Friday, 26 September 2008

Autumn Raspberries

In the beginning of June we started picking our first strawberries; these were the first fruit from our newly planted soft fruit beds. At that time we had hoped we would pick a few raspberries this autumn but weren't sure if we would get any crop at all.

We planted two types of raspberries; those which fruit on the new season’s wood (primocane or autumn fruiting varieties) and those which fruit on the previous season’s wood, so don't fruit till the second year after planting. We planted two varieties of the autumn fruiting type; Autumn Bliss and Galante, 10 canes of each.

The autumn fruiting varieties have been doing really well, obviously appreciating all the organic material we dug in the beds last autumn (before planting the canes) as well as the subsequent spring mulches of compost. Autumn fruiting raspberries are also said to be more tolerant to drier summers and may be this is why this type of raspberry seems to be doing particularly well with us.

Much to my pleasant surprise we have now been picking almost 1 kilo of raspberries every 3 days since the middle of August, that's over 12 kg of raspberries to date from 20 newly planted canes! Whats more they taste lovely and with the help of our 6 cats we have had no major problems with birds eating the fruit.

Raspberry and hazelnut roulade

All this has meant that Joe has been busy in the kitchen preparing lots of lovely raspberry desserts and our guests have been able to enjoy the delights of freshly picked organic raspberries as well as a selection of raspberry deserts.

Raspberry and almond torte

Or just raspberries with cream.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Thanks Joe. (Nigel goes walking)

I am sure those of you who know Joe could think of many different reasons for thanking her. I certainly have lots to thank her for, but this time I want to thank her specifically for letting me do some very good walks over the last 3 weeks. With Mari Carmen still off work with her fractured leg, we have all been doing extra hours to cover for her. So when I have gone walking it’s very often meant Joe has had even more on her plate than normal! Thanks also to Lidia (Sebastian’s girlfriend), who has covered for me a couple of mornings when I have set of at the crack of dawn.

So what started this spurt of walking? There is one emblematic mountain “Tiatordus” in the Ponga region I have a wanted to climb for many years. It’s a long ascent with tricky navigating in parts, so I have always shied away from doing it and particularly on my own. Hugh (who helps on the farm) showed an interest to climb it, so that was the excuse I needed to attempt climbing it this year. As it is a 1,400 m ascent I needed to check my fitness first, so I decided to do a couple of walks before hand. However I found the mountains are like a drug and once you start you can’t stop. So after Tiatordus there were more mountains and Joe let me carry on walking. Thanks once again Joe.

I also did a couple of shorter walks with Joe during this period, so beneath is a brief resume of the walks I’ve done over the last 3 weeks. I am sure that in the coming months I will give a more detailed blog entrance on the walks and the area.

The bigger walks

28/8 This was the start a simple 500m ascent to Pico Pierzo

4/9 Pileñes 900m ascent. The weather wasn’t meant to be so good, so we thought we would test our navigational skills and our water proofs, but the day turned out to be brilliant

9/9 Tiatordus. The excuse for all the walking. This involved an accumulative ascent of 1,600m over 10 hours walking and some tricky navigating, but it was worth it look at the views. However after this walk a 1000m ascent now seems like a doddlel!

This is Hugh and myself on the summit of Tiatordus to show we realy did get there!

And the walking carried on.
13/9 Canto Cabranero 1000m ascent and back at the hotel by 15.00h

20/9 Jou Santo; A 1,100 m ascent to the characteristic “jou” landscapes just beneath the highest peak on the western massif; Peña Santa. Home in time to pick the veg and serve on guests

The “softer” walks

31/8 La Jocica Walking up to the dam above the Angon valley

7/8 Mota Cetin with our friends José and Paloma

14/8 A coastal walk near Playa la Huelga, Joe likes these best.

Wow that’s 8 walks in 24 days! Thanks Joe
(By the way I’ve discovered there are still many more mountains waiting to be climbed!)

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Autumn Flora

Autumn Lady's Tresses Orchid

Autumn is coming and with it a flush of autumn flora on the farm (orchids included). These flowers are particularly noticeable in the meadows which were cut for hay in early summer and are now starting to produce their second crop of grass.

Devil's-bit Scabious

This second grass crop is known in Asturian as “El Retoño” which comes from the verb “retornar”; to return or come back, (the grass is returning, a rather lovely way of expressing it.)

Autumn Squill

Our farm is about 200meters above sea level and relatively close to the sea so it is quite warm. This means our spring flowers come early, with lots of orchids in flower by mid April but if you go up the mountains to about 800 meters the same plants won’t be in flower till at least one month latter. In contrast at this same altitude, 800m, the autumn flowers start blooming earlier than on our farm. A good example of nature adapting to her environment

Wild Garlic

Wednesday, 10 September 2008


Our son Sebastian, who has been very influential in many of the philosophies and ethos’s that we have followed in the hotel, has just finished his masters in Holistic Sciences at the Schumacher College. He spent the last four months based at home here in Asturias where he has been writing and researching for his dissertation on; Holistic Landscape Study!

The blog entrance that follows; "Holistic Landscape Study" gives an insight into some of his work on landscapes feelings.

Holistic landscape study

We look at the landscape and the landscape looks at us, What are we seeing

When landscapes are felt the same way as friends are, a place is created for us, a friendship with the environment, enjoyment of each others company and free expression of each others feelings.

Have you ever asked yourself what it is that makes a landscape a landscape? I feel that what makes a landscape a landscape is as much around us as it is within us. Think about the following experience; If you look at any given portion of the earth's surface, you may ask yourself whether you will call it just land or rather a landscape- and then try and explain- why? If you call it a landscape, it is because it will have aroused a certain emotion in your thinking, it will no longer be a collection of objects, but in fact something much deeper. Something that can only be defined in terms of yourself and the landscape, all as one.

Having had the great opportunity to look into the experiences that occur between people and landscapes I now feel the confidence to share the intricate and mysterious relationship that occurs every time we encounter a landscape. I encourage anyone to experience the transforming act of feeling the landscape!

When encountering a landscape feel it as living being that communicates with other living beings, and that therefore, like humans it has expressive qualities. Like pets, landscapes have a body language that speaks to us about their inner life. A personality we can appreciate when you search the words that describe its body language, the qualities the landscape communicates to you.

At any moment you can ask yourself what is it like to be this landscape?

By doing this, you are deepening your spontaneous experience of landscapes. Learning more about your environment and about yourself.

Let me invite you to a journey, whilst sitting there and reading these words, let your imagination free itself from place and time; and let us travel somewhere high in the Picos de Europa, a place where we can feel an authentic sense of Identification.

Suppose we are pleasantly walking in a gorge, it isn't your first time, having hiked for some days up high in the mountains. As we are soaking in the scenery we come across a sweeping meadow. The gentle wind waves the long grass, every grass all as one, whispering the only sound to be heard. We sit on a rock, quietly contemplating the profound communion of flowers and grasses. The sun high in the east is moving towards midday. As the time passes you notice that the flowers in the meadow turn towards the sun, following the sun as it moves. Suddenly you rejoice in the profound sense that the grass is gently enjoying the breeze and the flowers appreciating the warmth of the sun. Just like you! sat there satisfying your soul.

By being there, sat in the meadow, you feel identified with the meadow!

You may one day come and meet some of our amazing Asturian Landscape's, if you do so, it will be a time to share each of our own experiences; meanwhile breathe and sense the fullness of your own world.


Blog entrance by Sebastian Eslea Burch

You can find more about Sebastian's studies and work on his web page:

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Pico Pierzu

View of the Western massif of the Picos de Europs from the ascent of Pico Pierzu

I climbed the Pico Pierzo last Thursday, so I thought it was a good reason to mention this stunning walk in one of our most favourite areas: Ponga, just under an hours drive from the hotel.

The Pico Pierzu (1552 m.) is a pyramid shaped mountain in the Ponga mountain range, from which there are most spectacular 360ª views of the Picos de Europa, the Cantabrian coast and the Ponga Mountains.

The Ponga mountains from the Pico Pierzo

The area of Ponga was declared a Natural Park in 2003 and is characterized by its excellent level of conservation. Proof of this is the amount of surface area that is covered by mature forests, comprising 37 % of the territory. Ponga’s forests are considered so ecologically important that in the centre of the Park lies the Peloño Partial Nature Reserve, an extensive, continuous mass of beech forest.

An old yew tree in the foreground with beech forests from the Peloño forest in the background

From a geological point of view, Ponga Natural Park’s territory lies on the so-called "Ponga Unit" lying directly to the west of the Picos de Europa. The most notable structural feature in the Ponga unit is the existence of a series of over thrust faults, sinuous and winding due to the presence of folds, perpendicular to them

Many geologial faults in the "Ponga Unit" as seen from the summit.

The walk is fairly simple taking about 4 hours and involves a 500m climb. The first 2 kilometers are more or less flat along a track and then it is a continual climb along a ridge to its very definite summit with stunning views (weather providing) all the way.

Goats and walkers paradise!


Hotel Posada del Valle is a small hotel in Asturias Northern Spain surrounded by its own organic farm and where we are passionate about organic farming, food, and sustainable livelihoods. In this Blog those of us who live and work at Hotel Posada del Valle open a door to share with all of you who are interested in what we are doing.