In the late evening, four more outfits arrived at Pico de la Miel, bringing our number to six overnight. Since I stayed hitched, I was ready to leave by 8.45. A few minutes with the engine ticking over whilst rear lights and hitch were checked was sufficient to thaw the frozen windscreen.
Within 20 miles I’d reached the foot of Somosierra. The next four and a half miles was a steady 6% climb to reach the top of the pass. But it’s an easy tow on a three-lane motorway with gentle bends. The downward slope is a similar gradient and equally as long.
After 100 miles, I stopped for a coffee break. I also debated whether to stay at Fuentes Blancas at Burgos or continue on to another site I’d heard about at Aguila de Campoo on the A67. http://campingmonteroyal.com/ It looked good on the website however Tripadvisor posted several derogatory comments about the site. I should have heeded them – instead, I continued to there. Tomtom lead me to the entrance, which involved a tow around the town then three miles down a narrow country road. Reception was closed so I parked outside and went in. Across the forecourt, a young guy was working on a car so I went across and asked him if they were open. Without removing his cigarette, he told me “Si --- no agua en los banos”. I tried to ask him more about the water supply but he didn’t want to help further so I decided to leave.
Back in the car, I faced a dilemma. Either go 70 miles back to Burgos or do 70 miles onward to Virgen del Mar at Santander. But I still had three nights to put in before my sailing. I decided to drive on to Santander. I’ve stayed at the site several times over the years. It’s not a bad place and I’ve written reviews in previous years. It is, however the most expensive site I’ve ever used in Spain. Summer and winter, it’s €12 for the pitch, €5 for the electric, €5 for each person. So for a couple, it’s €27 per night.
After I’d pitched up and had a very late lunch, I walked down to the nearby beach car park. There’s a drinks kiosk – only open in the summer. The outside of the kiosk is decorated with several old adverts – possibly pre-war and English. When the tide is in, the island is really an island.
A foot bridge connects to the mainland. Situated at its highest point is a small chapel. Built in the 14th century, the shrine honours the Virgin of the Sea, the patron saint of Santander. The chapel is only open on special occasions. I took a walk over to the seaward side of the cliffs.
The weather had been beautiful all the way north and it looked set to continue, so on Friday, I prepared a packed lunch and set off along the motorway. Within 20 miles I’d arrived at Santillana, a village which in medieval times was one of the stops on the northern pilgrim route, the Camino de Santiago. Tomtom led me to a huge car park on the outskirts of the village. No pay & display. Stay as long as you like. The village is totally pedestrianized, except for residents and deliveries, so armed with a map collected from the tourist office, I set off along the cobbled streets.
The most important building in the village, standing in a small plaza is the Colegiata de Santa Juliana, a church built in the 12th Century.
Close to the chancel is a tomb said to contain the relics of Juliana who was tortured and then beheaded (in Naples by the man she refused to marry!)
Ajoining the church are the cloisters which have some remarkable carving around the capitals – sadly looking rather weather-worn now.
Across another square stands a 16th Century house known as the Arenas Palace. A Spanish nobleman and local landowner had it built for his family.
It's a pity that views in these old villages are often spoilt by parked cars. In some of the pictures shown here, I’ve used ‘paint’ to get rid of them.
Back at the car, I continued my drive out to the coast and visited Comillas, a one-time fishing village and during the 18th Century, a whaling station. Now, just about the only fishing that takes place is with rod and line. But a lovely little harbour and beach.
On Saturday, I drove six miles along the coast to the Peninsular de la Magdelena. At the entry point to the park, driving was for authorized vehicles only so I found a parking place along the sea-front. Again no pay & display and no restriction on time. I walked to the entrance of the park where I could see the palace high up on the hill. I’d made up my mind that it would be impossible for me to do the walk when I saw a tourist train approaching. I bought a ticket and boarded. It took the longer side of the circular route but finally we reached the forecourt of the palace – which happened to be at the back of the building. I expected that I would be able to get off the train, stroll around and catch the next one. But no! It didn’t stop; it just continued back to its starting point. So maybe not a complete waste of time but certainly a waste of €2.50.
From where I got off the train, I could see spectators being attracted by something so I wandered across. There were several large pens, open to the sea through tunnels. In each pen were four or five porpoises swimming around.
Presumably, someone feeds them at certain times. Further up the hill was a display featuring sailing craft from adventures from many years ago. One of the exhibits was a balsa wood raft built in 1970 and sailed from Ecuador to Australia. The trip lasted 161 days and covered 8565 miles.
Finding myself so close to the top of the hill, I continued upwards and walked around the outside of the palace.
The Palace was built as a summer residence for the Spanish King Alfonso XIII who in 1907 married Princess Victoria Eugenie, one of the grand-daughters of our Queen Victoria. They had the palace built in the style of Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. By1930, and with a large family, the political situation had changed in Spain so both King and Queen were facing exile, however with their marriage already in trouble, mainly due to the fact that Victoria had proved to be a carrier of haemophilia, they separated with Alfonso going to France and Victoria going to Switzerland.
By the time I’d dragged my weary self back to the car, I’d walked a mile and a half. I’d had enough!
It’s sailing day today so at mid-day, I left the site and made my way down to the dockside at Santander. I chose the long way round by motorway rather than negotiate all the roundabouts across town. It means about 8 miles instead of four. The Baie de Seine arrived on time at 14.15 and we loaded from 4 pm onwards. It’s around an hour since we left harbour and already we are out of site of land. If everything goes according to plan we should be in Portsmouth by 21.00 on tomorrow night. Within two hours I should be home. Which seems a good time to close this chapter of my blog. As in previous years, I include a breakdown of my essential costs. This year, a total of £2846. Around £500 more than last year, although I did less towed miles this year than last. Undoubtedly a large part of the increase is due to an eye-watering increase for my Red Pennant insurance. Up from £300 in previous years to this years £750.
Ferry fare Outward £303
Total ferry fare which included friends discount £627
Fuel for both directions £280
Toll Bilbao to Burgos Outward €21.50 £19
Site fees for 14 nights outward journey €176
Site fees for 3 months + 1 week €1050
Site fees for 5 nights homeward journey €104
Total site fees €1330 Approx conversion £1170
Red Pennant for 120 days £750
To read this blog with extra pictures see:- https://jondogoescaravanning.com/spain-nov-2018-feb-2019/