Above and beyond the Picos

Years ago we did a whole load of work with BP Retail. One of the sessions was about customer service and going above and beyond to delight. The examples the BP trainers used were rubbish, their main example being “Flowers in the toilet”. It was a bit of standing joke amongst those of us who worked on the contract.

We have however experienced amazing help at the marina in Santander where we left the boat to head up for a jaunt into the Picos Mountains. More later on that. Back to the marina where ‘our main man’ let us log onto their office super fast wifi, most helpful, then when we asked about the nearest cash point, bundled us up into his car and drove us to one a couple of miles away. The following morning he arrived knocking on the boat at 8.55am to take us in a golf buggy to the bus stop. Now that’s outstanding customer service.

Dave spent two months in the Eastern Picos when he was an impoverished student at Lancaster University in 1985, mostly underground, scaring himself on 120m entrance pitches. We had a rough plan to retrace some of those steps from over 30 years. Without any underground nonsense. We started at 100m and walked up the Urdon Gorge which is just over 5kms in length and gains 830m in height. Impressive switchback after switchback. We discussed if we were on a zig or a zag and what is the difference between the two. No conclusion reached. Dave recalled walking up it with a massive pack carrying caving gear. We had camping kit but thankfully not as heavy.

We reached the village of Treviso then carried on another 12km to track upto a refuge where the caving expedition had been based. The hut had been upgraded but was still pretty familiar to Dave. In fact the Guardian said a group from the university had been based there earlier this summer. Old habits, traditions and links die hard.

We camped 15 minutes away from the refuge on a flat grassy patch. We used our friend Stevie’s tent. Thank you Stevie. It was pretty chilly with frost on the ground the following morning but after some porridge and a consult of the map (thanks Becca) and guide book, we came up with a plan to do a circular route up high. It was a blue sky day so we had a fantastic walk although the terrain wasn’t straightforward and we lost the path down from one of the peaks and ended up scrambling / climbing down and up to find the path again.

Around 6pm we headed down to the road and hitched to the village of Sotres, checked into a fab little hotel and ate and drank well. We’d covered close to 50km and climbed more that 7,250 feet on our two day trip which felt pretty good and a bit achy.

Here are a few snaps of our trip. Back on the boat now, fridge had stopped working but fingers crossed its chugging away now.



2 thoughts on “Above and beyond the Picos

  1. grace of longstone says:

    Gotta get those boys ready for school, county, international duty on the rugby field! In 15 years time I want the BBC camera person to focus on the proud mother in the crowd as her sons make their debut against France.

    We’re having a lovely lovely time. Still have frustrations (mostly IT related as we’re still trying to work from the boat) and moments of ‘right I’ve had enough of this now, I want to get into port’ but they are few and far between. We seem to have fitted into this new lifestyle very easily. The sun shines and we’re meeting some fun folk along the way.

    The Picos de Europa Mountains were a great little trip. We’d always had it in our minds to park the boat up somewhere and have a ‘little holiday’. You’re probably thinking ‘little holiday’, what planet are these people on?

    I will have to apologise to you in advance as I took a photo of some food that I may use for my next blog post. It’s about the location as much as the food, but SORRY!!!

    Right. Sunday chores for us here moored up in the marina in a place called Gijon. Dave is on the phone to Miv sorting work stuff and I’m about to sew a bag for oars and stuff and put some buttons back on our upholstery. There’s a sea water pool round the corner that will be the reward in three hours if the work gets done. Xx


  2. Biddy says:

    Just read this blog as I spend my first Sunday of the rugby season with my coffee and deck chair on the side of the pitch and feel impressed and a touch envious of you both ! Sounds so amazing and pics stunning what a great sky blue. ENJOY xxx


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