Potes, Fuente De and La Hermida
When planning our trip through Cantabria and Asturias we had made a note to visit Fuente De to explore the central Picos. To get there from Bilbao we traveled along the coast and turned inland at Unquera (a quick note Corbata de Unquera is a local baked sweet that you have to try!) and followed the narrowing gorge to the south until the little village of La Hermida.

Less of a town than a few houses cramped between the high walls of the gorge this place is very picturesque but one has to wonder how there would be any sunlight here in the winter. We took the chance to check out the local climbing sectors (there are also two via ferrata which we did not do this time) and to take a stunning road ride before setting up with the van right next to the now tame river Deva which has formed the Gorge.

A very good girl.

For the next few days our basecamp was a cozy little campground in the Camaleño valley. The valley's main town is Potes - a slightly touristy collection of shops and restaurants that somehow has kept its old charm. From Potes a dead end road leads up for some 25km through the Vale de Camaleño to Fuente De (which is also the source of the Rio Deva) and the cable car up into the high Picos. The main road from Potes however goes up and over the San Glorio pass (which I of course rode on a bike) and to Riaño.

Of course we followed through with the original plan and went up towards the high station (2.000 meters above sea level) of Fuente De for a day hike in the (at that day somewhat gloomy and misty) mountains. At the highest point of our hike we actually encountered a bit of new snow and a very insistent herd protection dog that let Brigitte pass and very clearly told me to take the long way round.

Besides this we also hiked from our basecamp to Potes via the Santo Toribio monastery (which is supposed to be home of parts of the „True cross“) another day. From the small chapel close to the monastery the views of the main peaks of the Picos is just perfect.

There is not much on offer in terms of sport climbing in the area but the Picos host tons of long and committing multi pitch lines - a bit two committing for the team of year however so I just did the via ferrata Los Llanos.

In summary the whole Gorge of La Hermida, Potes, Fuente De area is a good place to enjoy beautiful nature and indulge in outdoorsy activities. Even though this might be one of the most touristy parts of the area it is still not crowded. Would Potes for example be in the French alps it would be called very quiet.

Adventurers: Brigitte and Bengt