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Why I fell in love with the river of zombies

Updated: Aug 7, 2019

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. But please don’t tell anybody else, deal?

A couple of weeks ago we packed up our camper and headed off in the direction of the Pyrenees. The SW of France is a particularly beautiful region, as we climbed higher and higher, through the Pyrenees National Park, the views were stunning. Some of the bends were a little hairy for me as the drops were all on my side. I decided that the return journey would be the Barcelona route! We drove towards the Somport tunnel which stands at around 1,1000 metres. On our arrival at the entrance, there was a queue so we assumed a traffic light system was in place. It gave us ten minutes or so to enjoy the beautiful views surrounding us. We started to move and I was surprised how short the tunnel actually was. It was about 8km and with the amount of lorries going through we understood the reason behind the one way system. We exited the tunnel in Spain.

We were surprised to find the scenery so different from when we entered the tunnel. It wasn’t long before we were driving alongside the El Grado reservoir which is truly breath-taking. This needs a separate visit. Noted.




Eventually we arrived at our destination, the Lake Caspe campsite on the shores of the medieval sounding ‘Sea of Aragon’. The pretty bright red geraniums that surrounded the reception office were a nice reminder of home. We picked our pitch and headed straight to the small bar terrace for a cold beer. At the back end of the site is a gateway that leads down, past the swimming pool, to the lake. The water was calm and a couple of the motorboats that you can hire, were arriving back after a day fishing. We had a mooch around the shore, so John could pick his spot for the next morning but he was rather alarmed at how incredibly shallow it seemed everywhere! The reason we picked this place was so that he could fish for carp, which was advertised.

“I’ll try the left side of the harbour, tomorrow, and see how it goes.” He didn’t sound very hopeful.

So, the following morning, I took him a breakfast of a sausage sandwich and cuppa to where he was fishing, only to find him packing up!

“Complete waste of time, the shallow water goes out too far, I’ll move around to the other side and give that a go.”

I left him to it and headed back to camp and what was going to be my Al Fresco office, for the next five days. I sat down at my desk. It was then I admitted to myself that I wasn’t really ‘feeling it’ for this place.





John spoke to the guy who was in charge of the boats, he told him the carp were spawning! Oh my God. John was gutted.

He packed up at lunchtime and sat at my desk watching me write. That was it!

“You can’t fish and I certainly can’t write while you’re sitting there watching me” I laughed, “so what do we do? We might as well move on?” We’d both been really excited about coming here so this was an unexpected turn of events, and a disappointment.

“Let’s hire a boat tomorrow, for the day, and then leave the following day?” That was the new plan.

The following morning at 7 am, we arrived at the jetty with picnic and fishing rods in hand and climbed into our boat. We pulled out of Lake Caspe and into the vast captivating terrain surrounding the River Ebro. We reached the other side and cut the engine. Silence. Nothing but the birds. Then we spotted something moving on the shore close by, they looked up at us and then carried on eating. John thought they were Antelopes and I thought they were a breed of goat. It was hard to tell. I wanted to squeal with excitement. This was fantastic and the day had only just begun! It felt like we were the only two on the planet. The banks along this section of the river Ebro were a mix of rocks, cliffs and hills.

There were hundreds of cosy inlets so we decided to investigate. It was my job to lay on the front point of the boat (no idea of the nautical term) and watch out for any large rocks close to our boat. We manouvered our way around and discovered it wasn’t just rocks to look out for but also huge tree branches that looked incredibly scary. They protruded up from the depths like giant hands of zombies, grasping,trying to latch on to our boat and take us under.

We went down a several of these inlets, all very different, each one tranquil, snaking around the massive boulders and trees till you couldn’t go any further. We would sit there is silence, watching our floats, hoping for a fish of any sort to be tempted by our bait. Our anchor was a concrete block.



We decided to look for somewhere that we could moor and have our picnic. We would spot the ideal place but as we would make our approach, discovered they were impossible due to the scary zombie hands. Eventually we did find a shallow approach, getting the boat as close to the shoreline as possible. We climbed overboard and waded the rest of the way. Finding a large shaded pile of rocks, under a tree was very welcome especially as I was desperate for the loo. John was carp spotting and called me over to see seven massive carp swimming slowly past his bait as he fished from shore. After a short walk around we climbed back in the boat and headed of again. We had been told to look out for the vultures that has set up home at the derelict Ermita de la Magdalena. They have nests in the sheer rock face beneath it. As we approached you could see them flying above. We stopped underneath the hermitage to watch one of the vultures in her nest which was a hole in the cliff. Then I spotted a fluffy baby at the top of the cliff calling down to his mother. It was time to make a quick getaway!



We went around the island Magdalena and managed to moor up again, around the back. By now it was boiling, so a little shade was welcome. Had it not been so hot I would’ve liked to have spent some time there but we moved on, savouring the sights and casting out whenever we saw a spot we fancied trying our luck.



We decided to head back so we could check out the other side of Lake Caspe. After going past the entrance to the Campsite we carried on and went around Isla Mediana.

I suppose this is the point where I describe to you about the ‘one that got away’. I’m not going to lie. We didn’t even get one single bite. No tight lines on this trip. However, we had a fantastic day. A really fantastic day!

When we got back to the jetty, and made the walk back to the campsite, I realised I’d fallen in love with this place. We can’t wait to return to this magical land…and river!


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