Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Back to base and a catchup.

After Cares Gorge we returned to Cangas for a another night before planning our trip back to home via a dozen stopover locations to research for Club Motorhome.

5 days later and we arrived back at our base, unloaded and parked the motorhome back in its secure storage all ready for our next trip in about 6 weeks - MOT and service time in the UK, Oh well.... one has to pay for the pleasure eventually! :)

PHOTO Map showing general route and the majority of the stops we made during the trip.

Conclusions? Galicia is STUNNING! Asturias less so but still lovely - the northern coastline is not a patch of the western Galician coast. The Asturias does however have the Picos de Europa which are magnificent - especially on clear days when you can see them! All in our humble opinion anyway :)

Right, where's the maps? Which way shall we head to the UK? Planning has started!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Cares Gorge

Day 24 - 8th June

The car park filled rapidly as the daytrippers arrived for the cable car rides so we moved across the road to the day parking area to not get in folks' way. Once we'd walked Digger and breakfasted etc we set off to the start of the Cares Gorge which is renowned for its spectacular walking.

The place was busy with parked cars and we only managed to find somewhere by a lot of manouvering, including reversing through a tunnel, and squeezing up against some guard rails at the side of the road.

PHOTO Parked at Cares Gorge

We spent the next couple of hours walking some of the path. In total its 12kms long and then 12 back so we only did a bit of it. We had thought we would be meandering along the River Cares but no, the walk is a succession of steep inclines and by the end I'd certainly had enough, but again the scenery was worth the effort.

PHOTOS Cares Gorge

After our walk we headed back to Cangas again - its a useful base when in these parts.

Picos de Europa

Day 23 - 7th June

We had the co-ordinates of a potential wildcamping spot on the other side of the mountains so we set off to see what it was like.

The roads were predictably winding and the drop offs were predictably BIG but the views en-route were well worth the slow pace dodging oncoming vehicles of all shapes and sizes. The scenery of the Picos is something special, our route followed a gorge through parts of the mountains. I think Caroline got a better view than me though as I had to watch where we were going a bit!

We reached a fabulous lake and found the spot, it was a little near the road for our liking but would have been a lovely place to overnight.

PHOTO Lakeside parking

We moved on though as it was still relatively early and we knew of a parking place by a cable car station further on. When we arrived we were disappointed to see no motorhomes overnight signposted :(. I took Digger for a walk and realised that we were in the car park next to a Parador and the cable car was across the road. There was another motorhome already parked up but I couldn't see anyone in it to ask. I called in at the little shop and asked if it was OK to stay overnight? - No problem was the reply.

We parked up and settled in - beer poured and feet up! Then spoke to the other English couple with the other motorhome. They were desperately seeking some sunshine in Spain following a wet holiday in Scotland last year. They only got off the ferry the day before and had spent a very expensive night in a campsite so far. They were seriously considering bolting for Barcelona to find the sun!? We told them about our trip so far and that it would be a lot nearer to go back to some of the places we had been.

Another English van came in and looked around then disappeared. I later saw that it had chosen to go and park in the prohibited area - great for the reputation of responsible motorhomers! (probably the type to moan when they get fined by the Guardia).

Another day in Cangas

Day 22 - 6th June

The weather was still shrouding the mountains around us in cloud so we decided to stay where we were for another day.

Great views are only great if you can see them!

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Circus Comes to Town

Day 21 - 5th of June

Waking around 9am Caroline said that she could hear lots of different animal sounds outside - I asked her if she was still dreaming? Taking Digger out I was surprised to see, around the car park, ponies, donkeys, highland cattle, a lama and a camel...... the Circus had moved in during the night.

PHOTO Circus

We thought we would get some more admin done today so decided to stay put until tomorrow when we'll venture into the mountains.

Digger got a good walk to the edge of town and back. This town really comes to life on a Sunday, loads of pavement cafes and restaurants catering for lunchtime needs - fantastic smells as you walk by.

By 5 o'clock the dodgems have started up again but we're confident it will go quiet again at a reasonable hour......

As its Sunday we have our usual paella and despite the limited space it cooks up OK!

Back to town

Day 20 - 4th of June

Digger had a restless night and seemed a little nervous of the local cow's clonking bells, he wasn't too impressed when he saw them close up in a field yesterday.

PHOTO Cows and Bull

We found him curled up in the footwells rather than his usual bed space under the table - he is a funny chap!

Another morning walk on the deserted beach before breakfast (the surfers seem to be later risers than us) then we made plans for the day.

PHOTO Surfers still asleep

We needed some essential laundry doing but rather than find a campsite just for that Caro used the shower tray as a big bowl and did some handwashing to see us through, we reckon we have another couple of weeks before we'll be home. Now needing fresh water and to empty wastes we decided to return to the service point at Cangas de Onis to replenish  and empty our tanks.

Leaving this beautiful beach location we again inched our way through the access hole in the rock and got on our way via a Mercadona at Arriondas to stock up on provisions too.

Settled back onto the Aire at Cangas de Onis we got our jobs done and went for a walk along the rushing river that goes through the town, its signposted to be a salmon area so we were hoping to see one or two leaping up river - apparently not today though. Digger waded into the river at a calm stretch and cooled himself down.

We walked back through the town centre to find some wifi. There was a bar with a wifi sign up and the kind lady said that we could take Digger in with us. Returning with our laptop we settled down with a beer to upload some blog. The beer was good but the wifi just wouldn't accept a connection so we finished our drinks and left to find somewhere else. The tourist Office was open and told us of a particular street that is a free wifi zone so we headed there.

Another bar and another kind lady who let us take Digger inside, more beer and success this time so the blog got uploaded, Digger curled out fast asleep under the table - he really is a great 'pub dog'! A great bar, not unlike an English pub so we spent a lot of the afternoon there - hic!

There was a bit of a fiesta feel about the town and a fairground belted out some techno stuff from the dodgems until late but all went quiet just before midnight so we all got a good night's sleep.

PHOTO Fun on the dodgems

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Another lazy day....

Day 19 - 3rd of June

What a place to wake up! Another gorgeous location, again with no one on the beach. I took Digger out first thing for a run on the sand which he really enjoyed - he does that puppy mad few moments when he will run madly in all directions with the apparent intent of colliding with something/someone any minute! Absolute madness but lovely to watch him having such a great time, he's certainly seen some changes in the last few months.

PHOTO Digger Madness

Back at the motorhome we had breakfast and decided that we would definitely stay another night, meaning that today would be a lazy one - perhaps with a little housekeeping thrown in.

The cove is busy with daytime visitors and its obvious why, the place is beautiful (did I already say that?). When the tide is out its possible to access another part of the beach by the large rock formation known as the drinking horse. A young family in a Czech motorhome took advantage of the seclusion to bare all and just have a nice time on the beach.

PHOTO The Drinking Horse

At the time of writing this its mid/late afternoon and there's not much housework been done! Who cares? - this is a holiday after all :) The Guardia Civil have been and gone and are obviously not bothered with sensible motorhome parking. No one is abusing the site, it was great to see some youngsters who arrived in their surfer's vans yesterday, to enjoy last evening here tidy up after themselves - every one of them took their rubbish to the bins as they left.

Some more photos to sum up the day and the location:

PHOTOS of Playa de Cuevas Del Mar

Still no wifi so the blog will not get uploaded yet.......

Always up for a challenge (or several)

Day 18 - 2nd of June

We decide to go back up to finish exploring this part of the coast and search for the, so far, elusive quiet bay to overnight at.

Arriving at some known co-ordinates we found it unfriendly to motorhomes so we squeezed an about turn and left Playa de Vega behind. Wanting to hug the coastline we ignored TomTom and turned in where we saw a solitary motorhome parked in a campsite, as we were getting near to needing laundry services we found the entrance to the campsite to ask about its facilities. Establishing that it would cost us 22 Euros for one night we again about turned and tried further along the coast at San Pedro. Great parking area but sadly behind 2 metre barriers so we had a quick walk round and moved on, squeezing across a very narrow bridge with aonly a couple of inches to spare at the sides.

As we sped along decent roads but away from the coast Caroline pointed out that there were many signs pointing to individual beaches and that maybe we should just pick one and go for it...... Playa de Cuerres came up and we turned in, before long the road became single track and then more of a cart track then when it looked like becoming a foot track I gave in and reversed very carefully out with only inches clearance from stone walls either side. After a while I was able to turn round and we headed back to the main road, Caroline said she would keep her suggestions to herself from then on :)

Our next port of call was Ribadesella which is quite a smart seaside town. We did see one motorhome in a car park but it was really too busy to crowd in as well. Coming out of the town we again squeezed along tiny streets made even worse by the ridiculous parking of the Spanish, Caroline hung out the window to offer advice as we just crept through the gaps.

Determined to find somewhere we again turned off towards a beach, the road looking to be sensible this time. We saw a motorhome parked at the roadside in the distance but thought it was too far from the beach. We then found out why it had gone no further - access to the beach was through a hole in the rock lower than his roof. As we were a little lower and with Caroline walking infront I squeezed under the rock very slowly hoping to not remove any roof fittings.

Photo - Hole in rock entrance

Success! And the reward was to park up in a lovely little sheltered cove - Playa de Cuevas Del Mar it was and what a lovely find too!

A restful day

Day 17 - 1st of June

We decided to stay put today and explore the town. Cangas de Onis is at the side of the Picos de Europa mountains and is a thriving, touristy, but interesting town dating back to Roman times with some lovely old buildings, loads of shops, cafes and restaurants. Keen to try some local cider we stopped at a pavement cafe for lunch.

PHOTO Roman bridge

The cider was served in a bottle, but that was inside a plastic statue thing which dispensed the contents into a glass (held by the statue thing's hand) from a height when a button was pressed at the back of its head - completely naff, but the cider was OK - after a few mouthfuls anyway. We had a bocadillo each and the lot came to 10 Euros, so not bad for a tourist town!

After a restful afternoon of writing up our blog (but again not uploading yet) followed by an Asturian dinner of artisan cheese, jabali sausage (wild boar) washed down with a couple of glasses of local cider - from a proper bottle this time :). We mulled over the options for the next day over a bundle of information provided by the Tourist Office - back to the coast or up into the mountains?

Are we nearly there yet?

Day 16 Tuesday 31st May

Woken early to the sound of a grounds maintenance crew going about their business of cutting the grass of the hospital grounds next door to us we got up a little earlier than normal and were pleased to see that the weather was brightening a little. After breakfast we made use of the services (always best to when you can!) and set off for our next Aire along the coast.

An hour or so later we pulled off the main road to get nearer to the sea to search out a bit of suitable parking. We stumbled across a beautiful little rocky cove at A Corida which would be ideal for overnighting, at least out of season, and stayed for lunch and a walk, knowing that we only had an hour or two to get to our destination for the day.


Back on the road we eventually found the campsite/aire at Santa Maria Del Mar only to find it was shut and then that it only opened at weekends - brilliant! Never mind, there was another Aire less than an hour away. Our PDA that runs our TomTom switched itself off unhelpfully and would not reset. Eventually it came back to life but showed us driving about 100 metres to one side of the road we were actually on! Another reset and it seemed better although the graphics became sluggish and difficult to relate to.

After struggling with TomTom's directions we squeezed down some tiny roads and arrived at Aviles, or the Aire behind the restaurant by the hospital. This one is on a grass pitch which despite assurances seemed to offer the possibility of getting bogged down with the damp weather, so we moved on again.

An hour or so later and a little inland we arrived at the Aire at El Entrego, a car park in a scruffy edge of town location surrounded by flats. Oh joy! The designated motorhome spaces were blocked by parked cars so with all things considered we moved on again.....

TomTom was still being a pain with slow responses but we made our way out of town heading for our next option a couple of hours away! We climbed out of the town gaining altitude quickly on a twisty hairpinned road that although two way would have been impossible to pass 2 vehicles, no crash barriers and serious drop offs to boot! The rain started again which dampened our spirits further.

On and on we went, up, round, down, round, up again - maybe an hour later we came out onto a reasonable road so were able to improve our pace a bit and ticked off the kilometres to the next Aire at Cangas de Onis eventually arriving at about 10pm.

After a quick chat with another English couple (a rare site on this trip) we had home cooked MacBurgers and went to bed.

Going East

Day 15 Monday 30th May

The weather was a little better in the morning, but as I walked Digger I noticed more of the grubbiness of the area, the next car park had 3 decaying cars parked in one corner, a track we walked along was strewn with the remains of previous nights out (!) and some boy racer was making a pratt of himself skidding his (or maybe not his?) car up and down the gravel - no wonder our new Spanish acquaintance Miguel had recommended not overnighting here.

The service point was good though so we filled and emptied as required and set off into the city to the point Miguel had told us that was better to stay at. He was right, a busy area on the clifftops by the Tower of Hercules but its where we will happily stay next time we're in the area.

Although we hadn't travelled far time was getting on so we lunched here and then set off for our next destination further along the coast, Cedeiro Port.

We drove along the coast road as much as possible and both felt that this northern coastline was not a patch on the western side with its coves and beaches and when we arrived at Cedeiro Port we parked near another motorhome and went off for a wander. The place seemed quite picturesque with boats moored out in the estuary but just had a down at heel feel to it, coupled with the traffic hurtling up and down the port road on noisy cobblestones we decided to move on again.

We knew of an Aire an hour or so along the coast at Burela so headed there. En-route the rain started and the clouds descended to make the area look even more bleak and when we pulled into Burela we found the Aire which was adjacent to a hospital and otherwise surrounded by excavations and building works - oh well you have to take the rough with the smooth....

We walked around the town in the drizzle, saw the scruffy port and wandered back. We turned in early with the background scent of damp dog!


Day 14 Sunday 29th May

What a fantastic place to be when the blinds are opened!

I took Digger for a run on the beach - him not me :) and there was only one other person about even though it was after 9.

PHOTO Beach in the morning

We had a leisurely breakfast (as always these days) and went for another walk along the rocky headland to where there is a memorial cross at the end. The seascape from here is just stunning!

Back at the motorhome we made ready and set TomTom for the next location, a possible nightstop but as it was still early we just pulled in for a look at a lovely little port.

Driving along this coastline just takes in one bay after another, beautiful wite beaches and because of the superb weather the sea is as turquoise as could be. Caroline said that she wished I would take her somewhere nice..... she was definitely joking!

We pressed on and travelled miles off the beaten track towards a headland and ended up at a very isolated lighthouse where we had lunch and let Digger off his lead for a run... He must have got the scent of rabbits because he was off instantly in pursuit, all but disappearing into the distance. This used to worry us when we first took him on but we have gained confidence in that this is just what he does and comes back when he's had enough - or thinks we might have wandered off without him!

PHOTO Lighthouse

It was pretty bleak at the lighthouse so we moved on again and decided to get back onto some main roads to get to a known Aire and nightstop a couple of hours away. We were looking forward to staying this Aire as it was billed as being a bit special.

En-route it started to rain but as this was only the second time we'd had any since we left home we didn't mind at all. As we approached our destination at La Coruna TomTom directed us past some refineries and heavy industry and with only a kilometre or so to go we found it hard to believe that we were nearly at our stop. We were then directed along some ever narrowing and rough lanes until we arrived at some gypo camp! Abandoned and part dismantled vans scattered about with overflowing bins in abundance and we only had a few hundered metres to go! We decided to go no further and reversed our way back until we could turn around.

We tried to put the co-ordinates in again but the route kept coming up the same so we tried the road name and that gave us a clue or at least a slightly different route, a little later we saw a sign and arrived where we were supposed to be.

Hardly special but a proper area to nightstop. The area to park is steeply sloping and looking out to sea.... past a grotty (closed) restaurant/bar and little industrial port. The air is heavy with the stink of the local refineries. I have to admit that the declining weather conditions did not help with the overall impression of the place.

At least the sun appeared as it set on the horizon.

PHOTO Sunset

As it is Sunday paella (something of a tradition with us) is on our menu and as Caro rightly deserved a break from the cooking I did the prep and cooking instead, she did the washing up though.......

Back to the wilds

Day 13 Saturday 28th May

When we used the services before setting off we chatted to a Spanish motorhomer, Miguel. He gave us some more GPS co-ordinates to explore. One of the best things about being on the road is meeting complete strangers who share the same motorhoming interests and they quickly become friends.

We headed out to the coast agin and found an idyllic beachside location to stay overnight, we arrived in the early afternoon which was good because lots of cars arrived afterwards with visitors to this fantastic beach.


As sunset fell the cars all disappeared to leave us alone to enjoy the spot. We watched the sunset and then had a late dinner before turning in for the night.

PHOTO Sunset

At about 3am Digger gave a couple of muffled barks which woke us up. Caroline could hear movement behind our motorhome so we turned on a light and I got up to investigate. Not too much of a drama as it was only a couple of fishermen unloading some buoys from their car. Well done Digger anyway!