Caves, cliffs and red wine showers – Cóbreces, Cantabria, Spain

We had a final walk around Santillana del Mar with Lizzy and Lola before embarking on the 3km drive to the Cueva de Altimira.

The caves at Altimira are one of several in the area with caves paintings and habitation evidence going back 40,000 years, which is pretty mind blowing. The caves were not not discovered until 1868 by Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola and his daughter. Unfortunately by the 1970’s the site was attracting more than 100,000 visitors per year and the following footage of the the cave with crowds of people crammed in told you all you needed to know about how sustainable those visitor numbers were. In the 1980’s a decision was made to create a museum on the site to recreate the art work to many to enjoy without risking the fragile ecosystem of the limestone caves. However, every Friday, before 10.30, 5 people are chosen at random by lottery of the visitors there to visit the real thing, which by chance were there in time to participate in……… sadly we were not the chosen few. However, we can rest knowing we have helped preserved the paintings for the next millennia.

Museo de Altamira

The paintings found were notable for their polychromatic (multicoloured) art work of mainly bison, both standing and also curled up sleeping. They are beautifully detailed and anatomically accurate. When see the primitive tools and see the needles constructed from bones, flint tools etc, the painting stand out to show there was much something much more cultured originating from those ancestors. I also enjoyed the comparison of the Neanderthal to Homo Sapien species we are now, with skull samples showing the obviously human looking Sapien skull against the earlier species variants found around the world. An interesting morning.

We moved on for another mammoth 20 minute drive to Cóbreces, passing through the green rolling hills of Cantabria with the backdrop of snow capped mountains and red pantile roofs. We arrived at our small campsite just before lunch, so Lizzy, Lola and I set off for the local panaderia (bakery). Despite, the multinational campers in the campsite, this is far from a touristy place. It was lovely to see the old stone bakery was a large room with a will warm oven and several baskets full of bread.

Panaderia (bakery) in Cóbreces

After lunch had settled, we went for a walk to the view point over the next hill to the coast. The multi-striated cliffs forming a striking backdrop to the view, which a geologist would I am sure have a much more informed appreciate of than we did. The view was used as a backdrop for a recent motorhome road trip film called Seventeen which was pretty apt.

Finally, after blog updates etc we thought we would try the local bar and supermarket. It was definitely a locals place, which was nice as every table in Santillana del Mar was English except for one French. We tried a couple of tapas and the local red wine for me and white for Kevin. However, after a slightly hurried arrival of our tapas from the waiter, my red wine was showered liberally over on my lap, jacket, top and the floor. He was very apologetic but these things happen. Luckily the campsite is equipped with a washer and drier, which has restored my clothes whilst I have been typing out my blog, for the second time, the whole first version lost somehow! One of those days!

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