Hide and seek is a great game to play to while away a couple of spare minutes. If however it is played again and again the novelty of it soon wears off. While we have been waiting for a weather window to get us to France we’ve been playing an extended game of hide and seek on Ruffian. We’ve been hiding from the rain and then seeking fun in the dry.
With the rain doing a great job at cleaning Ruffian we set off to seek to fun in the dry. The dry that we sought had been used by man since the ice age in the caves that surrounded the bay. We walked though underground caverns where stalagmites and stalactites joined and then we came out into the main cavern.
The ceiling disappeared high up into the darkness and the distant walls were covered in fragile geological formations. The laying down of minerals had started when ice age man used these caves to hide from the glaciers that changed the landscape outside and he seemed to spend most of his time inside painting every available surface.
The interpretation centre provided more shelter from the rain and gave us in English what the guide had clearly been giving us in Spanish. Suddenly the caves seemed so much more important and so much more historic. Artefacts, from a people we can hardly know anything about and whose histories have been lost to time, gave us glimpses into their "eat or be eaten" lifestyle. We felt so weak worrying about getting a little damp in a little bit of rain, when they had to worry about sabre tooth tigers and hunting mammoths.
The sun started to make its presence known and suddenly the whole town came out of hiding. They promenaded along the seafront, supped coffee in the meandering streets and most importantly popped corks on the local brew.
The local apple based brew is much more than just a drink it’s a whole culture. The cider comes out in large green bottles which only the barman is allowed to touch. The barman pours the contents, a mouthful at a time, into a glass from a great height and you, the punter, have to down the contents of the glass in 1.
Sampling the brew we found our choking mechanisms were still in perfect working order. It slipped down our necks stripping nerve endings as it went and killing any bugs that may be present on its way. We then realised why there was all the pomp surrounding the drinking. In the pouring half of the ghastly liquid ends on the floor, meaning we didn’t have to drink it, and by downing it in 1 there wasn’t time for your taste buds to realise the assault they were really under!
Again the rain poured, soaking everything while we hid inside Ruffian. When we emerged with the sunshine we were shocked to see billowing clouds of smoke high above the ancient town centre and could hear a cacophony of sirens bouncing off the hills. Something was very amiss.
The centre of the town was ablaze. The usual scene of peaceful coffee supping had been replaced by knocked over chairs, broken windows and flames shooting high into the sky. The flames consumed a building and the shock showed on the faces of all the residents. Thankfully the fire brigade was on hand, contained the devastation and were the heroes of the day. The damage however was done and years of history, lost in moments, would never be replaced.
All the time we’d been hiding from the weather the Picos de Europa had towered above us and we knew we had to get there to seek some fun. That was easier said than done however.
To get to the Pico’s we had to take not 1, not 2 but 3 busses and to compound matters this was on a Saturday with a reduced service. All these connections had ‘Iain and Fiona stranded in the middle of nowhere’ written all over them.
Unbelievably, all the connections worked like magic and we found ourselves winding our way up high into the mountains. Sheer drops gave Fiona vertigo and the rest of the passengers views to the end of the earth. Finally we were at the top where the lakes glimmered in the thin air and wisps of cloud kissed the snow on the peaks. This was beautiful, but busy.
Getting off the beaten path was key and soon we were alone with only the mountains and cows for company. At any moment we expected Julie Andrews to crest a hill as the scene; complete with cowbells was reminiscent of ‘A sound of Music’.
After a day of walking and with a forecast of no rain there was no need to hide in Ribadesella any more. It’s now time to seek some fun offshore and we head off to La Rochelle in France.
If only we needed another anchor.
The answer isn’t at the bottom of a glass; but it’s a good place to start looking.
Literally, a caveman’s home.
The oldest broach in northern Europe.
The churches compete for the most number of bells.
You can just imagine Roman centurions marching over that.
Ruffian on a free wall in the centre of the action in Ribadesella.
The town is burning.
Cecil is immortalised...
Ah an evening with no rain. What a nice change.
Churches, waterfalls and mythology.
Picos de Europa.
Lake after lake.
Being ruined with people taking selfies.
Wow. We are high.
Picos de Europa; a mountain range and a half.