In June 2018 we decided to head to northern Spain, via Santander to explore the Pyrenees starting in Picos de Europa and tracking east, maybe get some kayaking in. We had a mixture of successes and failures along the way.
We sailed from Portsmouth to Santander on the overnight ferry, crossing the Bay of Biscay which is notorious for its terrible weather. Not being a great sailor, I was somewhat nervous, but the crossing was smooth and the ferry was fine. A cabin gave a welcome reprieve from the noise of 100s of bored children and frazzled parents and was reasonably comfortable. Once off the boat, we headed for a refuel and then down into the Picos.
Our first night stop was in Potes and the road there (N-621) is a stunning drive. Twisting through the most rugged terrain, alongside raging rivers and ducking under perilous rock overhangs (our CB aerial occasionally clanging noisily off them), it’s hard to imagine this is a major aterial route through the mountains.
The saying goes “ the rain in Spain, falls mainly on the plain”….. don’t believe it. It doesn’t. It falls mainly in the Picos de Europa, at least it did that week. We explored the little town of Potes, a pretty town with a thriving market and shops, buying local bread, cheese and produce and of course Spanish gin! Very nice.
We drove a little south to Fuente Dé, a small geological bowl, surrounded by high peaks and interesting scrambling walks. There’s a cafe, a Parador and a cable car, but the low cloud and threat of rain meant we limited ourselves to a scramble up to the base of a small waterfall, helped by a local dog that was intent on guiding us up the hill.
Fed up with the weather and the very low chance of it improving, we revised our plans and set off south, towards Leon, with a plan to cross into Portugal into Parque Natural de Montesinho.
More in Part 2