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Sobrevilla to Pica Siella and back round – 15km circular route. Sept 2017.

For my second go at this ‘running’ lark my choice of run and partner may seem even stranger. This time I picked a guy whose idea of fun is to do 100 mile races!!

And my choice of run was pretty spectacular too. For a long time I had wanted to climb the huge gully that went up from the village of Sobrevilla and which passed a number of massive crags that I wanted to have a look at. So my reasoning was more about checking out future rock routes than ‘running’ (and I also figured that I’d be able to leverage plenty of rest by stopping to admire the rock).

As we set off the hill seemed huge, and I’d chosen to wear my mountain boots which, although very light for boots were about 500gms each. I was figuring on protecting my bad ankle (and I know better now) but that meant each stride was lass energy efficient and by 10 minutes in I was panting!!

The mist rolled in as we ascended leaving an eerie sensation and a slight feeling of being lost as we crossed a steep, blocky, rocky section only to emerge above the fog into the gully proper.

Chase the dog checks out the view as we climb out of the mist..

Chase the dog checks out the view as we climb out of the mist..

The gully was steep, very, very steep and progress wasn’t quick. Steep, with no path and small heathery clumps it wasn’t  easy going but I was enjoying it and Ian said that at this level of steepness even world class runners wouldn’t run (which I was pleased about).

The view down the gully...

The view down the gully…

As we slowly scaled the metres the views became more and more spectacular and although we weren’t going quickly Ian was quite happy to go at my pace. For me I was starting to understand a bit more that the world of trail running often didn’t involve ‘running’ but ascending as fast as one can. And i could get that…

And the close up views of the crags were as spectacular as I had wanted and my plan of stopping to check out the climbing lines was working to perfection.

Looking up the gully...

Looking up the gully…

There were some very big pieces of rock and we passed right underneath them. It was fun and the ‘rock-watching’ broke up the severity of the climbing. Nearing the top we had to decide on an exit – left or right. Left seemed easier but longer and right seemed more direct but with a ‘step’ that might prove tricky – it was obvious that we’d have to climb it but could we get the dog up there??

The step was a few metres of wet limestone but starting from a ledge so the consequences of a slip were not worth contemplating. Ian went first and made it easily and I, a bit more reluctantly, grabbed a slightly scared dog by the collar and shuffled along the small ledge. I  proceeded to shove the dog upwards as my feet scrabbled and I grabbed onto loose turf with my free hand. After a minute or so of struggle she was high enough up for Ian to grab her collar and I, mightily relieved was able to gain the firmer ‘terra firma’ above the drop.

What a position...

What a position…

As we gained the ridge we started to traverse up towards the high point of Pico Siella. But first we passed a viewpoint that was irresistible, a gap in the rocks opened out with a small spiky summit and we both ascended to get the photo…

We arrived at Pico Siella soon after and at 1550m it afforded incredible views of the valley and was well deserved of being the high point of our journey (twice as it turned out). We’d ascended over 800m (2400ft) already and although it hadn’t been quick it hadn’t been ridiculously slow either which I took some pride in. So we stopped briefly, set up a selfie with my camera balanced on the trig point, and got the all important summit shot.

On the peak...

On the peak…

Finally, the real running started and Ian, showing lot of agility, started out across a thin ridge which led slowly down to a more defined path than we’d been following. This was fun and after about a kilometre of me stomping in my big boots after the much more rapid Ian we met up at a small resevoir/lake at the coll before the big descent started.

‘Hold there Ian’ I shouted as I fumbled for the camera to get another shot of the run…But I couldn’t find it!

‘Arse’ I cried, ‘Ian, I seem to have lost the camera’ and it wasn’t a cheap one! About £300′s worth of Panasonic seemed to have gone missing during our descent – my pack had been open and the probability was that it had bounced out during our decent. That was the probability but it seemed odd as my small pack was actually quite deep, so with heavy hearts (especially mine) we set up back towards Pico Siella scouring the path either side. I walked a lot more slowly than Ian and it was he rather than me that made it back to the summit and found, still stood in selfie position, the camera! I’d simply left it on the summit.

We descended again and this time didn’t stop at the lake and headed on down the very steep switchbacks on a concrete farmers track which led directly up to the coll. With a ‘I’m going to go a bit quicker on this bit’ Ian blasted off. Once again his agility and speed left me standing and I kept up as best as I could as we descended about 400m in around 2km. Once again i was happy that I vaguely kept up but my big boots certainly didn’t aid me much.

We met up at the bottom and started to descend, less steeply, a series of muddy tracks back towards the car. Unfortunately (for Ian) we picked up a couple of ‘passengers’ on the way in the shape of two beautiful mastin puppies who followed us for about a kilometer downhill. However, when we realised the wouldn’t go ‘home’ I volunteered the more experienced runner for the duty of leading them back to the field we’d first seen them in.

I chuckled to myself plodded on downwards, tiring, and expecting to see Ian on my shoulder quite quickly. However, I’d made it a lot further than I thought I would and when Ian did catch  me he was out of breath ‘Man that was grim’ he said ‘ that track I took up was muddy as hell and it was longer than I thought. I grinned and said something about ‘good training mate’ and we finally exited the muddy forest track onto a tarmac’d road and I knew that the car was just around the corner.

The coffee and cake we enjoyed at the bar in town tasty scrummy and as well looked back up to where we’d been I felt pretty proud that I’d done it. And even Ian felt i’d done pretty well – especially for a climber that didn’t like hiking or running. This was a superb and fun route to do and well recommendable (maybe minus the ‘step’) and you can see the route on Ian’s Strava below…

https://www.strava.com/activities/1162680401

 

The route

The route

The summit of La Cobertoria...

Casa Quiros to the Alto d’Angliru via the Gamoniteiro and El Cordal – by Andy Bowie

Andy Bowie, Sheffield cyclist and visitor to Casa Quirós takes us with him on his ‘big day out’ – an ascent of the legendary Alto de Angiliru (with a bit thrown in for good measure).

Casa Quiros to the Alto d’Angliru via the Gamoniteiro and El Cordal - 110km riding and 4,200m climbing – by Andy Bowie (see linked Blog here)

The ride from Casa Quiros starts easily enough. A descent down from the village of Aciera and a left towards Barzana leads you on a gently rising drag on smooth roads ascending up through the valley. Look out for a turning c1km before Barzana on the left, which leads to The Ermita de Alba, the mountain finish for stage 16 of 2015’s Vuelta d’Espana. It is a sustained climb for six kilometres, average is around 11% and the last kilometre is a gift that keeps on giving above 17% by all accounts!

Tapping away on La Cobertoria....

Tapping away on La Cobertoria….easy to see why Asturias is known as green Spain…

The climb up to the Gamoniteiro pass slowly hits you, with the gradient lifting up after about 10km of riding. The climb is about 8km long, averaging 8.5%. Tap out a steady rhythm and take in the views – the green covered mountain scape around you is a stunning backdrop to your suffering. On this climb you start to get a sense of the trick the roads play on you – because they’re wide and smooth, they hide their angle. If it wasn’t for my Garmin telling me it was 9% I wouldn’t have believed it. Well, my legs were telling me, that’s for sure.

 

The summit of La Cobertoria...

The summit of La Cobertoria…

Crest the top after 40 minutes of climbing and you experience one of the best views in Asturias. But a bigger prize awaits –the descent on the other side of the Gamoniteiro pass is one of the best descents of my life. Very fast, big open sweeping descents, few cars – the dial rarely dropped below 70kmph. I was a giggling childlike wreck at the bottom. The only glimmer of concern was the realisation that what comes down must go up.. and the way back will be a brute of a climb at the end of a day’s riding.

Reaching Pola de Lena you follow your nose a bit through the village, dropping down, left and then left at the end of the village, on the AS-231. The road immediately kicks up – and keeps on giving for just under 6km at an average above 9%. It’s short but packs a real punch, with the last few kilometres keeping the dial well above 11%. What follows is a classic technical descent, short sharp turns, a few pot holes, lots of changes in light and shade, damp sections under heavy undergrowth and some rough surface – it focuses the mind.

After 40km of riding you reach La Vega, the village at the bottom of the ascent to the Angliru. There is a café on the right next to the turning to the Angliru (which is well sign posted). Great coffee and pinchos here if required. Re-fill your water bottles, psych yourself up and prepare for 13km of suffering.

After 40km and class 1 and class 2 ascents guess what's next....

After 40km and class 1 and class 2 ascents guess what’s next….

The first 5km or so of riding up the Angliru lull you into a false sense of security. Steady away 7-8% up a quiet road, the only thing that makes you aware that you’re on something different is the kilometre markers, telling you the average gradient, the highest gradient and how many you have left to go. There is also the looming sense of a bloody big mountain ahead of you, with no discernable way up. Not discernable until you reach the 8km to go marker, when you see the road kicking up at a crazy angle and keeps on going.

 

Stunning views and reasonable riding, Angiliru reels you in...

Stunning views and reasonable riding, Angiliru reels you in…

The final 8km are a real test of mental strength and physical capacity. There really is no rest bite from the relentless attrition. As well as the kilometre markers, there are additional signs which mark out the particularly steep sections of suffering. I wasn’t sure whether to look or not – they give an almost perverse satisfaction to letting you know how much you’re going to hurt.

Bowie 1 Angiliru IMG_6081

Do you really want to be reminded of how steep it is and how far there is to go..?

Riding in the clouds with only 20m of visibility or so I was at least able to avoid seeing what was coming ahead. The darkest moments were with about 3km to go. A viciously steep and sustained section above 20%, for what seemed like half a kilometre. My dial reached my lowest speed I think I’ve hit on a bike, 6kmph and still moving! It wasn’t just my legs screaming, my arms were in tatters from wrenching and pulling on the bars. A proper deep all over body-pump. Another few steep sections and the angle finally relents, with a rolling flat and a bit of descent before you reach the finish line. It was a finish to remember, as I crested not only did the clouds clear, leaving the incredible views of a rock amphitheatre, but a lone piper was playing the bagpipes. Surreal, brilliant, relief.

 

Victory, and blessed relief!

Victory, and blessed relief!

There are only two climbs I’ve done that come close to the Angliru. Hard Knott Pass in the Lake District in England, which is steeper in parts but much shorter. And Tre Cime de Laverendo in the Dolomites. Very sustained and at high altitude, but again shorter, and very busy.

After gathering my senses, re-fuelling and tackling the steep descent down the Angliru, the route back to Casa Quiros follows the same route. But it doesn’t feel it – the climbs back have a different feel. El Cordal is a much steadier 8km at 7%, a quiet road with stunning views back over the valley. Take care on the descent back to Pola de Lena, the steep angle and tight bends require concentration with tired legs.

The sting in the tail on the ride is the ascent back up the Gamoniteiro from Pola de Lena. This will be the second to last climb on stage 16 of the Vuelta this year. I hate to think of the speeds they will attack this. It is a savage climb – made all the harder by the ascent already in your legs. 9km at 9.7%, this is steeper and harder than famous climbs such as the Passo Giau in the Dolomites. Signs taunt you on the side of the road, with 700m at 12% a particular pleasure. Keep grinding away and eventually, after much panting, you crest the pass.

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If you have the time, and the legs, then you can take a right about 300m before the top of the pass, which takes you up to the Alto d’Gamoniteiro. This continues on for another 7km, and the overall climb to the top is a monstrous 16km at 9%.

The descent back to Barzana is a lovely end to the ride. Steep at first it turns into a gentle roll back down. All that remains is the 700m at 9% to get back to Casa Quiros, and a well earned beer…

Here’s Andy’s Strava for the route…read it and weep…or cheer!

New Review of Casa Quiros 17042015

This new review is from Henriette and Frido who stayed at the house last week…

Review from Frido and Henriëtte. (Netherlands)
We stayed three days in April 2015. Casa Quirós provided us all the comforts of home. The garden and balcony are in the sun all day long, perfect for drinking a beer after a day’s climbing. All the climbing sectors at Quirós are within walking distance of the house. Our host Richie provided us with info on the best climbing routes in the area. All the crags we went to had magnificent views as well as perfect rock and protection. We consider Asturias to be one of the best places we have climbed and we’ll certainly be back some time.

Review van Frido en Henriëtte. (Nederland)
We zijn drie dagen gebleven in april 2015. Casa Quirós voorzag in alle gemakken van thuis. Tuin en balkon liggen de hele dag in de zon, perfect om een biertje te drinken na een dag klimmen. Alle sectoren van Quirós bevinden zich op loopafstand van het huisje. Onze gastheer Richie die tevens de klimtopo van het gebied heeft geschreven gaf ons alle info over de beste routes op de diverse wanden. Bij alle wanden die we hebben bezocht was het uitzicht adembenemend, de rots totaal niet afgeklommen en de behaking optimaal. Asturië is één van de mooiste plekken waar we hebben geklommen en we komen zeker een keer terug.

Salteado de setas, gambas y almejas

Pan de Trigo Restaurant in Barzana

We are very lucky at Casa Quirós to have several good restaurants within a short distance – perfect for rest day relaxation and re-fueling of tired muscles.  But we have to say that Pan de Trigo in Barzana (5km from the house) is really a cut above the standard fare. If you’re looking for a special meal at a very accessible price then look no further.

With a 3 course weekday lunch menu, including wine, for just 9€ you really can’t go wrong. The cheesecake alone is worth that price! Seriously. To die for.

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With tasty and creative dishes such as this spicy sauteed wild mushroom, prawn and clams available within the set lunch option, you don’t ever need to stray into the more expensive a la carte territory unless you really feel inspired to do so.

Salteado de setas, gambas y almejas

Salteado de setas, gambas y almejas

Having said that, if you do fancy pushing the boat out, this is a good place for it. It’s that rare thing – a restaurant that offers chef-led, creative, contemporary cuisine without tipping over into pretentious territory. The charming rustic decor adds to the appealing atmosphere, as does the deserved presence of a steady stream of patrons.

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For quick bites there is a good array of bar snacks and tapas and free mini-tapas throughout the day to accompany drinks. Top tip: it’s also a good spot for morning coffee, where you’ll be given fresh-baked mini-croissants to accompany your brew.

Remember the name: Pan de Trigo. It’s just off the main street in Barzana, down a set of steps before the Coviran supermarket. Easy to miss but you definitely don’t want to do that. It’s a must-visit.P1040322