The Alhama/Totana to Mazarrón motorways bisect the new urbanization of Camposol a few kilometres before the Mazarrón turns. Nearby, two short walks, undertaken separately or together, show both the power of nature and man. That to the hot springs and back is perhaps around three kilometres in length and that to the La Pinilla road along the old railway track and back, a little more than eight kilometres.
A good start point is either the restaurant of El Saladillo or by the Iglesia San José (Church of St Joseph), which is almost straight across the road from it. Both offer parking, although the restaurant has other man-made pleasures as well! These are reached by turning off the motorway when El Saladillo is signposted just past Camposol coming from Alhama/Totana and driving back the short distance along the old road to that location. You can also come off the motorway at the Camposol exit, cross back over it and drive a very few kilometres along the old MU603 (the road which preceded the motorway) to El Saladillo.
The Hot Springs
First, let us have a look at the force of nature. The area around here has continuing evidence of volcanic activity and instability. Very close to El Saladillo are what are known as the “Hot Springs” where water, quite hot to the touch – about 50°C – comes up out of the ground. To get to the Hot Springs you need to cross the road from the restaurant to the other side by the church. From the church, there is a path which dips down sharply in the general direction of Camposol under the motorway in quite an unusual fashion. You have to pass through one of several “tunnels”, before continuing on a very rough but reasonably wide track. This curves down and round from the motorway, before heading to the right at the junction with another path which comes from a nearby house. The way continues as before, passing under a single electric cable strung between posts which then runs to the left of the track. A little further on you come to a low stone wall just after passing under some other electric cables, these strung between pylons. This low stone wall continues at the side of the track for about 100 yards.
As you finally approach the Hot Springs further on, you can see the end of the Camposol golf course and some of the houses on the Urbanisation directly in front of you across the intervening rambla. First impressions are not especially pleasing as a large circular concrete construction comes into view. The wall of the structure is not especially high and you can easily look over it to see (apart from a lot of graffiti!) a blue pipe coming up through the ground in the centre and going through the wall at one side and from which comes a steady stream of hot water pouring on to the ground below. When we first visited the Hot Springs, the water simply issued from what resembled a stand-pipe in the ground and with no built structure around it. There are several small pools and channels through which the water now runs once it tumbles from the pipe.
The Railway That Never Was
Returning by the same track to the church and El Saladillo, another interesting trip through the local countryside can begin. You walk up the rough road to the left of the El Saladillo restaurant. After perhaps a hundred yards beyond the restaurant, the road divides by a small electricity pylon. If you turn left here, you are immediately on the path of the railway line which was planned to link Mazarrón, Totana and Cartagena. Despite the trajectory and basic structure of the line with cuttings, bridges etc, all being completed, the line was itself never finished when the money ran out! The path taken by the proposed line is quite obvious and you quickly pass over a small “bridge” across a depression, before going between houses on either side. A slight incline follows with the Commercial Centre of Sector B at Camposol visible in front to the left. The walking along the track is relatively easy and level, as you would expect of a railway line, though you will actually ascend around 60 metres between the old road past the El Saladillo restaurant and the La Pinilla Road.
Once past the last of these houses on the left, the track bends round through a small and relatively shallow cutting in the rock. There are excellent views over the countryside. The track continues on a small embankment gently bending round past a farm on the left after which it seems to level off from the earlier incline. You continue on through rough countryside with the occasional concrete structure obvious, which would once have supported the banking up of the line. Beneath a small hill on which a large concrete storage building is obvious to the right of the track, there is stone reinforcement rising 1 to 2 metres from ground level over a continuous length of perhaps 100 yards. This is just before you come to the last of the pylons and an electricity substation on the left. Following this, there is a lengthy piece of the path with open countryside to the left and trees which show some signs of being actively cultivated to the right. The track is now elevated above the ground on both sides to maintain its level.
After passing a ruined farm complex on top of a rise well to the left of the track, you enter a much more impressive, although still quite short cutting through a small hill. Just after the cutting, the track, by now well banked up above the surrounding land, seems to descend slowly to a very impressive three arched bridge over a rambla. From here, the track swings round to go through a very minor cutting below a small rise to its right. It continues curving slightly round to the right with trees in the land to both sides. By now, you will be able to see vehicles going along the road ahead of you to and from La Pinilla as well as the white painted ends of buildings on a rise on the other side of that road.
Just before the track enters another shallow cutting and bends left, there is a ruined farmhouse on the right. This cutting is through solid rock with a small single arch bridge over a minor rambla at its end. After another section of largely built up track, there is a minor cutting before the La Pinilla Road is reached. Once the road is reached all that remains is to turn round and follow the track back to El Saladillo with some very different views of the distant countryside and hills compared to the outward journey.
Based upon extracts from the book “Exploring Murcia – Mazarrón” by Clive and Rosie Palmer, available from www.lulu.com, Best Wishes on Camposol, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Clive and Rosie have written several guide books on towns and regions in Murcia. “Exploring Murcia, Days Out” and “Exploring Murcia – Cartagena” are available to buy from the Costa Cálida Chronicle office on Camposol B, Best Wishes (who also stock other of their books), or phone Patti on 968 433 978.