Partida Vall del Pi, 44596 La Fresneda, Teruel, Spain
Perfectly and tastefully adapted to get a full-on Spanish experience.
Picture this. The sky is a startling blue, save for a lonely cloud sweeping like a white paintbrush stroke across the distant horizon. A bird with a graceful wingspan weaves concentric circles above a small hill crowned in soft, matt-green foliage. The valley is a gently tiered landscape of olive and almond trees lined up like soldiers, flattening out into a yellow, parched landscape, before erupting into a distant wall of red rock. Sounds too good to be true? Wait, there’s more.
In the foreground, long afternoon shadows of a row of olive trees fall across the campsite, letting you know it’s high time you drew up a pew on the little umbrella- studded patio. From the flat-roofed bar, fashioned from rustic timbers and rugged rock, a friendly face emerges with a glass of cold draught beer.
The Dutch couple who pulled this little piece of paradise together have managed to figure out exactly what camping in Spain should be about. Jet Knijn and Joost Leeuwenberg purchased this 19-acre property in 2002.
By recycling tiles and stonework from the original villa the couple built a delightful family home in the style of the region. On the nearby campsite, the washing area, bathroom and tiny bar were also specially constructed to help keep temperatures down and reduce environmental impact. The finca not only looks great, but its design got the thumbs-up from the locals, too.
During building, Jet and Joost lived in a caravan with just a solar shower and a composting toilet for company, an experience that turned them into camping-purist converts. La Fresneda has only 25 pitches and to keep the atmosphere really relaxed the couple discourage you from bringing your doggy companions, groups of friends, any hangers-on or other appendages. Lack of permanent cabañas is part of this message. Despite the seasonal heat, they don’t have a swimming pool, preferring the explorer-style of camping enthusiast rather than those who go for sun ‘n’ splash-style hols. Well, at least everyone knows where they stand. Instead, they built a shady garden atrium to cool down and relax.
And there is plenty of exploring to be done. Ancient paths traverse local medieval villages, wild countryside, rugged canyons and mountainsides. Natural-rock swimming pools are 15-30 minutes away, giving you a refreshing respite from the heat. A 4x4 adventure into Los Puertos de Beceite lets you explore this scenic natural reserve, whilst the Via Verde, an abandoned railway track-turned-bike trail, gives you the choice of exploring by bike or on horseback, if that’s what takes your fancy. Jet has meticulously catalogued all these adventures in a handy little how-to campsite guide, so no excuses for not getting up to your middle in it.
Meanwhile, back at the campsite, Bar La Roca and the adjoining patio are well placed for early risers to get their espresso fix and pastries for breakfast, and in the evening, draught beer and wine from the local wine co-op slips down a treat. Four nights a week, Joost gets busy in the kitchen making tapas, paella or a 3-course menu – served up just as the sun goes down.
In the off-season, when the campsite is closed, Jet and Joost harvest their own olives and take them to the local press. The big ones are saved for scoffing, whilst all the rest are bottled up to make edible souvenirs for the next camping season: a thoughtful pressie to take home to Grandma. Either way, you won’t have to leave empty-handed as you’ll be given a goodbye gift of locally harvested almonds. A little piece of paradise. In a nutshell.
The Owner Says
Want to go back
Just come back from a six night stay in what I (and the kids) can only describe as the best campsite we've stayed in. From arrival to departure the campsite is extremely well run by Jet and Joost. On arrival we got given a folder about things we could do in the local area, written with great love by the owners. Everything we did in it was great fun, ranges from places to swim in (rivers and resevoirs), to driving tours, to cycle and walking routes. They were also able to recomend a great local garage when our car decided it had had enough of Spanish dust!
For families with older children (ours range from 3-6) there is a wonderful onsite play area away from the main camping area. So they don't disturb the campers so much. Night time curfew for quiet was well observed (unusual for Spain in August)! Its a place to chill out and enjoy.
If you are specific about dates book well in advance as there are only 25 pitches. Facilities are excellent, clean and well maintained. Washing machine cleaned well and detergent was included in the wash price. We also found it good for lack of biting insects.
We are already planning when we can go back.
Probably the best campsite in the world
This is my favourite campsite...ever. And I've visited a fair few of them over the years. This is the kind of place that makes you want to pitch up and put your feet up because the site itself is its own little sanctuary. Superb scenery, a cool plunge pool on a hot day and absolute stillness. It's a campers' retreat. There's no swimming pool, kids' play pen, disco dancing or overpriced camping shop - and that's exactly as it should be. It's rural camping at its best. The owners live in a beautiful house on site and have created a small bar area where they serve food and drinks al fresco - it's such a slick operation you'll wish you'd stumbled on this place yourself and had their vision of what it could become. The homemade paella on the patio was a treat.