Day 4: Picos de Europa

Soutpiel Safari
John & Jenny
Mon 8 Nov 2010 16:37
Day 4: 8 November 2010. Tudes, Picos de Europa. N43 07.227 W004 36.616. Distance driven 134 km
In the event, we had a very comfortable night aboard the ferry, although at dawn the sea looked miserable and it was obviously blowing at least Force 8.  We arrived in Santander  on schedule and rolled off the ferry at 1110 to a grey, miserable day pelting with rain and blowing harder than ever.  We took the new S20 motorway out of town (too new for our Garmin maps).  Once clear of the industrial area at Torrelavega we turned west onto the E70 and the countryside became much more pleasant although driving conditions were wild and foul.  At  Unquera we turned south onto the N621 and headed into a spectacular gorge - the Desfiladero de la Hermida - where raging torrents of water cascaded down almost vertical rock faces, right by the side of the road, and into the swollen river below.
We visited a 10th century mosarabic church but found it closed, then motored on to Potes, a local centre for the Picos, where the Monday market had just closed or had been washed out. 
Not being too keen on camping in the prevailing conditions, we looked around for accommodation and found a pamphlet advertising a wonderful looking old farmhouse converted to apartments.  The British owner, Tony, agreed to let us have a room for one night, instead of the normal two minimum, and we climbed up a mountain road to the village of Tudes to find most beautifully converted old buildings in a little rustic mountain village.  Now, with a roaring wood fire going in the cast iron stove, we are feeling more human again.