The narrow-gauge FEVE railway meanders across Spain’s northern coast between Bilbao in the Basque Country and Ferrol in Galicia.  Narrow-gauge it may be but this is no museum piece, the rolling stock is modern and clean and the trains run to time.

Given my background, it was inevitable that we should find ourselves on the regular FEVE service between Cabezón de la Sal and Santander within just a few days of our arrival.  The single track line carves a neat track through a rural landscape, crossing open fields, hugging shady river banks and diving into rough-hewn tunnels.  Heading east, Torrelavega marks the boundary between the rural and the suburban, open country makes way for a semi-industrialised landscape as the line approaches Santander.

The line heading west from Cabezón de la Sal is even more spectacular but the services are less frequent and the day travel options more limited.  Simon Calder explains the attraction in this extract from the Independent:

Here’s the issue: railway engineers in mountainous areas like to stick to river valleys. In northern Spain, these tend to run north-south. But the line sets itself the challenge of running east-west to link some of the biggest cities (plus countless tiny villages) in northern Spain. You are reminded of this with the occasional squeal of steel on steel as the train performs twists and turns that would be implausible even on a child’s train set.

Narrow guage ...

Walking around Santander, I travel light – as ever I am carrying the Fuji X100s on a Black Rapid strap. It is unobtrusive and swings easily in and out of use. The downside is that this old-style, everyday workhorse is beginning to look a little rough around the edges. However, it is not just it’s retro looks and convenient size that appeal. Like many other Fuji enthusiasts I am convinced that the results you get from this little gem are more analogue film-like than any other camera I have used. This is a biased and entirely subjective opinion but this article adds some substance to the view – Why the Fuji Series Images are so film likeDan Bailey.

Of course, by the time my JPEGS have been processed in Photoshop and ON1, any similarity to the original image is entirely coincidental 😉  A brief walk around Santander:

On the waterfront ...

Jessica Ennis

Afternoon shadows ... Street scene ...

The priest ...

The waterfront ...


  1. isabellaesthermariarose · September 7, 2016

    I love your black and white photography. Perfectly captured.

  2. easyweimaraner · September 7, 2016

    black and white fits so perfectly to your photos…I love this memeories you snapped with your cam :o)

    • northumbrianlight · September 7, 2016

      Thanks Easy – a very hot day, not sure you would have liked it 😉

  3. LaVagabonde · September 7, 2016

    Your account of the train ride makes my head spin. I can picture your trusty old camera – every nick and scratch has a story behind it. My little camera is pretty worn, too, but I’m holding on until it dies.

    • northumbrianlight · September 7, 2016

      Battered cameras add a certain street cred 😉 – Not quite McCullin’s Nikon
      Don McCullin - Nikon F

  4. sustainabilitea · September 7, 2016

    Lovely series on a ride I think I’d really enjoy. The angle of that first shot had me tilting my head! I also agree that the B&W works really well for this.


    • northumbrianlight · September 7, 2016

      Thanks Janet – not sure if the dutch tilt impresses or irritates 😉

  5. Cate Franklyn · September 7, 2016

    I think the quality from this camera is excellent, as well as the images taken by the photographer: 🙂 I like my cameras well used, like a broken in pair of boots, you feel comfortable with it. My Sony A77 SLT is fraying at the edges but, it works just find for me. Maybe for my upcoming 60th birthday I’ll buy a new Canon.

    • northumbrianlight · September 7, 2016

      Too kind Cate 😉 I agree about cameras being broken in – we need to get past the point of worrying about how fine it looks and get on with the photography. Go on treat yourself – you know you deserve it 🙂

  6. harrienijland · September 7, 2016

    Nice post; I like the shot with the shadows of the arcades a lot. By the way, I’ve started a 2nd blog because the old one had come to it’s limit; it’s: and there is a blue follow-button on the right side, just in case… Hope to see you there.

  7. restlessjo · September 7, 2016

    You’ve bleached all the sun out of Santander, Robin! But I rather like it. 🙂 It definitely looks like a place with character.

    • northumbrianlight · September 7, 2016

      It’s the sun doing the bleaching not me Jo – it’s too darn hot 😀

  8. Pamela Cahill · September 13, 2016

    Just stumbled upon your blog and love your images of Santander and thanks for sharing Simon Calder’s description of the squeal of steel on the trainlines here – it’s so true!

    • northumbrianlight · September 13, 2016

      Many thanks for your generous comments. We thoroughly enjoyed our time in northern Spain, so much so, we will be back. I want to travel more on the Feve line 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s