Picos de Europa

We’ve been wild camping for the past four nights and it’s been amazing! We went back to Santillana del Mar for the night and met an English couple in their motorhome who had a book with all the aires in Spain and Portugal in (hello Brian and Irene) which we promptly ordered. The field we parked next to had just been cut, so there were lots of white storks around.

The next day we headed to the garage and our couchsurfing host Javi kindly met us there to translate to his cousin about our windscreen. We are now booked in for Monday, so fingers crossed.

The drive to the Picos de Europa was incredible – winding roads through stunning gorges with numerous waterfalls along the way. There are over 200 brown bears in the Picos de Europa, so I was constantly on bear-watch. Unfortunately for Sam, this meant I was a little wound up when I went to bed. This resulted in me falling asleep for 30 minutes then screaming and jumping out of bed because I thought a bear was trying to get into the campervan. Sam thought I was screaming that the van was rolling down the hill, so jumped out of bed and threw himself onto the floor to grab the handbrake and foot brake with his hands. I however, saw him launch to the floor and presumed he was hiding from the bear, so jumped top of him and injured him quite badly! Thankfully, the bears did not smell the blood and we were both able to get back to sleep again.

Bear-watch continued the next day when we went on what was meant to be a 3-4 hour hike through the mountains. However, we got incredibly lost, finding bear prints at our most ‘off-piste’ moment, and finally made it back to the road 5.5 hours later. It was worth it for the view at the top though, and we were treated to a vulture display.

What we hadn’t realised was that the final 2km of this ‘circular’ walk was along a winding road that wasn’t really big enough for two vehicles, let alone pedestrians as well. Thankfully, almost as soon as we joined the road, a lovely Spanish lady saw us, did an emergency stop and offered to give us a lift back! What a relief.

We spent a second night in the Picos de Europa before heading to Las Cabadas (just outside of Arenas de Cabrales) for our first bit of climbing. And what an amazing view we had! Had it not been for our climbing guide book, we wouldn’t have gone anywhere near there. For those interested in climbing, I climbed a 4+ and Sam climbed a 5. There were some great routes to get us back into climbing as we haven’t been for ages.

(Above is the parking spot for climbing with the crag at the top left of the photo, below is the track leading back to the road).

We moved onto Cuevas del Mar (just outside of Nueva) for the evening and parked up just by the beach. We had to drive through a cave to get there, but it was worth it. We obviously set a trend, as we had quite a good view in front of us…