From July through to September 2019, we, that being my husband, myself and our twelve year old Springer Spaniel spent two-months in the city of Leon, in the North of Spain.
During the last fortnight of our stay we visited a few of the vast amount of outdoor walks, mountain trails and interesting drives just short distances from the centre of the city.
Over the next series of articles I will go through some of the areas we visited and feature some of the wonderful, thrilling and accessible outdoor activities to enjoy when visiting the city of Leon and the Leon y Castile region.
The first short hike I am going to go through is actually the last one we did, the Ruta De Cascadas De Rio Faro, which translates to the route of the waterfalls of the river Faro.
From the centre of Leon it is approximately an hour drive along a very scenic route, where at various places slate grey mountains tower over narrow winding roads before opening up into a green valley populated with cows roaming freely along the sides of the road, villages and up into the hills.
Winding our way slowly we stop in the small village of Lugueros where we spotted a café open on the side of the road for a quick double Espresso and tapas. Taking in the mountain peaks outlined by the bluest of skies with the lightest dusting of clouds, we drank our coffees in silence.
There was only a few days left of our current journey and silence tempered with the sharp acidify of the coffee acted to ground us in the now removing thoughts of the following weeks whereby we would be moving back to a different country and climate.
Before leaving Lugueros and continuing our drive to the village of Redipuertas and the start of the Ruta De Cascadas, we wandered for a few minutes soaking in the atmosphere, sitting by the low river and marvelled at the detail of the stone humpback bridge we had crossed: Our feet adding to the generations of feet threading along a well-defined path.
Lots of cows later, we arrive in Redipuertas. The journey not too dissimilar to traveling in Connemara, Ireland, just populated with sheep and maybe not so much blue as a grey sky.
We quickly found parking and followed the signs into the centre of the small village, more meandering cows and calves later we arrive at the base of the route and the first waterfall. The whole route encompasses eight waterfalls, and to be honest it would be better to visit in late winter or early spring to see the full effect of the water cascading through the falls.
With this in mind the first waterfall and its shimmering rock pool pleasantly surprises us. Starting from this point the Ruta De Cascadas De Rio Faro is a short linear walk up a wide mountain track, the elevation gained in 170 meters and the complete walk there and back is 5.4km.
Along the hike you are surrounded by the Pico Morala, Pico Huevo, Pico Faro, Pico del Mediodia and to your back as you leave the village the Peña Nevares and Umbria de Pico Cueto. The mountain peaks jut up into the open sky weaving and dipping, holding onto the clouds as they try to pass on into the valley, everything appears in high definition making me feel as giddy as a child in a sweetshop.
The winding dusty route drops away in to the deep valley below, dotted by more cows wearing large bells around their necks that make soft tinkling sounds as they walk slowly or eat leaves from the trees.
There is very little water, as to be expected, so the waterfalls are really just trickles, but this detracts very little from our hike. We may have visited for the waterfalls but the skies and mountain line above our heads are just spectacular and well worth the trip.
On our way back down we encounter a herd of sheep making their way around the side of an old hermitage, serenaded by their bells, we spot an unusual looking sheep. The sheep turns out not to be a sheep at all, but a Mastín Español or Spanish mastiff a large dog bred to protect the flock from wolves and other predators.
Seeing this gentle giant standing amongst the flock, shoulder to shoulder as if their brother, brings a smile on our faces. They wander on by as we make our way to the car, a day well spent in the outdoors surrounded by mountains is a day never lost.