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Day 4: San Vicente de la Barquera to Puertas

Another great day walking. Beautiful sunny weather, but windy, so it didn’t feel too hot, but hot enough to walk in shorts and a t-shirt.

After an early breakfast, I was leaving San Vicente by 8.30. When I arrived yesterday the town was packed, now Sunday morning, I only met a few young who had been out all night and were weaving their way home or to the next bar.

Today was a big improvement regarding road walking – about 50% on dirt tracks, but only a few kilometers walking along the coast. Often I could see the coast, but was still a far way away. I met one other walker. We were walking pretty much at the same speed, so it took me 10 minutes to catch up with him. Just as I reached him, his phone rang and he stopped up and nodded as I walked passed. I didn’t see him again.

Sunday morning and the villages were quiet. There was a wonderful walk into Serdio on the ridge of a hill, with the sea to my right and the snow covered tops of the Pico Europa mountains to my left, and the church clock ringing in the 10 o’clock service. Everywhere is green and here, as on the previous days, there are many cattle in the fields.

I stopped for a coffee in Unquera, next to a sign to Mios in France. I have no idea why the sign is there, Mios is a small town south of Bordeaux – perhaps they are twin towns.

Refreshed after a coffee and cola, I continued up the steepest climb of the day to Columbres. Several others were making the same climb, perhaps because there were a number of restaurants. It was a pleasant town with nice houses and at least some of the street names were drawings.

As I was leaving the town, somebody whistled, I turned around and a saw a man pointing in the opposite direction. I’d missed the turn. We chatted for 10 mins, he was Belgian living in Spain and an avid walker. He has had to postpone his walk next in the Pico’s due to the imminent cold weather. Snow is expected down to 600m and here on the coast it is expected to be 10 degrees tomorrow, after almost 20 today.

As yesterday, I spent most of the day walking through the countryside. I reckon I have seen as many cows grazing in fields in two days as I saw in Denmark through the 1.200 kms I walked. I had to take a detour as the path I was following was fenced up, just as I was supposed to walk closer to the coast. I had to cross a train track, so I didn’t want to take too many chances, just in case the train came thundering by, so I went back to the road and walked for 2km along the hard shoulder of a large, but not too busy road.

I took a break in Pendueles another sleepy town, with many hostels and a number of restaurants. It was 2pm and families were on their way out for lunch at a restaurant close to where I was sitting. I ate some fruit and bread. The walk from Pendueles was along a well kept dirt path, at one point blocked by grazing goats. I was more interested in them, than they were in me.

I had WhatsApp’ed with the owner of the hotel I was staying. As it is Sunday he promised to book a table at a local restaurant as the village is very small and has few amenities. He wouldn’t be at the hotel before 5pm, so I took a detour to Bufones de Arenillas, a blowhole, an inland hole,  where at high tide and an onshore wind,  water is pressed through the hole and up into the air. It wasn’t happening today. I was joined by a couple from near Bristol as I was looking down the hole. They were travelling around the area in a van.  They recommended a couple of places further along the coast that I should look out for.

After four days walking, whilst it has been beautiful, I was also expecting the route to be closer to the coast. Although I have studied maps, it isn’t always easy to see on a map whether one can see the coast or not, even when the path is relatively close to the coastline. Whilst the walk from Pendueles has been beautiful, and is close to the coast, the coast was never in view.

I got to the hotel just before 5pm and the owners arrived shortly afterwards. The owner spoke very good English and he explained that it had to be very windy before the water is pressed up the blowholes, but it does happen several times a year.

He had made a reservation at a local bar famous for its burgers. Everything is home made from the bottom and either grown on the owners farm or bought locally. So she bakes her own bread, has chickens for her eggs, and makes her own cheese (for which she is famous), and the Iberian ham and  meat are sourced from local producers. The hotel owner warned me to be patient. The burger took 35 mins before it was served on a paper plate. But I must admit, I have never tasted a burger that tasted as good as this one. It is well worth a detour to Puertas if you are in the area.

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