My image of northern Spain consisted of a combination of hills, dry, sunny and hot. To be fair, I knew it could also be quite spooky on the north coast in August, but I didn’t want that and I didn’t imagine much more.
Now here, the landscape and weather turn out to be hugely varied. Behind every hilltop it can look different. The stage to Casa de Cascades we couldn’t stop talking about the beautiful rocks that seemd to sit loose on top of the hills.
The climb was followed by a barren dusty descent. A big desolate void with a village in the middle where we wanted to do some shopping. Unfortunately the supermarket was open only on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Fortunately, apart from bread, the bakery also had a few tins so we didn’t have to starve, and at the cafe down the road they had divine sweet ommelet with the coffee – local speciality – which unfortunately we haven’t come across since.
We are in Castilla y Leon. The churches here have medieval-style turrets. Very different from the Basque country where the churches have a kind of freestanding bell-gables. We sometimes felt as if we were cycling through a game of Carcassonne.
Topped by the chapel and cascade in Tobera in a narrow gorge with a swarm of vultures above. The church door is closed but with your camera through the cat flap you can see that there are beautiful paintings in the choir.
Meanwhile, the temperature had dropped from 43.5 degrees C to a pleasant 28 degrees, entirely in line with expectations.
In Ona, we seek shelter but it is still party time in Spain. Everything is full.
We visit the monastery, wait for the shops to open (it takes some getting used to such a siesta from 14-17h) and cycle on in search of a place in the wild. This is not allowed here, so our demands are high. Over 10km further on, we find a kind of dry riverbed with big pebbles where we can really stand out of sight.
The next day we get a whole new landscape. We climb up to Posa de la Sal – yes indeed salt was mined here in the 17th-18th centuries. 2 million years ago this was nl sea.
At the top, we enter a plateau with agricultural fields. Looking for a place to have lunch, we find 2 picnic tables by a small pond. There is a campervan with two very elderly English birdwatchers who make us a cup of tea.🥰
We turn right towards a narrow valley. We had thought we could spend the night in a casa rural, but that turned out not to be the case. The nice ladies on the terrace phoned the next village, no luck there either. But we were allowed to pitch in the field down the road.
That field turns out to be next to a playground – not our favourite – but it also has a nice little stream we can wash in and there is no one there. So we stay. Unfortunately, alas, the party has to be celebrated. First groups of children turn up to play – was to be expected – around 8pm all the families from the village come to walk their dogs and then: the disco starts only to stop at 7am the next morning!
Somewhat grocky we pack up our tent. It has started to rain a bit and it is no more than 14 degrees. In the first 10km downhill we take our rain suit on and off twice as the valley gets more and more spectacular. High shooting rocks with big holes in them. At one point, there is even a swing in them (unfortunately no photo of it). Insane!
As we climb out of the valley, we are presented with a Grand Canyon-like view.
At the top of the climb, we suddenly encounter a very modernly designed museum (?!) with a meagre little bar opposite. We are wet so we go inside for coffee and a sandwich. Looking out of the window, we see a huge sign advertising the (profits of the) oil industry. If we look closely, we also see a stationary yeshiva (more will follow later).
Warmed up, we cycle onto an almost desert-like plateau (all the grain has been harvested and furthermore we see only a spiny bush here and there). We see a table mountain. Do we have to go all the way there?
After about 10 kilometres we turn off into a crevasse. The brisk crosswind here becomes a fierce gusty headwind. Oscar can only just hold the handlebars at times. I am terrified. And then suddenly we are at the bottom. Heathland on the right, arable land on the left, beautifully green.
We end the day at a campsite by an almost empty waterreservoir. More on that later.
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