As we left the Basque Country, we had high hopes for what was coming up. There’s not much of a plan but we we were very excited about the province of Asturias after reading a really good blog about it. First we’d be going through the province of Cantabria though.
First up we stopped at the Castillo de Butron, an elaborate but disused fairytale castle. It was rebuilt as a hobby and ornament in the 19th century. There were only 2 very tiny entrances and none were opened so all we could do was admire it from outside.
Santillana del Mar is a picturesque little village that reminded me a lot of San Gimignano in Italy, well preserved and beautiful but very touristic. We’re early in the season so it wasn’t busy though.
Then we hit our first beach at the Playa de Prellezo, first of many to come. It was extremely windy there though and still a bit chilly.
When looking for a less windy spot to spend the night, we chanced down tiny forest road. Always a risk to do that with the van, so we walked it first and spotted the perfect place. I think that was the best campspot we’ve ever stayed at so far. A view of the hills, snowy mountains of the Picos de Europa and a beach, while the sun came into the back of the van!
The next day we headed to the renown Picos de Europa national park. It felt like the Pyrenees to be honest, very impressive mountains surround you everywhere. We went to the little village of Sotres, where it was so peaceful the only sound you really hear are the bells of the cows grazing on the hills.
It’s not always easy to find an awesome camping spot, so after Sotres we headed down and ended up next to a little graveyard. Though luckily no ghosts were seen that night by Jolien when she had to pee after dark.
The next day we had some chores to do; laundry, find a shower, do shopping. The town of Cangas de Onis had all that to offer, but we’re struggling a bit with this Spanish concept of opening times and siesta. We end up waiting for hours for places to open again after we find out they just closed 5 minutes ago at 2pm. We drove to Covadonga to spend some of that time waiting, but that turned out a bit disappointing. It’s a place of religious pilgrimage, which can be a bit hit or miss in my experience. Covadonga had very little going for it unless you’re into religious souvenirs and places that supposedly enlighten you. The cathedral looked really nice from a distance though.
When we had all our chores done we headed to the coast again, and we started to experience one of the best aspects of traveling with a van: you can stay somewhere really late (and get up early but that’s a bit harder for us most of the time) and see things in the perfect golden light. Gulpiyuri beach turned out to be overcrowded for the size, but the walk along the coast from there was great at that time.
Next we went to Playa de Huelga, a little further down. We’d seen it as the cover photo on a very nice Asturias region tourist brochure we received in Cangas. After some searching I finally found out what that beach with the beautiful arch was. It was a really cool place, little paths along the coast, an abandoned beach house, ruins, an amazing view on the arch. We wanted to camp there but it was either too hairy to drive the van down or very clearly forbidden, so we moved on to a safer spot through the app we were recommended earlier.
We managed to get up early(-ish) the next morning and made it back down to Huelga in time to photograph with the morning light. The arch looks even better with the sunlight rising from the east.
The best part though, was the tiny Playa de la Canalina. It’s hardly a beach: it’s a very steep gorge, only 6 meters wide with little fishing cranes on the edges of the cliffs, and crazy enough a staircase that runs down. You see the arch line up in the opening of the gorge as you walk down to sea level. Truly amazing!
We went on, passing through Nueva, with some typical Asturian sights crossing our lenses: colorful, charming old houses and a Spanish license-built “Santana” Land Rover.
We made a bit more distance, generally we skip past big cities, but we had a picnic in the hills above Oviedo, next to the Sanctuary of Naranco.
Another majestic beach we visited that evening was the Playa Del Silencio. It was most impressive from the viewpoint right above, the beach itself has big, big pebbles and is hard to walk and capture when you’re down there.
Our campspot was by the lighthouse of Cape Busto. The shore was impressive but the light had faded a bit too much. I was almost getting overloaded on gorgoues sunset-bathed beaches by then, if that’s even possible!
And that was that for Asturias, Galicia and probably Portugal are up next!