29th July 2014: The Cares Gorge

We set the alarm last night for the first time this holiday and rose at 7.00. The walk we planned today is a busy one so we wanted to make an early start. However, we couldn’t move the camper van from the campsite until 8.00. As soon as we could, we drove the hour and a quarter around the Picos de Europa massif to Puente Poncebos, the start of the Cares Gorge trail. The trail was constructed by an electric company in the 1940s to maintain a hydroelectric canal that runs high along the gorge.

We managed to find somewhere to park the van and set off up the trail. After about 10 minutes, John remembered we’d left his wallet in the van and had to run back down the hill to get it. While I waited, sitting on the rocks, it got much busier and lots of people began to make their way up the trail. John was soon back and we set off quite steeply and quickly up hill. After half an hour or so, we’d passed most people and the trail, thankfully, was much quieter.

The morning started cloudy but the sun began to break through intermittently so it was warm. There was also a breeze, which was particularly welcome on the uphill sections. Overall, perfect weather for walking. The gorge was stunning. The Cares River was far away at the bottom and we only saw it intermittently until we reached the end of the trail. The canal was sometimes above us between a wall and the rock face, at other times below us, and often in tunnels through the mountain. As we walked deeper into the gorge, the path was cut into the rock face, and sometimes tunnelled through the rock.

After about 3 hours, we reached Cain at the far end of the gorge. We found a taberna for lunch, where we enjoyed the local cuisine and the company of the 17 year old taberna cat, who looked like a small Millie.

After lunch we retraced our steps, seeing the beautiful views from another angle. The goats had come down or up from the hillsides to sample the tourists’ lunches. We also saw a snake, which we think may have been a slow worm, and a lizard, which was about 12 inches long.

We arrived back at the van very hot and sweaty so we changed into our swimming gear, took a bottle of iced water and two Magnums from the freezer, and went down to the river. I just paddled but John swam in the icy water… for all of two minutes!

We plan to take a cable car up the mountains tomorrow so it’ll be another early start and, hopefully, another excellent day.

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