Cycle touring in the Picos de Europa – Boca de Huergano to Cangas de Onís

This summer I spent a week bike touring around the Picos de Europa in Northern Spain. Click here for my other posts about the trip.

Boca de Huergano is not really a town at all, just a small collection of buildings along a straight, wide road, the mountains to one side and a grassy flood-plain to the other. It feels as if modernity has completely passed it by, as if it has changed barely at all in centuries.

We set off to cycle to Cangas de Onís by 11, after a breakfast of bacon and eggs and coffee in our lovely Hostal Tierra de Reina. The first 15km were undulating along the side of the lake, gloriously beautiful but into a ferocious headwind which seemed to turn every corner with us, as it was funnelled down the valley.

Even when we began climbing, cycling in almost the opposite direction from where we had left the hotel, the wind was still against us. James described it as “cycling up Everest into a tornado.” Although actually, the incline was not as bad as we had imagined, only 10km and much of that was only 1-2%. If it hadn’t been for the headwind we would barely have noticed the climb.

We were a bit concerned about how much we would have to climb, still recovering from the mountain passes of the previous few days. So we were quite surprised to find ourselves at the top well before we expected to be, and then began a glorious descent – 50km in total.

We covered off 10km pretty quickly, arriving in the town of Oseja de Sajambre where we had some croquetas and a tabla de queso for lunch.

Then some more glorious descending through a canyon, steep cliffs rising either side and a river bubbling below us.

The route passed the Puente Vidosa hotel, also the home of Vidosamultiaventura – set into the steep rocks were via ferrata, zip lines, hanging bridges, you name it. I wrote here about my previous experience on a via ferrata. For some stupid reason I decided it would be a good idea to do another one without a guide. Almost as soon as I started climbing I was terrified and feeling unable to do it – unable to go up or down. Despite almost giving up many times and being utterly convinced I was stuck I made it to the first “escape route”, where I escaped and left James to continue.

We got back on our bikes and continued on our way towards Cangas de Onis. The road flattened out and we were cycling into the headwind again, taking it in turns to take the lead and pushing quite hard. A few km out from Cangas de Onís we eased off and rolled into the town. We had cycled XXXX with XXXX climb in XXXX.

We stayed in the Hotel Granda, a lovely hotel just a short walk from the centre of Cangas de Onis. They didn’t have anywhere special for our bikes but we’re very happy for us to keep them in our room – which was huge!

We unpacked, showered, then went out for a drink along the banks of the river, right by the famous Puente Romano. The town was buzzing with people and children playing in the river, a great atmosphere. For dinner, we went to Los Arcos for local cider and fabada asturiana – it was delicious and I’d definitely recommend it.

Then we had a few more glasses of wine back at our hotel to fortify ourselves for the next day – climbing the fearsome Lagos de Covadonga.

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