1

Aug

2017

Covadonga

1st August 2017

In the final installation of my trio of posts on my trip to Asturias, I herein recollect the Monday of my visit (the 17th of July), where Kevin put me on a bus to a place called Cangas de Onís. This seemed like quite a sleepy town, and we headed into the centre to have a pincho and relax in the sun a little – with a quick detour to get some suncream as I’d burned whilst in Gijón.

Cangas de Onís seemed like a very quaint and beautiful place, however Kevin was keen to show me a certain Roman bridge. Whilst heading for it I didn’t expect to stumble upon what presented itself to us – it was magnificent, with a fairytale background to boot.

My first look at the bridge

My first look at the bridge

A view with the mountainous background

A view with the mountainous background

After quite a while gazing in awe at the awesome views, we scooted round the back of a restaurant at the other side of the river and climbed up and over the bridge. Whilst up there we were met with yet more breathtaking sights…

Heading upwards

Heading upwards

The mountains seen from the bridge

Seen from the top of the bridge

A final look through

A final look through

After this we headed back to the bus station to board yet another bus up to see “the lakes”. I had no idea what this meant or what we were going to go and do, rather I just assumed it’d be a few pretty lakes with a gift shop. Once the bus began to climb what felt like the side of a mountain however, I soon realised we were headed somewhere special.

The bus journey was probably the most terrifying non-airborne trip I’ve ever taken! Looking out of the window we might as well have been on an airplane, as we’d ascended high towards the heavens such that we could look over the layers of clouds below. The bus had to traverse a menacingly narrow single-track road cut into the perilously steep and windy cliffs, with the most unsettling moments being as we turned sharp corners and the front corners of the bus were thrust out to hang over the edge of the cliff itself.

Terrifying.

After dicing with death for about half an hour, we eventually made it unscathed to a car park which sat cradled amongst beautiful green mountains. It turned out that we’d been transported to an area of outstanding natural beauty, and we were about to do quite a lot of climbing and walking in the relentless heat – with my burned legs I was not best pleased…

Our trek begins

Our trek begins

I soon forgot about the burning in my calfs however, as the amazing scenery I found myself wandering through provided ample distraction. What felt like miles above all civilisation, there was nothing to distract us but the occasional hiker and the melodic sounding of cowbells from the herds below.

A forgotten path

A forgotten path

After a wander through a defunct mine and yet more upward slopes, we found ourselves surrounded by another herd of cows, and I wound up taking some photos which I think sit amongst the best I’ve ever taken.

Some amazing views

Some amazing views

Eventually one of the promised lakes came into view, at the side of which sat a restaurant which provided a welcome break and a sandwich to refuel. Me being me, I had to take a selfie which has probably the prettiest background of any selfie I’ve managed to take ever…

The hills are alive

The hills are alive

The cows having lunch with us

The cows having lunch with us

Layers and layers of mountains

Layers and layers of mountains

After lunch and a refill of my trusty water bottle, we once again headed upwards to a spot called mirador entrelagos – literally meaning “viewpoint between lakes”. The vantage point lived up to its name, offering a breathtaking 360° view over two of the stunning lakes.

From there we began to descend quite rapidly towards the second lake, where a few cows had gathered for a spot of paddling in the refreshingly cool water. I wrapped my camera strap around my wrist, nearly took a plunge down a precarious little slope, and joined them by the waterside. Here I took some more breathtaking photos, and I’ll leave you with my favourite few here.

Taking a drink

Taking a drink

Over the lake

Over the lake

I made a friend

I made a friend

Old friends take a dip

Old friends take a dip

We then turned and headed back to the car park to grab a bus back down the death path (I swear it was worse on the way back down), having completed our circular walk around the lakes and mountains of Asturias. It was a shame to leave the stunning views, but I was relieved to take the weight off my feet and get out of the sun – and then Kevin reveals that we’ve one last stop to make.

We hopped off the bus before it arrived back at Cangas de Onís, as Kevin wanted to show me another small town. Having noticed a mythical-looking church high in the trees on our way up to the lakes, I wondered if that was where we were headed, and sure enough I stepped off the bus to be greeted by this awesome sight:

Spires rise above the trees

Spires rise above the trees

Before we headed up to investigate the seemingly magical place further, Kevin led me first to a cave cut high into the rock of one of the cliffs. Standing precariously above a pool of water and shrouded by the mysterious scent of incense, Kevin explained how it was a religious site and place of pilgrimage for many christians in Spain.

The chapel cave in the cliff

The chapel cave in the cliff

Before we headed up, Kevin instructed that we were to walk around the pool to a natural spring towards its rear. With five spouts from which water flowed, I was told I had to drink once from each and then I would be bound to return to this place again. I did so, topped up my water bottle, and then we headed up the steps into the cave itself.

The font

The font

Visiting the cave was a surreal experience, as it held a tiny chapel and bench seating for daily masses. Photography isn’t allowed up in the cave, however I did manage to catch a photo of that mysterious chapel from the high angle of the steps to the cave.

A shock of red amongst the green

A shock of red amongst the green

After leaving the cave via another exit, we were soon headed towards the chapel. We had a wander round its exterior and I took way too many photos of the greenery to even begin sorting which ones to upload here, so I’ll just leave you with a couple of the church and its surroundings.

A view from the cathedral

Looking out from the cathedral

An imposing sight

An imposing sight

After this we headed back down to the bus after a rather long day of exploring rural Asturias. Exhausting as it may have been however, I had a phenomenal time having my breath taken away at seemingly every turn. Kevin had once again proven his mettle as a tour guide and host, and that evening we had a well deserved relaxing dinner near his flat back in Oviedo.

As this rounds off my time spent in the wonderful place that is Asturias, I have to once again thank Kevin and his family for their hospitality and making me feel right at home during my first visit to the north of Spain (well, except Barcelona, but as a huge easterly city it doesn’t really count). I shall definitely be back again…