All the small places.

Spain, by all accounts, is a pretty large mass of country. At 506,000 kilometres squared it's no shrinking violet. The United Kingdom is smaller but also has about 20 million more people. What my small, wet, wind-beaten island also has is an incredibly widespread transport network. It's not really that hard to visit anywhere, just expensive. OK, maybe a Scottish Highland hamlet or some black-roofed Snowdonian village curled up in a valley is tricky, but generally everywhere's covered. Some regions of Spain are very remote, with only one bus a day visiting it from a particular nearby town, and sometimes only in the afternoon; the return bus being the following morning. The vast expanses of Aragon, Castilla and Extremadura are guilty of this. In the busy coastal regions in the East and South the buses flow fluidly like silverfish darting red, crisp foreigners along with anglo-battered Spaniards to homes and beaches. In the mountain-crumpled north one finds a bit of both. The North is quite industrial so due to this historically the hubs have been well connected. From Vigo in Galicia up to A Coruña and along to Oviedo, Santander, Bilbao and San Sebastian, the larger places, like everywhere else, are 'connected'. However, due to the imposing nature of the countryside - craggy mountains in Cantabria and Asturias and steep gorges, estuaries and valleys in Galicia - the transport to smaller towns is not only sporadic but also slow-going.

With a car you essentially unlock the country. Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia are no longer cut off mountain strongholds but glorious scenic swathes peppered with twee little villages that you can dip into slowly but with ease. Here I present a snapshot of each of the regions as I recently saw them.

Santillana del Mar sits in a plump pastoral verdancy, dripping with grubby clouds and fat cows, its medieval heart a duvet of cobbles and honey-coloured antiquity. San Vicente de la Barquera and Llanes sit on a lacerated northerly coastline, fisherman towns and wet beaches, seagulls shouting at the waves as the set-back mountains threaten to stomp into the sea; protected by fields.

The Cantabrian Picos hide coyly in those grey spongy cumuli. A fairytale gorge, all scraped steep sides and defiant undergrowth, allows one little road to slip through to Potes; another olde worlde ancient blip of a town, surrounded by heights and full of food, canals, bridges, and remoteness. The vast Vega Valley slinks up into the heights and the road slips into Castilla y Leon. The sun remembers what it must do and burns away the clouds. Truly far from anywhere tiny villages rest up against unfairly gorgeous countryside. Riaño, with its seat of the Gods, stands on its perch and spends its days looking across the embalse towards a child's drawing of mountains.

Those mountains again hide secrets, caves and cheese. Arenas de Cabrales, a one horse town, steeps on all sides. One thing here, cabrales cheese. Matured for months and years in dank caves the cheeses are sometimes so strong they leave the taste buds fried and the mouth numb. Oviedo - a city - poises elegantly with its pretty streets and clean walls as all around the low sheet of vapour ensconces the Elysium.

Gijon - a gloomy port - stands firm against the northern whiplashes of the wind and provides a sense of determination to be better. A weeny old town - cute alleys and little coloured buildings - and an enormous beach that, in better weather, would be riddled with bodies. It's good, as is the fish, merluza a la sidra, hake cooked in cider with clams, and the local girls outside, stocky, and pouring their trademark boozy apple drink from a height into a glass and spilling it on the floor. Escanciar. Luarca, Asturias' Polperro, a cute cove fishing port, built into the cliff, is a farrago of roads, flaky boats bobbing in the still and jumper-wearing fisherman twittering on about their catch and the size of fish. 

A strange Celtic land where the coastline rips itself into a torn carpet of luxurious fjords and frayed sandy islands. The land, greener than anywhere and fat with trees, pines and wine. Crispy white Albariño in the estuary towns of the azure Rias Baixas and Ribeira Sacra, punchbowl fruity red, from the steep terraced canyon walls along the river Sil, hidden from the world but getting it drunker.

Bumpy and wild Galicia is a clutter of fishing villages - Cambados with its alcohol, Combarro and its waterfront granaries, Vilagarcia and its lively mussel boats and the Ila de Arousa perched on one side of the island of the same name, the other end all Caribbean sands and laced with cockle pickers.

Fishing villages and also a patchwork of large towns: classy Pontevedra, industrial Vigo, enchanting Santiago, frisky A Coruña, quiet Ourense and walled Lugo, all connected by a capillary network of remote villages drowning in viridian. At the bottom of the pagan oddness a citadel town, Tui, stands on one side of a bridge. Across the Miño, Valenca do Minho sits primly on a hill in the fields of Portugal locked up in a star-shaped fortress. Strolling through borders Galicia shines in the sun.