The natural Park of Somiedo is a land of great beauty, especially ideal for nature lovers. It is located on the South of the Principality, bordered with the frontier of León. This territory is also interesting because of its environmental and cultural values. The whole area extends for more than 300 square kilometers. In this territory one can find areas of relief around the heights of 400 meters or the mounts of 2100 meters. These areas also provide lots of interesting and different routes.
Photos by: Alex Badía
If we are interested in knowing the Narural Park of Somiedo well, first of all we need a bit of patience. We also need to get involved in the culture and, of course, we must respect the environment. It is advisable to take time to visit this natural Park because there is a lot to see. The first inhabitants of this territory were thought to live in this area since the Bronze Age, and since then, the landscape has remained intact. This archeological landscape still holds traces of ancient cementeries and the ruins of old huts. The most famous of these huts are known as the huts of teito, which are a kind of stone building with roofs made from the branches of wild bushes, scientifically known as cytisus scoparious, which are currently known in Somiedo as "xiniesta". The most important ethnographic groups of these huts are Pornacal and Mumián. These buildings maintain a feudal style and appear as if we are looking at the past, at the Middle ages. Their physical appearance reminds us of the Romanticism and styles of the shapes. The main function of these huts are for cattle raising and also work as stores for the hay and shelter for the animals. The economy is clearly based on this cattle raising, and the meadows strongly represent the change between the cold seasons and the warmer ones, determining the biological clock of the inhabitants of the Park. The most popular ones are the vaqueiros of raised, commonly known as the Cantabrian nomads.
Every year, in Spring time, the vaqueira families leave their winter homes, taking their animals and tools with them, and they go to the mountain regions for the summertime. In some cases, the distance traveled in these movements used to reach one hundred kilometers from one place to the other. To the present day, around fifty families move from the councils of Tineo, Salas, Belmonte of Miranda to the summer villages of Somiedo such as El Puerto, La Peral, La Falguera and Llamardal. This rural population has contributed much to the musical folk and to this ancestral culture, gaining more importance with the passing of time.
Somiedo: Natural Reserve of the Biosphere
The council of Somiedo totals 37 population groups with 14 parishes. These populations have to face up to a modern problem: the crisis of the traditional economy, and the rural methods opposed to the modern progress Natural Reserve of the Biosphere. The strict rules imposed for the welfare of the landscape usually produces changes in the sociology of the territory and the lifestyle of its inhabitants.
An important thing to take into account if we decide to visit this place, that we have to realize that we are in an open space surrounded by high mountains, so, we should have our excursions and routes previously planned, because it can be dangerous if we do this excursion in bad weather. For this reason, our advice is to take a map, to compass and suitable clothes and shoes for walking.
The heavy woods are very frequent in Somiedo and usually appear by the slopes of the mountains. These forests consisting of oak woods and birch woods that occupy the valley of glacier origin, house an abrupt geology. The fauna living here includes a 50% of the Cantabrian bears. This is the most populated area by the bears in all of Western Europe. Some more common species living here are: the chamois, the real eagle, the roe buck, the deer, the squirrels, the wolves, the capercaille ...
Somiedo is also like a kind of Noah's Ark, as well as, a legendary land because of its magical forests and lakes. As a result of proximity to the river Pigueña and its tributaries, it is very common to find lots of lakes and lagoons. The most important ones are the lakes of the localities of Valle, Cerveriz, La Cueva, La Mina, or the Black Lake also known as Calabazosa. Small lagoons are also common in this landscape as the Good Lagoon, or small lagoons like Cabera, Redonda, Llamazo, Fontarente, the Lagoon of Mesa, Camayor, Fuentes etc. Some of them are temporary and usually get dry during the summer.
Routes by Somiedo
By visiting Somiedo we can plan a lot of possible routes. Some of them are visited often because they are well located but others are not, we must take care if we decide to venture out into the woods.
Some recommended routes are as follows: The Route of the Royal Way of the Table - La Bustariega, GR-101 // The route of Camin Real - GR-101 // The Route of the Cornón, PR-AS-12 // The route of Braña de Mumián, PR- AS-11 // The route of Brañas de Saliencia, PR, AS-12 // The route of Castro, PR, AS-13 // The route of La Peral - Villar de Vildas, PR , AS-14 // The route of Valle del Pigueña. La Pornacal, PR, AS- 14.1 // The route of the lakes of Saliencia, PR, AS-15 // The route of Valle del Lago, PR, AS-15.1 // The route of El Puerto- Sousas- Valle de Lago , PR, AS-16 // And the route of Braña de Sousas, PR, AS-16.1.
For further information, please see the pictures of this area and also the maps, or even better, visit the Interpretation Center of the Park in the capital of this council: Pola of Somiedo.
Text: © Ramón Molleda for desdeasturias.com
Information of interestContact telephones
Medical care: 985 76 36 79.
Police: 985 76 36 00.
Ethnographic Museum: 985 76 39 84.
Youth Information Office: 985 76 36 52.
Somiedo Natural Park: 985 76 37 58.