Thursday 7 June 2012

DAY 12-Luarca - Ribadeo - 60km The end of Asturias

We cycle through the busy side streets before the climb out of Luarca following signs to Navia and La Coruña. Take the N-632 towards La Coruña at the roundabout 1km from town.

Unfortunately this is still the busy main road (this bit of the autovia is not finished) - the motorway is dotted on the map, but this is it for the time being. Single lane, fast moving and not much fun. We stick to the hard shoulder for the next 5km with a strong headwind.

We're both tired this morning. Aches all over and the climbs with headwind are disheartening. A storm looms in the background.

A missed sign to the Reserva Natural de Barayo is luckily followed by one after El Bao to Tox and Puerto de Vega. We happily turn onto the NV-2 and cycle through countryside first through Tox, then down the hill to Vega on the coast and on to Andés before descending to Navia.

Navia is an odd town- on an estuary, main road and port, but combined it feels centreless. We ask somebody as we turn off, in search of a good cafe. He looks confused and waves in the general area where we are standing. This is it. The N-634 passes slowly, straight through the middle of what was once probably a pretty town square.

We met a lovely man on a brompton bike- after waving at him as he cycled past. He came back to say hello. A cycle enthusiast and local brompton dealer, he admired our bikes, asked us lots of technical questions and then recommended a great restaurant in Ribadeo.

We've noticed that generally on our travels, cyclists are incredibly friendly. Passing a cyclist coming in the other direction allows anticipation and reflection- you know the hill you just climbed is going to be their enjoyable freewheel, and vice versa. I suspect walking down a hill doesn't feel much more pleasant than the walk up.

The roundabout by the main square leads you back onto N-634 towards La Coruña and Ribadeo. The road is again busy but we have green plastic bollards every 10m to protect us. A couple of squashed ones don't reassure us and we turn off right as soon as possible onto the CÑ-6. This is slower but leads through Medal and Loza along country lanes undulating between farm land and sea.

We cycle past a bird of prey, perched on a cable above a field. This is one of my most pleasurable memories taken in Asturias- the number of eagles, hawks and falcons which we've seen over the last week.

I read there are around 30 different species of bird of prey in this part of Spain, including Golden Eagles, vultures (although they are endangered) Goshawks, Kestrels and Falcons, including many Peregrine Falcons, which share their name with the Perregrinos- the Pilgrims walking this route.

We saw 15 or 20 birds of prey circling a tractor as it ploughed a rich red field, suddenly breaking and dropping, wings tucked, to the ground and some small unlucky rodent.

Another occasion, on a serpentine bend through forest, we watched an eagle speed it's wings and launch into flight right below us- a scene straight out of a nature programme!

Small kestrels hovering above a field, watching intently.

Back onto N-640 at Cartavio, we follow signs to La Caridad. The motorway has restarted parallel and the little traffic we meet is notably slower.

We turn off into La Caridad and then follow the FR-3 before rejoining the main road on towards Tapia de Casariego.

A sudden downpour and we duck for cover, huddling against the side wall of a church as the wind howls around us, rain driving diagonally across the church porch making it useless.

As it eases briefly we make a dash along the main road and then cut off on the outskirts of Tapia and through San Antonio leading into the town and follow the road down into another pretty port with a scattering of bars and restaurants. Most are closed but we find one which gives us jamon y queso between big hunks of fresh bread.

We sit in the warm, sketching out of the window until the rain dies down.

The barman, interested about our drawings, brings a photo dedicated to his daughter from Antonio Lopez, the famous Spanish hyperrealist painter, he explains that Antonio goes there every August to visit another painter friend; it is a very picturesque town. He shows a map with the best route over to Ribadeo. The main bridge, el puente de los Santos, is unfortunately motorway, so we need to get to the side where there is a narrow pedestrian walkway - one each side, and the north (right) side is apparently more cycle friendly.

We follow the N-634 over the motorway A-8/E-70 towards Barres and Castropol before turning off at the second roundabout towards Figueras. Go into Figueras itself (not the port) and out the other side.

You reach a roundabout which feels like the slip-road to the motorway (it is) which has a sign to the left for the camino. We were advised by 3 sources to ignore this and go straight to the next roundabout and take the left there (also marked to the camino). No idea what's different- didn't go back to check! You reach a side road to a car park overlooking the estuary and coast, and a path which continues to the footway over the bridge. This is quite long, narrow and feels a bit rickety, with a tall mesh fence one side protecting you from the fast moving traffic, and a handrail the other side separating you from a 30m drop into the sea.

We cycled slowly over in full concentration. As you arrive the other side, turn back and on the same side is the Albergue, overlooking the bridge and bay, or turn right under the bridge and follow signs into town.

We found a cheap pension and a fantastic simple restaurant serving pulpo alla gallega (octopus with paprika) boiled potatoes dressed with olive oil and calamares, washed down with house white- a young, tangy Ribeiro. Finished off with queso de Arzua (which we pass through in a day or two) and membrillo (quince jam). After orujo de hierbas chupitos (aquavita shots) in a nearby taverna, we stumbled back to the hotel.

Total so far: 461miles (738km)
Distance to Santiago de Compostela: 120miles (192km)
Distance to Cabo Finisterre: 182 miles (290km)

1 comment:

  1. Pero que buena pinta tiene, yo porque soy una seta y seguro que el dia 1 me muero de las agujetas pero es genial este diario que estas haciendo. Me chiflan las fotos... Cuidaos y disfrutad del camino. Bstes!