Bagpipes, Inlets & Forests. Scotland? No, Green Spain.

Once upon a time…

I designed walking and cycling holidays in Europe. #bestjobever

And so it was in this official capacity that I was invited by the Spanish Tourism Board to participate in a ‘Familiarisation’ tour of the region collectively known as España Verde (Green Spain). Broadly speaking, Green Spain comprises the fascinating regions of Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia running west from Bilbao and hewn into the north western corridor of Spain.

I came to Green Spain  just ‘for a look’ – I really knew very little about the region. To be honest I accepted the invitation not with glee or pent-up excitement but more-so a nonchalant air of – ‘sure, why not’. Looking back now I believe that it was exactly this lack of expectation or any preconceived notions about the region that enabled this small pocket of Spain to capture me as it did. I was immediately beguiled by its veritable smorgasbord of attractions – it was an alluring tapas of scenery, gastronomy, culture and ancient traditions.

Green Spain

Avilés in Asturias.

green spain

My guides for my ‘Educational’ tour of Green Spain

I began my explorations in the delightful medieval city of Avilés. Reputed to have been a settlement as far back as Roman times there is a relaxed and un-rushed ambiance to the third largest city in Asturias. Avilés is ‘laid-back’ and a pleasure to stroll as much of it’s centre has been pedestrianised. There is also a pleasing amalgam of history and culture with many enticing bars and eateries interspersed between fine historical buildings dating back centuries.

Green Spain

A typically enticing spot to enjoy a cerveza and take in the world

But Green Spain offers much more than just appealing ancient cities. In fact the diversity of attractions afforded to the traveller in this little known and verdant pocket of Spain is a little ridiculous.

Green Spain highlights:

  • Picos de Europa National Park. Towering mountains. UNESCO listed.
  • Camino de Santiago. (One of the world’s most well-known walking trails/ pilgrimages)
  • Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. Cutting edge, contemporary art.
  • Fascinating cities such as Avilés, Oviedo and Santiago de Compostela
  • Quaint fishing villages
  • Lush forests and bucolic rolling pastures
  • Ancient traditions continued to the present day
  • Atmospheric coastline, brutal waves & brave (insane?) surfers
  • Sublime seafood, crisp ciders and delicious local gastronomy.

Unlike much of Spain the distances you have to travel between attractions in this region are negligible and there is no need for a ‘bull-on-a-hill’ every few hundred kilometres or so to keep your interest.

Stretching out like a fisherman’s net along the northern coastline is a series of fishing villages so quaint and charming they feel as though they could have been built as a movie set – such as Tapia de Casariego pictured below. These hamlets are safe anchorages and restful enclaves from the sometimes bombastic seas that smash with fury against the sea walls protecting the harbours and their fleets of small fishing vessels.

green spain

Beauty where-ever you point your camera in Tapia de Casariego

There is also a palpable sense of Celtic tradition in Green Spain. Unlike the Romans before them, who sought to pillage and plunder, the Celts who came to this region in the ‘Dark Ages’ settled and integrated with the local populace. Their legacy and influence is unmissable even today and adds a truly unique flavour particularly to the province of Asturias. Craggy coastal inlets, lush green pastures, stands of majestic forests and locals playing bagpipes really make you want to pinch yourself on occasion to check you are not in Scotland.

green spain

OK this is Spain right?

green spain

However I would have to say that, of all the region’s charms, it is their stubborn insistence on continuing their ancient traditions that appealed most to me. The rest of the ‘first world’ is so dominated by technology. Technological advancement that so often doesn’t just supersede the present-day ways but snubs them out for ever. This doesn’t seem to be the case here. Yes you can use your mobile phone but pleasantly you can also use it to take a photo of a blacksmith at work!

green spain

Asturias Blacksmith

Our purpose here at Thirty Summers dot com is to help you, our reader, Escape Ordinary. A visit to the little-known España Verde and exploration of its diverse delights truly delivers on this maxim.

green spain

Don’t worry you can still get Google in Green Spain but also age-old tradition

All images © Saxon Templeton

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About Saxon

I'm passionate about travelling, music, photography, blogging, 'Social Anthropology' (the posh term for people-watching) and creating content. I travel to learn and observe to understand. My dream day would look something like this.... A bottle of red (or two), fresh baguette (or two) & wedge of Camembert (or two), a balmy Paris September eve spent people-watching in fine company on the banks of the Canal St Martin.

There are 15 comments

  1. Thomas

    That’s an interesting post with many beautiful pictures! Didn’t ever noticed “Green Spain” until now. It’s now on my travel list for the next years (besides Ireland, Iceland, Scotland and Norway – Lofoten)!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Saxon

      Thanks Thomas. You will LOVE it there! Wow envious of that list. All beautiful places. You are very lucky living in Europe 🙂 My friend has just built a house on Lofoten for AirBNB. Did you want me to find out the details and share with you. It is in Stokmarknes…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thomas

        You’re welcome! 🙂 I think so too after looking at this blogpost.

        I traveled far to less in the last years so I made up this list and until now it works great (London and Rome already checked 2013 and 2014). Lofoten are on my plan for April or May in 2017. So if you can provide me the infos about the BNB it would be very nice! I will definitely consider it on my route!

        Like

        1. Fiona

          Yes we do!! As for RWC2015, everyone else is, so why be different? And, incidentally, I have two friends, one from uni and another school (and who is partly responsible for my starting my blog) who live in Melbourne. Another recently moved from there to Newcastle…. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Hugo

    Thank you for your kind words. It’s always a pleasure to find out that not everybody thinks that Spain is just hot summers and sand beaches in the south.

    Just a small correction, though. One of the pictures is said to be of the coast town of Cudillero. Lovely as it is, the one in the picture is Tapia de Casariego, west of Cudillero.

    The next picture of people dancing is also in Tapia. They are the Banda de Gaitas Marino Tapiega, the local bagpipe band.

    There’s a great folk music festival celebrated in Tapia every August, FID’O (Festival Interceltico D’Occidente).

    Thank you! Glad to see you enjoyed your stay here among us.

    Like

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