Would you like to go for a walk? This one isn’t too strenuous, but is about 10km long. There’s plenty to see and appreciate. We’ll be going through that village you can see from our terrace.
You’ve got your walking stick, I see, great!
We turn south out of our apartment and walk for about a kilometre on the main road. There is a pedestrian path, so isn’t as bad as it sounds. We meet other walkers and occasionally stop for a chat. The walk takes you over a bridge which overlooks the Río Seco. It is aptly named due to it being a dry river bed. I suspect there is a great deal of wildlife to be witnessed within the woodland. Deer and boar perhaps?
Shortly after, we turn east, and follow a single track road down to Las Barcenas. The road is lined with rocky outcrops that host a variety of wildflowers. We can’t but help take photos of as many as possible.
Hey look, there’s orchids! We brave the ditch and rocky ledge to get a little closer.
Las Barcenas is a tiny community of about six houses. Wandering past one, a cat steps lazily from the house to a comfortable spot in a shed on the other side of the road. The owner follows him out, but appears a little afraid of strangers. With the aid of his stick he warily potters to the calia lilies that seem to growing directly through the tarmac. We exchange a few words, but he’s not one for talking.
As we round the bend, we come upon the Río Nansa. It has a footbridge crossing, but we’re told by a friendlier fellow, walking his dog, when the river rises it can cover it completely. After heavy rains we’ve seen recently we’re able to imagine what it would be like if it was a couple of inches higher. His dog lies down in the grass and waits patiently. The fellow tells us he has a house to rent, as it is too big for him. It is a beautiful place, solitary, in the middle of a field and borders the river. He says as it would fit eight people, he’s not really getting offers. He seems to be asking our opinion about what best to do with it.
‘Sell it to me for at least half what it’s worth,’ I’m thinking.
We are going in different directions, so part company, but he hopes we can chat again. You’re impressed with how my Spanish is coming on as we had talked for at least ten minutes without too many eh?s or huh?s. I feel proud of myself.
We begin the climb towards Celucos. It’s not steep, but enough to raise the heart rate a bit. You complain as I promised it wouldn’t be too strenuous.
It’s not long before we reach Celucos. The village has about 70 inhabitants, but has no services, including bar. The absence of a bar is quite rare, but these satellite villages are dependent on Celis and Puentenansa for the basics, you know, like a bar.
I remark that Celucos, as pretty as it is, isn’t a place I’d like to live. It is pretty enough, but there is a feel and atmosphere to it that I don’t like. It’s the first village I’ve been to that made me feel that way. When we first visited, Verd didn’t like it for a different reason. It is very like being in the middle of a cowshed, being a community of cattle farmers. However, it is very pretty to walk through, and if you take the time to venture up one of the mountain tracks, you get a good view over Celis and Riclones. I point out the track and ask if you’d like the climb. You refuse, but comment on how it feels you’ve stepped back 50 years in time. The elder inhabitants seem to have maintained a way of life resistant to the industrial and technological progress witnessed elsewhere.
The lane turns through the village and continues along the river bank. Here we stop to greet an older tree. One day, I found myself talking to it out loud, and only came to my senses when a car chance to pass me by. This evening we give it a grateful hug.
A little while after, a sign indicates entry into the next community, La Molina. It is a little larger than Las Barcenas, but if the sign wasn’t there, you wouldn’t have realised it was a place with a name.
The walk is almost downhill from here, but we take a diversion upward to the site of La Cueva Chufín. The cave is a heritage site as it contains some prehistoric paintings. It’s closed when we arrive, being out of season. But I take note of its opening dates and booking details, so that when you come again, we can enjoy it together.
Not far from the site is a church dating from the 17th century, la iglesia de San Pedro. It has a picturesque bell tower and cemetery. It’s evening and now threatening rain, so we proceed home, over a bridge that is designated as a site of cultural interest and through Celis back to where we started.
I offer a cuppa, but you look a bit disappointed, so I suggest, perhaps something stronger, pointing to the bottles in the corner. I select an Orube crianza, it’s my new favourite rioja. I hope you agree.
Parts of the walk are portrayed in the following video, where the visitor talks about the beauty and culture of Celis and Celucos (in Spanish). You’ll see some views during part of the walk I’ve not shown here.