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DrCarlos Jun 28th, 2009 06:49 AM

What are the best ocean drives of northern Spain?
I will be spending 2 weeks in Northern Spain next spring. I plan to fly into Santiago de Compostela and depart from San Sebastian.

I am not a beach person but would enjoy scenic drives along the ocean. Also, quaint ocean side towns would be a plus.

Costa Verde, Costa Vasca and the area around Coto Redondo all seem to get good reviews. Please, what are your suggestions?

ribeirasacra Jun 28th, 2009 07:15 AM

The north coast of Spain does not have a costal road as like in California…. at times the main road is someway inland and you have to turn off on those small unmarked roads to find the coast.
You talk about several Coastal areas…The Mirador de Coto Redondo is near Pontevedra and is in the “wrong” direction to the way you are planning to travel.
The Costa Verde as I understand it I the whole of the coast from Galicia right through to the Basque country.
This link will tell you more about the area.

zeppole Jun 28th, 2009 07:20 AM

I very much enjoyed my rides along the coast heading near San Sebastian. Immediately heading out of San Sebastian past Monte Igueldo there is very beautiful coastline, worth stopping the car to get out and walk part of the way. Beyond Hendaye, across the French border, the coastline is also very lovely.

zeppole Jun 28th, 2009 07:22 AM

walksntalks Jun 28th, 2009 08:15 AM

I like coastal towns like Gijón, Llanes and Tazones in Asturias and Santander, San Vicente and Santoña in Cantabria. Gijón and Santander are proper town, the others are charming small towns.
You might like to visit the Cider Museum in Nava, the Covadonga lakes and the basilica of Covadona, all in Asturias.
Potes in Cantabria is the center of the orujo culture and the best blue cheese in the world (queso picon). Potes is located in the middle of national park of Picos de Europa. From Fuente Dé you can go to the top of the mountains by cable car.

DrCarlos Jun 28th, 2009 05:06 PM

ribeirasacra, what a helpful site regarding Green Spain! If you hit the “listen” button, a man with a strong Scottish accent gives a lengthy description of this part of Spain. To hear Spanish words such as Asturias pronounced with a Scottish burl is fun. The site also gives a lot of information if you go through the presented tabs.

zeppole, how difficult is it to cross the Spain/ France border? Are there any towns on the French coast that you would recommend?

walksntalks, it sounds like you would recommend driving along the coast from Santander to Gijon. Is there a portion that you especially enjoy? I plan to visit Picos de Europa but I am not sure if I should visit the Eastern portion with Fuente De or the Western section with Covadonga.

walksntalks Jun 28th, 2009 10:14 PM

Like Ribeirasacra already wrote, there is no coastal road, that we could recommend. The thing is to visit some of those nice coastal towns, the cider country in the eastern part of Asturias, and perhaps Covadonga too.
If you are interested in hiking, you will find a lot of route descriptions in English, photographs etc from the Topwalks website:
If you enjoy driving around the park, I would recommend the following route (I prefer it like this, clockwise): Panes - Potes (including a visit to Fuente De) - Puerto San Glorio - Posada de Valdeon - Oseja de Sajambre - Cangas de Onis - Covadonga - Arenas de Cabrales - Poncebos - Sotres - Tresviso.
From the above mentioned website you will find road maps of Picos de Europa area (Asturias, Cantabria, León). Sotres, Tresviso and the Covadonga lakes are the places on top of the mountain region, that you can visit by car. Covadonga is a historial site, Potes is more or less the centre of hiking and other outdoor activities (plus orujo and cheese). León offers very twisty roads, nice valleys and tiny little villages. In between you visit the desfiladeros, which are separating the three massifs of Picos de Europa region. Also the "Paso de la Hoz" between Llanaves de la Reina and Portilla de la Reina is magnificent to see, even from the car only.
The lookout spot at Puerto San Glorio on the border of Asturias, Cantabria and Castilla y León offers one of the best views over the Picos de Europa. Puerto de Panderruedas between Posada de Valdeon and Oseja de Sajambre is almost as impressive.

ribeirasacra Jun 29th, 2009 05:52 AM

It is easy to cross the Spanish French border. If you use the main highway you will see a number of empty booths where they have formed a chicane with road cones to slow the traffic down. However there are a number of tollbooths either side of the border that is the biggest pain for me. Make sure you can take the car into France as some companies will only allow you to do this after paying a supplement.
Walks has pointed you to some nice locations for the Picos de Europa…well all but Potes because as I recall it is over run by companies running tourist trips into the mountains.
I have said this before----- but Orujo originates in Galicia, not in Asturias or Cantabria. It comes from the wine making regions as it is distilled grapes. I know they do grow grapes in that area but not to a great extent…but find a home made sidra and your in heaven.

Robert2533 Jun 29th, 2009 06:53 AM

The old custom/immigration border crossing booths are gone, just the remnants remain, as do the barricades. We usually cross a little further inland using the old smuggler's route when the traffic is heavy and the lines are long, especially in July and August.

DrCarlos Jun 29th, 2009 11:16 AM

walksntalks, there is a lot of good information there, I need to sit down with a map and go over the details. I have not seen that website before, again lots of helpful information. I was planning on driving to Cain and then walking a round-trip portion of the Cares Gorge hike. Are you familiar with this particular walk?

Ribeirasacra/Robert, I am confused. Does one just pull up to a booth on the highway when entering France? Also, I am intrigued by this “smuggler’s route”. Where exactly is it?

ribeirasacra Jun 29th, 2009 11:34 AM

No you just pass through the booth unless they want to pull you over or there is some sort of threat from ETA.
The websites about walking routes is walksntalks's own website there are a few other websites giving walking route information if you are interested.

walksntalks Jun 30th, 2009 04:15 PM

I have made the Cares Corge hike all the way from Las Arenas to Posada de Valdeón and back. But that is much too much for one day. One day you can walk from Cain to Poncebos and back. The path is wide and safe, long but not very demanding. The drop to the bottom of Río Cares is steep indeed, so I would think twice before taking young children with me for example. And start early, you do not want to be there after the sunset. Be careful and it's safe.
The Cares Corge hike is very popular, but spingtime it should not be too crowded.
If you are interested in Cares Gorge hike, you might also like the walk from Canero to Refugio de Urriellu. You will find both route descriptions from the above mentioned website.

DrCarlos Jul 1st, 2009 12:23 PM

ribeirasacra, It sounds like I will be able to use my broken French which I practiced for my trip to Provence!

walksntalks, after looking at your suggested itinerary and one from Karen Brown I have come up with the following plan for visiting the Pocos.

May 12; drive from Leon to Cains, walk a portion of the Cares Gorge hike. (I will be parking my car with my luggage “hidden” in the trunk, is this safe?) I am estimating about 2.5 hours for the round trip hike. After the hike, I plan to drive on to the Hotel del Oso in Cosgaya.

May 13; drive to the cable car in Fuente De, spend the night in Cosgaya.

May 14; Drive to Lago Enol, hike a bit, and then continue on to hotel Posada del valle in Collia.
Does this sound doabe?

walksntalks Jul 2nd, 2009 02:28 AM

Caín is a tiny little place with only a few houses and a parking place. Most of the visitors are hikers. It should be one of the safest places on this planet.
May 12:
The road to Valdeón and especially to Cain is very, very slow. Driving from León to Caín takes almost 3 hours (140 km). Drive from Caín to Cosgaya takes another 2 hours. (80 km). On your way to Cosgaya you should stop in Puerto San Gloria and visit the lookout spot. The view over Picos de Europa is fantastic.
It's doable, but you do not have time enough for the whole Cares Gorge hike from Caín to Poncebos and back. But you are aware of this.
May 13:
The cable car takes you to El Cable. There is a restaurant with nice views over the valley and the Cantabrian mountains. Also you could make a short and easy hike to Horcadina de Covarrobres. You will pass some ponds and then you will have a nice view over the Áliva valley where there is a royal hunting lodge.
The route to Horcados Rojos is more demanding. It is 12.5 km and it takes minimum 3 hours.
May 13:
In springtime the road to Covadonga lakes is still open and you can drive all the way up to the lakes by yourself (except during public holidays). You will find a bar/restaurant in Campo la Tiese by the lake Ercinal.
The hike Campo la Tiese - Lago Ercinal - El Bricial - Vega de Enol - Lago de Enol - Campo la Tiese is 6.2 km and it takes some two hours. Also you can visit the old mine "minas de Buferrera", which is a few hundreds metres from Campo la Tiese.
It is doable:-)

InMiami Jul 7th, 2009 11:29 AM

walksntalks, thank you for your kind assistance. Happy trails!

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