Wednesday 29th May
The sun rises late in the mountains. An hour and a half after official sunrise the first warming rays began to touch the van and lift the chill that had descended last night.
The drop in temperature had no way affected our mood and in the bar last night we were still buzzing with the great day we had on the Ruta des Cares (see yesterday’s blog). We decided to change our plans and spend another day in the mountains before heading to the coast later in the day. This time it would be a shorter but steeper walk to the Picos most isolated village, Bulnes. A village so isolated that it cannot be reached by road and, until the funicular railway was built five years ago, everything was carried into the village on horseback up the very path we would be taking. Apparently, from the village, if the weather gods permit, you can get a glimpse of Naranjo des Bulnes, the incisor-shaped, monolithic peak that is the symbol of the Picos de Europa National Park.
It meant another early start and a drive back to Poncebos after dropping our van in a car park in Arenas de Cabrales. This morning the car park was busier, but there was still a spot for Andy. This morning, however, the door to the funicular railway was shut and a notice said that the train was not running today for annual maintenance. The only day of the year when Wendy had planned to ride it to the top to meet us and it was closed! Well there would be no rest for her poorly Achilles and instead it would be a dose of ibuprofen and she would have to join us up as well as down.
The weather gods were indeed playing ball and it was a beautiful day, with a wispy clouds emphasising the blueness of the sky. As we climbed up the rocky path, worn smooth by centuries of use, we could see some peculiar cloud formations around the highest peaks as the temperature rose.
It was a long slog up to Bulnes, almost two hours, but at the view point we managed to get our prized photographs of Naranjo. In the last five years the railway has brought prosperity to the village and many of the houses have been renovated and almost half of them have become bars and restaurants to serve the increased number of tourists. Revitalised by a beer and an ice cream (Toblerone ice creams are like a tonic!) we carried on uphill to the older half of the village to another bar that has probably the best view of any we have been to. It is on top of a cliff with a commanding view of the whole valley we had just climbed.
The return trip was a little quicker and we even met a packhorse being used to bring cement up to workers repairing a section of the path that had been washed away.
This evening we are in Camping Derby Loredo as the result of a communication cock up last night in the bar. We had been looking for a campsite that was in the Laredo area north east of us and I misheard and searched for sites in Loredo instead. It was a little closer than we had planned but at least it meant that we didn’t have to drive too far after a tiring day in the hills. However, it turned out to be the worst campsite of the trip so far and one of the most expensive. Loredo is a little town that overlooks the Santander Bay. It has a beach that is almost five kilometres long and famous for its surf. Our campsite was five minutes from the sea if the tide was in and twenty at low tide. Most of the site had become a shanty town of old caravans and extended awnings, the touring section was quite small but there was no hot water for washing up or any clean water that we fancied putting in our van’s tank. It’s a good thing this is only an overnight stop. We are off at 0900 tomorrow as we are heading east with a vengeance. We are heading for France with an eye on the forecast, there is hot weather on the way and we want to enjoy it in Le Tedey!
(We never did find out about the reason for Derby in the campsite’s name!)