This beautiful house is set in a half acre plot on the edge of a quiet village, situated on the slopes of the Cabrales valley. Located near the Picos de Europa national park it is a place to get away from it all and enjoy peace and tranquility. Accommodation is on two storeys with a generous open plan living space on the upper floor with cosy sofas and a wood burning stove. There is a large covered deck leading off the living space with fabulous views looking across a green wooded valley and the houses and church of a village below. The majestic mountains of the Picos de Europa rise up in the background.
This area of Spain is easily reached by ferry or plane from the UK and other parts of Europe. Ryanair fly from Stansted and Edinburgh to Santander, Easyjet fly from Stansted to Asturias airport and from Manchester to Bilbao. Vueling fly from Heathrow to Bilbao. If you want to go slow, then there are regular ferries with Brittany Ferries departing Plymouth or Portsmouth to Santander.
This house was built in 2008 following the traditional Asturian style. The wooden balcony on the south facade gives a fantastic first impression when you arrive. It has lots of character and charm with all the conveniences of a contemporary house. It was built by father and daughter team Julian and Anna Usborne who bought the plot of land in 2005 after visiting the area. We really love this house and visit it as often as possible. What makes the house so amazing is the mountain location and the village where it is situated. The local people are very friendly and will go out of their way to help although most people don't speak English so it is a great opportunity to practice speaking Spanish! There are about 60 residents in the village and people buy their groceries from visiting vans that supply fresh fish, fruit and vegetables and other groceries. There are also a range of shops and restaurants 10 minutes away by car in the villages of Carreña or Arenas de Cabrales.
There are lots of things to do and places to see within easy driving distance of the house. You can drive up into the mountains and explore the high snowy peaks. We walked to the base of the 'Naranjo de Bulnes' which is one of the highest peaks in the Picos range at around 2500 metres. If you don't fancy exerting yourself too much, there is a funicular railway that takes you up to the small village of Bulnes, high in the mountains and inaccessible by car. There are many routes for all levels of walking from gentle strolls to all day hikes. Other popular activities in the area include swimming at the local river or the nearby beaches. There is a fantastic beach at about 30 minutes drive called Niembro and the neighbouring naturist beach of Torimbia is also worth visiting. Continuing with water activities, canoeing is a popular activity along the river Sella and canoes can be hired with the possibility of being picked up downstream after a hard day's paddling.
There are many interesting places to visit within an hours drive or so. The town of Cangas de Onis is about 35 minutes away and has a fantastic market on Sunday mornings. This is well worth a visit especially if you are a foodie. There are hundreds of different types of local cheese for sale as well as smoked and unsmoked chorizo, dry cured ham and fruit and vegetables. Further afield at about 1hr 30 minutes is the city of Oviedo, where you can see beautiful architecture, hang out in the street cafés and enjoy the amazing covered food market. Again a foodie paradise, with many different types of fish you never see in the UK. The city of Santander is also quite easy to reach, at about 1hr 30 minutes drive. It is a beautiful port city with beaches and lots of shopping options. A bit further away is Bilbao, at about 3hrs drive but still possible for a day trip or overnight stay. There is the amazing Guggenheim museum and lots of shopping and restaurant possibilities.
I love the Spanish culture and way of life. Having spent 6 years living in Madrid, I am fluent in Spanish and so managing the house is quite fun and a way of keeping up with the language.
I currently live in Gloucestershire, UK and divide my time between teaching ceramics and designing and making furniture (see my website www.annausborne.com).
I also own two donkeys, Teddy and Chester (pictured) and enjoy taking them for walks (see the website www.chalforddonkeyproject.com).
When I was living in Spain I went on holiday to the Cabrales area and fell in love with the landscape. I later took my father to the area and he was also enchanted with the area. We decided to look for a shepherds hut or small cottage to renovate. But we soon realised that this type of remote property was only for people who don't mind a very basic existence. One day, whilst looking at a small mountain shed perched on a damp northern slope, we got talking to the owner who said she also had a piece of land in the nearby village for sale. We went and had a look and my father pronounced that this was the spot. So we embarked on a much bigger project than we originally planned and the purchase of the land and building project took us around 4 years to complete. After many trips between Stansted and Santander airport to manage the build, we finally finished the house in 2008. But it was worth all the time and effort and we now enjoy visiting the house two or three times a year.
This property is in the most fantastic location, tucked away on the outskirts of the village, with spectacular views on three side of the house. I love sitting on the deck and watching the mountains, listening to the cow bells and feeling the warm sun on my face. I also love the fact that it never gets too hot here and you can always snuggle under a duvet and night, not like in southern spain where the heat is too much in summer. This year it was lovely to see how the garden had come along, we even ate grapes from the vine which has now grown so high it is climbing up to the deck on the first floor. The other thing I love is the people in the village. They are so friendly and happy to help. Remembering everyones names is a challenge!
Walking is obviously the number one activity here and I always try and go up the mountain behind the house for an invigorating walk with fabulous views looking down to the coast.