Whilst still in the midst of the cold and very wet winter that we seemed to experience this year, Spain was mentioned as our possible holiday destination in Bella. So the research started and once I had finally discovered that we could get an over-night boat from Roscoff to Spain it was much more appealing. The reason we chose the Pico mountains can only be blamed on several other people’s blogs who had written so much about their beauty and the fabulous walks and the fact that it was good motorcycling country. During my research I came across the Cares Gorge walk which links two villages Cain and Poncebos. Everything I read about it was how stunning its scenery is and they had walked it in 6 hours.
Now in my mind I had it that we would walk one way have a nice lunch in the village and then complete the return leg – simples.
First things first, we needed to get to the start which for us was in the village of Cain 9 kilometres away. Now we had the motorbike so no problem. Then we realised that not only will we need to change out of bike gear and somehow lock it on the bike with our hemets but we also needed to find somewhere flat to unload the bike off the trailer. This meant moving the van to the middle of the entrance of the aire and blocking it for about 20 minutes. Before we implemented this plan Andy paid a visit to the tourist office and enquired about other options. Taxi €30.00 each way, or we could drive the motor home, it is narrow in places but ‘doable’.
So plan B it was, motor home with bike on the back going to Cain.
Yes dear reader(s) as you can see it was narrow and that was not the worst. I couldn’t take pictures of the worst section as I was too busy checking we didn’t catch the roof on the rocks as we take the bend completely on the wrong side of the road just praying we wouldn’t meet anyone as there was just no way we could pass each other and the passing places were very very few and far between. Added into this mess we had now got in to was inclines of 20%. Now going, they were down hill and only had to stop once to let the brakes cool down, but now I am worried how we will get back up them. All sorts of things are going through my mind, need to get rid of the water we are carrying, unload the bike , no idea how, and even remove the gas cylinders.
We eventually see somewhere to pull over, and we discuss parking up and taking the bike the rest of the way. But the car park is in the middle of no where so we decide to press on. We round one bend and the village of Cain appears. That would have been embarrassing.
There are various small cafe’s, hostels and a couple of restaurants. The rest of the available space is car parks. Anyone who has a field provides secure parking for €5.00 for the day. The one we choose looks the easiest to get into, although we still had to pull in the wing mirrors.
And finally we set off walking at 10.20. Small back pack each containing 1 litre of water each, Sun hats, sun cream and the all important purse for the lunch in Poncebos.
The first 3 or 4 kilometres are beautiful over fast flowing water, through tunnels and alongside waterfalls. We start in long trousers as it is still cool but soon the bottoms of the legs are removed (unzipped rather than we cut them off) as it starts to heat up. We pass loads of people who have set out from Poncebos and people in running gear with water packs on their backs jog pass us. We overtake some groups who are of all ages, many a lot older than us. After about 6k the gorge opens up and is much more of a barren feeling as we start our climb.
The last section of the 12k is downhill and steep. Now this is where we should of turned round but we had set ourselves the challenge and we weren’t going to give up. Plus I still wanted my lunch in Poncebos. We made it and yes I did have my lunch, but only the Apple each and Baby bell cheese we had carried as a snack. There was nothing, just a few bins and rows and rows of cars. Not even anywhere to buy some more water or any form of transport back the 100k by road to Cain.
After 20 minutes of rest, if that, we start back, yes we still had to walk another 12k back to Cain. I know you must be saying we were mad, and at one point I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. The climb back up from Poncebos sometimes on hands and knees up the rocky goat track, which had taken an hour to cover the 2k down took me 2 hours!! I felt dizzy, sick and at times struggling to catch my breath. Probably not the best conditions to have on a four foot wide track that disappears on my left over 500 meters to the river far below. The sun was just beating down as it was 2pm and hardly any shade. With lots of stops every 50 meters or so we finally make it to the top – only another 10k to go. Fortunately the rest of the way is either flat or down hill and I was now back to normal. (!-AH). Breathing was fine and the dizziness and sickness gone.
No further pictures taken as didn’t have the energy. Andy bless him carried my rucksack. (more brownee points-AH). We had to rashion our water and had our final sips as we crossed the middle of the three bridges that are close to the beginning. Finally we make it back to Bella, sit in the shade and devour a large bottle of fanta orange. It was now 5.30 pm.
Time to get out of here and back to the Aire. Bella was magnificent. She managed every hill without any unloading, albeit in first gear and very slowly. There were only two scary moments one when a motorbike coming the other way breaked sharply on the bend to allow us to pass and he nearly dropped his bike as he skidded on the gravel. Second was when we met another car coming the other way and she wasn’t reversing up but instead tried to squeeze past, the drop off the hill was her side so we pulled into the ditch our side and let her get on with it.
Finally back and safely parked up. In a day or two I will be immensely proud at completing the 24k but at the moment I have blisters and very tired legs. Didn’t really feel like cooking for some reason so thought we would eat out. At 7pm we set off but neither of the restaurants open till 9pm. Too shattered to wait we head back for spaghetti Bolognese.
One of the the three blisters I ended up with.