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A stay in Cantabria, the beautiful mountains of Northern Spain

We didn’t know what to expect when we booked an annexed cottage high up in the mountains of Northern Spain, in Cantabria. After the searing heat of Indre et Loire and a long journey, we were surprised to find cooler weather, lush green mountainsides, and an incredibly rural calm.


Nature was in full effect and the quiet was only broken by the echoing brays of local donkeys around the steep wooded hills. The clouds hung low over the trees, I honestly felt like we could have been in the Thai jungle at times.

The view from the terrace, and the small but deep, welcoming pool, was to die for.


The cottage was at the end of a winding track covered in wild flowers. It’s Dutch owner had styled it traditionally, with delicious Spanish colours with some great Dutch twists. We loved the dark woods, vintage rugs and linens, and the solid, bright ceramics.


We slept soundly in the bedrooms in the eaves, and woke to breakfasts we made ourselves. We ate soft bread with sweet neighbourhood honey, local cheese and mountains of dark red, juicy cherries, which were in season whilst we were there.

We visited some wonderful places.

The perfect medieval Santillana Del Mar, a car-free paradise with hideaway restaurants, stunning buildings and cool, shady courtyards.

The overwhelmingly classic Ribadesella, with it’s sheltered harbour and dramatic beach, and tranquil streets with cafe tables spilling out in the shade.

The eccentric Comillas, with the only Gaudi building outside Barcelona, covered with colourful sunflowers, and it’s buzzy town square where locals gather to eat sticky-sweet churros and watch the tourists.

This was a part of our road trip that required a lot of independent thinking, it wasn’t a traditional choice for a holiday with a toddler. But it was so worthwhile, so different from the Spain we already knew. The people were so kind and helpful and life felt uncomplicated.

If you like the look of where we stayed, you can book with the lovely Judith here. The annexe is dog friendly, with steep but manageable stairs, and a flock of miniature sheep and a family of shetland ponies grazing around you. Bliss.


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  1. Oh wow. Look absolutely fantastic. Love that photo of your little one eating chips instead of all that amazing seafood and cheese! (Mine would be exactly the same) And that Gaudi building looks awesome – I love his buildings in Barcelona and could stare at his architecture all day.

  2. oh my goodness this looks properly lovely. i want to go!

  3. I love the photo of the boats below the surface of the water – something wonderfully creepy about that!

  4. What a lovely place to visit, really different. I like al of the skeletons of fishing boats in the water! And that food looks perfect, sitting out, eating and watching the world go by. Perfect!

  5. Oh wow how beautiful does this place look – such a stunning location and annex, really enjoying reading about your adventures and cannot wait to see more

    Laura x

  6. Allan Butler Allan Butler

    How funny, one of my students was asking where I went on holiday in Northern Spain. So I googled Cantabria to show him as I was waxing lyrical about its beauty and your picture came up. This is where we stayed! You describe just as I remember it. A real gem of a place. My son particularly liked the Italian greyhounds (I seem to remember Judith was looking after them at the time) that would cheekly come and see us.

    • Really? That’s brilliant! You’ve got to love the internet for that sort of thing. The greyhounds were lovely, yes. Our Labrador puppy (as he was at the time) was completely enchanted by them.

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