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Picos de Europa #2: last day on the road

We depart the excellent campsite ‘la Era’ at 1115, Monday 22 April, intending to head for the ferry port at Bilbao as an overnight stop but using the day to take the alternative route along the N-621 after the Raiña dam to Puerto de San Glorio. At first, we’re a bit disappointed, the scenery is less dramatic, being conglomerate with planted forestry rather than limestone. The weather is also deteriorating as we look north to cloudy mountains and the sea in the distance. Continuing up the winding road to the summit we stop for lunch just above the Mirador del Corzo (statue of a roe deer). There’s abundant fields of wild daffodils and gentian as the clouds begin to lift leaving a lovely hazy light. It’s pretty cold though, ten degrees or less with wind chill. From the summit there’s an excellent winding downhill road to Potes, uphill being another classic cycling climb and regular feature in the Vuelta a España. Potes is very touristy with shops full of tat, hostels and restaurants/bars. We didn’t stop long, just bought a baguette and biscuits as provisions for the ferry trip!

As we continue down the N-621 the landscape changes again and as we approach the Desfiladero de la Hermida the sat nav. warns of long delays due to roadworks. The delays were not insignificant, but provided an amazing opportunity to watch the massive engineering works to widen this dramatic road high above the river below with a cantilevered second lane hanging out over the gorge. The works involved several single track sections and we could take the time to marvel both at the engineering feats cnd challenges for planners, civil engineers and workers as well as the spectacular rock formations. We finally left the N-621 to join the A-8 towards Santander/Bilbao but were undecided about staying at the port since the ferry doesn’t leave until 1300.

After a couple of forays up and down the coast between Zierbena, west of Bilbao where the ferry port is and the outskirts of Santander, we finally park up at a lay-by beside a deserted beach and closed, somewhat derelict-looking campsite at Barrio Oriñón. Making supper in the van rather than patronising one of the local rather run-down restaurants, we decide to treat ourselves to restaurant meals on the ferry tomorrow.