We’ve always gone out of our way to avoid the peak holiday season so now POD’s at school we’ve had to be a little more creative. Our road trip in Northern Spain is a great example of having a tourist free holiday. It’s certainly one of the favourites as we got to go on so many adventures. We took Brittany Ferries from Portsmouth to Bilbao, driving a couple of hours to the Liebana region from there. Our destination was the small village of Trillayo which is situated in the Bedoya Valley.
Trillayo is a quiet spot with a population of less than 50 which was one of the reasons it appealed. It made an ideal base for the three of us to explore with the medieval town of Potes ideal for food supplies or lunch when local. The pace of life is slow in this region with farming or growing fruit and vegetables the norm.
The cottage itself is small but compact what with the bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen and living space all on one level. Many of the original features remain from the mahogany flooring to the furniture and beams above. We were shown round this rustic delight by the grandmother of the family. She spoke very little English but showed us where everything was. She seemed to be rather taken by POD who just couldn’t hide her excitement. And that was before she discovered the chickens up the road!
What made this cottage particularly special were the views of the Picos de Europa from the balcony. In the morning we’d have breakfast outside and watch the mist rise from the mountains as we drank our coffee. It became so clear you could even see the village on the other side of the valley. While much of our time was spent looking towards the Picos de Europa, to our left were also views of the nearby forest. Evenings were spent watching the light fade to the sound of cow bells. The swallows that nested in the garage would fly around after that point and, aside from an occasional car in the distance, it was mostly silent. Granted POD didn’t always go to sleep when she was supposed to but she genuinely didn’t want to miss anything.
The garden of this 200 year old cottage is a well kept space. There are grapevines all over and the smell of ripening peaches was just divine. The outside table was a mill stone and the area around it feels cosy, largely due to the vines above. The grapes are used by the owners of the cottage to make wine and we were lucky enough to try some while we were there. We had a visit one evening from one of the family who arrived with a bottle of their red wine. And a home-grown tomato which was huge. We loved both so much, we were tempted to ask for more! During our stay, some of the peaches began to drop from the trees. We’d left them on the millstone to fully ripen before going out and they were gone when we returned although not ours of course. We did get to sample some a few days later though. We cooked them with sugar and grilled them and wow, just amazing.
We couldn’t have found a better base for exploring Northern Spain. As well as the medieval town of Potes being just ten minutes away (POD loved spending time in the river there!), it was ideal for really getting under the skin of Cantabria. We were at Fuenta De and on the cable car to the Picos de Europa the first day, climbed Pico Jano the second and the El Saplao Caves on the third. Our time in Northern Spain pretty much continued like that for the duration of the holiday. What an absolutely stunning place to stay.