Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Above and Beyond Llanes

We left Llanes this morning by the beach and went up into the hills. The path follows a back road then goes into the hills by the sea. Llanes was one of the great centres of emigration in the 19thC, and those who were successful came back from the Indies and built great houses in the town. Many can still be seen, along the channelled river and the road that lead down to the port. Some are ruined, some distressed, some maintained, some modernised. The great days of the Indiano are gone, but a part of his history and decline is told in the mix of styles, of sizes, of states of repair. Today's route was mostly about villages and beaches. The village of Niembru, reached ny a road that winds around its estuary, where boats lie in the mud. You walk almost completely around a large church and cemetery which abut the riverfront, for no obvious reason, as they are outside and below the town, and there should have been plenty of room. It looks as though they are placed there to more easily receive the bodies of dead sailors and fishermen, and it could well be true. We passed close to several beaches that looked fun to lie or swim on for a while. It was warm and sunny and the sand and the sea are very attractive then. Each has its associated camping and caravan site and its modern holiday apartments. Low, house-like buildings here, not the high, often ugly blocks of the south coasts. I have often wondered why it is that the camping type, usually young and with little money, seems more attracted by the north of Spain, where he is quite likely to waste his holiday watching it rain. From Niembru we climbed up above the beaches of Torimbia and San Antolín, which was our immediate goal. Torimbia is a famous nude beach, hard to reach, long, wide, fairly empty and very good for swimming and taking the sun on. We spent a day there about ten years ago. By nude, in this case I mean clothing optional. Mrs Hickory and I are tolerant of other people's nudity but are ourselves of the textile persuasion. Today we were, as I say, heading for San Antolìn, a long beach just by the road where the hill path we were on drops down agaon to sea level. The river Bedón flows out there, cutting a channel across the beach itself. This is common on these coasts. The shoreline is mostly cliffs, and the beaches are at the rias, the small estuaries where the many streams take advantage of the points where the rocks fold into the ground to break their way through to the sea. There are even inland beaches, like the Cobijeru that we saw the other day, and the Gulpiyuri, where we are now, where the sea comes through holes and channels in the rocks below the water level, creating pools and depositing sand, and creating a beach that has no waves, no horizon, and is completely enclosed by rock. Again we were accompanied at random points by the FEVE, the narrow gauge railway that operates along much of the north coast. It is perhaps unneeded now, but I am very fond of it. It is a bright, colourful railway, small yellow trains run fairly gently between small yellow stations on lines that cross and are crossed by paths and village roads, and you can share the lines if you wish, walk along them and go where the trains are going, as long as keep your eyes and ears open. They are friendly, humble trains, quite unlike the AVE'S and Talgos, trains with airs of superiority, which race past on segregated, fenced off tracks, and refuse to even notice you are there. The village we are staying in is called Naves. The hotel is aggressively modern and comfortable, the owner has an air of Norman Bates about him (if there is no blogpost tomorrow it might mean that we were right), and the village itself was 'Prettiest Village in Asturias in 1961'. It is still pretty, in a natural, upbeat, untwee kind of way. The right kind of stone and an interest in flowers add a great deal of prettiness to a place. So does the sun.