Saturday, 26 May 2018

Spain, May/June 2018. Day 6

A good night's sleep last night with no rain.  We awoke to a misty morning but it is gradually lifting and the sun is making an appearance.  The big mountains have yet to reveal themselves but flocks of boisterous chough keep flying overhead.  The only sounds other than birds are the cheerful rushing of the river and the clonking of cow bells as the herd is taken to pasture.   The plan for today is a walk and then a visit to Potes, our very attractive local village/town.

Friday, 25 May 2018

Spain, May/June 2018. Day 5

We enjoyed an excellent meal at the campsite restaurant last night, the menu del noche two bottles of wine and coffee for €40 followed by 10 year old Torres and Manzanilla back at the tents before setting in for a welcome night's sleep.  Although we slept well we were aware of the heavy rain most of the night following last night's thunder storm. 
We opted for a relaxed morning enjoying the sun and the views of the mountains from the site. Eventually we stirred, made a pack up and set off for a drive up the Puerto de San Glorio pass to get a feel for the area.  The weather was a tad mixed and we had some spells of rain but this didn't spoil the day and we experienced some dramatic cloudscapes.  It was particularly impressive as we were at about 5500 feet.  The highlight of the day was the flowers, especially orchids that we found: early purple, green winged, red and yellow elder flower, burnt tip, pink butterfly and tongue orchids, two species of wild narcissus, dogs tooth violet, fritillary, lythospernum, nottingham catchfly, giant ashphodel and oxslip.
Back at the site now and sadly the rain is pouring down.  Still we are warm and dry and a communal meal of pork chops in white wine with rice and green beans is being prepared.  Beer o'clock has, of course, arrived and the Pickwell brothers will be enjoying 10 year old Torres as a digestive before bed,  the lady assistants preferring manzanilla sherry.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Spain, May/June 2018. Day 4

What an excellent day today.  A very comfortable night in the Hotel Colonia in Santillana del Mar and a very pleasant breakfast during which we watched the local spoonbills flying back and forth.
After checking out we met up with Peter and Linda and set off along the very attractive coast road to San Vicente de la  Barquera passing fields of early purple and pyramidal orchids on the way along with good numbers of the unusual tongue orchids.  San Vicente is a very attractive estuary and port bordered by cliffs on one side and surfing beach on the other.  We headed for the impressive lighthouse and visitor centre where were informed that the road to Potes was closed.  As this entailed doubling the distance of our journey we set off poste haste.  What a fabulous road the diversion was, winding its way up through the mountains to over 4000 feet with stunning views of the snow clad Picos.  After the climb came the seemingly endless descent to Potes.  Passing through the very attractive town we soon arrived at our campsite where we were greeted by a very friendly guardian who showed us to a lovely quiet spot on the site with wonderful views of the 6000 foot wall of mountains beyond.  It was a delight, although sweaty one in 25C temperatures, setting up our home from home, made more interesting with black kites wheeling above us.  Once established we drove back down to Potes for a beer run to the supermercardo, and a few other things.  Back at the site a couple of cool beers was a real reviver before an excellent and exceedingly cheap meal in the campsite bar.  A night cap of 10 year old Torres preceded a relatively early night, the only sound to disturb us the rushing waters of the river running past the site.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Spain, May/June 2018. Day 3

After and excellent and restful day on the boat, a very good dinner and one or two restoratives, we had a game of pass the pigs before retiring.  We slept well as we crossed The Bay of Biscay last night and have woken to a beautiful morning and flat calm conditions; not the fearsome Biscay big seas.  The only slight technical hitch is we are not sure if it's 7.00 or 8.00 am so it's time to head out and explore the possibility of breakfast.
Problem solved - it was 7.00 am but breakfast was being served any way.  Full fortified, it's now time to go and look for dolphins riding the bow wave.
Hurray success; first a single one and then half a dozen playing in the wake of the sip.  Magical.  And what a beautiful morning; clear blue skies and warm temperatures with a deep indigo sea with a creamy turquoise wake.  Coffee and Danish now.
During the afternoon we saw several more pods of dolphins and suddenly through the thickening haze suddenly appeared the peaks of mountains  their feet shrouded in mist.  Berthing and unloading seemed to happen quickly and we were soon on the motorway heading to our overnight stop at Santillana del Mar.  This is one of the beautiful villages of Spain and well worth its categorisation; the church and cloisters being superb.  We are interested in the town's proximity to the caves of Altimira and may stop here on the way home.  On our drive along the motorway we enjoyed the wonderful coastal views and good sightings of griffon vulture, red kite  buzzards and other unidentified raptors.  The black restarts feeding fledglings in the church cloisters were a delight. An excellent meal in a restaurant garden followed by a 10 year old Torres completed an excellent day.  Spanish measures are generous.

Spain, May/June 2018. Day 1 and 2

A good day yesterday.  Our journey went well.  Cats delivered and final loading of the car saw us on our way at 10.30.  The first port of call was Go Outdoors in Lincoln for a spare air bed as we have very little trust in their lack of puncturability!!  We also invested in some new walking trainers for Heather.
However, it was as we were driving through Lincoln that we realied that we had left a large pan of tagine in the fridge instead of putting it in the freezer.  Not a problem though - we rang a fiend who has a house key and arranged for him to rescue it for his tea.
The remainder of the journey went well in temperatures reaching 25C although we ran into a storm just north of Southampton. We quickly found our Premier Inn by the harbour and met up with my brother and his wife.  Surprisingly I discovered that it was beer o'clock so Peter and I repaired to the hostelry next door to check it out for our evening meal.
This morning we were up early and will shortly be driving to the ferry terminal for boarding and sailing at 8.45.  I have to say I am looking forward to breakfast on board.
It was a quick journey to the ferry terminal and boarding went well.  The continental breakfast was excellent.  We have explored the ship and are now sailing past the Isle of Wight. We had good views of The Victory and our latest aircraft carrier as we left Portsmouth. Having seen a map of our route it looks as if we shall pass close to the Brittany coast. I look forward to it.
Unfortunately the WiFi signal is not up to uploading photos so I will try when we are in Spain if we get a strong enough WiFi.
A very pleasant and lazy day has been spent on the boat with an excellent evening meal looking out at the coast of Brittany.  After our meal we wandered out on deck to enjoy a beautiful sunset as we passed through the islands off the coast.  Time for a post prandial shifter now I think.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Nearly ready for The Pickwell's Road Trip to Nortern Spain and The Picks de Europa

We are stating to get excited now.  During the last few weeks we have been incredibly busy as the preceding blog posts show.  However, our Monday departure time now draws close.  We have the camping stuff ( yes dear reader, camping in a tent! 🤔) down out of the loft and just need to sort maps and field guides.  Today it's collecting the euros and having the car washed and cleaned inside.  Royal wedding, what royal wedding!!

Occasion phone photos will be published.  The main ones will be added on our return.

Friday, 11 May 2018

Bluebells in Newton Wood

As usual Heather and I were not able to drag ourselves away and return home so we elected to drive the short distance to Great Broughton to see if we could find the bluebells in Newton Wood.  We were not to be disappointed.  We have never seen so many bluebells and the air was heady with their scent.  To top off the experience I was able to photograph them with Roseberry Topping in the background.

We continued on to Saltburn for a wander down the beck to look at the ramsons again and then to the beach for some photography.  

Next we had a lovely drive down the coast to Sandsend where we stopped at one of our favourite eateries: the Wits End Cafe for excellent crab sandwiches and cake.  Sadly the only thing left after this was the drive home.  A wonderful three days, though.
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Thursday, 10 May 2018

Cleveland Way, Stage 5. Gribdale Gate to Saltburn-by-the-Sea.

An even better way for weather today; a pleasant mix of sun and cloud with perfect temperatures for walking.  We were away early from Gribdale Gate, climbing quickly onto the moor once moor where we followed the edge with excellent views across to Roseberry Topping, now our next objective.  The path first descends before climbing up to marrow ridge to the fine summit commanding 360 degree views: back over the moors, north to industrial Teeside and east to today's final distant objective.  From here we had our first sight of the sea which will become our close neighbour for the second half of the walk.  From the summit we were able to look down on Great Broughton and Newton Woods which seemed, from this vantage point, to be full of bluebells; a photographic target for tomorrow.

Eventually we had to drag ourselves away from the summit and, for the fist time, leave this fine hill behind us.  The walk took us first across moorland and then gradually descending through the beautiful Guisborough Forest which kept providing superb viewpoints to the coast and our destination.

Eventually we dropped down to the main road before climbing through coconut scented gorse bushes to the opposite hillside.  Now came a gradual descent through, first farmland, and then the outskirts of Skelton before reaching the beautiful gorge of Sketlton and Saltburn Beck.  Down here we were mightily impressed, first by the towering railway viaduct crossing the valley and then by the mass of ramsons or wild garlic that filled the woods.  The viaduct carries the railway to Boulby mine, with the deepest mineshaft in England, its only destination.

Finally we emerged into the lovely Victorian seaside town of Saltburn.  We were rather late for cups of tea here so we returned to the Wainstones where it was time for pints of brown and frothy!!
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