We arrived in Cullderio on Sunday evening ( 30th June) after a prolonged battle into the wind from Luarca, lots of big tacks! As we approached the harbour mouth and slipped past the very narrow entrance round the breakwater, we saw that there was a carnival going on, we could see funfair rides set up and lights and music. there were flares, or rockets being shot off, it was all very lively after Coming in from the sea. We rowed ashore and caught the last of it for that evening, there were stages set up with bands and singers, dodgums and inflatable bouncy rides and all this was happening on the pier and in the tiny little village which twisted steeply down to the sea.
We spent the next two days there. Monday it transpired was also a festival day, and local holiday. The weather had closed in a bit. It was calm but misty and muggy.
Wednesday (3rd July) we caught the bus early to head to the Picos de Europa mountains. The busses were frequent and cheap, we took 4 to get to Arenas, a village just on the edge of the National Park of the Picos where we camped (in our new special 29Euro tent). Very nice campsite, we had a good meal there and wine, very cheap and friendly staff.
The next morning we headed up to Poncebos, (200m alt) where we were to start our trip into the mountains from. We had packed as lightly as possible, but we had tent, sleeping bags, jetboil, gas, food, water etc with us so bags reasonably heavy and by now it was very hot. The sky cleared as we approached the start of our walk, and we could see for the fist time the impressive mountains.
We headed off on what ended up being a 4 day trek. We walked up to a little village called Bulnes, and then on up a very steep route towards a refuge (Refugio Urriellu 1960m). We stopped to camp for the night on a little level where the path took a bend, there were some tumble down old buildings like shielings. Ahead of us was scree and rock up to the refugio so this was last chance of a spot to stop , unless we wanted to camp right outside the refugio (which would have been possible) we were at 1324 m by now and had been walking all day in the heat of the very strong sun. The sun went down behind the hill we were on and we looked across the pass to the other side where we could see people and horses walking out from the refugio now it was cooler in the evening.
It was at the campsite the night before that I realised that the only camera we took with us had switched on in its bag and was now completely dead, so I thought I had really better do some drawing, I have put put the pages of my sketchbook here on this post.
We left early next morning (5th) to avoid the heat for the first couple of hours, got up to the col where the refugio is, right below an impressive isolated buttress of Vertical rock called Naranjo de Bulnes. We bought a v expensive can of coke from the refugio, and headed on over the next route we were to follow towards another refugio (“Caberones ” – called J.R. Lueje on the map, 2024m) This way was also steep, there was a lot of snow pack left, more than usual at this time of year. We got to the refugio Caberones at about lunchtime. We pitched our tent on the only available spot of grass exposed (rather sloping) and carried on up towards the highest peak in picos. (La Torre Cerreu 2650m) . We went with two other walkers we had met that day, Lizzy and Joe who were just about to start jobs in Edinburgh and Glasgow as recent medical graduates. We left our big bags and took just a light bag on up – what bliss , the sun was still fearfully hot although we were mostly walking in snow by now.
We got up to within 300 old meters of the top, but the guy at the refugio had said that there would be too much snow. It was good condition but without axes or crampons, we couldn’t really continue on that gradient.
We ate with the others at the refugio that night and watched chamois and their babies bounding about in the snow in the evening.
Following day we started down, on a new route. We branched of the path that would have taken us back round to Bulnes, which was well defined with sections of fixed ropes on the steep sections. The route we then took was marked as a “way” rather than a path ( it was an ancient route through the mountains which would have been used before the gorge path was constructed in early 1900s to service the hydro waterway they built then. ) We looked over a ridge to a breathtakingly steep slope, and we decided to gingerly start down. The gradient was pretty continuos, we made steady progress in the heat. We watched golden eagles soar above us, and on the scree on the way down I found one of their feathers. That night when we had lost all our height, we camped by the cool river.
Stiff legs next day! (7th July) we walked along the well used gorge walk to Cain. This was a very dramatic route too, although the going was a lot easier, the path was, in places carved out of the cliff face and in other places tunnelled through , with drops of 300 or 400 meters to the river below. We could see our route from the day before also , rising above us. We walked to Cain a little old village, had a coffee and then back the 10k or so along the gorge pathto Poncebos. We saw very friendly goats on the way, who were confident enough to come up and lick us while we were having lunch!
We hitched down to Arenas , we got a lift from, a guy from Madrid, who was so enthusiastic about the route we had just done , he insisted (all in spanish) that we opened the ice box he had in the back and open the bottle of stuff which was like balies irish cream, and have some. He went out of his was to deliver us to the campsite and gave us the bottle!
We headed back to Hestur the next day (8th July) , all was well aboard.
We have now come west again along the coast, we are in Luacra again at the mo, but there is such a thick fog over the sea, our visibility was down to just 15 m at times yesterday. Still like that today, not so inspiring to carry on till it lifts, but not sure when that will happen. We are just making our plans now.
Hey Charlotte – your trip is sounding very enviable indeed!!!! and i think it was good that your camera went blank – great mountain drawings – good diary toooo!!! have lots o fun are off for around the world?? xx