Turquoise rivers and a sea of cloud | Asturias, Spain

A short morning drive led us to a little dirt track where we could pull over and start a hike along the Dobra River. It was a crisp morning, the ground was crunching under our feet with a morning frost and the mountains were reflected in the calm waters. We were making our way to Playa Fluvial del Dobra, a sort of wide opening in the river that’s said to be an idyllic spot for a swim. Sadly it was way too cold to consider that but we certainly began to warm up once the sun finally touched our skin. The river was a milky blue colour and at times it cascaded down a series of small waterfalls. We soon arrived at the pool which had tall mountains rising above it and a gushing waterfall to the side. Most of the pool was in the shade but a thin line was a vibrant turquoise colour where the sun was hitting it. As I walked around the back the turquoise area grew and it was such a beautiful sight with steam drifting over the water.

After that lovely little walk we drove alongside the Sellar River, a popular spot for summer canoeists. The scenery around this area was beautiful with big mountains and the emerald river but we were struggling to find a nice spot to pull over and enjoy the view. In the end we turned up a narrow road to the tiny village of Toraño which somehow had a train station, albeit one of the smallest platforms in the world. We could see the mountains straight ahead of us, but with a bunch of train and electricity pylons in front which was a shame. Nonetheless it was a relaxing spot to have our lunch and afterwards we found a much better place to park right beside the river. It was a remote little corner so we decided it was a perfect place to spend the rest of our day.

Considering we were basically at sea level and only about 5km from the sea itself, we assumed we’d have our first warm night above zero. But instead we woke to more frozen windows and a very harsh chill to the air. It was cloudy too which was a rare sight for us in Spain. We set off to the coastal town of Ribadesella and were suddenly in pure sunshine. It was a lovely morning for a little stroll along the waterfront and we noticed a low snaking cloud in the distance, following the cold river valley where we’d woken up. It was Sunday morning and it felt ever so quiet, almost like a ghost town. The town was built around a scenic harbour on an estuary with a pretty beach and a mountain backdrop. Our walk led us to the end of the promontory with a view of the beach opposite and some very interesting beach houses.

We decided to extend our walk and head across the bridge leading to this area of town which had a 1920s beach vibe. These typical style mansion along the beach front are known as Casas De Indianos, a term for Spanish emigrants who travelled to Latin American countries in the 19th and 20th centuries. The ones who became wealthy in the Americas returned back to their village in Asturias, Spain and built these grand houses. They usually planted one or two palm trees in the garden too so there was no room for doubt that the inhabitant was a true Indiano. Some houses were simple blocks painted a bright colour while others were shaped like a classic haunted house in America with towers and twinkly mosaics. It was like a slice of colourful Cuba had been transported to Spain.

After some lunch back at Helga we decided to stroll around the main town looking for an open supermarket on a Sunday. We couldn’t even find a corner shop selling a few bits, they totally shut down! Crazy. The only shop that was open was a bakery which became very popular so I guess everyone just eats bread on Sunday as that’s all that’s on offer.

Later that day we decided to head up a mountain road to a mirador, but the gradient sounded a bit too tough for our campervan so we pulled up halfway along at a wonderful grassy spot where we could camp. We had a mountain view on one side and the sea on the other, and best of all it was warm enough to sit outside and enjoy a gin and tonic, at last.

The next morning we wanted to head up to the mirador itself so we walked the 300m incline up the steep road. Weirdly as we cut down a dirt road we saw a police car with its engine running but no one in the front….hmmm. Seemed very odd to us. We half expected to hear a gunshot or some dodgy mafia situation up the path but luckily that didn’t happen. We should of woken up a smidge earlier as we missed the sunrise which was a shame but the view was amazing! There were layers of jagged mountains ahead of us and to the right the valley was filled with cloud, finally we had a cloud inversion!! Our plan was to hike up a mountain summit and luckily the route headed towards the cloud inversion so we got some fantastic views. We stopped at an abandoned little chapel which was closed off but we managed to climb up a short wall. The inside was covered in graffiti which was a shame but it offered an incredible view of the landscape with little hills protruding out the clouds like islands.

Further up the trail we met some wild horses, bucking and galloping across the hillside. It was our first warm day too and we realised summer would be bloody tough in Spain, we were down to our T-shirt’s and running out of water fast. There was a tap nearby, we assumed coming from a nearby spring but when we asked a local if it was safe to drink he said he didn’t know. The trough beneath had some sort of animal pelvic bone in it which made for a rather unappealing drinking location, but we filled up from the tap anyway, we could add a tablet to treat the water if we needed it.

Mount Pienzu was only 1161m high but we had to climb about 900m to reach it so it ended up being quite a tough hike and to be honest the views from the top weren’t any better than what we had further down. At the top we met a random beagle dog who must’ve just been off exploring and was heading back down to its owner. But thirty minutes later we saw it again, sniffing the grass on its own…with vultures flying above. We figured it was just a typical free roaming Spanish dog and he wasn’t sociable either so we continued on our way and met a guy speaking very fast Spanish. We said we only spoke a little Spanish and for him to slow down so we could understand. He said “PERRO” which we knew meant dog and then we realised the beagle was his! We pointed to the pastures behind us and he ran off, giving a few loud whistles and that’s all it took for the dog to come running down the hill towards him, reunited at last.

We ended up hiking for 8 hours and just had a short period of warm sunshine outside our campervan to enjoy a drink before the air chilled down. The next morning was Craig’s birthday and seeing as we loved yesterday’s hike we decided to head back up to the mirador for sunrise and take breakfast with us. We had some hot coffee, cereal and milk and set up a little blanket on the frozen ground. The scene was very similar to yesterday’s, with a perfect cloud inversion again but the mountains had more of a haze today which caused them to glow a fabulous orange colour. It was a lovely way to start the day.

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