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Home Travel StoriesNorthern Spain 2018

The Sound Of Silence

Spain Day 3 25th May

By Sharon Parker

The weather forecast for today is grim. We however love our surroundings so decide to stay put and explore the local area. There is a monastery near by and although we are told by another camper that it is not very attractive it serves as a destination. 

We purchased some tiny packable rucksacks before this trip and they serve us well to place our waterproofs in as the sky looks ominous. The walk is uphill and our unfit bodies know it. We walk along the side of the road tucking tight in until we suddenly realise there is a footpath on the other side, dooh.

Alongside the path a vibrant red poppy grows. It make me thinks of Diane, my girls' beloved Nan whom we lost just before this trip. Her favourite flowers were poppies. We made paper poppies containing poppy and cornflower seeds to give to her friends and family for her remembrance. When ever I see a poppy now I shall think of her. 

An ornate poppey
Paper poppies in a box and the service of remembrance card from Diane's funeral
A poppy brings forth memories of a true fighter, the beautiful Diane

Monasterio de Santo Toribio de Liébana was founded around the 6th century. It is home of the holy relic the Lígnum Crucis which is reportedly the largest remaining piece of Christ's Cross. The current building is 13th century but it looks somewhat more akin to a Lancashire Cotton Mill despite its heritage. We don't go inside as we are here to walk and admire mountains rather than relics today. 

Public toilets are available and as usual are clean and well maintained. I truly appreciate Spain’s numerous free public toilets. I truly despair that in the UK we have few if any available now and the few that remain are usually vandalised and smelly.

I wander over to a information board and learn there is a hermitage just a short distance further up the road. Ren is not a big walker but agrees to walk on to see the hermitage. We pass a geologists delight. The rock face is striped with many different strata in a variety of colours and what looks like different materials. They are twisted in ways I have never seen before. As we stare in wonder and explore the folds with our hands another couple joins us and we all marvel as to the forces involved to create such folding. 

I learn later via Google that the mountains of the Picos de Europa are almost purely limestone. The limestone was caused by the compression of sediments laid beneath the ocean around 300 million years ago. Periods of uplift thrust the limestone high above sea level, fracturing and folding it due to the great stresses involved. Wow we were actually touching something that was 300 million years old. How truly awesome is that!

We arrive at the end of the road and to the Ermita de San Miguel chapel. It is only tiny, dating I believe from the 13th century and it would appear from the size it is the remains of what would have once been a larger structure. 

A small terracotta roofed building with a tall frontage where bells would have hung
Side view of the tiny chapel with the Picos mountains behind
Ermita de San Miguel set within the glorious backdrop of the Picos de Europa mountains.

From up here the vista is magnificent. Snow capped mountain peaks tower more than 2000 metres above the sheltered verdant valley floor at their base. Scattered throughout the valley are towns and villages including the capital of Liébana, Potes. From here they look like toy towns dwarfed by the sheer size of the Eastern mastiff. 

The town of Potes looks quite small in the foot of the valley between majestic verdant mountains Toy towns 

As the clouds and mists roll by my view is constantly in flux. Jagged peaks appear and then disappear in a game of hide and seek. A bird in a nearby tree bursts into enthusiastic song lending music to the scene. 

Ren continues to chat to the informative and pleasant couple whom we met on the road here but I take a moment to stand apart in awed silence contemplating the raw beauty of the Picos de Europa. For someone who can be a bit of a chatterbox I feel a strange need for silence to engulf me when confronted by mountains. Maybe it's their age, their own remoteness that brings forth this primal need for silence. In mutual respect I reflect back their silence with my own because maybe it is only through silence they can speak. How else can one contemplate the secrets and mysteries of the universe but in silence.  The birth of mountains,  the passing of millennia, the forces required to shape the landscape that lays before me all inspire wonder and wonder requires it's companion, silence.

Tough rocky mountain tops with a sprinkling of snow amidt moving mists at Picos
An ever changing vista. 

I try to imagine living here. I think I would like it, in the summer, but what would it be like here in winter when the snow no longer just resides on the peaks but travels to engulf the valley floor? I would like to see it, I would like to see these mountains in every season, I would love to watch sunsets and sunrises, I guess I am already in love with this place. I already know I would come back in a heartbeat even before I leave. 

As we walk back it begins to rain but no matter we are prepared. The rain is not heavy and stops before we we return to the campsite. We decide on a visit to Fuente Dè and it's famed cable cars. 

The rain returns again, not particularly heavy but enough to require waterproofs. I afford the opportunity whilst being a pillion to have a good look at the scenery. Well I try but the mists however have other ideas. Once at Fuenta Dè the mists still continue to obscure the views. At €17 each to ride the cable cars we decide not to bother, on a day like today ones views would be limited at best. However the public toilets are again on offer for free so time to do battle with the waterproofs.

A cable car gondola can be seen disappearing into the clouds at Fuenta De
Great views..but not today

Next we decide to have a look around Potes itself. The rain stops when we arrive in town so off comes the waterproofs. Historic Potes is a charming town. With the river Deva running through it and lying at the foot of emerald green mountains it has a picture perfect setting.

An old ornate stone bridge crosses a river cut deep between the houses and verandas in Potes
Modern houses sit with old while both look in balance and character to the rest of the town
Who could fail to be charmed by Potes. 

It is a maze of narrow cobbled streets and unique medieval buildings. Due to its strategic position Potes is known to have been occupied since the 8th century and was deemed a city in the 13th century. I really am delighted by this town. It is not all Medieval of course but the new has blended well with the old and nothing jars my senses. 

An ornate and detailed carved stone doorway and hefty wooden door in Potes
A wooden carved and turned doorway and door all painted black at Potes
ancient thin bricks and terracotta clay roof tiles form the character of Potes
Ancient architecture abounds 

On return to the campsite we chat before bedtime to a couple of fellow campers. He is Irish, she Italian. They are both young, attractive and in love. They make me smile as I recall those exuberant days of my own youth. Although I may have lost some of their energy I hope I still have retained my zest for life because after all I have certainly felt very much alive the last few days.


What would you like to see on Bikes And Travels? Bear in mind we are but a humble blog so we can't review the latest trick kit or ride to America to write up our story... Contact ren@bikesandtravels.com

Building Up To EspaƱa In the prologue to their journey Ren can't help but feel that the forthcoming journey might be a costly disaster. Forever the optimist.
Getting Ready For Spain Sharon is determined to be ready, organised and prepared for her forthcoming trip to Spain. However life is even more determined to ruin her plans.
Bodging Daaan Saaaf Ren bears witness to an impossible event. Then there's some last minute bodging to be done.
Motorway Miles And Muses Sharon's derriere proves more than tough enough for the big ride across England. Can she manage to lose them emotional luggage while securing her physical luggage though?
To The Ferry What are the chances of Sharon getting out of bed very early twice in the same week. Well she'd better had otherwise the Muppet's will miss the ferry.
Ocean Blue Sharon's more excited than nervous but this is the first time the Kwakker has been aboard ship. That's if customs let her on board.
Lost Off The Ferry The great adventurer and motorcyclist Ren is proving that he is in fact a useless idiot. He can't ride and he can't find a campsite that is open. Oh what will become of the BAT muppets?
Campsite Conundrum Sharon is having way too much fun while Ren is trying to find a place to sleep. Well someone has to be happy when Ren's such a grump.
Discovering The Picos After a troublesome first day in Spain hopefully Sharon and Ren's luck will improve. Thing is they have a 187km detour to reach their destination. There have been worse detours though.
Heaven's Mirror Putting fear and doubt to bed for a while Sharon enjoys the wondrous ecstasy of nature and the joy of riding a motorcycle through it. Oh and a lot of sharp corners too.
Rain In The Picos Will the rain bring doom and gloom to the already grumpy Ren? Luckily there's enough scenery and interesting things to keep him going.
The Sound Of Silence In spite of a dire weather forecast Sharon's day in Spain is filled with the beauty of nature, fond memories and the creation of great new memories.
Riding to Burgos Is motorcycle touring a non stop stream of excitement, beauty, wonder and exploration? Erm, nope. It's a rather ordinary day on the road to Burgos.
Tin Tin It's both a good and bad day for Sharon as she travels from the delights of the mountains to the grim reality of the city and the rain. At least her hair is looking good.
Higher Than I've Ever Been In spite of the weather forecasts. In spite of no longer being in The Picos. In spite of Ren being a pessimist. In spite of all this it seems Northern Spain has more delights in store.
Magical Kingdom Sharon's having another amazing day riding around Northern Spain. She's on a high, metaphorically and literally.
Boots And Burgos Ren is suffering a footwear malfunction and it's time to go and do that city thing. Can Burgos convert Sharon and Ren into city lovers?
Burgos Bimble Sharon explores the city of Burgos, Spain. Architecture, stone masonry, pilgrims and tempting food. But can a city really endear itself to this country girl?
Lost In Luxury How to turn a fortuitous and splendid day into a nightmare. Just follow Ren and he'll sort the rest out. Still, it could be worse.
Dam Lost Fearing the weather Sharon is braced for a drenching. Thing is the weather isn't really the problem.
Gritty Northern El Bierzo There's time to explore a different part of Northern Spain today. It might not have the beauty of The Picos De Europa it is however a fascinating area.
Blink Of An Eye Sharon has an interesting day poking around north west Spain. There's a something of a shock in store for the evening.
Back To Beauty, Dodgy Caravan It's time for the dynamic muppets to saunter their way back towards the ferry and Ren is in reflective mood. Wonderful scenery, weird accommodation.
Beautiful Potes While going to a now familiar town is hardly intrepid at least it means Ren is calm, chilled out and not lost. For once.
Sun, Sand, Sea And Santander The weather has improved now it's time for the dynamic muppets to head back to the ferry. Ren is intrigued by stories or walking across Northern Spain, will we see "Walks And Travels" or W.A.T.?
The Ferry Home It's the dynamic muppet's last day in Spain so it's time to catch the ferry. A mixture of sadness and relief for Ren, but what about the other riders in the queue?
Final Thoughts On Spain Ren crosses the T's and dots the I's on the Spanish trip.
Home Travel StoriesNorthern Spain 2018 Random Link

Reader's Comments

Ian Soady said :-
Another lovely tale Sharon, and nice to know there's someone else in the world who appreciates strata!

On the trip to the USA I mentioned in another post we were absolutely blown away by some of the rock formations we saw.


09/07/2018 09:39:01 UTC
 

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