La Ruta del Cares

Naranjo de Bulnes (Picu Urriellu)
 It´s been too long since I wrote an entry but things have been hectic. I´ll try to keep more up to date. So going back a month and a half….
Myself and Mrs. HibernoManchego went to Asturias for the Halloween bank holiday. We had never been to the north in all 13 years in Spain. And shame on us for wasting time in getting there. Asturias is stunning, the food is hearty, the cider is delicious, the cheese is…well the cheese is strong, certainly the types from Cabrales, where we stayed.
We stayed at the Hotel Rural Torreceredo which was really comfortable but very quiet as it was off season. Not a problem for us though as myself and Mrs. HB prefer to visit places when there aren´t too many people. It just makes life simpler getting around. The view from our bedroom was a stunning picture postcard view of the Naranjo de Bulnes, or Picu Urriellu as it´s known in Asturian. They change o to u for lots of things, Pico becomes Picu, Queso becomes Quesu, etc.

View from our hotel room to the Ruta del Cares

 One of the most popular hiking trails in Spain is up in that valley, the Ruta del Cares. It is a path 12km long through the Garganta Divina, or Divine Gorge, between Poncebos and Caín. One thing to keep in mind is that it is about 105km to drive from Poncebos to Caín through mountain roads so walking is the best way really. You can´t get lost as there are no paths off it but if you fall, it´s a long way to the bottom. The gorge is about 2000 metres deep with the path itself reaching heights of up to 900 metres above the bottom of the gorge. It´s definitely not for those who suffer from vertigo as the path can be only 1.5 metres wide in places.

La Ruta del Cares

 Places to stop for lunch are spectacular as in this photo.

Lunch with a View

Here´s my lunch.

Cabrales Cheese and Ham Sandwich

Anyway, back to the route. As I said it´s a narrow path that also goes through some tunnels. The route was created between 1945 and 1950 to serve as a pathway to inspect the canal that carries water to the power station at Camarmeña, near Poncebos. At points along the walk you can see the canal and it´s fast flowing water. If thinking about falling over the side scares you, the thought of entering the canal and floating at about 20km an hour in freezing water through tunnels and ending up in a turbine scared me more.
Along the walk I was thrilled to see flocks of Alpine Choughs, a half dozen Wallcreepers, and Alpine Accentors all of which were first sightings for me.

2011_10_30 AdeC - Wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria)
Wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria)

2011_10_30 AdeC - Alpine [Yellow-billed] Chough (Pyrrhocorax graculus) 05
Alpine [Yellow-billed] Chough (Pyrrhocorax graculus)

2011_10_30 AdeC - Alpine Accentor (Prunella collaris) 04
Alpine Accentor (Prunella collaris)

The weather was beautiful although due to lack of sun entering the gorge it could be a bit chilly at times. There weren´t too many people on the path at the time, but some surprised us with their outfits like they were looking for a disco. In the summer it is thronged with walkers so we´re glad we did it in November.

Without doubt this is one of the most spectacular walks I have ever been on and I highly recommend it, as I also recommend the Picos of Europa in general and Asturias. So until the next entry “ta lleu”.

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