Travelled : 124 miles from Burgos to Poncebos, Provence of Cantabria.
Visited : Aguilar (Aire N42*47’09.6 W004*15’25.9″), Potes and Picos de Europa
Stayed : Potts, municipal car park, free no services and Poncebos, Picos de Europa Parque Nacional (car park), free no services N43*16’31.4 W004*50’02.7
Expenses : 60 days @ €78 per day
After sitting around with too much time on my hands, the notion of buying a motor home and travelling Europe was born. The notion transpired to action from reading various blogs like this one. One of those blogs rambled on about ‘The Picos de Europa’ a National Park in Northern Spain. The Picos is well out of the normal tourist route, not easy to get to unless you have transport. The canyon walk from Poncebos to Cain is argued as the best in Spain and amongst the best in Europe. Once Pam agreed to our biggest eBay purchase so far, I scribbled a circle around the Picos.
Glad to escape another noisy car park (Burgos) we continued north. We have the Hymer booked on the ferry from Balboa in a few days and the Picos is calling. The A67 is an easy drive. However the flat and barren plans give way the hills and we see mountains in the distance. The landscape changes, there are patches of green and huge paddocks of potatoes of all things. We see livestock in wonderful condition here and there as well. At Aguliar we turn off the A67 to feed the Hymer and have a coffee. There are some of the biggest factories we have ever seen on the outskirts of this small town. I am thinking it must be to do with the miles of potatoes we have seen, but in fact they are the Gullon biscuit factories as it eventuates.
After a refuel we spot the familiar Aire sign and stop and do our housekeeper issues. Looking for a nice view for morning tea, we turn off for a dam on the edge of town and enjoy our coffee and the outlook. On our way again we start our climb into the Cordillera Cantabrica mountain range. Not as steep or high as those in the Pyrenees, but the road is narrow and the drop of the side sheer. Soon enough we cross into the Picos de Europa Parque Nacional and take the turnoff to Potes. We find a nice little grass carpark behind the supermarket and head off to explore Potes. It’s a tourist little town but very neat and tidy. It sits deep in the valley surrounded by towering granite mountain, virtually treeless. We do the usual wander about the shops until we find a quiet little bar with good internet.
Next morning we do a shop and head further into the park. The distances are not great but the roads narrow and winding. It takes almost 3 hours to drive the 40 or so kilometres to Poncebos with a few stops for photos and coffee. We had planned to stay in the campsite in nearby Les Arenas but found it closed, so it’s another free wildcamping night. We buy a map and do a little sightseeing and try and find a parking spot for the Hymer close to the starting point of the treck. The only parking suitable for the Hymer is 7-800 metres from the start of the track and it’s specifically states no overnight in camper cars. So we overnight in a huge new car park about 3 kilometres back down the road. It’s a bit of an eerie night, we are the only vehicle there, it’s absolutely pitch dark and at the end of the road no traffic. We decide not to watch a scary movie before bed. Anyway about 11pm, Pam wakes me and says she can hear voices ! I sneak a look…..no murderers just another camper joining us in the car park.
Anyway, we are up early. We move the Hymer to the closer car park have breakfast and coffee, check our packs and load up with bottled water. It’s now 8.30am and just first light and off we go. I let the pictures tell the story, but the walk to Cain and back is 24 kilometres in total, the recommended walking time 7 hours (it takes us 8 hours with a lunch break). It starts with a hard initial ascent of 300 metres in the first 1.5 kilometres with a similar ascents and descents in smaller bites spread over the next 10 kilometres. Obviously as you use the water and have lunch the load in the pack reduces, this helps a lot on the return of course. It was a real adventure walk, very tired with our feet sore the Hymer, it’s hot shower and cold beer never looked better.