Eastern Asturias & Cantabria

A whole weekend ahead of us with no work…and the SUN was forecast to come out!  We’ve rather forgotten what that is this winter which seems to have been the longest ever!  So, there was no question about not heading away, and we decided that it’s been SO long since it’s been sunny on the coast, that we’d head over to Asturias to do some walks and meet some friends.

We started out Friday after work, heading west over to San Vicente de la Barquera for the night.  Stopping at the new AC Area in Puente San Miguel to fill up with water.  A quick shout out to the local town hall for this new area, perfectly placed for us with easy access from the A8, full water services, and lots of parking.  A great place to get to Santander on the FEVE train too as it’s right next to the station.  Anyway, we then headed over to San Vicente and parked up on the seafront promenade in town for the night.  And as we were there…well it would be rude not to grab some food – big fans of the pata de pulpo (octopus leg) at the Bodegón restaurant.

Day 1

Good night’s sleep, not too many cars passing, and quick stop at the Saturday morning market for bread and bits.  Then over to the Merón beach car park (where you can’t overnight, for the record) for a surf and beach walk.  After a nice hot post-surf van coffee and cake, we headed off west into Asturias.

We were heading for a spot we’d seen on Park4Night for lunch.  Heading up to Panes and then cutting west along the gorges of the Cares river, through Arenas de Cabrales, and then up towards the village of Asiegu.  Asiegu is home to the highly recommendable Ruta ‘l Quesu y la Sidra, a family-run guided tour and dinner of local Cabrales cheese and cider run from the local bar, it’s great fun and we’ve done it a couple of times with friends.  However, today we were happy with the stunning views over the Picos de Europa mountains from the picnic area just below the village – and well worth the windy drive up.

After lunch, we continued on, through Cangas de Onis and up towards the Ponga Natural Park, for a walk we’d had on the cards for a while, parking up in the large parking area in the village of Santillán on the N625.  This is one of the starting points of the Ruta Mitológica Beyu Pen – the other being from the nearby picnic area of Trambesagües.  This lineal walk follows an old medieval stone track uphill through a lovely wooded valley, following the river for half of the time and then climbing up to the higher pastures to the village of Pen, which has a bar which does basic food and drinks.  We didn’t make it quite that far, but even as far as the climb and back was very beautiful through the mossy wood and river full of waterfalls – the first primroses of spring just showing themselves.

After getting back to Berta and changing our muddy boots, we then headed off to our overnight spot to meet some van-friends.  We were heading to another picnic area we’d seen on Park4Night below the Mirador del Fitu viewpoint.  We stopped off quickly at the viewpoint itself before heading down there, and it’s a great place to stop off, with panoramic views over the coast and the mountains – quite something.  We then headed down to the picnic area for sunset.  This picnic area is something special!  Signposted Area Recreativa off a sharp curve just below the viewpoint on the coastal side of the pass (bigger vans will have to approach from below as the turn is sharp), the single track surfaced road goes through the picnic area and pine trees to come out at a large flat car park on the ridge, with unbeatable views to the Picos mountains and along the coast.  Sunset over the coast (although not quite visible this early in the year), and then Asturian beers in the van (thanks Jessie & Jose) with views over the lights of the coastal villages and lighthouses.  And then a great night’s sleep in the silence (with a bit of wind).

Day 2

Waking up to sunrise over the Picos through the back windows, wow, and then a quick walk out along the ridge after breakfast (well worth doing – follow the green path by the information board) – and a driveby from the Guardia Civil, who said nothing to any of the three vans who had overnighted.

Then we headed down to the coast we could see from above, to the parking area at Caravia beach – also found on Park4Night.  We know this site from our times at Motorbeach Festival which takes place here in July, but normally it’s a calm paradise of fields and farmers, not full of bikers!  We stopped here for a wander along the coast path – part of the Camino del Norte.  We started wandering west to check out some brave surfers at the Playa Espasa, and then headed east to Playa de Beciella and on around the headland of La Atalaya.  If we’d had better legs and lungs we’d have headed on to Arenal de Moris – another great beach.

Then we continued west to pay a visit to Llastres, one of Asturias’ more lovely fishing villages.  We’d been looking at its lights from above the previous night, and it tempted us to return.  Another Park4Night spot, the car park next to the picnic area above the village (again, follow signs to Area Recreativa), with great sea views.  Parking up, the car park was empty, but worth noting it was full and not so easy to maneuver in once we came to leave.  We headed to the bar up there, with fantastic views over the town, but unfortunately had the worst rabas we’d ever eaten along with some equally awful tortilla – frying squid in chorizo oil…not good…  We decided to walk that off by walking down into the town before lunch.  It’s a classic fisherman’s village, small alleys everywhere leading up and down down down to the port area below – the main thing here is to remember is that what you go down, you must go back up!  We earned our lunch, put it that way!

Post siesta, we then headed back east along the coast, and made a stop at the town of Ribadesella.  This town has two parts to it, the beach area along its long sandy beach, and the main town, across the river estuary with lots of nice bars and restaurants.  We parked on the town side, just about squeezing into a space in the car park by the bridge, not great parking for ACs on this side of the river though to be fair.  We had a very nice walk out towards the sea along the riverfront promenade, and then up the steep steps to the fisherman’s chapel on the headland above the town.  Great views from up there, and then a very nice walk back into town along the higher path with views and a nice nosy into some of the curious houses along there!  Another quick nosy to the town’s “other” rocky beach, the Playa de la Atalaya, and then a nice drink in town.

After that we were keen to head back to Cantabria as we had one more thing up our sleeves to round off the weekend (after another stop at the AC Area in Puente San Miguel to change waters)…trying out the drive-in cinema in Torrelavega!  We’d been here before in a car, but quite liked the idea of going in Berta, and having our dinner whilst watching a film.  10 euros entry, and Black Panther was the chosen film.  Parking at the back behind the cars we did indeed have our dinner, and got some drinks and popcorn from the kiosk – it was a cool way to watch a film and we’ll do it again for sure.

We then headed for a local overnight, wanting to check out the possibilities of a car park in Cartes we knew of.  Indeed, a great, flat area to sleep at, right in the centre of town with plenty of restaurants and bars.

Day 3

Nearly time to go home, but first a little morning walk around Cartes to stretch the legs!  The picturesque medieval main street lovely and quiet that early, and a nice walk back along the river on the Via Verde del Besaya, the bike path which runs along the river Besaya all the way from Los Corrales de Buelna inland to Suances on the coast.  In Cartes it is just adjacent to the great park with picnic benches (and zip slide!), next to where we had slept – and apparently otters can be seen in the river here, as well as having swimming holes in the river (and outdoor swimming pools right next to where we slept in summer).   We’ll be back to sleep here again, a handy spot to know (and one we’ve added to Park4Night!).