A couple hours eastwards across Asturias from the hazy likes of Maleza, the mountains take a more alpine form. Joining a painfully slow trail of tourist cars and motorbikes winding ever upwards, the reward for patience is Covadonga. It’s quite a reward. Here is some of the most tranquil and breath-taking scenery I have ever seen.
The actual Covadonga is, if my Spanish is good (it’s not) is a village parish consisting of a pilgrimage-worthy shrine and basilica. They’re both photogenic to a tee, the shrine is clinging to the rock face carved into a cavern perching atop a waterfall. It’s accessed by a huge staircase embedded into the rock with tunnels through the mountain lined with candles. Spend an hour to wander over to the mighty basically and soak in the heavenly atmosphere.
Then jump back in the car and head further up the mountain to the Lagos Covadonga. Along the way you’ll be winding through precarious hairpins, rubbing noses with stray cows and wondering if the snow-capped vistas can get any more beautiful.
They can. At the end of the road are two lakes. Keep going at the first, the second is the money. Here is an immaculate grassy meadow circling a glassy lake. On the far side a range of mountains, on the near side the only restaurant for miles and all around a gentle, repetitious cow-bell chorus from the grazing herd. The sound of breaking waves, rainfall in the jungle and a purring cat. Now we can add Covadonga cowbells to the list of world’s greatest sounds.
We ate (at the only restaurant for miles) a hearty Fabada stew of chorizo and beans in preparation for running the 7km loop around the lakes (do it – even as a walk). Fabada is basically the Spanish version of the French Cassoulet. Served right I know Fabada can be the a sultry slow-cooked cauldron of texture and taste. Cooked not-right and you get this, the same wet-bland taste as we’ve had a bunch of times in Soho. Spain – what are you doing to us?