On the way to the Picos de Europa

Finally summer, holidays and time to travel with the camper !

Our destination this summer was the north of Spain. Especially the Picos de Europa, an impressive mountain range close to the Atlantic in the provinces of Asturias, Cantabria and Leon.

We left Valencia, knowing that our cats are in the loving hands of little Oliver and his family.

We took the free highway to Sagunt and then turned north west passing Teruel, where we had been before – a very interesting town!

At Calamocha we left the highway and follow the Jiloca River west passing Daroca – worth a visit too, and Catalayud until we reach Soria.

We headed to the Monasterio San Juan de Duero, which is an abandoned monastery which has some impressive arches – but we came at the wrong time and it was closed.
(Parking at the monastery: 41.767793, -2.454069)

Instead we then took a walk along the Duero, one of the most important rivers of Spain. It was a hot and sunny day, and there were many people enjoying it along the river. We reached a bridge, crossed the river and headed down the other shore until we reached an old bridge to cross back.

Duero River next to Soria
Bridge over Duero River at Soria

We drove past Soria and headed to the Embalse de la Cuerda del Pozo, where at Playa Pita we stopped for the night. (Caravan Parking: 41.853247, -2.787091)

We first explore the surroundings before we went for a swim. When all the day visitors were gone, we enjoyed a glass of wine in front of the caravan with the view over the lake.

Embalse de la Cuerda del Pozo
Official Caravan Parking at the lake

During the night a thunderstorm came and in the morning it was foggy, so we did some work on the computer and left when the fog had disappeared.
Past Salas we drove west into Burgos Province with our first stop at Santa Maria de Quintanilla de las Viñas, one of the last surviving Visigoth churches of Spain, and what an impressive one. It is believed to contain the earliest representation of Christ in Spanish religious art as it was probably built in the 7th century.
The church is closed but the reliefs on the outside, especially if you consider their age, are just unbelievable beautiful. (42.124696, -3.472810)

Santa Maria de Quintanilla de las Viñas

In the area are many dino prints to admire, we stop at one and compare the size:

We drive some kilometres back and into the valley of the Arlanza river to reach the abandoned Benedictine monastery of San Pedro de Arlanza. The valley is beautiful and the monastery is closed (we are getting used to that slowly).
(42.049550, -3.466824)

Arlanza valley
Monastery of San Pedro de Arlanza
Colony of vultures in the valley

We reach Covarrubias, where we admired its medieval timber-framed houses. Princess Cristina of Norway, who traveled from Tønsberg to Spain in 1257 to marry Philip of Castile, is buried here.

Entrance to the old town of Covarrubias

We continued our way to Burgos, where we stopped at Decathlon (sports shop) to get one of our bikes repaired. While waiting we found some things at the shop we liked, so the bill increased with the minute. 😉

We prepared a little lunch just at the parking, as the two of us hungry, easily get into a fight, so we better avoid that.
We passed Burgos, which we had visited before, and drove north in direction of  Escalada onto a plateau at over 1,000 masl, with snow poles at the side of the road, and then down into a valley which astounded us.

Rock formations at Orbaneja del Castillo
Orbaneja del Castillo
Orbaneja del Castillo

Orbaneja del Castillo: 42.834212, -3.792147)

It was already getting late, but we drove on until Aguilar de Campoo, where we didn’t choose the official caravan parking but drove to the dam where we parked next to the reservoir, which was 10 meters under its normal level. (Parking: 42.800239, -4.288663)

The next morning, we drove into town and found a parking so we could go to the weekly market. We stocked up on fruits, vegetable, cheese and bread for our time in the mountains. (Parking: 42.791145, -4.266732)

Aguilar de Campoo

We drove west until Guardo and then north into the mountains with the first pass of many to come: Puerto Picones at 1.316m. We passed Portilla de la Reina and drove up to Puerto de Pandetrave – 1.562m – from where we had an impressive view over the Picos de Europa. 

Picos de Europa

We reach Posada de Valdeon after driving about 1.000km in total and are now in the mountains! 
(official caravan parking: 43.152339, -4.91765)

More about this beautiful and so different area of Spain in the next post!

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