Some people argue that the water mills were one of the most sophisticated pre-industrial inventions. With the arrival of the steam engine, the machine that opened the way to the industrial revolution, these mills were little by little being cornered on the most recondite fluvial shores. In Asturias developed an important milling industry taking advantage of the hundreds of water currents that run through its territory.
Tourist routes like that of the mills in Ribadesella, try to remind us that in the Middle Ages, and after the replacement of the human force by the hydraulic, the water mills were not anything and that, taking advantage of the energy of the rivers, they supplied whole regions of flour of different cereals. The production of these mills increased from the seventeenth century thanks to the extension of the cultivation of corn, from America. The fact of being a reference for the economy of the community, besides a refuge always hidden and crouching between the fluvial shores, it turned the mills into an object of legend, above all in the matter of rumors about love affairs and sinful goings-on that took place inside.
In Ribadesella we can remember those times knowing first hand the gear of these mills and appreciating the high density of them on the banks of Tresmonte irrigation. We can even observe their mechanisms, because one of them is enabled and ready to move your molars if we operate a stopcock that lets it run to the water with force. Then we can get into the mill and handle their levers to make a handful of flour to take away as a souvenir.
Where does the route of the mills begin?
The route to get here begins in the town of Caves of Water where we will leave the car. We follow the trail that will lead us to the hamlet of Santiago a few hundred meters. On our left, the river Sella accompanies us for a long time. Once we arrive at the farmhouse, we cross this towards the bottom, where the Tresmonte water flows. We must close a country hatch at our pace.
Following the stream we will go into a narrow valley and very leafy sprinkled with flour mills, most of them in an advanced ruin, except the so-called Molino de Francisco. Precisely after this mill the road ascends to reach the track that leads to the hamlet of Tresmonte.
The route is also a botanical exercise, then we will discover an extensive sample of native trees in a short distance.
Our tour is well done in one hour and one way back. A simple walk, full of culture and nature at the same time and very rewarding, which can be done in any season of the year if the weather accompanies.
But taking this trip as an excuse, we can engage in slightly longer routes that depart from it. If we follow the path we came by, we will arrive at the town of Tresmonte. This small town, today only inhabited by a family, is a good example of the popular architecture of the area, and known to have been the birthplace of D. Manuel Fernández Juncos, defender of Spanish in Puerto Rico against the advance of English and promoter of the free press in that country. In this forgotten village that once gave many children and some illustrious personage, we will feel the pleasant sensation, at the same time that nostalgic, of the passage of time in those Asturian villages that have turned into ghost towns. Corners laden with stories and memories that can only be recalled by their last neighbors, now scattered in towns and cities.
From Tresmonte you will go back down the track until you find a deviation to the left that you will follow until you find another crossroad. In this place we must decide for one of the two variants:
Option 1: deviation to the right: it descends quickly towards the town of Caves.
Option 2: to the left it is promoted to the Colu Moru, from where you can see unbeatable panoramic views of the coast of Ribadesella and its surroundings, as well as an important part of the Picos de Europa.Text: © Ramón Molleda for desdeasturias.com