If you have read other posts from Jesse or myself, you know that we like taking the train to nearby towns and exploring. There are two regional train lines (Adif and Feve) and one national train line(Renfe), all under the heading of Renfe, that originate in Gijón, as Gijón is the northernmost point as well as largest coastal city in Asturias.
I take pictures of the train maps at the station, because the Renfe website is extremely difficult and not user friendly in the determining of routes. On this day, a sunny one after a few rainy days, we decided to visit the Lagos del Cielo Abierto (Lakes of the Open Sky), two small lakes high above ground in the valley between two large hills, inland and south of Gijón. The train ride was an hour to the small village of Tuilla (Tiuya), where our journey would begin.
Once we arrived, there was a lone cafe across the street from the train stop; we enjoyed some cafe con leche while locals chatted at nearby tables, and then were off to find the lakes. Obviously, lakes near the sky will require uphill travel, and we walked up (steep) paved roads with few cars until the trail to the lake appeared. We greeted an old woman out for her afternoon stroll as we saw a well kept map stand, showing us the path to the lakes.
We found the trail off the paved road soon enough, and while the trail was muddy and we had to traverse large puddles, we reached the lakes, still relatively clean. The peaceful and quietness of the lakes was profound; to enjoy this type of beauty, under bright sun and clear skies, with a loved one, truly made us feel happy to be alive. We took in the lakes, and the far off mountains that peaked through the hills on either side of the lakes.
We had brought our bocadillos (sandwiches), manzanas (apples), and cacahuetes (peanuts) and ate our lunch under the sunny skies, sitting on large, flat rocks near the lake edge. The wind swirled a bit, but the sun kept us warm.
The original plan was to walk the 1.5 hours to the lakes (check) and then walk down the 1.5 hours to the town of El Entrego and take the train back to Gijón. So we followed the path from the map app, and were greeted with spectacular views, though the path kept climbing, until we were near the top of the hills overlooking the lakes.
We heard a sound as we came around a bend, and it was from a couple of wild horses, one black and the other white; the black horse was sitting, and as we passed and said hello, he rolled on his side like a dog wanting his belly rubbed. We thought better of doing that, and passed them, but continually noted how weird and interesting and beautiful it was to see them both, just enjoying the sun and each other’s company, as we were.
The path continued up the hill, though the mud on the ground became thicker, darker, and wetter. Eventually we could go no further around it without getting completely covered, so we turned back and took a hiking trail, figuring the trail would eventually lead to a road (though the trail was not on the map).
We traversed so much mud on the trail, as the path down was on the opposite side of the hill from where the sun shone and it had rained for a few days prior (as mentioned already, but it needs to be repeated). Eventually my right foot stepped in a big puddle, and thus my sock and shoe were soaking. No problem, we will find the bottom of this hill soon, and I can dry out my sock before we left. Hours later, after stepping, jumping, leaping, using rocks and branches to cross over the water and thick mud, both my feet and Jesse’s were soaked, the bottoms of our pants covered in dried mud as well. It was fitting the trail was called La Mudrera (because we could have been murdered on the trail (probably not) and it was also full of mud).
We made one turn and saw a huge sheep dog, barking and running toward us; and also heard the bells from the sheep that had been grazing getting quieter as they ran away from us. I loudly yelled “no” at the dog, and held up our umbrella to protect us; the sheep dog stopped a short distance away, sat down while still growling, and she eventually laid down. We had come too far to turn back, but the old sheep dog was not moving.
We debating on turning around, and then the sheep dog made the choice for us; she slowly arose and followed the sheep upward toward the farm and wooden fence we could see above us in the distance. We carefully proceeded down the path, eventually picked up large branches to ward off the dog, but we never saw her again. As the path descended we worried about slipping as the mud and leaves made the path even slicker; Jesse had a close call though was able to save herself from falling in the mud, her yoga paying off in a practical yet unexpected way as she used her one gloved hand to steady herself. I had brought a thin pair of gloves, and we each wore one to grip branches (though many were not branches at all, rather thorn bushes, which the thin cloth gloves provided the tiniest bit of protection. (Below: earlier, happier pic on the road below, and a goat just chilling)
We slowly neared the river Arroyo del Barrero, and the map told us if we followed the river, it will eventually take us to the road. The sun was still shinning, but not on us, as we were on the wrong side of the mountain. Later, on the train ride home, we both discussed having the worry about still being in these woods after dark (but not wanting to worry the other, we kept it to ourselves while in the thick of the woods). Finally, after a couple hours, we reached the road in the town of Baeres; though one could not tell, and there were no signs, that the trail began (or for us, ended here).
As the sun began to set we started the thirty minute walk downhill back to Tuilla (we never made it to El Entrego, so that will be a trip for another time). We passed by a young lady wearing a winter coat with a bright pink furry collar, who looked at us very strangely; she returned our greeting but was obviously surprised to see us, covered in mud past our ankles, wearing our windbreakers, on the sparsely traveled road.
Eventually we reached the train station in Tuilla, a mere six hours after we had walked off the train, and although much dirtier (and muscles achier) than when we had arrived, felt satisfied, another Asturian adventure in the books.