With almost 1.600 square kilometers, the so-called Vaqueira region, integrated by five Asturian municipalities: Cudillero, Valdés, Allande, Tineo and SalasIt is an unequal mosaic of landscapes. Everything in this vast territory prepares us for hiking and to enjoy nature without obstacles. We speak of a zone of friendly and rounded mountains that flank innumerable valleys and that ends, like a large, mighty river, in the sea: on the vast and wild coast of western Asturias.
Photo report of: Daniel Martin
In this territory, which includes inhospitable landscapes, inhabited until the mid-twentieth century one of the most marginalized ethnic groups in the history of Spain: the vaqueiros of elevation, discriminated against by the Church and by the rest of neighbors for more than five centuries, neither tolerated by the civil authorities, whose physical and social isolation shaped a differentiated culture that is today the hallmark of the region.
The progressive improvement of road infrastructures brings us closer today these places so alien, distant and unknown of regional history, where the ways of life are still peculiar, the result of the direct rejection of the sedentary lifestyle exercised by its inhabitants, capable of recreating their own and very unique traditions.
Many itineraries that we can undertake to recover the visual memory of a people with nomadic vocation, dedicated to the transhumant livestock and to the ranch, which has sprinkled the routes of brañas and temporary pastures, combined today with the perennial constructions of mansions, hórreos and religious architecture, and with the innovative implementation of rural houses and excellent places to taste the raw materials of the vaqueira gastronomy.
We speak of a unique natural environment and some of the less populated areas of Asturias. The brañas vaqueiras of this region summon tradition and legends that can still be breathed in some of the following basic tours.
Routes vaqueiras: main route
The vaqueiras routes can be started from San Martín de Luiña (Cudillero) and end in Luarca (Valdés) or vice versa.
We begin in San Martín de Luiña (Cudillero) (Church with discriminatory inscriptions against the vaqueiros de alzada), we head towards Brañaseca (panoramic views over the coast) continue towards Gallinero (Salas), and from there to Malleza (parochial church and houses of Colonial architecture). We take the road to Arquera-Mallecina-Las Corradas-La Gallinas sale and reaching La Espina (communication center), we continue along the road to Brañalonga (Tineo) -Cezures-Casa del Puerto (impressive panoramic views) continue towards Bustellán-Fastias-Calleras (Church of the XVII century) - Muñalén (Forest Museum) - Navelgas (link with the Gold Route) - Naraval (Museum Vaqueiro de Asturias), continue towards the Alto de Aristébano (Valdés), where the last Sunday of July is celebrated the Vaqueiro Festival and the traditional wedding) - we descend already towards Caborno-La Figal and we finish the route in Luarca (Valdés) (fishing port, Palace of the Marquises of Ferreras, Mesa de Mareantes)
Pola de Allande branch:
Departing from La Espina (Salas) we head towards El Pedregal (Tineo) -Piedrafita-Santullano-El Peligro-Gera-San Facundo-San Felix-Ablaneda-Balbona, and Pola de Allande (Allande) we continue the journey towards Porciles-Borres- Bárcena (Benedictine Monastery, Pre-Romanesque Church) San Martín and we can finish our tour in Navelgas.
In this route we can visit: In Tineo the Church of San Pedro, the Parochial Museum and the Palaces of Merás and the Garcias. In Gera carbayón de Valentín. In Pola de Allande the Parochial Church and the Peñalba-Cienfuegos Palace.
Routes vaqueiras: secondary routes
These have a shorter route but also lead us to places of great beauty and vaqueira tradition.
Salas - Tuña
Mallecina - Priero - Salas - Godán - Soto de los Infantes - Tuña - Genestaza - la Azorera.
Ablaneda - La Espina
Ablaneda - The Pevidal - Buspol - Idarga - La Espina
Route of Ayones
Bustellán (Tineo) - Los corros - Ayones - Brieves
Route of Muñás
Naraval - Walls - Brieves - Muñás - Arcallana - Lendepeña -Gallinero (Salas).
Route of Lavio
Las Gallinas - Buscabreiro - Socolinas - Lavio - Pende - Brañasevil - Faedo - Muñas
Navelgas - Foyedo - Rellanos - Alto de Brañuas - Parlero - Busy - Herías - Masenga - Siñeriz - Degollada - Belén - Carboniella - Menudero - Setienes - Luarca
Route of Pola de Allande
Pola de Allande - La Roza - La Reigada - The Rebollo - Bustantigo
In these secondary itineraries we recommend visiting:
in Salas the collegiate church, the Church of San Martín and the tower and Palace of Valdés-Salas. In Soto de los Infantes the Medieval Tower. In Tuña, Exemplary Town 2000, the palatial mansions. In Brieves the arches and the Tower of the Abella.Text: © Ramón Molleda for desdeasturias.com