Part 2 – Mountains, Kayaks and Trains
Having survived a torrid first day in Spain, we took on the hike through the Cares Gorge which may just be the most beautiful hikes in the Europe. The Cares Gorge hike connects the villages of Caín de Valdeón (Leòn) and Poncebos (Asturias).
This day hike not only connects two picturesque mountain hamlets but also two autonomous regions found in one of Spain’s underrated National Parks, the Picos de Europa.
500 people worked to create the original Route of the Cares from 1916 until 1921, carving the route on the stone with hand tools , and 11 of them lost their lives in this place. Later on during the 40s the route was improved to create the one we have nowadays.
The stunning Cares Gorge hike is around 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) each way and can be completed in a day. Although the route is mostly flat, this epic trek was anything but dull. We absorbed epic viewpoints of limestone peaks while walking through caves and across precariously perched bridges. Along the way, there were many trickling waterfalls and curious goats.
The path doesn’t have many guardrails, so it can be a little mind-boggling to look down at the steep river canyon.
After a brief lunch stop at Caín de Valdeón it was time to go back the same way we came – a 15 mile walk in paradise arriving back just as the skies opened once more.
Cangas de Onis, Covadonga
The following day started off the cooler, wetter weather and we cycled along to our next hotel at Cangas de Onis – famous for its Roman Bridge.
After settling in the hotel we cycled back the road before continuing up to the holy cave where our Lady of Covadonga is revered for appearing to King Pelagius and convinced him to reconquer Spain from the Moors. Unfortunately the weather was unappealing so we did not attempt the full climb up to the lakes at the top of the mountain – much to the relief of some!
The next day was a set for a kayaking adventure. We cycled down the road to Arriondas where after a very quick briefing we were pushed down a ramp into the river. Thus getting us wet from the very beginning. The scenery was simply gorgeous as usual as we drifted and paddled our way down the river towards Ribadasella on the coast. It turned out to be quite hard work on our unaccustomed muscles especially as the water was quite shallow in parts due to the severe drought in the region. I guess we brought them good (rainy) weather for the rest of the holidays!
Onwards to Oviedo and the Coast
Next morning, we caught a train from Arriondas to the major hub of Oviedo but coincided with the end of a music festival. This meant hundreds of young people with back packs, tents etc were all trying to crowd onto the train at the same time as we were trying to get our bikes onboard. After just about squeezing us all in, the train left the station. My heart sank when the lady train conductor saw me and told me I would have to move at the next station. Fortunately, she realised everyone’s predicament and she made a little room for me in the carriage where bikes were supposed to be – now jammed with youths!
Then bizarrely the train ground to a halt at the station before Oviedo where the conductor informed us that we would all have to get on a different train! Fortunately, we were quick on the uptake for a change and jumped onto the next train before the youths so our bikes at least were safely stored for the short ride into Oviedo. At Oviedo we changed onto the twice daily train to Ferrol and suddenly had a huge amount of space as all the youths wandered off into the town.
We had a very peaceful final bit of rail journey out to Cudillero before we cycled uphill to the our hotel before starting our coastal adventure.
Next time, beaches, harbours and surfing…