After riding along the coast, an easy, barely perceptible ascent leads us to the village of Potes at the very heart of the Picos de Europa. Alpine scenery and clean, unspoilt Atlantic beaches all in the same trip. The wonderful descent of the River Miera takes us down one of the least known and most beautiful valleys of Cantabria.
This is an unspoilt and largely unknown region of Spain, where mass foreign tourism has made no impact and which has managed to remain authentically Spanish. It’s an area of great contrasts between the verdant countryside, the deep blue of the sea, beautiful sandy beaches, washed every day by the Atlantic tides, and the jagged grey limestone summits of the Picos de Europa. This mountain range forms an impressive backdrop to the coast and rises up to over 2648 metres (almost 9000 feet). Its gentle valleys with their picturesque villages are ideal for cycling.
The coast has an immense variety of superb uncrowded beaches in all shapes and sizes ranging from small sheltered coves to the elegant Sardinero beach in Santander, made popular by visiting royalty at the beginning of the 20th century. The beaches around Llanes in the province of Asturias are famous for their unspoilt beauty, the green countryside forming a vivid contrast with the blue sea. The coastline is divided by various estuaries and bays, with great stretches of sand dunes. Other parts of the coast are lined by imposing cliffs providing wonderful scenery.
Further inland, the scenery becomes more and more mountainous. The valleys are of green pastureland – dairy and beef farming is an important part of the local agricultural economy. And then there are the mountains themselves, often wild and inaccessible; where one might walk all day and never see a soul. These are areas where wild boar, wolves and brown bear still roam, and eagles, vultures and birds of prey are common.