On a hot summer night would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red rose?
300 million years in the making, the sharp craggy peaks and meandering mellow emerald meadows of the Picos de Europa at Canga de Onis in Asturias conjures thoughts of coquettish girls in red cloaks carrying wicker baskets and Jim Steinman lyrics. Here be astounding beauty laced with a hint of danger.
On a warm spring day, as opposed to a hot summer night, the wide-screen landscape overwhelms the retinas – it is a backdrop to inspire fantastical fairy tales. A place where shepherds’ cottages are only distinguishable from stony outcrops because of their red-tiled roofs; a place where sheep graze nervously in dreamy pastures until one of them bleats ‘it’s the wolf, it’s the wolf’… or bear… or vulture; a place where cheese is matured in caves and glacial lakes exude a cool, aloof seductiveness; a place where locals joke that the vultures’ favourite food after lamb is English hiker.
The Picos de Europa have a Tolkienesque grandeur to them. They were a natural barrier to the invading Moors who marauded through most of the rest of Spain in 711AD. This was the place where, at Covadonga, a band of stubbornly defiant warriors began an epic 600 year long campaign to wrest Hispania back from the Moors.
This is Spain at its purest and its spellbinding qualities speak for themselves.