Asturias ushered in autumn last week with temperatures reaching 34 degrees. Perfect for family visiting us post the high season crush (i.e. now we have accommodation going spare in our holiday rental) and perfect for playing hooky from school. (I know, a little bit naughty but when you’re only nearly 4 and school’s not even mandatory until you’re 6 I think a few days off to spend with your big brother and hanging out in the outdoors can only be a good thing.)
So of course we did the usual
autumnal hot weather pursuits – the beach for surfing and mucking about in the waves and footy and ice-creams in the park. We also did some classic tourist trail stuff – visiting Los Lagos and Covadonga as well as the dinosaur museum (more on these later.) We also visited somewhere I’ve been dying to go for some time now – la olla de San Vicente.
La olla de San Vicente is a beautiful natural swim spot on the River Dobra near Cangas de Onis, with deep, deep pools of emerald green water fresh from the surrounding mountains. Although we’ve swum nearby before now, it’s always been at accessible roadside spots as the sign that indicates a 45 minute walk to the pools had always put me off heading up there with a toddler and his accoutrements. Now that he is nearly 4 and we were three adults to share the load of picnic and swim stuff, we decided it was time to brave the hike.
We needn’t have worried. The stated 45 minute time was generous and obviously aimed at families like us and not competitive, macho types (I say this as someone who has in the past been driven to tears by the ridiculous estimations of walk in times to crags in the Lake District in guides written by mountainy fell-running types. You read 45 minutes and when, an hour and a half later, you crest another hill only to realize you’re still not there the effect is demoralizing to say the least.)
This walk in we made in a relaxed 50 minutes, with one or two photo stops and only a minor bit of carrying on shoulders of the tiny-legged one. The terrain was mostly easy, mercifully unhilly and beautifully shady. Just the right amount of exertion to arrive with our appetites sharpened for a fine picnic which we consumed alongside the glittering pools, giving us ample time to cool off from the walk and contemplate just how chilly the water was going to feel. (Mistake.)
In fact the water temperature is clearly advertised on the approach sign. 10-15 degrees year round. For some reason I failed to process this information on first sight. (Denial?) Having gotten used to swimming in the sea, currently 20 degrees, in my full winter wetsuit I’m not sure what I thought I was doing turning up here in my bikini.
There was only one thing for it. A brave, thoughtless plunge in to the depths.