After a great few days by the beach at Lekeitio and assorted day trips we’re on the move again. Today we’re headed for the Picos de Europa, the jagged deeply fissured mountains that straddle southeast Asturias, southwest Cantabria and northern Castilla y León with some of Spain’s most spectacular mountain scenery and best hiking. It’s a wild landscape of imposing limestone peaks, glistening lakes and open meadows filled with grazing cattle, sheep and goats. Eagles soar on the high mountain thermals as glacial water plunges down sheer rock faces into stunning river gorges.
We cram everything back into the car and head for the motorway. The rain is biblical as we approach Santander this is ridiculous. Beyond Santander, we leave the motorway and the rain eases. We follow the River Deva southward upstream through the stunning Desfiladero de la Hermida gorge to the town of Potes where we’re staying for 2 nights. Potes is a hugely popular staging post on the southeastern edge of the Picos, with the Macizo Ándara rising close by and as we’ve now climbed into the mountains the drop in temperature is quite distinct. It’s now 13 degrees eek! Apparently Potes is overrun in peak periods so we’re hoping that early May means it won’t be to busy. The heart of Potes is a cluster of bridges, towers and charming cobbled backstreets that have been restored in traditional slate, wood and red tile after considerable damage during the civil war. The Quiviesa and Deva rivers meet close to the heart of this distinctly charming town.
We take an exploratory cycle into town and beyond. It’s been a long day in the car and we need to stretch our legs. We return to our hotel to shower and change and head out for dinner. Brownie finds a restaurant that serves fantastic enormous entrecôte steaks which we wash down with a local red wine. Tomorrow we’re headed 23km west of Potes to Fuente Dé, where a dramatic cable car provides the main access to the high hills and some scenic walks in this area.
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