Nobody said it was easy It’s such a shame for us to part Nobody said it was easy No one ever said it would be this hard Oh, take me back to the start
In many ways we can blame Rick Stein. Almost 9 years ago to the day the BBC aired Rick Stein’s Spain. The programme promised Rick driving his chum’s rather clapped out camper van, embarking on a culinary journey laced with history, literature and stunning photography through Spain. Gerry loves Rick Stein and after watching this series he was hooked. I knew and loved Andalucia from my first visits in the early 1980’s but apart from a few visits to the Costa’s and Barcelona we didn’t really know any other part of this country.
Day 9 : Fuente Dé towards Portilla de la Reina and back
A few years ago I attended a Professional Singers Retreat in Marbella and it was an amazing experience, learning alongside 14 hugely talented people. At the end of the course we were asked to learn a song which we then performed at the end of the course, but just for our own benefit and not an audience. It was this song that was in my head this morning.
I don’t have a video of us singing it ‘properly’… but I have footage of our impromptu acapela version on the last evening after a few glasses of wine. We sang this in a restaurant and after we were asked for an encore and a round of Happy Birthday for one the the diners. It was the perfect song choice for today’s hike up to Fuente De.
Day 8 : Portilla de la Reina enroute to Fuente De and back
We’re going on a bear hunt. We’re going to catch a big one. What a beautiful day! We’re not scared. We can’t go over it. We can’t go under it. Oh no! We’ve got to go through it!
I never told Gerry why this thought jumped into my head as we set off today; I saved that news until we’d made it safely back to the car. Thankfully we never saw the bears that live in these mountains and we never had to go through the mountain either.
Last night we decided that we should plan our last few days here in Spain. The Lebaniego Camino has ended and in it’s place we have the Camino Vadiniense.
With the rise in popularity of medieval pilgrims visiting the Monestario de Santo Toribio de Liébana, the route from the Northern Camino often became a gateway for the onward journey to Santiago de Compostela. Today hundreds of pilgrims continue to walk from San Vicente. The Vadinian Route through the Picos de Europa is said to be one of the oldest routes to Santiago de Compostela. The name is a tribute to the vadinienses people who inhabited the area in pre-Roman times and in particular from the 1st to 5th century AD. The camino begins as the Lebaniego in San Vicente de la Barquera and passes through Cantabria, crossing the mountains and on towards Riaño, Cistierna and Mansilla de las Mulas, just outside Leon on the Camino Frances and 327 km from Santiago.
I felt so much better after a good sleep yesterday the afternoon. Gerry reckons that I had a touch of heat stroke from the previous day in the sun. He googled it as I slept. He said he had been a tad concerned when we were walking up the mountain because I’d gone pale and was sweating a great deal (apparently these are common symptoms of heat stroke) whereas normally I go red faced and not so sweaty (he’s such a charmer)! Thankfully I felt fine after a cool shower and a sleep and well enough to make us a lovely chicken dinner which shall be forever known as Cantabrian stew.
Honestly, I have to say that I was mighty pleased to get back our our mountain home yesterday. Gosh it had been a hot walk back to the car; I felt a little out of sorts from that hot sun for the rest of the evening and I probably should have made more effort to cool down at home. It was a really beautiful walk but we’d been foolish to not cover our heads; we know better than this! I normally always carry a cotton scarf and when we know it’s going to be hot we take UV umbrellas. It was a lesson learned for today!
Also, unfortunately Gerry stood in dog poop as he parked up yesterday, twice! So he had the really unpleasant task of washing his shoes before dinner. And if that wasn’t bad enough we spent a while hunting down a particularly terrible smell in the kitchen; one of our eggs had cracked and gone rotten. Oh my word! The smell was awful and no amount of fresh air could totally clear it! Thankfully we can laugh about it all now!
Sometime in the middle of the night Gerry leapt out of bed and rushed to the front door. On went the lights and he checked from room to room. What are you doing? I asked… I heard the door open he replied. He still says that he heard someone open our door but hands up who thinks that maybe he was dreaming?
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.
You know some days you wake up and nothing feels quite right? Your morning tea doesn’t taste as it should, the shower is a bit too cold, the heating too warm, the toaster doesn’t work and things just aren’t quite as sunny? This was my morning. Some folks would say that “I got out the wrong side of the bed” or even that “I was just plain grumpy” but the simple truth was that I was feeling out of sorts.
I made our picnic and we packed our bags and made ready for the day with very little chit chat… I’m guessing Gerry sensed it was for the best. We left later than we intended and headed off back down the road to find the start of today’s walk. As with yesterday we knew that there was a long drive ahead and I was more than a little apprehensive as I’d seen the road on google maps and it looked high and very very bendy… thinking back perhaps this was why I was out of sorts… I knew what was coming!
Typical of my morning, just as we got to the steep section google announced that the GPS signal was lost so it was just us and the road… but as there was only one road we assumed we should just keep going. Up and up we drove, switching left and switching right and wishing and hoping that no other car or tractor came from the other direction. The road was steep and narrow and our poor little car barely left second gear. We passed an old lady bent over her stick, strolling up the hill… a few hundred metres further up we saw a chap trying to catch a calf that had escaped his pasture and was stuck on a ledge beside the road; Gerry wondered if the old lady was the support team coming to help. But we’ll never know as we carried on higher and higher until the road opened up into a valley and instead of mountains and rocks we had fields and high pastures.
Day 2 : Barrio Basieda to San Vicente de la Barquera to somewhere after Serdio… and back again
Like all good pilgrims we set our alarm for an early start. We had breakfast at 7:00am and made ready for the day. There is a certain comfort in this camino routine… taping our toes, checking our packs, sorting water. There were though a few extras today… making a picnic, filling a flask, checking for masks, wipes, drinking straws and hand gel.
We set off before 8:00 but when planning our to and fro camino we hadn’t really considered how difficult the drive would be back to the coast. It’s beautiful but the speed limit is 40km and you’d be lucky to reach that most of the time… lots of bends and turns and curves. It took us an hour and a half to reach San Vicente… so we need to maybe consider this when planning our daily walks.