A 30.000 pies por viajeros para viajeros

Ecotourism in the Raw Along the Camino Natural de la Cordillera Cantábrica

Today we recommend one of the most charming routes in Spain. We hiked along it and were captivated. Want to know why? I’m referring to the Camino Natural de la Cordillera Cantábrica, a wilderness trail, steeped in nature, which runs for just over six hundred kilometres, mostly through  Asturias, traversing the Cordillera Cantábrica (Cantabrian Mountain Range) from east to west. We started out at the easternmost point, in the municipality of Peñamellera Baja, near the border of Cantabria. The trail ends in the municipality of Santa Eulalia de Oscos, hard by the Autonomous Community of Galicia. It was a magical trip, a getaway in communion with nature in which we totally switched off from the daily rat race.

The Camino Natural is divided into twenty-seven stages. However, depending on your level of fitness, and the time you have available, some stages can be grouped together in order to complete the route in fewer days. The good thing about this trail is that it never becomes monotonous. You are accompanied by beautiful panoramic views throughout, with a rich diversity of fauna and flora. We were treated to some of the finest examples of scenic splendour Asturias has to offer.

Another inducement on this route is the host of protected nature reserves you encounter on the trail: the Picos de Europa National Park, Nature Reserve Network, Protected Area of the Cuencas Mineras (Mining Basins), Ubiñas-La Mesa Nature Reserve, near the Fuentes del Narcea, Degaña e Ibias Nature Park, in addition to the Oscos-Eo Biosphere Reserve and the natural enclaves of Sierra del Cuera, Pico Caldoveiro and Sierras de Carondio y Valledor. Can’t do much better than that, can you?

However, nature is not the only great provider here. There is also the rich heritage of the human imprint. On this route you will come across countless reminders of the local historic and cultural legacy, often in the form of such traditional architecture as the hórreos (granaries raised on pillars), country manors or casonas, hermitages, churches, towers and stately homes. The trail also includes sections designated “historical roads”, notably the Roman Road of La Carisa, the Camín Real de La Mesa and the junction between the pilgrimage routes known as the French Road and the original Road to Santiago, not to mention the presence of Celtic, Roman and medieval archaeological sites.

The Camino Natural de la Cordillera Cantábrica is made up of the following stages:

1. Panes to Alles – 17.85 km; 5.00 hrs.
2. Alles to Carreña – 15.98 km; 4.30 hrs.
3. Carreña to Benia de Onís – 19.02 km; 5.00 hrs.
4. Benia de Onís to Cangas de Onís – 23.58 km; 4.30 hrs.
5. Cangas de Onís to Villamayor – 22.98 km; 7.30 hrs.
6. Villamayor to Espinaredo – 13.40 km; 4.30 hrs.
7. Espinaredo to Fresnedal – 9.26 km; 3.00 hrs.
8. Fresnedal to Los Melendreros – 15.93 km; 5.30 hrs.
9. Los Melendreros to Entralgo – 13.37 km; 4.30 hrs.
10. Entralgo to Bello – 18.51 km; 6.00 hrs.
11. Bello to Santibáñez – 32.54 km; 6.00 hrs.
12. Santibáñez to Campomanes – 26.09 km; 8.30 hrs.
13. Campomanes to Llanuces – 25.96 km; 8.30 hrs.
14. Llanuces to Bárzana – 20.17 km; 5.00 hrs.
15. Bárzana to Villanueva – 18.14 km; 5.00 hrs.
16. Villanueva to Villamayor – 43.67 km; 9.00 hrs.
17. Villamayor to Dolia – 22.65 km; 8.00 hrs.
18. Dolia to Belmonte – 13.99 km; 4.30 hrs.
19. Belmonte to Boinás – 17.25 km; 5.00 hrs.
20. Boinás to Tuña – 24.62 km; 4.00 hrs.
21. Tuña to Onón – 16.68 km; 4.00 hrs.
22. Onón to Corias – 23.77 km; 7.00 hrs.
23. Corias to Besullo – 20.02 km; 6.30 hrs.
24. Besullo to Berducedo – 42.21 km; 7.00 hrs.
25. Berducedo to Grandas – 45.71 km; 6.00 hrs.
26. Grandas to Castro – 13.25 km; 3.00 hrs.
27. Castro to Santa Eulalia de Oscos – 29.43 km; 6.00 hrs.

Top-notch Ecotourism in the North of the Iberian Peninsula

On this trip we discovered that ecotourism is an option which is fast catching on in Spain. Broadly speaking, it is a form of nature trailing which involves respecting the natural environment and promoting sustainability, as well as contributing directly and effectively to developing the area. Resource conservation with a view to safeguarding local fauna and flora is ever-present. Well, then, what better than to put into practice this tourist trend on the ascent by venturing along the Camino Natural de la Cordillera Cantábrica? Sightings of unique species, priceless scenery and unforgettable experiences are guaranteed in this nature paradise located in the north of the Iberian Peninsula. Now, you wouldn’t want to miss it, would you?

Text by José García

Images by Turismo de Asturias