Thursday, 23 November 2017

Thursday 23 November - Covadonga and Cangas de Onis

Where's Bertie? He's in the allocated motorhome parking in a large car park in the town of Cangas de Onis (exact location: 43.35227, -5.12577)
Weather: Mainly sunny, with varying amounts of high-level cloud.

After a quiet night in car park P4, Bertie was relocated early this morning to the religious complex that sits at the top of Covadonga, but we didn't set out straight away as I discovered that the wifi of the nearby Gran Hotel was completely open. Half an hour later, we had everything downloaded that we needed, and the quiet car park had been transformed by the arrival of the first few coachloads of tourists.

Whilst they all started their tours, off we headed, back down a little way, to ascend a hill on the other side of the valley. Why we chose to go up that hill, together with a clutch of photos of the outing, can be found on our walking blog, by clicking this link although for anyone not inclined to click, here are a couple of snaps:

The basilica at Covadonga and Cruz de Priena (the hill we went up) beyond

Lots of lumps and bumps in the Picos over there

Lunch and a few household chores (when we start transporting quantities of grit into bed on the bottom of our feet, it's time to sweep the floor!) preceded our look around the basilica and the chapel constructed in an open cave on the hillside, accessed via a tunnel. By then, it was approaching siesta time, the coaches had gone and there were just a handful of people about.

Chapel in a cave

The basilica itself was surprising for how incredibly plain it was on the inside - not the norm for Spanish churches at all. It was an anti-tardis too, in that it seemed so much smaller inside than out.

Cangas de Onis is a town that sits only about a quarter of an hour's drive away from Covadonga and we came here not knowing if we would find one of the four motorhome spaces free in what is described as an 'oversubscribed Aire'. All four were available.

We took a good walk around the town this afternoon, finding it to be much bigger than expected. It's clearly a touristy place too, although quiet at this time of year.

I'll finish with some photos specifically for Kay and Kev. Look at the prices of these three properties near here, which may be described as 'in need of renovation' to varying degrees.



(note: if you click on any of the photos they will open up bigger)

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Wednesday 22 November - Poncebos, Bulnes and Covadonga

Where's Bertie? He's in car park P4 just below Covadonga (exact location: 43.31412, -5.06237)
Weather: Glorious sunshine and surprisingly warm.

Last night the wind picked up and swung around to become southerly. That had quite an impact on the temperature and, contrary to our expectations of a frosty night, we awoke to a balmy 15 degrees at 7 this morning - double the temperature it had been 12 hours earlier.

Putting Bertie back into the same parking space in Poncebos as he had occupied yesterday, we found four other motorhomes who had clearly spent the night. We suspected that restrictions wouldn't be enforced at this time of year, (if, indeed they are enforceable; they could just be deterents), but I'd still rather go for the 'no restrictions' option if there's one nearby.

A while later, off we set for a walk up to the remote village of Bulnes. You can read more about that (and see a set of snaps of the outing) by clicking this link.

It was warm enough today that, even though Poncebos was still fully in the shade when we returned, we didn't immediately dash off in search of sunshine, as we had yesterday. Over lunch I considered the question of 'where next' and I put a case forward for driving up to Sotres. Mick wasn't enthusiastic about that option, so I looked at the map some more and thought the lakes above Covadonga might be worth a visit.

A pause in Arenas allowed us to pick up some bread and nearly knock the owner of the Tabac off her stepladder, then onwards and westwards we came.

I'd not thought to look to see if our guidebook said anything about Covadonga, so it was a surprise to arrive here to find numerous large car parks. We are in P4, which must hold at least 100 vehicles. We've been alone ever since we arrived, and all of the car parks we passed to get here were empty too, but it's apparent that this is a massively popular place in summer.

This car park will be fine for overnight, but feels a bit too isolated for leaving Bertie unattended tomorrow. So, soon after we arrived, I nipped out to see what over parking was available in the village.

Returning an hour later (by which time Mick was worrying that I'd got lost), I had discovered that: a) the village* is further away than I'd thought; b) the road up to the lakes is currently closed for resurfacing; and c) there is parking available up at the Basilica. (*I say 'village' but the guidebook tells me that it's not a village, but a cluster of buildings around the Basilica. There seemed to be houses and businesses to me, and to my mind that constitutes a village.)

The wind, which has been noticeable for much of the day, leaving roads strewn with leaves and twigs (and the occasional branch or tree), has picked up another notch tonight, leading us to turn Bertie's nose windwards just as dusk was upon us. That's stopped us from rocking, but it still sounds like it's raining as leaves are getting blown around and hitting his roof.

Here are a few random snaps of the day, in case you don't feel inclined to click on the link I gave above to nip over to our walking blog:


The path up to Bulnes is visible on the right hand side of the valley

Part of the tiny village of Bulnes, accessible only on foot or by funicular railway

Daisy. Just look at the eyes on her!

Clear water in the Cares river

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Tuesday 21 November - Poncebos and Arenas de Cabrales

Where's Bertie? He's in a large car park 2km south of Poncebos (exact location: 43.27542, -4.83391)
Weather: Wall-to-wall sunshine

It was 1 degree outside as we left Mier this morning and a frost covered the valley. Bertie had done a sterling job with his insulation, with his internal temperature only dropping to 9 degrees.

It was no warmer outside when we reached Poncebos, where we found a car park with remarkably small spaces, but we managed to find one into which Bertie could be shoehorned. That was a bonus as from StreetView I had assumed the car park belonged to the funicular railway and that we would have to park on the sloping road.

The walk along the Cares Gorge is, apparently, the most popular walk in this area, and that was where we were going today. I've written about it and included photos on our walking blog, and if you click here you'll be transported to that post. Here I'll suffice to say that it was a path worthy of its reputation and our few hours of incredible scenery were made even better by seeing an otter in the Cares river, just a few minutes after setting out.

It had been relatively warm in the gorge for much of the way. Poncebos, on the other hand was still a chilly place when we returned. Thus, even though I was already forming a vague plan to walk from there again tomorrow, we wasted no time in packing everything away and heading 6km back down the road to Arenas de Cabrales. I'd noted the huge car park there as we'd driven past earlier and it looked like it would catch the sun.

We sat there for a few hours, getting Bertie nicely warm, and would happily have stayed there all night. We know that other motorhomers do, but the signage at the entrance seems to prohibit 'the installation of motorhomes with the intention of staying overnight', which seemed quite specific to me. Equally, we would have gone back up to Poncebos, but the signage there prohibits motorhomes 'from dusk and all night' and is even multi-lingual. So, we opted for this car park, which we had spotted when passing earlier. It's huge, and being located a bit 'in the middle of nowhere' I can only assume it's used as overflow parking for the Cares Gorge in summer, with the users having to walk an extra 2km each way (or maybe there's a shuttle?). Of all the spaces here, there are only a couple that are level, but as we're the only vehicle, that wasn't a problem for us. Of course, if another motorhome should happen along (which seems unlikely), they will be forced to park right next to us.

Being 8 degrees when we arrived here at approaching 6pm, and with a clear sky, we are predicting another frosty night.

(I was going to include some photos in this post, but the signal here is weak (hey, we're in the middle of nowhere and deep in a gorge - it's a miracle there's any signal at all) and my battery is low, so if you want to see the snaps, you'll need to click on the link to our walking blog

Tuesday 21 November - Poncebos and Arenas de Cabrales

Where's Bertie? He's in a large car park 2km south of Poncebos (exact location: 43.27542, -4.83391)
Weather: Wall-to-wall sunshine

It was 1 degree outside as we left Mier this morning and a frost covered the valley. Bertie had done a sterling job with his insulation, with his internal temperature only dropping to 9 degrees.

It was no warmer outside when we reached Poncebos, where we found a car park with remarkably small spaces, but we managed to find one into which Bertie could be shoehorned. That was a bonus as from StreetView I had assumed the car park belonged to the funicular railway and that we would have to park on the sloping road.

The walk along the Cares Gorge is, apparently, the most popular walk in this area, and that was where we were going today. I've written about it and included photos on our walking blog, and if you click here you'll be transported to that post. Here I'll suffice to say that it was a path worthy of its reputation and our few hours of incredible scenery were made even better by seeing an otter in the Cares river, just a few minutes after setting out.

It had been relatively warm in the gorge for much of the way. Poncebos, on the other hand was still a chilly place when we returned. Thus, even though I was already forming a vague plan to walk from there again tomorrow, we wasted no time in packing everything away and heading 6km back down the road to Arenas de Cabrales. I'd noted the huge car park there as we'd driven past earlier and it looked like it would catch the sun.

We sat there for a few hours, getting Bertie nicely warm, and would happily have stayed there all night. We know that other motorhomers do, but the signage at the entrance seems to prohibit 'the installation of motorhomes with the intention of staying overnight', which seemed quite specific to me. Equally, we would have gone back up to Poncebos, but the signage there prohibits motorhomes 'from dusk and all night' and is even multi-lingual. So, we opted for this car park, which we had spotted when passing earlier. It's huge, and being located a bit 'in the middle of nowhere' I can only assume it's used as overflow parking for the Cares Gorge in summer, with the users having to walk an extra 2km each way (or maybe there's a shuttle?). Of all the spaces here, there are only a couple that are level, but as we're the only vehicle, that wasn't a problem for us. Of course, if another motorhome should happen along (which seems unlikely), they will be forced to park right next to us.

Being 8 degrees when we arrived here at approaching 6pm, and with a clear sky, we are predicting another frosty night.

(I was going to include some photos in this post, but the signal here is weak (hey, we're in the middle of nowhere and deep in a gorge - it's a miracle there's any signal at all) and my battery is low, so if you want to see the snaps, you'll need to click on the link to our walking blog

Tuesday 21 November - Poncebos and Arenas de Cabrales

Where's Bertie? He's in a large car park 2km south of Poncebos (exact location: 43.27542, -4.83391)
Weather: Wall-to-wall sunshine

It was 1 degree outside as we left Mier this morning and a frost covered the valley. Bertie had done a sterling job with his insulation, with his internal temperature only dropping to 9 degrees.

It was no warmer outside when we reached Poncebos, where we found a car park with remarkably small spaces, but we managed to find one into which Bertie could be shoehorned. That was a bonus as from StreetView I had assumed the car park belonged to the funicular railway and that we would have to park on the sloping road.

The walk along the Cares Gorge is, apparently, the most popular walk in this area, and that was where we were going today. I've written about it and included photos on our walking blog, and if you click here you'll be transported to that post. Here I'll suffice to say that it was a path worthy of its reputation and our few hours of incredible scenery were made even better by seeing an otter in the Cares river, just a few minutes after setting out.

It had been relatively warm in the gorge for much of the way. Poncebos, on the other hand was still a chilly place when we returned. Thus, even though I was already forming a vague plan to walk from there again tomorrow, we wasted no time in packing everything away and heading 6km back down the road to Arenas de Cabrales. I'd noted the huge car park there as we'd driven past earlier and it looked like it would catch the sun.

We sat there for a few hours, getting Bertie nicely warm, and would happily have stayed there all night. We know that other motorhomers do, but the signage at the entrance seems to prohibit 'the installation of motorhomes with the intention of staying overnight', which seemed quite specific to me. Equally, we would have gone back up to Poncebos, but the signage there prohibits motorhomes 'from dusk and all night' and is even multi-lingual. So, we opted for this car park, which we had spotted when passing earlier. It's huge, and being located a bit 'in the middle of nowhere' I can only assume it's used as overflow parking for the Cares Gorge in summer, with the users having to walk an extra 2km each way (or maybe there's a shuttle?). Of all the spaces here, there are only a couple that are level, but as we're the only vehicle, that wasn't a problem for us. Of course, if another motorhome should happen along (which seems unlikely), they will be forced to park right next to us.

Being 8 degrees when we arrived here at approaching 6pm, and with a clear sky, we are predicting another frosty night.

(I was going to include some photos in this post, but the signal here is weak (hey, we're in the middle of nowhere and deep in a gorge - it's a miracle there's any signal at all) and my battery is low, so if you want to see the snaps, you'll need to click on the link to our walking blog

Monday, 20 November 2017

Monday 20 November - Panes and Mier

Where's Bertie? He's in a car park, in between a children's playground and an outdoor gym, next to the river, in the tiny village of Mier (exact location: 43.31515, -4.67470).
Weather: More glorious blue skies.

Our day started by weaving around a bit. Backtracking south from the coast, we returned to Unquera, where we had shopped on Saturday morning. We would have nipped back into the supermarket on this first pass, but an early-ish start meant it wasn't yet open. Instead we headed the 4.5km west to Colombres and breakfasted at the Aire there before availing ourselves of the service point. Backtracking once again to Unquera, a quick supermarket dash was done, before completing our squiggly route by heading south, to the village of Panes.

Just about everywhere we have been on the Cantabrian coast has had an air of properity about it. Houses have generally been well-kept, and there have been remarkably few abandoned building projects and house prices have been high.

We found Panes (which is over the regional boundary in Asturias) to be a bit shabby, with abandoned buildings and a significant abandoned building project. A doer-upper of a house can be bought there for €30k and a plot for €26k. It does, however, have a nice big sunny car park bordering what the signage described as botanical gardens, but which I would, if generous, call an arboretum. Whatever, it was a nice bit of parkland, alongside the river, and it had a good path that ran for 2.6km around its perimeter. We walked that path once, then I got changed and ran it twice, whilst Mick did another walking circuit (he has a sore knee; my sore knee is all better - Yay!).

Whilst the village may not have captivated us, the park's setting was lovely for a run:

View on the outward leg of the circuit.

Looking the other way

Our move from Panes to Mier was purely to position ourselves better for where we want to be first thing tomorrow morning. Before making the move there was discussion about whether this spot would be in the sun and, as we didn't know the answer, we left coming here until mid-afternoon. On reflection, we should have waited until half past five, because we got here to find that, as suspected, the sun had been stolen by the surrounding steep-sided hills. In full sunshine in Panes, it had been 28 degrees in Bertie (and that was with the door open). As soon as we arrived here we closed most of the blinds to keep the heat in and our breath was vapourising as we went for a look around.

That's where Bertie is tonight. It may be nippy, but it is stunning.

It's one of the reasons we are not going to stay in the hills for long. Our main stated destination of this trip had been the Picos de Europa, but we've been having such a good time on the coast (where it's mainly warm) that it has guided us to think that maybe being in snowy mountains, with lots of steep valleys where the sun barely reaches, is an activity better suited to a different month of the year (although no month of the year will make Bertie narrower or the roads wider, so in that respect winter is a good time to be here, as the roads are quieter).

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Sunday 19 November - Pechón

Where's Bertie? He's still in the coastal car park at Pechón.
Weather: More wall-to-wall sunshine.

During this morning's discussion of 'should we stay or should we go', Mick observed that "It's very nice here, but there's not much to do.". He was quite right, in that we had exhausted all of the walking options with yesterday afternoon's outing.

But it's Sunday and Sundays are a good excuse for doing very little. So, having checked the weather forecast and established that pushing the walk I had pencilled in for tomorrow back to Tuesday wouldn't put us in bad weather, we opted to stay.

A pre-elevenses walk was taken to the next beach along, but that was entirely in the shade, and is small, so it didn't hold us for long. By the time we got back, the seaweed harvesting man was back in action, so I made a flask, threw some croissants into a tub, and we went for elevenses on the rocky island below us, so that we could watch him from closer quarters. The sun wasn't in a helpful position for that, but we ambled around the beach once we had finished, and got to see him in action:


Whilst he was loading the resulting harvest into his trailer (he'd only taken two tractors down to the beach today, and was doing the loading manually with a pitchfork), we had a good look at his tractor. Aside from modifying the air intake to increase its height, he'd put a can of expanding foam to good use in waterproofing around the gear levers:


We wondered whether he had ever had his engine conk out whilst in the water. I'm not sure whether the tow rope coiled up on the front of the engine is indicative that he has, or that he's prepared for the eventuality.

Our only other activity of the day has been a walk up into the village, with an empty 5-litre container, to use a public water tap. The last water we picked up has turned out to be so chlorinated as to be severely unpalatable. We haven't started on the new bottle yet, but hopefully it's not on the same supply network as the last lot!