Picos de Europa

Cordiñanes de Valdeón

After we had reached our first destination – Posada de Valdeón – we found the caravan parking and had a look at the village. (43.152339, -4.91765)

We then took the bikes out and first headed in direction of Cain, but found that the road was going very much downhill, so we turned around and cycled instead in the direction of Soto where we found a beautiful path along the river.
We enjoyed a sundowner at a local bar and in the evening a nice lady from the village came to collect the 10,- for parking over night.

Caravan Parking Posada de Valdéon

The next day, we wanted to do the PR 11 from Panderruedas, so we called a cab which took us to the pass for 15 Euros. We first climbed a short way up to a lookout point called Piedrashitas, before we start the hike down into the valley through a beautiful beech forest with the occasional big oak tree. We didn’t meet anybody for most of the way, which took us about 3,5 hours.

View from Piedrashitas
PR 11 Panderruedas – Valdeón
Old oak tree

In the afternoon, we walked down to a small reservoir of the Cares river, but spent the rest of the day relaxing and for the sundowner we went to the same bar again.

Sunset on the peaks around us

The following morning, we left early and drove up to Puerto de Panderruedas, where we had been the day before. It was still foggy in the valley but the view from the pass was spectacular. The parking there would be a good spot to spend the night. (43.124937, -4.981636)

View into the valley of Valdeón

We took the N-625 to Cangas de Onis, which is the road through the “Desifiladero de Los Beyo”, a narrow canyon which makes it a sensational route.

Desifiladero de Los Beyo

We stopped at Cangas de Onis, until 774 the capital of the Kingdom of Asturias and the place where Pelayo died. We walked through the village to the famous bridge with the copy of the cross of Pelayo.

Roman bridge with the famous cross of Pelayo
Roman Bridge
Cangas de Onis
Cangas de Onis

We continued our route to Covadonga until Parking No 4, where we will stay for the night. (43.313729, -5.062353)
But first we put the hiking boots on and walked to the bus stop for the buses to the lakes of Covadonga. The weather was not good and the bus service had stopped due to too much fog in the mountains.
We walked the short distance to Covadonga and had a look at the chapel and the basilica.

Basilica of Santa María la Real of Covadonga

We asked again at the bus stop and they were running again, but we were warned to expect fog. We got on the next bus and drove up the narrow mountain road, something you don’t want to do with a big camper, especially with the oncoming buses. When we reached the lakes we didn’t see anything at all. We later found out that we had passed one of the lakes, we just hadn’t see it in the fog. Nevertheless, we started to hike, first to the old mine and then the PR-2 around the lakes. When we came directly to the waterfront, we could see some water, otherwise we saw just the next couple of metres and heard the bells of the cows grazing up there somewhere in the fog.

PR-2 Lagos de Covadonga
Shepherd’s Hut
Earning my lunch at the mine

When we reached the bus stop again after 2,5 hours, we were soaked and managed to get on a leaving bus which took us down until our parking No 4.

Parking No 4 – 2,- for a day and night

In the evening, we had dinner at the very recommendable restaurant just opposite the parking: Restaurante El Repelao.
We ordered half a cheese plate, which was enormous, Fabada, a very typical bean dish of Asturias and the grandmother’s pan full of potatoes and fried eggs.

Asturian cheese – very delicious
Fabada – beans prepared with sausages and meat

The next day, we worked in the morning until the weather got a little better.
Our next destination was Bulnes, so we drove past Arenas de Cabrales to Poncebos, where we parked as close as possible to the funicular or cable car.  But instead of driving up we took the path through the valley which also the postman took once a week until 2001, as the village still has no connection by road.
We reached Bulnes after 2 hours and enjoyed a bottle of Sidra before we returned. 10 min past Bulnes you would reach a look out point for the famous Uriellu peak, which we skipped as the clouds were hanging low.

The way up to Bulnes
Aren’t they beautiful ?
Picturesque Bulnes
Sidra served by a professional
On the way down

2 km back to Arenas de Cabrales, we reached a big parking which we used for the night. (43.2752 , -4.8338)

Parking between Arenas de Cabrales and Poncebos

We didn’t walk up the Cares canyon, which also starts there. Best to stay overnight at this parking and drive in the morning closer to the funicular and park along the road. We will do that next time.

Next morning, we drove to Arenas de Cabrales, which is famous for its Cabrales cheese. There is a big parking in the centre, where you can stay overnight as well, and just a short walk to a cheese cave.  (43.3019 , -4.8175) We got a view into a small cave and a guided tour in Spanish with a video with English subtitles and some cheese to try at the end.

On the way to Panes, we stopped at the cheese dairy of Vega de Tordín. (43.302949, -4.808624) They offer guided tours and show you the whole process of producing Cabrales cheese, but we just bought some cheese at the shop and drove on.
In Panes we turned right in the direction of Potes, following the river Deva into the Desfiladero de la Hermida, another beautiful canyon through the mountains.

Our first stop was at Lebeña, to visit the pre-Roman Church of Santa María, which has some Mozarabic influences. It was of course closed for lunch. (43.214919, -4.589949)

Santa María de Lebeña
Santa María de Lebeña

We drove on to Potes where we parked behind the Lupa supermarket and strolled into town. (43.1552 , -4.6188) We liked it so much here, that we decided to stay for the night and go out in the evening.

Caravan parking at Potes behind Lupa supermarket
Torre del Infantado
Beautiful Villa
Potes at night
Lively street
Sidra again!
Beautiful food
Potes at night

In the morning we left early to drive to Funte Dé, to get there in time before the parking would fill up. (43.1444 , -4.8118) We were on the first cable-car up to El Cable at 1.847m and walked down from there, past the Avila mountain hotel in 4,5 hours. We had good weather and the route was terrific. At the vast mountain pastures we could watch something thrilling: up to 30 vultures coming in to go down in a spot where we located with the binoculars a dead cow. We watched the spectacle for a while, with a big dog joining them. At the beginning the dog was chasing them away, but just a little later they were on the cadaver again. Sadly we have no foto, as it was too far away for the camera. But that was a quite something to watch!

near El Cable
Aviles pastures
Aviles pastures
Down at the beech forest

After this wonderful day, we left the Picos de Europa and drove to the coast of Cantabria and Asturias.

More about this spectacular coastline in the next post!

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