The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Bulnes from Poncebos

I got my metric and imperial units mixed up this morning. Yesterday afternoon, when proposing today's outing to Mick, I had told him it was 5 miles (8.23km said the gpx file I had downloaded). This morning I was convinced we were going 8+ miles, and thus I packed elevenses and lunch. In view of the true stats (I recorded 4.9 miles with 1830' ascent), that was overkill, considering that we set out at 9.15am.

Bulnes is a village that sits at an altitude of around 600m and has no access via road or track. Until 2001 the only way of reaching it was on foot, and since then there has also been a funicular railway, which runs through the mountain for its entire length. How the village survived its isolation for so long is a wonder, but now, by appearances, it is not just surviving, thanks to the tourist trade. We counted six bars and restaurants - which is a high number for such a tiny place.

It probably goes without saying, that we didn't use the funicular. Our route instead lay up this valley/gorge:

That required us first to cross the Rio Cares, with its incredibly clear waters (it was thanks to the clarity that I spotted the otter yesterday - it was underwater when I first saw it, initially mistaking it for a large fish):

Not a single person was met on the way up, but we did meet these girls:

I won't generally cut switchbacks, due to the damage it does, but on this occasion it seemed like the best way to pass the herd. We still had to get past Daisy at close quarters and I did so with a nervous eye on those horns:

The path was still fully in the shade as we ascended, but it didn't mar the views, or the impact of the perfect blue sky. You can see the path as it clings to the side of the gorge in this snap:

Like yesterday's outing in the Cares Gorge, the path was hewn out of the rock in some places and had sheer drops that made me think that falling off the path would be a bad idea.

The route was a lollipop, albeit with a very long handle and a very small head...

...and as we got to the top of the handle we had a choice to make: clockwise, or anti? Opting for 'anti', up to the top village we headed, which is a few hundred metres (linear) away from the lower village, and quite a bit higher too. We got a good view of the main village from up there, but the dull light doesn't do this photo any favours:

Due to my mix up with the distances, combined with our early start time, none of the bars or restaurants was open as we wandered around, so coffee from the flask was drunk perched next to the public water tap, rather than real coffee consumed on a real seat.

Looking left from our elevenses perch

and looking right

The sun was on us for much of the descent, and with the wind having turned to southerly overnight, it was almost as warm going down as it had been with the effort of going up. (The temperature, incidentally, had been a chilly 8 degrees at 6pm last night, but with the change in the wind it was up to a balmy 15 degrees at 7 this morning.) Once again, we admired that glorious sky, which is forecast to get hidden from tomorrow whilst a stretch of more mixed weather comes in:

Spot the village on the hillside opposite. I think it must be Camarmeña


  1. I hope Puente Poncebos has improved. I got attacked there for no reason.

  2. A middle aged man, slightly drunk, didn’t approve of me talking English to the Spanish barman. He came at me with a knife but other locals got to him before he got to me. Lots of swearing and spitting and a bit frightening at the time.