The Fuente Dé cable car and climbing Picos de Europa in CantabriaWednesday, 3 September 2014
There's something so exciting about mountain air in the morning. I think it's because it feels like you're about to do something - you're hiking, or you're cycling, or you're skiing. It feels like the start of a day when you're going to accomplish something.
Of course, accomplishing something may be as simple as pouring your ass into a cable car, and letting that do all the work. So with that spirit in mind, I breathed in a lungful of fresh mountain air, and got the cable car at Fuente De up to the top of the Picos de Europa.
The following scenario seems to happen quite often in my life. I'll be struggling through some physical activity - a hill walk, tough climb or similar, and will be passed out by a gaily leaping pensioner or toddler, who is beating me quite spectacularly.
As we were ascending the mountain on the cable car, we spotted two men running up the rocks above. Running. Up. The. Mountain. Just looking at them panicked me - one false move and they would be falling quite violently, as you can see.
When we got to the top, we had a few minutes to take in the view. And what a view it was - rugged mountains, still lightly dusted with snow on their peaks, jutting up all around us. There was a rather tummy-rumbling look out point, sticking out over the peak. If you looked between your feet, you could see the rather worrying fall below. So it was best not to look.
There was a small peak left to climb, so I set out to the top, wanting to feel that I'd defeated the mountain at least partly on foot. It was a bit of a scramble, even though it only took about fifteen minutes. The air was thin, and it was easy to lose your footing.
So imagine my dismay when those two smug runners from earlier sprinted past me. SPRINTED! Not only had they made it to the top of the mountain, but they had beaten me on the home stretch. I tried to sneak a picture of them as they ran back down, but this was the best I could do...
Now, prepare yourself for a million beautiful pictures, because it's impossible to choose my favourites.
I had thought that the best views would be seen from the top of the mountain, but I was wrong. As we made our way down, the mountains lost their ruggedness a little and we were met with ambling Sound of Music style vistas...
Earlier, at Fuente De, we had picked up some sandwiches before getting on the cable car. Mine had been burning a hole in my bag throughout the morning - it was basically a baguette stuffed with warm fried chorizo, and nothing would have tasted as good on top of a mountain. When I began to eat, the juicy oils from the pork had soaked into the bread, and I tore into it like a mountain goat would a... well, a patch of grass. Sucker.
The cable car runs frequently throughout the summer, and the hiking trail back down is fairly easy. It's difficult to reach by public transport, so you'll definitely need a car.
How: Fly to Santander with Ryanair.
Stay: Nearby at Posada Casona de Cosgaya (review coming soon)