Cares Route.This route for the mountain walk starts in the Central Massif of the Peaks of Europe, between the provinces of Asturias and León. The true Cares route starts in Poncebos (Asturias) and ends in Posada de Valdeón (León) or vice versa but due to its length, 21 kilometers, it can only be done if it is waiting at the end of the walk. Currently, SNP Travels (985 846 455) has its main office in Arenas de Cabrales and it is in charge of bringing the walkers to Poncebos and waiting for them in Caín with a 4 × 4 which takes them on adventure through the valleys of Valdeón and Liébana. Also Alsa has buses which offer trips to Poncebos and Posada de Valdeón. To check timetables please call: (902 42 22 42).
From Posada of Valdeón it would take around 5 or 6 hours to arrive at Poncebos. Once through the town the travelers follow the road to Cordiñanes. Afterwards they pass through the town and they find the Mirador of Tombo, where they find an emblematic sculpture of one of the best known species of the Peaks, the chamois. The road is parallel to Cares river, and later passing the Chorco of the Lobos, they cross the grazing areas of the Corona, before the town of the Caín. Crossing the bridge over the dam they pass Caín, here the path starts to narrow due to the presence of the walls of both massifs, forming a true gorge. Several excavated channels in the rocks lead towards the bridge of Rebecos and the bridge of Bolín, from here one can see the course of Cares river in the depths of the gorge. Following the path and leaving behind the little grazing grounds of Culiembro, from which part of the channel takes its name, and going up to the top the travelers stay on the pastures of Ostón, in the massif of Cornión. Here the path goes round the edge of the river and, after a light descent, they are close to the end of the route in Poncebos.
From Poncebos to Caín.
This is the usual itinerary to follow. There are twelve kilometers there and back. The time it takes is more or less similar to the time from Posada de Valdeón, but in this last case one does not have the inconvenience of waiting for a vehicle at the arrival point. One can park their car in Poncebos and go back for it after returning from Caín. The route takes more or less 3 or 4 hours from the begining to the end, and the same time returning. The route is not difficult and the grade is around 700 meters. A few meters after the town of Poncebos, the road becomes a gravel racetrack, and a sign indicates the beginning of the walk to Cares. On it is also written «Caín 3 hours, Posada de Valdeón 6 hours». The first 2,5 kilometers are the hardest. There is also a certain descent before reaching the ruins of a house and a tree (whose shadow is the first seen for many meters). A bit later, one gets to The Collados, this is the point where there is a light descent. Later one finds a path carved out of rock near the channel. From this point there is no descent. After five kilometers one reaches the sheepfold of Culiembro where there is a channel of the same name that ascends towards the passes of Ostón. Walking down one realizes that the height goes up in respect to the river. After this the travelers gets to the bridge of Bolín, where he crosses the river at a great height. Later one returns to cross it over the bridge of Los Rebecos. At last, one goes through a channel with large windows excavated on the rock. This is the narrowest point of the trip. After that one arrives at the dam of Cain, where the valley starts to open and from here one can see the houses of the inhabitants of León.
Some practical advice:
· It is advisable to bring water and comfortable shoes; in summer must be careful with the sun. Remember that the channel water is not potable.
· Do not forget the camera because the views are really spectacular.
· To reach Poncebos we turn on the AS-114 passing through Arenas de Cabrales. There is clear signage.