Thursday 20 June 2013
There is a walk that begins east of Cudillero at La Playa Aguilar. It hugs the coastline of Asturias for five kilometres and terminates at the end of a long breakwater that juts out into the Bay of Biscay at the mouth of the Nalón river, north of San Esteban. The walk is fairly easy, except for the 400 stone steps that run from a small Chapel overlooking the cliffs at San Esteban down to the breakwater. Walking down the steps is not too hard; walking back up is a different prospect altogether.
We were not able to cover a lot of territory during our short visit to Asturias, but this walk typified much of what we loved about this part of Spain. The Playa Aguilar itself was littered with odd rocky outcrops like many beaches one the southern coast of New South Wales. Middle-aged Europeans cavorted in the sand in their swimming costumes in conditions that we Australians saw fit to wear jeans.
At the beginning of the walk, we were struck with a scent that immediately made us feel nostalgic: the foreshore had been planted with several different species of eucalypt, and the path was littered with gumnuts. The path wandered from one lookout to the next, each affording a different view of a rocky, inhospitable coastline that folded back on itself seemingly ad infinitum. We paused to gaze though fences at tiny stone cottages that were so cute they almost made you gag. We passed oak tress covered in moss, dry stone walls, streams traversed by wooden bridges, and doe-eyed dairy cows rattling their cow bells.
The view from the top of the cliffs at San Esteban was majestic. It was clear why such an elaborate breakwater was required: the coastline afforded no safe harbour or inlet for boats for a long way in either direction.
Susan and I walked out along the breakwater and then walked back along the path to La Playa Aguilar, where we paused for a beer in a suitably desolate cafeteria before driving back to Castnañedo. The round trip was 10 kilometres on foot, but the steps at Stan Esteban made it seem much further.
That evening we had a simple meal at the neighbouring village of San Martin de Luiña, and then retired to our “eco cottage” with its thick stone walls and heating that was said to be sourced from deep within the ground below.