Day 4 : Lafuenta to Mirador de Santa Catrina and back again
I woke this morning with a song bouncing around in my head. I’d heard it a few weeks ago; It was the theme tune to a TV series about Sunderland Football Club. I’ve no idea why it was in my head this morning but it was and I’ve been humming it all day.
The sun was shining . We were greeted with sunshine and even though my milk had gone bad overnight and curdled in my morning coffee I was nonetheless feeling jolly. Last night I had prepared for our day. Our picnic was in the fridge, the tape for our toes was cut and ready, our bags were packed and instead of toast we had cereal. I even remembered to put a second bottle of milk in the fridge so that we could have cold milk on our cornflakes.
The sun was shining and the swallows flew around our balcony… so many of them on the wing; they almost seemed to be joyful too at summer’s arrival in the mountains. We had breakfast outside and watched them swoop and fly overhead and we got to see the tops of the mountains that have previously been shrouded in mist. Oh it was a beautiful morning.
We made ready. We made good time. We were off again to Lafuenta but today we were walking towards Potes, with lots of ups and downs en route! It was also forecast to be hot today but this never worried us as we set off. It was sunny… that’s all we cared!
As we drove I thought of all my friends across the Atlantic Ocean in the USA… Happy 4th one and all!
I miss walking with pilgrims and making friends that you feel like you’ve known a lifetime. I hummed to myself… O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light… but I don’t know the rest of the words and also another song jumped into my head which seemed way more fitting! Gerry laughed as I played it and said he was thinking of me all dressed up in my crinolines… I was Ado Annie! He’s seen the photos from Oklahoma! I loved that show!
On we drove, turning off the road as we had yesterday. Up and up towards the blue blue skies. The same old lady that yesterday was walking upwards was today sat on a bench in the shade and she smiled as we drove by. Onwards to the valley and Lafuenta. Thankfully today we knew where we could park and where the trail started.
Suncream applied, bags checked and mask at the ready. We set off. Up and up at first and then things levelled. There are still fields and fields of wild flowers but today we also spotted Eringium, which is one of Gerry’s favourite flowers. These were really bright purply blue and they were everywhere along the path. We oohed and aahed and decided that we should try to grow some at home.
We crossed a cattle grid which always makes me nervous. I’ve seen a few videos of this section and I know there are cows. But I’m in a jolly mood so nothing can spoil my day. That is until there are cows. Lots of cows. Horned beasts with babies. Me and Gerry went through the usual routine… I’m not going… yes you are… nope… it will be fine… nope… stay close to me… nope… this usually lasts for about a minute before I calm down and realise I have to go. However, Gerry decided that there really was no walking through these because there were several cows and several babies and even he wasn’t keen on walking in between them. Instead he decided that we had to climb up, off the path and skirt around them. Yeah… right. No really he exclaimed! And we did. I cursed the entire time and tried to focus on not falling off the side of the hill but we did get around them.
Back on the trail and I sighed with relief. See, Gerry exclaimed… I kept you safe… mmm I replied. Onwards with more fabulous views and lots more Eringium, the path is blue with them, there really are that many. We meandered, I took photos and we admired the view. We stopped to watch more eagles and bearded vultures flying high above on the thermals. These birds are enormous, even from where we stood we could see they were huge.
I hummed that song again. Gerry said it was odd because he had woken up with it playing in his head too. It’s melancholic but not sad. Just a beautiful song. We played it and continued walking along the trail watching the men cutting hay way below us and just enjoying the beauty of this walk.
Cicera was below and we planned to stop for some refreshments. We turned a corner and blow me there were more beasts! Gerry scoffed as they were only sheep. It’s fine he said. They’ll move. They didn’t be we did. You know that expression a wolf in sheep’s clothing… well from amongst the heard came the wolf and he was not a happy doggy! Let me tell you I ran… Gerry was going to try and reason with the nice doggy but he gnarled his teeth some more and barked very loudly and Gerry took no further persuading.
So there we stood. Not quite sure what to do. I wasn’t going back to the cows and we couldn’t go back to the wolf (who was still barking at us even though we’d run so far away he couldn’t see us!). I remembered seeing a yellow marker a little earlier, it looked like it might be a path down to the village so we decided to try it. Wolfie must have seen us move and started furiously barking again… I didn’t look back and we scrambled down and down through the rough grass and stones. I could hear his barks getting closer. There was a gate. Open it I called to Gerry! Open the gate! Open the GATE! and we were through… Ronnie Barker (as Gerry called him) was on the other side and we were safe.
As we walked into the village I said to Gerry… you know those Eringiums… they’re blinkin prickly arent they. He nodded and laughed.
We found a seat in a bar and ordered cold drinks. We’re familiar now with the same routine; masks, gel, wipes and straws. Under the shade of a big old pear tree, watching more swallows scoop and fly around us we decided that we should make a plan B. It was really hot and already mid-day. Cicera is surrounded by walking trails so we decided that rather than walk up the big hill in the heat of the afternoon, we’d take one of the local trails and make a circle back on the road back to our car.
Perfect. We enjoyed our drinks and happy with our plan, we set off for a hermitage a few kilometres from the village. As we walked we could hear Ronnie Barker off again and wondered if some poor walker had just been chased off too. Did we mention it was hot? I had my hair cut very very short a few weeks ago and I don’t think that my neck has seen the sun in years. We stopped and applied lots more sun cream and watched the farmers all around us cutting their hay. There were a few using tractors but more than half seemed to be cutting by hand. Everywhere we looked the fields were full of workers. Such a bucolic scene in such majestic surroundings.
After the hermitage we decided to wander up to a nearby village as we spotted a church higher up on the hill above us; they usually have a seat and shade. And on this perfect day it did. We kicked off our shoes and sat on the cold stone bench in perfectly cool shade and watched the farmers below working in the hot sun. I’d made tuna sandwiches and boiled eggs and Gerry decided that I’d accidentally made us a Salad Nicoise.
We sat and watched and I think Mr S might have even closed his eyes for a minute or two. After a while he told me to get out my phone… the poet was back!
When they’re making hay
You could watch all day
I reminded him that he’d had his eyes closed! He said he was thinking not sleeping.
We could have stayed but there was nothing for it but to pack up and move on… there were still several kilometres to be walked today. Before heading back to Lafuenta we decided to walk to the the Mirador de Santa Catalina. Gerry said the view would be worth the climb and it was only 1.6 kilometres. He never mentioned that they were all steep up and that we were going up from 300m to 800m in 1.6 kilometres! Oh my word! It was hot! We walked up through the forest and every so often there were statues of goblins and trolls and flying monsters… enough to terrify a small child, The only good thing was that they gave us a chance to pause and look and catch our breath.
Up and up we went until we finally reached the top. I was about to moan at the choice of walks but then we saw the view. The village was a dot in the distant valley and all around were the mountains and valleys of this area of the magnificent Picos. The mighty birds of prey circled above and below, making huge sweeps and dives and flying back up again. WOW! You could see everywhere…. and we could even see the road we had to take to get back to our car… and the hills around Lafuenta… which looked an awful long way!
A group of motorcyclists arrived; no walking for them and no masks either. Too many people for us so we decided it was time to leave. Down and down through the forest and back to the road. Gosh by now it was really hot. We marched on stopping in the shade of every tree that lined the road. Onwards and upwards until finally we could see our car.
Cows and sheep and crazy dogs and the searing heat of the July sun couldn’t spoil my day. Glorious!
p.s. Swallows everywhere but Amazon? That’s a bit of a red herring… we had an email from them today to say our new garden chairs were arriving.