Having endured a good few soakings in this so-called “summer” of ours, it was a pleasant experience last week to step into the Spanish sunshine.

We were in Asturias in northern Spain and stayed in a small town called Benia de Onis on the doorstep of the amazing Peaks of Europe National Park.

It’s about an hour and a half drive from the airport, and as we travelled to our destination along the grandly named “Autovia Del Cantabrico” (it’s also Spain’s A8) we might just have imagined we were in the west of Scotland.

That’s because Asturias is renowned for its beaches and mountains. To our left, waves broke on sandy shores ringed by cliffs and, on the right, mountains rose into the hazy distance.

The peaks, which are mainly limestone, form part of the Cantabrian range and some reach more than 2,500 metres. With a well established network of paths throughout the ‘Picos’ region, some of the mountains are quite accessible, while others are remote and in very difficult terrain.

Mountain roads, which are passable with care, also provide good access to some very attractive villages, many of which are snowed in during the winter.

Last January I had seen pictures on Facebook of one village, Sotres, with its rooftops just visible under several metres of snow, so we were keen to see how it looked at the height of summer. We were not disappointed.

This is the highest of the villages in the national park with a population of around 130 (which more than doubles at the height of the holiday season). The village is built on a steep slope with a network of cobbled streets connecting the red-roofed houses where cascades of pelargoniums flower extravagantly.

The pastures, which ring to the sound of cowbells, lie below spectacular mountains which seem to scrape the sky. You almost have to pinch yourself and ask ‘is this for real?’ While the Scottish mountains are home to buzzards and eagles, here in Spain it is vultures that soar among the peaks. There are also wolves and bears in the more remote regions.

You could spend a lifetime of holidays here and still only scratch the surface.