Around and down the Picos

The walk from Cain de Valdeón to Poncebos ( Cares Gorge) is just 7 miles. To drive there is 65 miles and 7,125ft of climb and 7,875 of decent, and when you get there, parking a 7.45m motorhome is nigh on impossible. So we went. Arriving late afternoon we needed to wait until most of the cars had gone then we secured one of the only near-level spot for Margo to sit it out till morning.

Where the red car behind was parked would have been a less than ideal overnight spot!

Our chosen spot was luckily right above the entrance to the funicular railway so in the morning we didn’t have far to go. Our plan was to take the funicular up the 400m to the village of Bulnes and save our energy for the steep descent back down to Poncebos.

Because of Covid-19, we were a bit concerned in case the train might be too crowded, we needn’t have worried as apart from us and the attendant there were two other tourists and three locals delivering bread.

There are no routes for vehicles up to the village so traditionally, the only options were the strenuous two-hour trail from Poncebos or the mountain path from Sortres 5 miles away.

We kept asking ourselves, why build a village here when it is so inaccessible, it’s mad, no really it is. Some might say it’s a hill farmers idyll but no. To want to live in this location is mad, completely bonkers! I bet in 2001 when the village found they could reach civilisation in 7 minutes – the villagers said “Nah, thanks very much but we’d prefer to walk”…!

Leaving the village we climbed up for 15 mins to the observation deck to Mirador Del Naranjo De Bulnes. Right so now I get it – If we build a house up here (Bulnes) we’ll be able to walk up the hill a bit and look at this big peak 10 miles away! Oh why didn’t you say so before!

Daisy was a little camera shy at first, but once we’d paid her agent the royalty fee, she turned on the charm. She wasn’t really that bothered as the hillside grass was much more interesting.

The village is well kept and has rustic mountain charm and had a few quad bikes and ultra small trucks, which had presumably put the now redundant donkey out to enjoy its well deserved retirement A couple of restaurants appeared to be doing ok, but it wasn’t obvious if it was because of the tacky flora arrangements or in spite of them. When you live in this stunning landscape I don’t really think it needs brightly coloured plastic embellishments even if some are purple….

The 2 .5 mile path down must have been a real hard slog for the donkey to get supplies from Poncebos. In places it’s perilously steep, rocky and narrow. With two legs, going down is harder on the knees, however looking at the faces of the walkers we passed coming up (as we went down), I’m convinced that the 17 euros for the funicular is better spent coming up than going down.

We were grateful this goat was sure footed as the path went right beneath him/her.

High on a hill was a lonely goatherd
Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo
Loud was the voice of the lonely goatherd
Lay ee odl lay ee odl-oo

When we came upon this spot I thought I might go home and rip out our attempt at a water feature. Whoever nature did its water feature apprenticeship with but they were really good tutors!

By the time we got to the bottom we were tired out and in need of some food and refreshments. The first (and only) place we came across in Poncebos had socially distanced outside tables. I was only wearing my buff and was told I needed a proper mask which was fine. We had one large cheese sandwich for me and Lesley had this enormous wedge filled to the gunnels with 3 large pork lions, sorry loins. One was enough and a quarter of the bread.

Adequately (!) replenished, it was back to Margo and to our next destination on the coast this time.

We came across this building on route covered with masses of beans drying!
Playa de Rodiles beach

Spanish researchers have found evidence of dinosaur tracks belonging to the Upper Jurassic, between 140 and 160 million years old.

The original image has been blown up – actual size is around 50mm

So there is some serious fossils to be found on the Asturias coast if you know what you are looking for. We don’t. Anyhow we scratched around blindly at the bottom of the cliffs and after 20 minutes came up with a rock in the image above. We decided to quit whilst we were ahead.

After all the walking in the Picos in the last few days it was nice to kick back and relax by the beach before planning where to go next.

Dear Clair Rayner,

The Spanish coronavirus regulations of wearing masks outdoors appears to be strictly observed. Everyone we’ve seen outside has been dutifully wearing a mask. However I have to confess as today was a warm 26 degrees, we went off to Playa de Rodiles beach searching for fossils amongst the rocks, had a paddle in the surf and a walked along the near deserted mile long beach. But Clair, with only a few folk around I wasn’t always wearing my mask. While I know this was against the rules, at the same time it didn’t feel so wrong. What would you have done? And do you think I need to pay a visit to Go Outdoors or Decathlon and get myself a new moral compass?

Yours, David

Stay safe and well everyone

Toodle Pip, Dave & Lesley

2 thoughts on “Around and down the Picos

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