On the road with Renault Austral, to discover cliffs from another world

On the road with Renault Austral, to discover cliffs from another world

Attached to Santander is the Costa Quebrada, a succession of cliffs and urros (islets of rock that defy the sea located off the coast) among which movie sands appear. In just a dozen kilometers, from the beach of San Juan de la Canal and up to Mogro, there are a total of ten sandbanks that leave no one indifferent.

We have chosen the Renault Austral E-Tech full hybrid 146 kW (200 CV) with Esprit Alpine E-Tech finish for the tour. After leaving the S-20 and taking the detour to the CA-231 at the Corbán seminary, different branches begin to leave towards the coast that end in each of the small coves. They are narrow roads that in the final stretch can be dirt and stone. Some paths with favorable terrain so that the marks of the tracks of other cars or agricultural machinery have left deep ruts that put the vehicle to the test.

The Austral has a free height to the ground of 17 centimeters, more than enough to be able to avoid the traps of the tracks. But what helps you the most in complicated ‘off-road’ sections, as the vehicle does not have four-wheel drive, is the Extended Grip system, designed to facilitate advance on surfaces with little adhesion. Another of the peculiarities of the Austral is the steering on the rear wheels (an option that does not come standard, but it did have the model we tested).

The Broken Coast is an alien landscape. Its geological origin dates back to 125 million years ago. Between cliff and cliff we find wild coves and coastal enclaves that seem like something out of a science fiction movie or comic.

The first stop on the tour is San Juan de la Canal, a semi-urban beach that belongs to Soto de la Marina. From there you have to retrace the path and turn off again towards La Arnía. Halfway there, when the sea can be seen in the background, a detour appears towards Covachos beach. In this sandy area, whose descent is reserved for skilled people, a special phenomenon occurs at low tide, when a strip of sand appears that connects this beach with a rocky islet. The round turn to leave the end of the road is something reserved for a car with an unusual turning angle, as is the case with the Renault Austral.

We return to the fork to reach Arnía. On this occasion, access is easy up to an esplanade where you can park to contemplate a flat abrasion platform and right in front of the Urros de Liencres, some large rocks that are the symbols of the Costa Quebrada. The landscape from the cliff is a spectacle, especially at sunset.

From La Arnía you can continue driving along a narrow road that borders the coast where finding a vehicle in front of you can be a problem that forces you to invade the ditch, until you reach Portio. A sandbank with a perforated cliff that looks like a wall designed for Game of Thrones. In front of this small sandy area is the Cerrias beach and further on you come to the Somocuevas cove. Getting to the parking area is easy. The problem and the greatness of the site comes later, when you have to face an endless staircase on the cliff.

We go back by car towards Liencres to go to the most impressive sandy area in Cantabria, Valdearenas. The descent is along a twisty road between pine trees. A good time to take advantage of the Austral’s magnificent cornering behavior, which clings to the asphalt like a limpet.

Valdearenas beach is the most extensive of all the sandy areas of the Costa Quebrada. It has almost 3 kilometers spread between dunes and beach. In this area, the sea hits the coast hard and it is a natural habitat for surfers who crowd the parking area with their vans. In the background, looking west from the access to the beach, you can see the Usil en Mogro cove.


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