After Salamanca, we really needed to get ourselves up to the north coast. We stopped overnight at Leon on a handy free aire and then moved on up to the coast. The journey took us through some gorgeous scenery as it is a mountainous region.
We had read that Cudillero, on the coast west of Oviedo, is like a Greek fishing village. This appealed to us and so we had decided to detour slightly from the obvious route to Bilbao and give it a look.
I had not checked whether the campsites were actually open and so was horrified to discover, at the locked gates, that I had made a bit of a mistake! A quick look on Search for Sites led us to the harbour where you can park overnight. In fact, we were happier with that option as we had a ringside view of the little harbour and the village. It was a most picturesque spot and was divine when the sun set and the lights came on.
The next stop was inland again into the Picos Mountains. We stopped for the night at a small town called Cangas de Onis. It has a pretty river running through, and a Roman bridge over the rocks. All very unexpected for Spain.
Onwards into the mountains, we stopped on a campsite so I could do some washing. The setting was glorious with mountain views and a babbling stream. Whilst the washing dried, we followed the advice of the lady in the tourist information at Cangas, and drove to Las Arenas. The drive along the AS114 was fabulous with mountains and gorges. After a lunch stop we went up a narrow road to the funicular railway at Poncebos. It wasn’t open but again, the views were stunning.
It would be lovely to spend more time exploring this area but we were on a bit of a timescale now so we moved on to Santillana del Mar. Santillana is a medieval village, which made a nice change and the free overnight parking was within a ten minute walk of the village. It is a bit touristy with lots of little shops selling gifts and souvenirs but also some nice artisan shops selling local products. We had 2 nights here before moving on to Bilbao. The countryside all around the area is very Alpine and it was so nice to see green fields and grazing cattle.