Category Archives: Hiking Blog

En la cima - On the summit

Pico Ferreirúa – The highest point in Teverga 1941m…

We picked a cooler day to do our walk up Ferreirua, the highest peak in the ‘concejo’ of Teverga, and that proved a blessing on the steepest parts of the hike.  As we did when we did Huerto del Diablo  we set of from Puerto Ventana after a short car ride.

This time the sky was grey so the views were not as stunning but at least we could see where we were going and it looked like a great walk. The path was relatively easy to follow  (we followed our nose without a map) and the first km or so wasn´t to steep and kind of skirted round the first obvious peak. However, the first hill proper was a bit of a shock with about 75m of very steep climbing which left us out of breath but improved the views. And from there we ascended via a series of steepish ascents and short descents over several small hills. The path was obvious and the ground pretty easy and forgiving.

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Then after about 2.8km the ground got a bit more mountainous and rocky and we semi-scrambled along a series of ridges each sharper and rockier than the last. These were fun as there were no serious drops and the path was easy to follow but they were a bit slow and awkward. At the end of the ridge we thought we were at the summit but in fact there was one last short, rocky descent and ascent to gain the top, which was marked by a small cairn.

As we reached the summit the clouds lifted and a bit of sun shone giving us stunning views into León and the Parque Natural de Somiedo, where some even bigger challenges lie!!

The map of our ascent.

The map of our ascent.

Overall this was a fun walk with some steep bits, some rocky traversing and as ever great views. We did it in about 3+ hrs with quite a few short stops and a 10 year old. Once again this would make a brilliant mountain run…

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Huerto del Diablo South

Mountain Walk – Up to ‘Huerto del Diablo’ 2140m from Puerto Ventana

What a day out!! Making the most of a stunning, sunny day we decided that we needed to start exploring the local hills (mountains) a bit more and so headed up to Puerto Ventana 1587m. This pass forms the border between Asturias and Leon and is the southern-most point of Teverga. It’s a great starting point for several hikes as it lets you access the high mountains with the minimum of ascent (albeit there’s still some ascent!!).

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From Casa Quiros there are two ways of getting there: one shortish, roughish one, and a longer but smoother method. The quickest and more adventurous way is to drive east up the valley from Casa Quiros and, at Santa Marina, take the road up to Ricabo which just before the village is signed off right up to Puerto Ventana. This road then turns into a mainly unpaved road for about 11km leading slowly but surely up to Puerto Ventana. TBH the track is pretty decent and has no scary drop offs or bad patches – it’s tarmac where needed and is a reasonably gentle slope most of the way – this takes about 45mins from Casa Quiros depending on stops at the viewpoints. However, if you weren’t happy to do this in a rental car for example then the alternative is to go north towards Proaza and take the road up to San Martin (Teverga) and follow the valley south from there ( which actually covers some spectacular territory) to arrive at Puerto Ventana in about the same time. A good call maybe to go there one way and return the other…

Anyway from Puerto Ventana we decided to walk to to the peak known as Huerto del Diablo 2140m (the Devil’s garden – is the direct translation). This turned out to be a simple to navigate but very beautiful and not too challenging – our 10 year old son came with us and kept up the whole way. The walk starts on a wide easy to follow track which turns uphill and is the old miners track – the hills here were covered in small mines for many years – and soon gains height to give views of the high ridges and mountains to the south which lead to the Fontanes and Peña Ubiña – the highest points in the Ubiñas group at 2417m. At this point we saw what we think was a Golden Eagle gliding gently above us! From the end of the track we moved up and traversed across onto more open, rocky and mountainous terrain to take a wide gully which led steeply up to a coll.

From the coll we could see our objective easily enough and crossing a low valley we climbing up again onto a broad, rocky shoulder which led to the summit. The views from this shoulder were amazing – wide open vistas to the south of the majestic peaks of the Fontanes and the huge, precarious looking ridges between us and them. Once on the shoulder we reached the top of Huerto del Diablo in about 10 more minutes and relaxed with a bite of chocolate and and few photos. From there the obvious descent was down a wide ridge then ascend to take in the second peak of Huerto del Diablo south and to drop down to the south to arrive back at the top of the gully we’d climbed up.

Our ascent from Puerto Ventana

Our ascent from Puerto Ventana

The descent was very welcome as the day had heated up and all the sets of legs were getting a bit tired. And so in about 45 minutes more we arrived very hot and a bit bother to the big fuente (spring) at the start of the route. Freezing and refreshing in equal parts we dumped our shoes and socks and bathed our feet before nipping back to the parking. Final tally – from the parking around 11km with about 670 metres of ascent. With stops we took around five hours.

Fauna – Golden Eagle, Griffon Vulture and either large mountain goats or rebecos (a type of mountain deer).

As a note this would easily make a great trail run for anyone of that inclination…

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Horse trekking in Parque las Ubiñas

The Parque Natural de las Ubiñas, which straddles Quirós and our neighbouring counties of Teverga and Lena, is the youngest of all the Asturian natural parks. It’s a stunning mountainous landscape with spectacular high peaks, glaciated valleys and ancient woodlands and is criss-crossed with an extensive network of trails that makes exploring it relatively simple and infinitely appealing, be it on foot, bike or horse back. If you’re lucky enough to get the right conditions in winter you could even pull on your  snowshoes or cross-country skis out on the tops.

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Perhaps the best-known of these trails is the Camin Real de la Mesa which follows the old Roman road that crosses the mountain tops linking the provinces of Asturias and León. It forms part of the Via de La Plata, an ancient trade and pilgrimage route that ran all the way along the west side of Spain from south to north. Linking up to it at various points are a seeming infinity of other local paths.

Last September I had the good fortune to explore 60kms of this network of trails on a two-day circular horse ride in a group accompanied by a super-knowledgeable local guide, Paco from Cuadra Sobia stables. On the Saturday we climbed up through dramatic limestone gorges, enjoyed the dappled shade of extensive beech and chestnut forests and clip-clopped past waterfalls, stopping to picnic at a braña (an ancient settlement of the native nomadic cowherds, vaqueiros de alzada) from where we continued up to the roof of Asturias at Puerto Ventana.

From here we pitched over and down into León where we overnighted in an albergue.  The next day we looped back down to our starting point at Cuadra Sobia, via the extensive and spectacular plateau where Somiedo, Teverga and León meet. In the whole weekend we didn’t repeat a single section of trail and barely set hoof on tarmac. Apart from a few walkers by Xiblu waterfall the only company we encountered on the trails were wild horses and a few cows.

All in all an amazing experience that has whetted my appetite for continued exploration of these majestic mountains. Although from now on I shall be mainly staying on foot – two days in the saddle after 20 years without mounting a horse rather took its toll!

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Let it snow

Early signs are that this year is going to be a good one for winter sports enthusiasts here in Asturias. Last week we had an early dump of snow up in the mountains and on the weekend we headed up to the mountain pass of Puerto Ventana to check it out.

Separating Teverga from León, Ventana has stunning views any day of the year but clothed in dazzling snow and clear blue skies it’s more spectacularly beautiful than ever. The road that winds up there is like a passage through Narnia, lined by snow-laden trees and white-carpeted fields.

The well-marked walking tracks that set off from Ventana to Quirós and León lend themselves brilliantly to snow-shoeing or cross-country skiing at this time of year and for the littler folk the slopes in the immediate surrounds of the parking are perfect for a little tobogganing.

At 1587 metres above sea level Puerto Ventana sits well above the snow line for most of the winter. The snow rarely dips much below the 1,000 metre mark in Asturias but access up to the high passes is quick and easy with good roads that are kept clear by efficient snow-ploughing.

Casa Quiros is at about 600m so you can often choose between sports climbing on sunny limestone or you can be at Alto La Cobertoria at over 1,000m in 20 minutes drive – another great spot for sledging, snow shoeing and cross country skiing. If you are more of a piste demon you also have 3 ski stations within one and a half hour’s drive of the house – Valgrande-Pajares, Fuentes de Invierno and San Isidro.

Whatever your winter bag and whatever the weather Asturias will have something to keep you active and entertained!

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Las Saleras hike

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It’s been a spectacular winter, and now spring, here in Asturias, with lots and lots of sunshine and very little rain. We’ve been making the most of it, climbing, hiking and generally being outdoors every chance we get. Unfortunately, with all this unseasonal making hay while the sun shines this blog has been somewhat neglected. We have however been accumulating experiences, photos and a ton of good stuff to share with you so I guess we’d better get on with it!

Let’s kick off with some photos from a hike we did back in January (although you’d be forgiven for thinking it was from last summer – check out those blue, blue skies!) This route took us up to Las Saleras peak at 1,700m with magnificent views over Puerto Ventana, to the Picos de Europa and even off to the sea in the north.

Quite apart from those views on the horizon and the simple satisfaction of peak bagging, the hike was full of interest.  At times we kept our eyes to the ground as we sought out traces of the Cantabrian brown bears and wolves that still live in these mountains. At others it was the traces of human civilisation in centuries gone that captivated us.

It was approaching twilight as we passed through La Braña de los Fuexos on our final descent. Here the stony remains of an ancient settlement of cowherds’ cabins and their livestock corrals are dwarfed by giant, ancient beech trees. Picking our way through in the half-light of the witching hour made for a truly magical finish to a great day out on the hills.