GInette’s contribution in black and Gary’s in blue
On the ferry most of the day, so lots of time for resting, eating and catching up on IT jobs
Ferry was an hour late docking which meant we didn’t get into Santander until 6.15pm
Once we go off the ferry Gary spent some time locating a camp site on his Garmin, I patiently waited and managed to chip my tooth by biting my nail! I resigned myself to having to find a dentist the following day when we spotted one on our way to the camp site. Fortunately he was open and agreed to see me the next day.
Finding the camp site was a little stressful, the roads were fairly busy (as were the paths), and very hilly. At one point we went through a very long tunnel with cars whizzing by, a little scary but we survived.
Camp site was OK, it was only €15.30, a young girl we had met on the ferry was also camped there.
We went out for a take away pizza but failed, it didn’t matter as it turned out we were not that hungry, we managed to have a couple of beers in a local bar and settled on having an early night.
The site was very noisy, some young people had camped next to us and stayed up most of the night drinking and talking (shocking!) it was also very well lit and next to a road.
The night was much warmer than the UK and I didn’t need my thermals
Woke early about 7.30am and felt very rested, my dentist appointment was for 9.30am so in theory plenty of time to sort ourselves out. We are starting to operate as a team and getting a system for putting up and taking down the tent which is great. Gary has done all the cooking and I am happy to let him for now… I quite like waking up and having my breakfast served to me.
The camp reception didn’t open until 9.00am so we had to wait to pay before we could find the dentist. Gary wanted to avoid the tunnel so we set the Garmin to find a different way, this was a little challenging and again we cycled up a lot of hills to get down to the coast road (I think Stuart has preset Gary’s Garmin to find all local hills!)
Arrived at the dentist just in time, it was a very strange experience having my tooth repaired by two Spanish guys that spoke very little english. In fact the only word I understood was bite. They were however lovely and gentle and the experience only cost me €40 compared to the £90 fee when the same thing happened in Ireland a few years ago.
Whilst I was in the dentist Gary busied himself buying food for lunch and making sandwiches.
The rest of the morning was spent trying to unlock the mobile phone. Gary had purchased this in the UK as an unlocked phone but apparently it is not unlocked for Spain.
I amused myself by finding a coffee shop and having a bite to eat whilst reading my kindle and enjoying the sun (temperature 22 c)
The ride out of the city was not without its hills, however on the steep streets the Spanish have fitted moving walkways like in the airports, so we made use of some of these.
Most of the day was easy riding with beautiful views (lots of fantastic houses) and sunshine to keep us going. We stopped in Villacarrieda for a sandwich and a local man kindly insisted we visited the local palace, unfortunately it was shut, but the building was magnificent and we were grateful for the invite.
The mountains were all around us but we had so far been cycling along the valleys, Gary mentioned how this wouldn’t have happened if Stuart was around but that the views from the top must be fantastic
The next part of the day was a little more challenging 10km of 6% climbing to 825m, as you can imagine this took some time, and yes the views were fantastic. I had hoped at the end we would find a town with a bar and camp site but this was not to be the case instead we were left with a choice of a further 14km climb or a 10% hill down to a village called San Roque De Riomiesa (but we had no idea how big this village would be, we had been through some very small villages) so we decided to do the climb upwards and look for somewhere wild to camp. The next day we would pass a bar about 1/2 a mile away from where we camped but as the saying goes you never know what is around the next corner, we were just grateful for somewhere secluded to pitch the tent.
As I am writing this I am tucked up in the tent, there is a stream down the hill and we have pitched in front of an old animal shelter. The road is within spitting distance but it is very quiet and hopefully no-one can see us. I was feeling ok about the situation until Gary mentioned the fact that the animal shelter might still be in use.
Day 7 Friday 10th April.
Our first night of wild camping was a success, it felt very windy in the tent (not Gary’s bum) but I think that is normal. A local dog barked all night but we seem to be getting used to the sound of dogs and birds.
Gary; we had pitched next to a stone animal outbuilding and this worked really, sheltering us from sight from the road and also protecting us from the wind, but I did wake and jump at all the noises in the night in case the cattle, goats or Dinasour’s had come back home.
The day started with a long slog up a 14km mountain which went up to 1350m (Gary’s Garmin 2165 feet) it was hard going physically and mentally. The roads were narrow with some very steep drops so we had to concentrate really hard to keep the bikes moving in a straight line. Fortunately there were very few vehicles on the road, those we did see, appeared to be providing a service to the locals. As we reached the top we found ourselves cycling between ridges of thick snow (so much for following the snow) and looking left a little vertigo set in as the drops were steep with no barriers.
Gary; we set off at 9.45, and went up and up and up. hard going with all our kit, in the end we cycled 8 miles up hill in 3.5 hours into the snow line, to Cantabria – Portillo De Lunada. Going down was very cold even with our coats on.
Yesterday we were taking photos of the snow covered peaks, we hadn’t planned to visit them in person. Will try to avoid these Mountain climbs it’s no fun with the heavy loads.
When we got the bottom of the ski resort we stopped for a much needed lunch break, we were cold and weary. Although the woman who served us spoke very little english and we speak no Spanish (well Gary can say a little bit) we managed to order a veritable feast for €20.
Gary informed me the next camp site was 19 miles away so we stopped and picked up a little lunch and a bottle of wine for later. As we set off he Gary cycled along side me and confessed he had got the mileage wrong and actually the mileage to the next campsite would be 27 miles. How wrong could he be… all camp sites appear to be shut, we are cycling in the non camping season. So yet again we are wild camping. We have a lovely view of a castle (Casttello De Frias) but the midges are out in force.
Hopefully we will find a proper camp site tomorrow so I can have a proper wash, I feel really grubby, we have been using face wipes to clean ourselves but it is not the same as a nice hot shower.
Day 8 Castillo De Frias – Bernedo
I slept much better last night, Gary can vouch for this apparently I snored a lot (this was my strategy of fighting off the local wild life, which kept Gary on his guard).
Another successful nights wild camping, although it rained a lot it did not seem to affect us. However several days on the bike and sleeping on air beds is taking an effect on our backs.
Today was an easier ride, but a little stressful because the garmin kept on losing power, although we have brought lots of devices to charge the garmin we forget to bring the USB cable so we stopped in a large town (smaller than Clevedon but bigger than most towns we cycle through). Gary approached 4 mountain bikers for help and fortunately one spoke broken English and could provide some assistance.
Once Gary had purchased the USB cable the mountain bikers kindly offered us an escort out of town (I hope it was nothing to do with the two nights wild camping : ) We are starting to feel a little grubby we have been reliant on baby wipes to keep clean).
The afternoon cycle ride was a little more challenging with more hill climbing, I put the iPod on and settled down to a steady rhythm.
as I write this we are in a bar trying to charge up our devices, no campsites/hotels in site so another night of wild camping. We did pass two other tourers but they did not appear to speak english.
Food supplies are low so we are hoping there will be a shop open somewhere in the village otherwise we’re reliant on finding one tomorrow, which is unlikely, we are finding Spain as challenging as France for finding shops that are open.
Day 9 Bernedo – Estella/Lizzarro 80F
Last night charged the Garmin with power stored in the solar panels. During the night a car stopped on the road and I was half awake and heard the engine ticking over. When I looked up I would see a blue glow from the solar panel lighting up the tent. This must have looked really strange from the road so I put it out of sight, before we were reported as aliens.
Got very cold in the night the air bed had gone down, even though I blew it back up I remained cold all night.
Tried to wash in the stream but it was very cold and the banks muddy and lots of bugs around.
We decided we would only cycle half the day and find somewhere to get cleaned up properly. We only had 25 miles to do along the A126 and NA132 to Estella a few climbs but just as many downs. Both our knees are sore and starting to feel the strain. After a cold night it is good to feel the sun. As I write this we are in a proper camp site, with in door toilets and showers – it even has a cafe with wifi access so we can charge all our devices and update the blog
Wild camping has some unexpected advantages, no noisy children, privacy, wide open spaces to go to the loo and beautiful free views. Our ever the down sides seem to include not washing properly (we have used local streams and baby wipes) and lots of midges.
Gary has done all the cooking whilst I busy myself in the tent, this enables me to get warm and avoid the midges (I’ve been bitten twice already).
Whilst wild camping I have had my breakfast and dinner in the tent behind the mosquito net. Gary kindly hands them to me under the cover, it feels like a cross between being a prisoner (of my own making) or an animal in a zoo : )
This is not helped in the mornings when I am served gruel with a plastic spoon (to ensure I don’t dig myself out and escape). Sounds awful but it is really rather pleasant.