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]

Thursday 9 November 2017

Thursday 9 November - Santillana del Mar

The Tourist Office here in Santillana del Mar (a largely unmodernised medieval town that looks like it belongs on a film set) has a walks information sheet setting out six routes in the local area. Four of those start from, or go through, Santillana and, of those, three are circuits.

The option that looks the most interesting is also the longest at 14.5km, and that's the one we would have chosen but for it appearing to feature the most off-road terrain. Whilst I'm generally a very big fan of off-road, we've just had thirty six hours of very heavy showers, leaving streams in spate and big wallows all over the place. Thus, tarmac and tracks were looking the best option for today.

We therefore chose to do both of the other circuits (7km and 5.5km respectively) and set out this morning to visit the area that lies to the SW of the town. On the plus side, it gave us a good view of the little pimple of a hill we were to go up this afternoon...

...and offered some good views over the green countryside to the coast:

Your eyes do not deceive you; this photo does not include the coast, but we could see it quite clearly when we looked in the right direction. Note that contrary to its name, Santillana del Mar is not itself on the coast.

On the negative side, there was nothing else to recommend this route.

Undeterred, we set back out after lunch, feeling sure that the next circuit would be of more interest, as it featured 'Castle Hill' (Monte Castillo) and the remains of a tower. I didn't quite manage to line this sign up to the right place for the photo, but it's not too far out and illustrates both what remains of the historic structure, as well as what it would have looked like in its heyday:

There's really not much of it left:

As you would expect from such a nice little hill, it did offer good views:

Things went downhill in more ways than one once we left the summit. The gpx track I had downloaded from the Tourist Office showed the hill as being an out-and-back detour from the circuit, but according to the information sheet, and to the signage at the foot of the hill, the route descended the opposite flank to where we started. If there is a descent path on that side of the hill then we missed it, finding ourselves instead making a complete circuit, about three quarters of the way up its side, and dropping back down the way we had come.

At that point we weren't moved to complete the circuit as, of the remaining distance about a third was on a busy-ish road, a third we had already walked on morning's outing, and the rest was a track that ran (as far as we could tell) uninterestingly between fields. Instead, we retraced our steps and took another wander around the town, which looked better today than it did in yesterday's utterly dreary weather:

So, not a roaring success from a walking point of view, but it gave us some exercise, the hill was interesting and, well, there are worse ways to spend ones days, aren't there?


  1. The photo trickery is interesting. Have you got access to Photoshop? I did 2.7 miles today with Pete - cold wind and like you on a pretty boring route. I can't cobble enough together to do a post about it. I only took one photo.

    1. I don't have Photoshop. Effectively, I don't have access to my laptop either, in that its battery life is only about an hour, and I have no means of charging it, so it only comes out when there's something I can't do on my phone.

  2. I couldn't find you again on Facebook (I HATE FACEBOOK)

    Here is the anecdote from my SWCP walk in September 2014 posted from Axmouth:

    "I was going to pitch my tent in some shade then realised a party of six or so, tattooed, and earinged were drinking cans of beer, playing loud music, and doing a good impersonation of Blackpool on a bank holiday.

    I moved to the other side of the site, pitched the tent then found my neighbour was playing Radio2 non stop. Next a motor home rolled up and said I was in the pitch the warden had directed them to. Fortunately they were happy to roll up to the back of my tent and leave it at that."