The recently launched Earthshot Prize is a global environment prize, centred around five ‘Earthshots’, that aims to incentivise change and help repair our planet over the next 10 years. The £50 million prize intends to provide at least 50 solutions to the world’s greatest environmental problems and has Prince William and David Attenborough as flag bearers.
In spite of his longevity David Attenborough has said he may not be around in 2030 to see the results of the Earthshot initiative. Although David goes back a bit, even he wasn’t around when Frias, our location today was first settled. Frias is considered to be the smallest “city” in Spain having been given that title in 1435.
From Frias we found an easy walk to the small hamlet of Tobera along a forested trail with wild, thyme, lavender, juniper, walnuts, figs and all manner of unknown berries and nuts. The figs and walnuts featured later in our tea. – BUT beware of small worms hiding in unidentified nuts!
Back in Frias, a wander around the neatly presented medieval village (strangely short of other tourists) provided some good photo opportunities. Frias strikes an imposing silhouette with the castle looking disdainfully at the tiers of houses tumbling down the terraced hill below.
“Cleese: I look down on him because I am upper-class. – Barker: I look up to him (Cleese) because he is upper-class; but I look down on him (Corbett) because he is lower-class. I am middle-class. – Corbett: I know my place. . . . . Cleese: I get a feeling of superiority over them. – Barker: I get a feeling of inferiority from him, (Cleese), but a feeling of superiority over him (Corbett). – Corbett: I get a pain in the back of my neck.”
leaving Frias we had a tough drive via Torrelavega and then on a difficult route with sections of narrow motorhome unfriendly passages ready to rip the sides out of Margo. We’d driven through quite a bit of wet and cloudy weather so when we arrived at Posada de Valdeón with a forecast of dry, cold but sunny days ahead we were relieved it was such a idyllic spot.
From the aire most of the previous reviews talk of a great taxi service to transport you down and back to Cain from where you start the Ruta del Cares walk. We rang Conchi the English speaking taxi driver, she was lovely but unfortunately in Madrid as she wasn’t anticipating fares out of season.
Conchi gave us some good tips to enable us to use our bikes to get to Cain. She also suggested stopping off on the way down at Chorco de los Lobos. This is where wolves used to be enticed into a narrowing stockade, then once corralled they would be forced into a stone pit at the end.
The rest of the journey down the 8km decent reinforced the steepness of the return journey and our plan to find a taxi to bring us and the bikes back up to Margo waiting patiently in Posada de Valdeón.
The Cares Gorge trail was first opened along the Cares river‘s canyon between 1916 and 1921 to provide access for workmen and materials during the construction of the level channels that transported water through and around the mountainside to the Camarmeña hydroelectric plant in Poncebos.
500 men were needed to mine and excavate the 12 kilometre route of the canal, though and around these limestone mountains. 11 men died in its construction. And as you gawp at the breathtaking scenery through which this spectacular natural gorge route takes, it’s easy to overlook the ingenuity, courage and skill it took to construct.
Improved and expanded between 1945 and 1950 the Cares gorge is now one of the most well known routes in the Picos de Europa.
The route was mainly good underfoot except in the tunnels where there were puddles after the recent rains, although you still had to take care as it was a long way down.
After 9.5 kms we stopped and had our butties before heading back. The mainly level waking made the total we covered (on foot) of 6 miles feel easy. But we both agreed the 23km return route would have been a challenge!
Our only remaining challenge was to get the bikes in the back of the taxi – Right said Fred “Have to a wheel off, that there wheel is going to have to go…” Even with the wheel off we were getting nowhere and so. . . .
Useless fact 434 – Did you know “An hórreo is a typical granary from the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula (mainly Galicia, where it might be called a Galician granary, Asturias and Northern Portugal), built in wood or stone, raised from the ground (to keep rodents out) by pillars” – There you go
Well, the ride down, the walk, the sunning scenery had made it a day to remember, to recommend and to come back for more of…!
Toodle Pip the noo
Dave & Lesley