Road Trip In The Northern Spain, Part III
Updated: Nov 29, 2022
With Asturias we learned it could be either a good fog or a bad one. You can't choose it, it chooses you.
From San Vicente de La Barquera we drove by the coastal road, making a first quick stop at Playa de La Fuentes. After discovering it was full of people we headed to our next road break. It happened to be La Casa Azul which I spotted on our way by its big inviting letters, a bistro and a big "corbatas" shop. Unquera village located on the border with Asturias is considered to be a home of traditional Cantabrian puff pastry. It was impossible to resist a cup of coffee with freshly baked crispy "corbatas".
This was a good note for crossing the border of Asturias. A place that I had in mind for a while was El Fitu viewpoint with a panoramic perspective of surrounding mountains. That's where we headed for the sunset route. On the way up, passing Caravia municipality, I was smitten away by the views through the window of our car but on our arrival to El Fitu we submerged into a dense cloud with very little visibility. What a disappointment! But we rushed down to Caravia and made 2 stops snapping the last light over the hazy mountains.
The day faded fast. By the time we found our overnight parking it was already dark and our dinner cooking had to be done with the help of the headlamps. In the parking we were surrounded by other camper vans and pets travelling with their owners who showed their curiosity for the smell of our food. In the early morning, while still being quite sleepy, I vaguely remember how we moved the car to Ribadesella parking where we continued our morning sleep for a bit more. Yes, this was the first morning without shooting!
This day we dedicated to lazy walk in the town. First, a quick visit to the beach, which we left pretty quickly due to the crowd factor. A late morning breakfast in the terrace of Nerian Salón de Té energized us to wonder around just until the lunch time. With our itinerary being flexible we got seduced by a kayaking tour by the river Sella and booked it for the next day and for the remainder of the day we decided to try luck with sunset at El Fitu once again. Driving through Caravia one more time, getting excited about the views and arriving to the viewpoint we faced another obstacle. Apart from the visibility there was a long line to get to the top! Seeing the slow movement of the line and knowing the time of the golden hour was coming close, there was no way we'd stay waiting and potentially miss the sunset. With a bit of exploring we found another spot from where I could observe the panoramic views not any worse than from the main viewpoint. Asturias showed its moody side once again, with elusive light and clouds persistently closing in. It was certainly a good idea to skip the line!
Our yet another spontaneous decision was to stay in the mountains overnight with some hopes to witness an interesting sunrise. We were not the only travellers who took this decision and the recreational space on a hill quickly filled up with other camper vans. Closer to the morning, sleeping in our car, we started hearing the dripping and windy sounds from outside. A quick thought crossed my mind, we were in the cloud once again. Which meant no sunrise ! I stepped out to verify my suspicions and was greeted by a gang of cows staring at me. Dense cloud was covering the mountain area and weather forecast predicted rain for all day, including the coastal area. Needless to say, our excitement to enjoy the kayaking experience was ruined.
A shift of plans had to be made quickly and we decided to pass the rainy time in the tour to the cider mill. To note, Asturias is home to more than 80 cider mills with a big chunk of them located in Villaviciosa. There are several of the big ones that organize guided tours 2-3 times a day and it's only a matter of a call to book the visit. We managed to book a slot at Castañon. Our brunch stop was at Meson de Les Ruedes, before our visit to the cider mill.
After time spent learning about Asturian preparation of cider, we were to pick our next destination. Cudillero it was, a fishermen village which sparked my curiosity some time ago through the photographs of Daniel Kordan.
Upon arrival to Cudillero we didn't find a shooting weather either, although I located my strategic spots in the first evening. Two days in a row the sky was covered by inexpressive greyish clouds without a slightest hint of sun peeking through. Walks around the village, seeing the impact of the pandemic on local businesses outside of the touristic area, all this left me with mixed feelings about the semi-paralyzed world. While contemplating over the village we continuously returned to Casa Julio for our lunches or dinners as we found their staff very friendly and helpful and food - delicious.
On a third day we scouted potential locations for our future road trip on a Galician side, having a sneak peek at As Catedrais and Ilha Pancha. Returning back to Asturian side we were caught in the rain again but nonetheless decided to check on the Campiechu beach (Asturian pronunciation) and witnessed its dramatic beauty.
Somehow it gave me some faint hopes to capture at least one colorful sunset in this area and we made our mind to spend one more night near Cudillero. I headed to a viewpoint spot saved to my photographic locations map, set up my camera on a tripod and waited. And finally, my persistence was rewarded!
With this happy moment there was also a realization of our road trip coming to an end.
Our last walk to the beach, to breathe in the air of coastal Asturias, and deciding on the return route. We got determined to take our last overnight stop in Riaño in Leon province which we briefly visited earlier in July, and the road we chose was A-66 - N-630 via the Pajares village.
Not very far from Pajares village Asturias made us another moody gift, with dramatic light over mountain layers that left me speechless.
Within 10-15 minutes of driving forward from this spot, we entered Leon province - suddenly we were facing clear blue skies and Asturias moody magic was left behind.
We arrived in Riaño at the very last minutes of the sunset and I had to run uphill to the viewpoint to capture this fading light.
There was still one morning remaining, and no doubt I wasn't going to miss the sunrise.
This time I took advantage of the drone with me and made some aerial shots. Despite the clouds covering the mountain peaks, the scene was still a joy to my eyes.
By the time I completed my shooting at the viewpoint, morning sportsmen started appearing. I smiled and continued my way down the hill. To take a full advantage of this morning, we also stopped at "the most beautiful bench of Leon province". Yes, there is even a board sign saying that and the place is appearing with this name on Google maps!
After such a fulfilling morning we only needed to grab our last lunch in El Meson and continue our road back to Madrid.
Things we had on this trip:
Our lovely Dacia Lodgy (temporarily adapted to be our camper van)
Park4Night app (to look for camper van parking spots)
Camping cooking utensils
Light My Fire Sporks
Respect for the environment