Cycling the Atlantic coast of Europe from north to south during the summer of 2017. View the archive, the route so far, or donate to MSF.

Along the beach

By Stuart Lowe on

My alarm went off an hour late because I still hadn't updated my phone.

landscape
Entering the Parque Nacional de Doñana.

landscape
Straight roads (I ignored the bike lane as it was bumpy and the road was better and empty).

landscape
Matalascañas beach

I arrived at Matalascañas in good time. Google maps and various blogs had told me I now needed to head almost to Seville to cross the river before heading back to the coast. So I rode 15km inland to El Rocio. At the Tourist Information Office, a ranger named Sonja told me I could shorten my trip by going back to the coast and going 32 km along the beach. I was dubious. My bike doesn't get along with sand. Would I sink? Sonja said she did it years ago on a racing bike with panniers. She said you had to do it after high tide on the wet sand. We checked the tide times. High tide was 11:50am. The timing seemed perfect. It did mean going 15 km back the way I'd just been and another 15 km back if it looked no good. But, it would shave off perhaps 100 km from the inland detour. I decided to risk it. It might get me to Cadiz today.

landscape
El Rocio

I rode back to Matalasañas and got to the beach. The first 10 km proved to be tough going. I largely had to walk my bike as my wheels kept sinking. After that it became easier. Either because the beach was better or the tide was out more or both.

landscape
Ready to start down the 32 km beach from Matalascañas.

landscape
Looking back up the beach from the halfway point

landscape
Better sand for riding on

I now found myself at the end of the beach. I waved the ferry but it may be unloading. Thankfully some fishermen on ebikes arrived. A few minutes later the ferry set off from Sanlúcar de Barrameda.

landscape
Waiting for the ferry

landscape
Fishermen with ebikes

landscape
All aboard

landscape
Tiled frontage

landscape
Evening bike lane

landscape
Chipiona

landscape
Chipiona beach