Dinosaurs and Doc Martin

The Asturian coastline between Gijon and Ribadesella is known as the Dinosaur Coast. Not unlike the Jurassic Coast in the south of England, it is an area rich in fossils and footprints. I begin my search for dinosaurs at the Jurassic Museum, hidden in the pine forest above the town of Colunga. Soon I am surrounded by a stegosaurus, brachiosaurus and T-Rex, but this is no Spielberg movie and I seem to be the only living thing around except for the enthusiastic young man at the entrance desk. It’s a beautiful sunny day and I don’t really want to be inside a museum so I ask for information about walks in the area and am presented with a ‘field guide’ to the dinosaur coast with the suggestion that I visit the largest dinosaur footprint at neighbouring La Griega Beach.

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The beach is quiet for such a sunny Saturday but it is October and the campsite closed two weeks ago. A wooden footbridge takes me across the estuary to a well-marked footpath which winds through the pine trees and undulates along the cliff top. Steps lead down to the beach and the huge dinosaur footprint preserved in a limestone slab. It’s actually a lot easier to see than I imagined and I try to conjure up the image of the massive creature that left its mark 200 million years ago.

From La Griega Beach I can see the small fishing village of Lastres, clinging to the cliff side. Once an important whaling centre, it is now more well-known for being the location of the Spanish TV series “Dr Mateo”, better known to the English as “Doc Martin”. (In fact, Doc Martin also has versions in France, Germany, Holland and Greece).

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Although Lastres boasts steep, narrow, cobbled streets, it is not quite as picturesque as Port Isaac in Cornwall, but its new-found fame may encourage the locals to spruce it up a bit. The tourist office provides a themed map with a route passing all the main locations from the TV series. Dr Mateo’s house is really quite grand – apparently he’s just as grumpy as Doc Martin and also has a phobia of blood. I only wonder if the sarcastic humour of the English version translates into Spanish!

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