When it comes to Spain many things come to my mind… from Gaudi’s masterpieces in Barcelona to Corridas in Seville… to white beaches in Valenciana… to Moorish scars in Andalusia… and many many more, there is much to be told about this country. Many songs have been sung and many stories have been written about Spain or it’s crown jewels. The region of Murcia is not one of them, and it doesn’t feel like they want it to be one.
Once I tried to find any information of hiking trails in what is called Sierra de La Muela, Cabo Tiñoso and Roldán Nature Reserve, just next to Cartagena, a major city in the region of Murcia, it left me somewhat unsatisfied with what I found. Except for some basic description of the park in English and some promises of endless trails, there was nothing to hang on. Of course, there is plenty of TripAdvisor subjective comments recorded throughout the years, and some hiking paths mapped by people themselves, but none of it give you trust-worthy information of what to expect. ‘A lack of facilities may differ a lot based on a person who wrote that a marked trail without any insight or photos might be just a random path, of which I’ve seen many without any wish to remember or share it with anybody.
Mysterious Castle at a tip of the world
Once you enter “Sierra de La Muela, Cabo Tiñoso and Roldán Nature Reserve” to Google, all you get are these mysterious pictures of a castle with some rather modern cannons on it, without any significant explanation. But there is a story for everything, right?
Castillitos and el Jorel Baterias on Cabo Tiñoso
This interesting site is actually a defensive anti-navy gun battery base, which for some reason was built as it was a part of Disneyland rather than a military base. The site includes the Bateria de Castilittos near the parking lot and the smaller Bateria de el Jorel at the very tip of the cape. The batteries are built within 1,5km range and exploring the whole site can take quite a lot of time. There is even a possibility to hike down to a beach on the other side of the bay to Cartagena.
Even though it requires some better marketing and investment into infrastructure by the local authorities, today, Bateria de Castillitos and el Jorel are slowly getting the attention it deserves.
History of Baterias de Castillitos and el Jorel
Built on a very tip of Cabo Tiñoso (Cape Tinoso), Bateria de Castillitos is a powerful defense system built somewhere in-between 1926 and 1933 to protect the important port Cartagena ant its military arsenal. Built by the British, the deployed cannons were the best of the kind in the world at that time and prove to be more than effective. It was placed strategically on the top of Cape Tinoso in a way so it wouldn’t be seen from the sea level. The cannons were used only once during the Spanish Civil War, in 1937 against Franco’s Nationalist fleet with devastating efficiency. Knowing its presence was more than enough to scare away the enemies.
The guns were abandoned by the military only in 1994 and the mysterious site was left behind alone ever after.
Getting to Castilittos and el Jorel Baterias, Cabo Tiñoso
Since there is no public transport going to Baterias de Castillitos and el Jorel as late as 2019, you’ll either have to drive or walk there yourself.
Sierra de La Muela, Cabo Tiñoso and Roldán Nature Reserve can be found in Murcia region between two major cities Cartagena and Mazarron, connected by AP-7, RM-332, and E-22 roads. Since the road to Baterias de Castillitos and el Jorel can be reached only by RM-E23 road which is connected only to E-22, there is no point of using the different road to reach the park.
RM-E23 road to Baterias de Castillitos and el Jorel
And RM-E23 road is one of those roads which will keep you on the edge on your seat, but without a doubt, it will be very rewarding. The conditions of the road difficulty will build up slowly, so don’t get caught with your guard down. The first two kilometers will lead you through a beautiful green valley until the only town on the road, Campillo de Adentrum, and it won’t get much harder for another kilometer after you pass the town.
Once the road goes steeper, things can get a bit ugly. The roads are relatively narrow and there is not much space to pass by with the other cars. To make things worse, there are no mirrors on U-turns and it is not a common practice to use a machine signal before one. And don‘t forget that you are sharing the road with cyclists and hikers.
Hiking to Baterias de Castillitos and el Jorel
An alternative would be to park your car in Campillo de Adentrum and hike your way up for 8 km one way, which should take around two and a half hours. The hike might be demanding, and you’ll have to walk on the same road as you would go with a car, but at least you won’t have to worry about the difficulties passing each car.
Parking at Baterias de Castillitos and el Jorel
Even if you are a really experienced driver, the parking at Baterias de Castillitos and el Jorel can drive you crazy. Be prepared for a couple of dozens of parking spots, located around a narrow gravel road, full of angry drivers, trying to do the same, with a very limited possibility to turn around. Most of the people just park their car on the left side of the road just before the parking lot.
I would suggest either coming really early or a bit late, just before the sunset, to avoid the main crowds visiting the center. Another option would be parking your car on one a few vista parking spots 300–1,000m to the batteries and hike your way up.
Facilities at Baterias de Castillitos and el Jorel
Be advised that you won’t find either WC or café in the site so be sure to take your own snacks and water, or eat in Campillo de Adentro. If you have some spare time, my personal recommendation would be to go to a remote quiet resort town, La Azohia. It is located only 2.5 km from where E-22 connects to RM-E23 road and has plenty of places to eat or spend your evening.
Is it worth to visit Baterias de Castillitos and el Jorel?
If you have the nerves to drive the road, and the patience for horrible parking experience, you won’t regret visiting Baterias de Castillitos and el Jorel at Cabo Tiñoso. The distant views of Cartagena in the Mediterranean Sea alone are worth the visit, but you get to see some of those old-school huge cannons on a full scale and Disneyland-like fortifications as well. Just be aware of a forecast, I would not suggest making this trip if the weather conditions are not suited for it. Avoid rain and clouds, you must see the panorama.
My impressions of visiting Baterias de Castillitos and el Jorel
Despite the poorness of this forgotten region, Murcia has a lot to show off. If I sounded harsh describing my experience, it is just because I see so much potential, therefore, the lack of investment into tourism kind of upset me. With better marketing, Murcia can be described as a very interesting place to visit, the region definitely has beautiful nature, interesting cities, not to even mention the important role in Reconquista. Yeah, the reconquer of Iberian Peninsula by Christians from Islamic Moors, which was one of the precursors to the Renaissance of Europe. What I miss from the region of Murcia, is a bit of pride in their rich history. Take our money, build that infrastructure.
Originally published at ctdots.eu on March 7, 2019.