DRIVING MOUNTAIN ROADS WITH SPANISH DRIVERS
Trip Start Oct 05, 2009
325Trip End Oct 31, 2013
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We spent the next two days exploring the different areas of the Picos de Europa- literally the Peaks of Europe and Sheila drove those high narrow roads that twisted and curled around impossible edges and tight corners and we both expressed awe and excitement at the rugged beauty of these mountains that we had never heard of until we arrived in Spain.
We had read in Lonely Planet that the N625 that follows the River Sella upstream, through salmon fishing country is one of the most extraordinary 'defiles' in Europe "Desfiladero de los Beyos" and that the road is a remarkable feat of engineering. Defile is the gorge or gap between mountainous rocks where roads are wedged into tiny cracks and we thought rely on drivers to be extremely alert and cautious.
We stopped frequently to let the formula one drivers pass and to admire the beautiful scenery- we did not see any salmon fighting their way upstream but admired the skill of the sheep and goats feeding off the steep rises.
We followed N625 to Oseja de Sajambre had a coffee at this tiny town and then backtracked to the intersection where we turned into the road across to the Pongos National park which was not much more than a goats track and we noticed fallen rocks on the road, along the way and we were happy to reach Baleno and AS 261 to Sames.
There are a lot of hiking tracks around here but not for us today. The 120km round trip had been a thrilling adventure with spectacular scenery!
Dinner in Cangas de Onis that night was not too exciting; we walked around the town but the cold night air and maybe the fact that it was only 10pm meant the town was still quiet. So we drove back to our hotel.
The weather seems to be turning cold and the Holy Week forecast is indicating that beaches will not be busy.
Sunday saw us back on the road through the fabulous Picos de Europa again for a 200km round trip through tortuously narrow mountain roads (why mention it-it’s to be expected) to the gorgeous little village of Potes and the outstanding destination of Fuente De.
Potes has a population of 1500 people but is overrun with tourists in the summer and today with Holy week holidays started, the town was very busy. It is a cute town of cobbled lanes, a running creek and lots of bars and restaurants. We were happy with our choice of cafe for lunch and had a plate of pickled anchovies and fried tiny green peppers washed down with a freezing cold beer.
Fuente De- what can you say about this place? The 20km road trip from Potes is so gorgeous with a backdrop of snowy mountain peaks you drive by little towns, green pastures and bubbling creeks.
Fuente De at an altitude of over 1000m sits below the steep rock wall of Macizo Central and today with clear skies and afternoon sunshine we are blessed with a stunning spectacle. We did not ride the Cable car which gets you 800 metres to the top of the wall where you can go trekking; we just ogled the monster from below. Another special surprise!
This national park is really spectacular and driving it is the way to go even though you feel wary of the Spanish drivers who seem to have no fear at passing on bends and narrow ways-they are used to it maybe. We were happy that the last of the snow was still visible on the far peaks and it looked dramatic against the blue sky.
Don’t miss it if you are travelling the north coast of Spain.
Our stay in this village of Intriago was delightful and the people at the rural hotel very friendly and hospitable; breakfast was generous and plentiful.