Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Walking in Asturias 5 - The Cares Gorge

Today I would like to tell you about the first walk we ever did in Asturias, it is without a doubt the most famous walk in the Picos mountains. It is a walk along the "Divine Gorge of the Cares River" or more commonly referred to as the "Cares Gorge trail". It is a linear walk along a path 1.5 m wide that was cut into the mountain in the second half of the 1940s to maintain a canal that takes water to a hydro-electric station. The walk is about 30k long and takes you from the village of Poncebos in Asturias to Posada de Valdeon in the province of Leon with the small village of Cain about half way. To walk the full length of this trail in the same day you need two cars, one to drop you off at the start of the walk and a second to pick you up at the other end; it is for this reason that most people start either in Poncebos or Posada de Valdeon and return the same way after reaching Cain. We usually start this walk from Poncebos as it is the nearest villages from La Pasera.

Starting from Poncebos, you have a 1 hour climb until the path levels out. At this point you are well into the trail that offers you some spectacular views of a gorge dotted with grassland and wooded areas, the clear waters of the river Cares running 1000 m below and the impressive mountains tops that reach over 2.600m. At times you can enjoy the view of numerous birds of prey gliding in the thermals.

The sound of the river water rushing through the gorge never leaves you and provides a soothing background noise to accompany the song of the many songbirds that are difficult to spot amongst the vegetation. There is a variety of wild alpine flowers that change with the different seasons.

The most spectacular part of this walk when you start walking from Poncebos is to be found just before you reach the village of Cain as the river runs very fast in the narrowest point of the gorge, you cross over two bridges and walk through a short tunnel cut into the rock with few windows cut into the rock to provide enough light to find your footing and offer you some stunning views of the surrounding area and a couple of water falls.

The village of Cain is a good spot to stop to have your picnic and build up your energy levels before you trace back your steps. The first time we ever walked this path, we sat to rest in one on the alpine meadows and suddenly the village dogs started barking as a wolf was howling in the distance. You could not have wished for more other than a sight of one of this magestic creatures running free.

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