I was sad to leave the area of Potes; we had spent only four very enjoyable nights in the nearby village of Cambarco, in good weather, and I loved it. The scenery was grand, the air smelt good, it was quiet…. But we had a schedule and it was time to move on – to Léon.
We set off to drive over the mountains. I could have taken lots of pictures, but as I was driving I was restricted to stops along the way – probably just as well or we would never have arrived! The first stop was in the Pass of San Glorio, 5,278 feet above sea level – it was indeed glorious.
Coming down from the pass towards Riaño the road continued to be spectacular, winding between mountains, rock faces, trees. The road passed through the remote villages of Llánaves de la Reina (at 4,590 feet this is one of the highest villages in the province), Portilla de la Reina, Barnieda de la Reina, and Los Espejos de la Reina and a quick search on the internet shows this as hiking country – not for walkers such as me. Remote lakes, views into infinity, and, rocky slopes and sheer drops abound.
Eventually the road levelled out as we came to Boca de Huérgano, and we stopped to stretch our legs and look at the small Church of San Vicente alongside the road.
Finally we arrived at Riaño – wow! The lake was formed when the River Esla was dammed in the 1980s, flooding the valley and submerging several villages. ‘New Riaño’ was built on a small hill overlooking the water and we stopped for coffee, and to admire the scenery. This village is 3,650 feet above sea level.
Then it was time to move on again, now through lower-lying countryside, with the high mountains behind us. At Villayandre we stopped as I had seen several signs pointing out a Roman road.
With Leon now in sight we were on the plains. It had been a long drive, on some tricky roads, but I would certainly want to repeat the experience, perhaps stopping more often and of course I would have loved to do some modest walking. Another time!
We found our AirBnB in Leon and settled down for a week of exploration!