So the rain in Spain was getting to us and we decided to head south west towards Leon and on to Portugal. We decided before we left the U.K. that we would wherever possible, stick to “the road less travelled” and with that in mind, we picked a circuitous route through the mountains, stopping overnight in a little hostel campsite called Camping El Cares in Santa Marina de Valdéon.
Here we met some British travellers, but they were on motorbikes and I have never seen anyone looking so wet through and like us, they were heading south to try and find some sun. Otherwise, there were a couple of large parties of school kids on a wilderness camp and despite the rain they were having a great time. The site was pretty and the staff friendly (and they had their own micro brewery – yummy!) but boy it was wet…. This is why we didn’t take any pictures. Roll on the sunshine of Léon!
As the mountains gave way to the flat dusty plains of Léon, the scenery was not what we expected. It was extremely agricultural with every square inch farmed, plus there were large industrial units and many, many trucks. We decided not to head into Léon city centre itself, taking a short stop at Valencia de Don Juan and enjoying a pleasant walk in the sunshine, taking time to admire the lovely castle in the town centre. Tonight we would camp near the Portuguese border, in a campsite that had just reopened for the season and boasted a large lake (we have a kayak don’t forget..).
Lago de Sanabria is a large site which claims to have the lake on site and beautiful views. What it doesn’t say, is that the lake is off the site through a gate and down a lane, a bit of a long way with a large tandem kayak. It also doesn’t say that the site looks like something from a zombie apocalypse, with boarded up caravans, dingy tents and trash everywhere. It looked like everyone had fled the site in front of a hoard of undead.
But in balance, the lake was beautiful.
We decided not to stay long and in the morning we finally crossed into Portugal, entering at the Parque Natural de Montesinho and we where immediately blown away by the beauty of the place. The views are stunning, the quaint villages nestling in the valleys are from another time. Sadly wild camping is illegal after a spate of huge fires, but the forests were so tempting.
We loved the town of Bragança, in Rio de Onor. It’s little river twisting through, crossed by little bridges and bubbling over little weirs and miniature waterfalls. This finally felt like summer. More to follow soon!