Saturday 21 April 2018

Mountain walk

Saturday 21 April 2018 - Day 48

We’re still at Entragu.  It filled up with quite a few smaller campervans last night, many of whom were up this morning ready to go cycling, climbing or walking.  The mountain bike hire place next to us was doing a busy trade too.  Despite the increase in numbers and the Spanish habit of staying up late (unlike us, tucked up in bed with a good book by 2130!) it was very quiet last night.  When I walked down to the panaderia this morning though, there were few people about.  The door was closed but the lady baker was about to open and I was the first customer.  The bread was a bit heavy (maybe yesterdays?) but the empanada was excellent. She showed me a choice of chorizo, tuna and tomato and dulce (sweet) - I bought the chorizo.  You can see the size of it from the photo below, with my phone alongside it!  We took half on our walk and will enjoy the remainder for breakfast tomorrow.  Switching on my phone, I had a text and email for a Mon SAR (Anglesey Search & Rescue) team call out ‘heads-up’, with the possibility of helping Coastguard Search and Rescue to find a missing person.  I responded as unavailable and had a message around midday that they’d been stood down.  I’m looking forward to getting back and continuing my training to become a qualified Search Technician for this excellent voluntary organisation.

There was high cloud today so the sunshine was hazy, but it was still warm.  This was ideal as we had a walk planned.  There are some well-marked trails and today we were following one up to Cueva Huerta, which would take us up the mountain to not far off the fast-receding snow line.  We packed half the empanada, two oranges and a couple of water bottles.  I also carried a small first aid kit, an orange survival bag (old habits die hard) and a walking pole to wave at any grumpy dogs.  The first part of the walk took us to the village of San Martin, bigger than Entragu and buzzier - plenty of cafes, bars and restaurants.  We carried on and were soon walking along a dedicated path, about the size of a single track road, passing through old forest and pastures with cattle, sheep and goats, lulled by the lovely sound of cow bells.  On the way up, Cathy was ‘plopped’ on by a bird - when I stopped laughing I kindly wiped it off!  We walked through the village of Las Vegas (much quieter and smaller than its American cousin!) and reached the beautiful hamlet of Riellu.  We walked past very old wooden houses with the customary covered balcony, some of it open to sit out in summer, some enclosed with long narrow windows for the cold, snowy winters.  A few old chaps were out gardening in wooden clogs and it really did feel like we’d stepped back in time.  After this the path started to climb.  The last 2km were quite tough, up a steep, narrow path, occasionally blocked by fallen trees.  But we carried on and eventually topped out on a wider, more level path, with the snow line above us and some lovely old shepherd’s huts in the pasture.  The path dropped a little and we passed through a tunnel in the mountain to reach some picnic tables at Cuervo Huerta.  There are a large number of accessible caves in this area and tickets were available, but we were content to sit at one of the tables and eat our welcome empanada and orange lunch.  We decided to follow the winding road back down to avoid the steep descent and rejoined the path back in Riellu.  It was then just a matter of retracing our route back through San Martin (where I jealously watched people enjoying a beer sat outside the bars!) to Entragu and the van.  We walked just under 18km, about 13 miles, much of it steeply uphill, so we’re quite chuffed with that.

A cup of tea went down very quickly and I prepared and cooked some chicken on our gas BBQ, while Cathy boiled some new potatoes and made a salad.  The silence as we ate was testament to our hunger and, after washing up, the shower was very welcome.  We sat outside in the warm until 1900, when we had a phone call from the owners of a house sit we’d applied for in France.  We had a quick chat with her, so we now have a house sit to look forward to next month - about a week in a converted water mill near Limousin, looking after 2 ponies, 2 cats, 2 chickens, a dog called Freddie and a cockerel called Dave!  It’s in an area surrounded by lakes so some wild swimming may be on the cards, plus we’ll help out by doing some gardening for them.  We hope their large swimming pool will be available too!  It’ll give us a welcome break from the van and then allow us about a week to slowly make our way back up to Calais at the end of May.

It’s still quite busy here on the car park, with lots of small campervans, mainly young families with small children.  It’s lovely to see them all go off cycling or hill walking, with even the little ones wearing their own rucksacks - start ‘em young!  We’re just about re-hydrated after a few cups of tea and I suspect we’ll sleep well tonight after the walk.  We’re moving on tomorrow, probably staying inland to another mountain area deep in the Picos de Europa region.  The weather’s looking a bit changeable - showers and possible thunderstorms - but it’s the same at the coast, so we’ll go with our plan.

They like their empanadas large around here!

A doer-upper.  Beautiful wooden balconies



Outside dhoby shack

Old houses in Riellu

Horreo - traditional grain stores, off the ground to keep vermin at bay

The last 2km were steep

Topping out near the snow line - lovely old shepherd's hut

Lunch with a view

Riellu from the road

Eaten in silence - we were hungry!

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