Saturday, 21 March 2009

The snow starts to melt

This winter there has been a lot of snow in Asturias and according to the locals they haven’t had a winter with so much snow for many years. However we have had about three weeks of continual brilliant sun with temperatures reaching 27ºC and this has meant the snow has started to melt from the mountains. With the spring equinox starting today I thought it would be appropriate to show some photos of the snow melting and remind us of the cyclic way of nature.

Very often the snow doesn’t melt evenly on the mountain, not only does it depend on the altitude but also on the orientation as well as various other factors.

Snow remaining on the north facing slopes whilst it has thawed on the south facing slopes (On the boundary of the natural parks of Redes and Ponga)

Snow on the high mountain peaks and on the north facing lower slopes (Looking at the Picos de Europa from the Ponga Mountains)

The wind often blows the snow into wave like forms known as “cornisas”. This often happens on mountain edges forming larger depths of snow which take longer to melt.(The Purrupinta Forest close to Ponga)

Here the snow is melting, which along with the sun and the wind can produce quite spectacular metrological phenomenon. (Taken in the Urbina Park another recently declared natural park in Asturias)

Even in the higher peaks, here over 2000 meters, the snow has started to melt (Urbina natural park)

As the snow melts the mountain farm settlements are becoming accessible. (Ponga mountains)

The horses which have been left in the mountains over the winter are probably glad the snow is melting. (Lower Ponga Mountains with the Picos in the background)

And off course as the snow thaws so the rivers swell.

Spring is here!

Monday, 16 March 2009

Camino de Santiago, The Coastal Route

Its just over 2 weeks before we open the hotel and both Joe and I are working quite hard preparing for the opening. However this doesn’t mean we don’t have time to go walking and enjoy the lovely sunny weather we are experiencing at present. One of our favourite coastal walks is from Playa Arenal de Morris to Colunga which actually forms a part of the Camino de Santiago or The Way of Saint James.

The Camino de Santiago between Arenal de Morris and La Isla

The classic Camino de Santiago waymark
There are probably 8 different Caminos de Santiago starting from different places but all finishing in Santiago de Compostella. The coastal version or Camino del Norte dates back to the 8th century and starts in Irun on the French Spanish border, goes all the way along the provence of Asturias and runs fairly close to the coast for much of the way.
Sandy and pebbly beaches on route

In Asturias there are 275 kms of the path, but the section we particularly like because the path runs next to the sea most the way is from Playa Arenal de Morris to Huerres. You pass through the small resort of La Isla, but the rest of the walk is along very unspoilt rolling hills and farm land.

Rolling hills and dramatic beaches

We include this section in our self guided walking notes and the start of the walk is about 25 mins by car from the hotel. We certainly enjoy this walk and hope you will too.

Monday, 9 March 2009


Receiving the Organic Food and Biodiversity award one year ago in Madrid

Receiving an award is always very satisfying and this year we have been “distinguished by Karen Brown Readers as Spain’s property offering Greatest Value for 2009! If you don’t know Karen Brown, she publishes a series of accommodation guides, which are very popular in the United States. I like to think that our prices are competitive for what we offer, but to be considered Spain’s property offering greatest value for 2009 for me is rather over the top. Still I suppose we should be pleased to have got this recognition.

It was just over 1 year ago (before we had the blog operating) that we achieved the award Organic Food and Biodiversity for the hotel or restaurant which best uses organic food in their gastronomic offer. This was awarded by the Spanish Ministry for the Environment in association with the Biodiversity Foundation. Winning this national award was particularly satisfying as it symbolises our beliefs - and recognises our work - in organic farming and biodiversity.

The idea behind these awards was to stimulate and recognise the efforts made by people in different sectors of organic food in defence of the environment. There was a lot of publicity associated with the event in order to increase the public’s awareness of organic food, which in Spain is quite low. We went to Madrid to receive the award and were presented it by Cristina Narbona who was the Environmental Minister at the time

Group photo of all people from different sectors of organic food, who received the Organic Food and Biodiversity award in 2008

Unfortunately one year latter there is no longer an environmental ministry in Spain. It has been amalgamated with the ministry of agriculture and become; MARM the Ministry of the Environment, Rural Affairs and Fishing! Cristina Narbona is no longer the environmental minister and some of her work on how to stop the degradation of the Spanish coastline appears to be getting lost in the high courts!

Still let’s not get involved in politics, and just appreciate the awards we have received in the last year.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Wild Daffodils

Wild daffodils on the woodland path by the hotel.

Spring is on its way and with it early spring flowers including daffodils are starting to bloom. On the short walk starting from the Hotel to the Santa Marina chapel there are plenty of daffodils growing on the edge of the woodland path next to the stream, as seen in the photo above.

Narcissus leonensis growing on the woodland path by the hotel.

In Asturias there are four species of daffodils or Narcissus. Narcissus pseudonarcissus known in this area as Narcissus leonensis is the larger species with leaves up to 35 cms long. It grows in a variety of habitats and there is quite some variation in the flowers with in the species. It’s the species growing by the stream and I also saw it yesterday on a rocky mountain at an altitude of about 950m.

Narcissus leonensis growing on a rocky mountain at an altitude of 950m.

A week ago we discovered a few plants of Narcissus bulbocodium flowering on the farm in the Castañarina meadow. (It is probably the sup species “cantabricus” an endomism of the Cordillera cantabrica, but I don’t want to get into a taxanomic minefield.) The leaves of this species are up to about 24 cms. This is a first on the farm and will be proudly added to our farm flora list bringing us up to 324 wild flora species identified on the farm to date.

Narcissus bulbocidium growing on the farm.

Narcissus bulbocodium on a mountain at 600m

For me one of the prettiest of daffodils is Narcissus asturiensis with leaves rarely reaching more than 12 cms. It is just starting to come into flower as the snow melts away high in the mountains and can be seen in quite large numbers. The photos of this species were taken on thursday at an altitude of 1,450m

Narcissus asturiensis

Narcissus asturiensis emerging as the snow thaws.

The dramatic asturian mountains with the snow just melting from the meadows where the photos of Narcissus asturiensis where taken on thursday.

I haven’t seen the fourth species of daffodil that grows in Asturias (Narcissus triandrus) this year, so you will have to wait for a photo of that one!

The wood land footpath from the hotel, happy walking and happy botanising!


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.