If you look at a map of Asturias, it shows a rugged and wrinkled place. I have a relief map showing little mountain peaks, contours and river valleys and plains: it looks like countryside you would see from 30,000 feet up, it looks like an old farmer´s face ravaged by time and wind. Asturias is one of the most northern provinces of Spain. It’s not the most northern point, that honour belongs to Galicia, but Asturias is next in line, straddling the Bay of Biscay with a coastline sculpted by the sea. Inland it is lush with green: this is the Costa Verde, it rains a lot here. Even so, in the summer the sun can burn quite fiercely and, despite the lushness, parts of Asturias are also dirty, polluted and have their share of badly-built housing estates overspilling towns with urban sprawl. Let’s away from the tower blocks!
I´m going to take you to the Aller valley, going past Oviedo, the region’s capital, and heading down the mining valley of Mieres, following the river Lena. Just after Mieres, let´s turn left at Las Vegas (no gambling here!) and follow another valley, along the river Aller. (It sounds just like the Spanish word for yesterday – ayer - so nobody buys bread from Aller...) Our valley runs west to east, which is unusual here as most valleys run from north to south. The Aller is joined by the river San Isidro, coming down from the ski resort of the same name much higher up the mountain (1,500 metres to the top of the ski station) and we forsake the Aller, yesterday´s river, and continue up the San Isidro valley to Felechoso (“fernworthy” in English). But we realize we´ve overshot the village of El Pino, where the walk proper begins, so turn around and the village is about one kilometre back down the road.