather effeminate!!) told me that he had requested the snowplough to come by later. This was good!!

The snowplough came and went and the road was no better. The snow from the top had gone, but the ice remained. A no go for me.

I considered that I would be stuck until Wednesday (4 days time) as the guy had told me the weather was “in” until then. I asked about facilities (Cassette emptying and fresh water). I was told that the water was all off (as it’s winter) and he told me to follow him and he would show me the cassette emptying point. We trudged through the snow for about 150 metres to a manhole cover in the snow. I am not sure I could have made it with a heavy cassette. Anyway, it was all immaterial, as it transpired……

Around 13:00 hrs, another guy came past the MoHo window and put his thumb up. I assumed he was checking on me. When I opened the door, it was the snowplough driver, who came to tell me the road was “OK” to drive. I went to look and found that the plough and the sun had contrived to make the ice soft enough and patchy enough for me to give it a go.

I had kept the MoHo in a state (more or less) of readiness, just in case. So less than an hour later we were under way. Very slow. Very cautious. The bad conditions only lasted for a Km or so. As we came out of the trees, the road was mostly wet, with very little ice. So onward towards Belchite we went…

My friend also recommended Belchite, which was held by the Republicans during the Spanish Civil War, until Franco’s Nationalist army retook the town in 1938. Franco decreed that the ruins should remain as they were. A new Belchite was built nearby instead. (https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/the-ruins-of-belchite-belchite-spain for more information).

Belchite was 165kms from Bronchales and we turned off of the motorway and headed up the A-220 for the last 45 kms. UMMM No!! They are reworking (Widening, I think) the A-220 and we were being shaken to pieces in the MoHo. After 3 Kms, I decided that, without any information as to how far the road works were, we could not carry on. We would all be in ruins before long. I made an executive decision and we turned around and headed for Jaca. The next stop on our journey to see my son and family in France.

The A-220 was a definite No-Go with the MoHo. It was like an African safari!!

It was at this point, that I lost my keys. I am ALWAYS losing keys and I find it MOST frustrating.

I stopped on the bad road, just inside a junction, so I could let the girls stretch their legs and attend to business. We walked a short distance and all OK. I had NOT locked the camper, as we were not going far, but I HAD taken the ignition key and the other keys (lockers, entry doors etc), with me. Anyway, we got back to the camper and got sorted out with the dogs belted up etc and I sat in the drivers seat and… Where’s the key? Looked around the camper. Nope! Opened the door and looked outside. Nope! Rechecked my pockets AND the ignition. Nope! Went outside and looked around. I had dropped them in the dirt somehow. Now you might say this was OK and turned out good, but I am still sweating about it. If it had been the other set of keys, I would have driven off and left them behind. I would not have had keys to lock up the camper OR set the security locks. I need to figure out some way of controlling my use of keys. I assume that I was carrying both sets in one hand and did not notice that I dropped one set…

We got back on the motorway and headed for Jaca. Almost 200 Kms further on.