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.
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.
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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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.
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!
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.