Monday, 19 September 2011

New blog on walking

We’ve started a new blog and web page on walking in Asturias with lots of information on the area and walking. There are different posts on walking with a personal account of the walk followed by technical information including; maps and contour profiles. GPS tracks for these walks are now available at the hotel along with our self guided walking notes. Here is the personal account of the latest walk posted on the blog.

Ascent of Pico Zorru from Les Bedules

Views from the Pico Zorru towards the Cordal de Ponga

Being surrounded by so many lovely mountains it’s too difficult to decide which is my favorite walk, there can’t just be one but various and the ascent of Pico Zorro from Les Bedules is certainly one of them.

When I walked it this time we were still experiencing an Indian summer so I wanted to get to the summit before the heat set in and started walking from Les Bedules at 8,0 clock in the morning. The first 3 kilometers take you along tracks, slightly wooded in parts but with good views and then you arrive at the large summer pasture of Les Llampes. There was a farmers car parked in the meadow but no sign of the farmer just plenty of cows grazing peacefully and the continual melody of their bells.

The Llampes meadow (taken last October)

The sun was rising over the Picos but the meadow was still in the shadow of the “Rasu” mountain and this made it a nice temperature for walking. I could still see mist over the coast and became aware it was slowly rolling inland. When there is good visibility it’s difficult to believe just how hard it can be to find your way across these pathless meadows when there is mist.

Another hot day with the early morning sun on the mountains but the LLampes meadow still in shade

Once past the meadow the walk takes you for a short distance through an old beech forest covered in lichens and then you arrive at the Pumarin Col with the Picos in front of you and the massive PeloƱo beach forest below you. There is such a variety of habitats; jagged limestone peaks rising in the background, a massive extent of natural beach forest and the occasional clearing where cows graze on abandoned pastures dotted with ruined shepherds huts. I often dream of a resurgence of mountain farming with people paying fair prices for sustainably produced meat and farmers once again nurturing these mountain pastures and the traditions that go with them. I dream a little more!

Around the limestone outcrop before climbng up the spur and on to the final ascent of Pico Zorru

Now it’s a short distance along a flattish track and I just want to admire the views but its getting much hotter and I reckon I should get a move on and wonder if I should have started walking an hour earlier! It’s across a small limestone outcrop and then round the bottom of a steep grassy valley before climbing up a gentle spur and on to the final grassy ridge before reaching the summit. It’s so stunning here that whenever I reach this point I just want to stay, and absorb the beauty of these “puertos” or high mountain pastures for as long as possible. The Pico Zorru is not the highest point in this small chain of mountains but gives it its name; “El Cordal del Zorru” may be because of its beauty!

The cross on the summit of Pico Zorru with the cloud covering the mountains in the background

I am on the summit and the mist is rising fast and the peaks to the north (seaward side of me) have all been covered by another stunning sea of cloud waiting to engulf me. Reluctantly I start me descent and with in 20 minutes my views and hot sweat have both gone and a cold damp mist accompanies me on my return journey back to the car.

Click here for the complete entrance with technical information.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Mari Carmen

Asked to write a blog one person comes to mind, Mari Carmen. The Hotel is now enjoying its 15th year during the many opening and closings of the door one person has played an important role with her vivacious smile and the welcome twinkle in her eye.

Mari Carmen and her vivacious smile.

Mari has been with us for 14 years , working hard to keep the Hotel in tip top shape, and making sure the guests needs are seen to. She starts work early in the morning when most guests are still asleep, preparing the Breakfast buffet, as the guests come down she serves coffee and teas, I can’t resist once I smell the coffee I’m in the kitchen for my first cup…

Mari Carmen preparing the breakfast buffet

As the guests come and go she discreetly tidies up behind them, after breakfast she makes her way upstairs to the rooms, like the flash of a wand everything is transformed into shipshape.

Rooms and corridors are endlessly cleaned and tidied, clean laundry put on shelves, storerooms filled , fridges restocked, compost taken to garden just some of the many every day chores to make the running of the Hotel easier for us all. When in season she shells the dry beans, cracks the walnuts,( I won’t mention the time she was using a stone..) Strings up the onions, there is nothing she can’t do, she is the diamond amongst gems.

Mari Carmen with her daughter Patricia in the kitchen

Behind the scenes Mari also takes care of the farm and animals while we are away, I think her smile and patience runs out as my adorable goat Wednesday always seems to escape when I am away. I remember the year she took a lamb home to bottle feed it, and the day the vets arrived earlier to do blood tests on the sheep, out she went to round them up without a second thought. In the winter she spends many an hour painting the rooms, upholstering the dining room chairs, sweeping up the ever falling leaves in autumn.

Mari Carmen at the fiesta in Collia with her sister.

There is no end to her energy, on her day off she looks after her grandson, or rushes to the market in her little car, makes lunch for her family and still finds time to dance the evening away. We were very lucky to find such a hard working, reliable and happy person.

A toast to Mari Carmen.

Blog entrance written by Joe


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.