Here we have a very interesting holiday opportunity in rural Cantabria. Accommodating eight to ten guests, the villa has polish, comfort and dramatic views of the Picos de Europa.
The location is just fantastic. Even within the inimitable Liébana, it occupies a special position: just before the mountains start and in an unspoilt valley where tiny villages are interconnected by pathways.
If an active holiday with walks in glorious hills, valleys and mountains and lots more to do is your plan, you’ll love it.
But it’s just as suitable for those who wish for no more than a garden sunlounger aimed at the mountain scenery, and to lie back in serious relaxation, letting the others go off up winding paths to ancient forests, canyons, up the famous cable car at Fuente Dé (just 20 minutes away), horseriding, kayaking on rivers, mountain biking, driving off to visit a monastery, coves and beaches, or taking the narrow gauge train along the coast. It's quite a challenge to fit all that into one week.
Just a few minutes away is the regional capital of Potes, replete with restaurants, shops selling walking guides, equipment and souvenirs, banks and all major facilities. It’s the focal point of La Liébana and yet only a small town with some medieval architecture and the River Deva flowing gently through.
The same river is a stone’s throw from the villa, which stands alone in an expanse of lawn, looking somewhat proud and imposing for such a likeable house. We wouldn’t call it secluded, since it’s part of a hamlet, but it feels private within its 250 m² of garden.
The villa has a character all of its own, somehow managing to be traditional and familiarly modern at the same time.
Dignified steps from the private garden rise to the sheltered porch of a handsome granite residence, as solid and square as a squat tower. We felt immediately drawn to seat ourselves at a table out here, to enjoy afternoon coffee and watch the changing face of the mountains (snow-peaked most of the year) framed by the gentle archway.
As we weren’t vacationing, we went about our inspection...
It has a surprisingly modern look and feel in spite of wood floors and occasional antique pieces of furniture and a sculpted fireplace. New tables, an up-to-date kitchen, marble-floored bathrooms all indicate that practicality and neatness really come first here, even if one or two items seem out of place.
The main room is very spacious. Two large sofas and two comfortable chairs are arranged by the hearth and a dining area is divided between two tables. One of these is extendable, but not enough to seat a full house at the same table. The covered porch area is more convenient for dining together. Although the house can accommodate up to 10 people, we consider it more comfortable for 8 only for dining and sitting together.
The accommodation extends to a large, fully equipped kitchen with a breakfast table, and a a utility room for clothes washing (and ironing, if you so desire).
The bedroom in the ground floor can suit someone with reduced mobility as the bathroom is equipped with grab bars.
Upstairs, a landing leads to a broad, furnished wooden terrace, slung with hammocks. The views from here are simply marvellous, taking in many peaks of the Alpine-looking Picos de Europa.
Sunrise and sunset are both rather special at this location.
The only building you see is a country inn run by the brother of the villa’s proprietor. You’re at a considerable distance from the inn, so it doesn’t impinge on your sense of privacy. Trees and bushes around the property means that the gardens are not overlooked.
For greater comfort, we suggest a maximum of 8 people for this villa. There is, however, a fifth bedroom which can accommodate 2 more guests at no extra charge. It's located a few steps down from the main ground floor.
A door leads out to the back garden where you have a simple barbecue area flanked by walnut trees, apple and pears. It’s a nice spot, even if the outdoor furniture is pretty rudimentary, unlike the front garden where furniture is more comfortable.
The way the house and the gardens are arranged –all very even and without drops– makes this is a perfectly suitable holiday home for families with children.
Yews and even a small vineyard remind us of the surprisingly good climate. The Liébana has very rich vegetation and better weather than other areas of northern Spain, thanks the maritime influence and, especially, the protection afforded by the bowl of surrounding mountains.
Motoring round the lanes of the valley may return a sense enjoyment to driving that you have not experienced in quite some time. It’s such a lovely, wild area dotted with little stone hamlets, often with a bridge over a river or a tavern or restaurant.
Before you travel, we’ll send you an up-to-date Liébana Guide containing ideas for excursions, activities, recommendations for walks (one of less than a mile ends at a hamlet with a great inn for lunch), and visits to historic monuments and beaches.
Walking is the best way to really get into La Liébana, of course. Your home village of San Pelayo features on any decent map of the Picos de Europa National Park, so those interested can plan hikes from one village to another, to the top of nearby Pico Jano for panoramic views (active children can manage this walk), or to reach some of those incredible high peaks before you.
An easy drive brings you to the cable car at Fuente Dé. Just the base with its the sheer cliff faces and rocky crags, is interesting enough for people who don't care for the high cable car experience. Those that do go up are taken to another landscape altogether. It’s exciting up there and walking boots itch to start rambling the high mountain paths.
Back home, a shorter walk (some 300 metres) takes you to a camp site which normally allows anyone to use the summer swimming pool for a small fee. You can also eat a simple but tasty meal here at a fair price and do simple shopping.
Potes, less than ten minutes away, is your main reference for shopping and facilities.