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From Portugal to the Picos de Europa

Leaving at 1100 on Saturday 20 April en route for the Picos we’ll lose a hour as we cross back into Spain, so it’a already midday! Looking for a main road across the border to speed us into the mountains we drive along the N-75 passing austere buildings of large granite blocks, with modern ones in the same style but built from faced breezeblocks. Before leaving Portugal, we make a food shop stop and stock up on Douro wines as well as port at the Chaves l’Eclerc. Hoping fuel is cheaper in Spain, we still have plenty to get us over the border.

We cross into Spain early afternoon on the A-6 motorway then drive parallel with the border on the A-52, stopping for a late lunch and fuel mid-afternoon at Vilavella on the A-52. Passing through the Tunal da Gandia the deserted motorway has no tolls and crosses over several viaducts. There’s lots of wind farms in the heather moorland with scrubby trees as we search for a good place to stop. It’s still early in the season and some sites don’t open until May but we eventually find Área de Autocaravanas ‘La Era’ beside the N-625 at Verdiago. The site is still being developed and only opened last year. There’s a rather poor app. you have to use to gain entry but it’s run by a lovely friendly, helpful couple who responded to our phonecall to let us in, gave us a bottle of wine when we arrived and provided helpful ideas about routes around the Picos. Having found such an excellent site, nestled in a valley on the edge of the Picos, we decided to stay for two nights to explore tomorrow without having to seek out another overnight stop. Today’s drive, having lost an hour and becoming a bit stressful in trying to find an overnight stop, was still 353 km.

Bev had planned an over-ambitious route for the Picos tours by van on Sunday and Monday! On Sunday morning, 21 April, we set out hoping to do the route we’ve never done before from Cangas de Onís. Enjoying the drive along the excellent N-625 Puerte de Pontón route from Riaño, we crossed the magnificent dam and passed into the Sajambre valley. We marvelled again at the Desfiladero de Boyes, which we’ve visited before in the car several years ago. At one of the miradors, we met a couple of Spanish guys enjoying a ride on their Harleys. Apart from a road closure which we noticed on the sat-nav. for the Cangas road, the planned route would be far too long given the winding roads and opportunities for stopping at the many ‘miradors’. We turned back at the Túnel del Regaldin but took a detour to take the ‘there and back’ road to Posada de Valdeón. This area is certainly worth a longer visit, with a good campsite at the head of the valley. We cooked supper in the van after an enjoyable evening stroll along the river where Steve spotted several bolted climbing routes. The Sunday round trip was 159 km. We leave for the ferry port at Bilbao tomorrow . . .