Ribadesella (Asturias), Spain July 2021

We marked our spot at the Novales Cove campsite and took the Van westwards along the Asturian Coast to Ribadesella, the plan being to return to the campsite in the evening.

Ribadesella is a beautiful little fishing town, somewhat smaller than neighbouring Llanes with plenty of character and absolutely stunning beaches. It has a population of little more than 5,000 but is recognised as being one of the most popular, liveliest and busiest towns on the north coast of Spain. The Spaniards love the place but on the day we arrived it was virtually empty. Really dismal and unseasonal weather had kept the crowds at bay. No matter, we were happy to take a look see and stop for lunch.

The River Sella splits the town into two halves which are connected by a lengthy low slung bridge. The eastern half comprises the historical town centre (a network of pretty plazas and streets), the Iglesia Santa Maria Magdalena and the harbour. The western half is mostly about the town’s Santa Marina beach, it’s promenade and a series of very elaborate and colourful mansions (belle epoch style and reminiscent of Dinard in Northern France) which line the promenade.

Although the rain held off, the weather was such that we were deterred from visiting some of the local sites and we certainly didn’t see Ribadesella in it’s best light. Indeed, for much of the morning the cloud was barely above sea level. No matter, we saw enough to know it is a very beautiful little town and well worth a return visit. Most certainly, I would like to walk up the Paseo de la Grua to the little church of Ermita de la Virgen de Guia. That route takes you up past 6 large ceramic panels representing Ribadesella through the ages. I have seen prints of them and they look charming. Of equal interest would be the views across the town from the little church. On a fine day, with the Picos de Europa mountains providing a backdrop, I imagine the view would be magnificent.

The river Sella is a major feature of the town and the following reference to the ‘Descenso Internacional del Sella’ is for my brother as much as anybody. The “Descenso” is an annual kayak race (festival), held on the first Saturday of every August, down the last 20 kilometres of the River Sella from Arriondas in the Picos de Europa to the main bridge in Ribadesella. It has been run since 1930 and the last race attracted 1,000+ entries. Many of the entrants now are professionals but most are relative novices out for the crack. I’m not sure if it will be run this year because of Covid but it is worth reading up on. Oh, and while many entrants will take more than 3 hours to complete the course, the current record is 1 hour and 1 minute.

We left Ribadesella as it started raining but just a few miles down the coast near the hamlet of Cuerres the weather seemed to improve. That is the mountains for you. We were delighted because our next stop was to be at the Bufones de Pria. The Bufones are a natural phenomenon where jets of sea water surge and spout from holes and cracks in the limestone cliffs (a bit like geysers, I suspect). The ones we were visiting are supposedly powerful enough to blow an adult man into the sea and we had arranged it so as to arrive at high tide. Whoopee! We expected great things and we deserved them after navigating the Van along a series of ever narrowing country lanes to reach the place.

It wasn’t to be. The sea was as flat as a millpond.

On the way back to Lannes we paused briefly at the tiny hamlet of Cuerres so that I could admire the Church of San Mames. It is so pretty and very unusual with it’s verandahs.

Sad note to end this particular blog on. The weather forecast for the north coast is not so good over the next few days, especially in the Asturias. We’re having to move south (we like the sun too much) but, while I have tasted some excellent local ciders I have not yet been served one from up on high by an escanciador (i.e. a proper Asturian Cider Pourer). I’m going to have to do something about that.

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