Sunday, 9 October 2016

Rivers, mountains, endless plains

Bazárno to Leon 97 miles. 

The day began with us communing with the local nutters. We noticed yesterday when we arrived that elderly gentlemen would shuffle up to the van stare at the ground for a while, then wander off. It was so sad, we thought that care for the elderly had collapsed to such an extent in rural Spain that the demented were left to wander the streets alone. This morning we discovered such slurs on the social services and the older residents were in fact entirely unfounded. We had parked under a walnut tree and the local octogenarians' were not just game for a party as last night's shenanigans had shown, but up for a bit of foraging into the bargain. Following our visit to the caves of Altamira, we had honed our hunter gatherer skills too. Within half an hour we had filled three medium sized IKEA resealable kitchen bags with walnuts, wild mint and rosemary.With the pound plummeting, this may become our staple diet.

Maisy under the walnut tree

Free food!
By 9.30am we had unloaded the bikes, I gave them both a thorough service in the form of a quick squirt with WD40 around the derailleurs and off we scooted down the Camino de Oso. What a glorious autumn morning - the clouds lifting from the white limestone peaks, big birds circling them, golden sunlight through the beech leaves, mountain cascades and mirror still lakes. Amazingly, we had the trail almost to ourselves. It seems Spanish Sundays don't get off to an prompt start, in fact I think a late brunch counts as rising early. 

The Camino Oso is well signed and metalled throughout

As the sun rose, the clouds lifted from the mountains.

Most of the track winds through mixed woodland by the river

Sunlight through beech leaves - how lovely is that....

Mountain streams

Autumn crocuses in a gloomy spot

Inkcaps by the wayside.

We cycled an hour or so to this embalse.

More foraging
Gill - planning a mint, pea and courgette fritata for lunch.
By late morning we were back at the van. Soon we had re-loaded the bikes, used the service point and were ready to go before noon. We were heading for Leon. This time we followed the valley road, a little longer, but I had learned my lesson. Mountain climbing by motorhome is not a good idea. Even so, the motorway across the Cantabrian mountains is still a spectacular drive. I behaved myself and we trundled slowly upwards in the crawler lane with the tipper trucks and tankers. 

The valley road - a much better alternative to yesterday's mountain pass.

The motorway south towards Leon goes through some spectacular mountain scenery

The view from the layby.
The contrast in colour between the landscape to the north of the the mountains and the plains to the south is spectacular. Asturias is green and pastoral, the plain around Leon straw shaded. 

A more arid landscape on the south facing slopes.

Soon you are crossing the sun drenched plains that make up much of central Spain.
Leon is a small city, and on a Sunday the traffic was light. The city aire by the river is in the corner of a mixed car park, opposite a shopping mall and near the new regional Junta building. By now it was late afternoon, but sunny and warm. What to do? Relax and have a coffee in the van or head into the centre and see what Leon has to offer. We opted for the latter, a good choice. So, a two blog post day...Leon next.

The Leon city aire -10 free places - we nabbed one of them.

The aire is opposite a shopping mall with a large Mercadona supermarket - we like Mercadona - especially their breakfast cereals.


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