To reach the geological heart of the Picos de Europa It is not necessary to take risks or overcome large slopes, you just need to put on good boots and after a comforting walk to be in the heart of the Asturian landscape, at the foot of the large limestone mounds.
We speak here of the route that runs between the Lakes of Covadonga, to 1100 meters of altitude, and Vega de Ario, to 1600 meters, that between round trip will take about six hours to complete. The excursion begins on the shore of the Lake of the Ercina, one of the famous lakes of Covadonga. The goal, Vega de Ario, is an immense meadow dotted with limestones where herds flock in the summer, and that has a mountain retreat ideal for lovers of the peaks, serving as the basis for numerous mountain activities and spelunking.
For us, day and weekend hikers, this trip serves us as a great little round trip adventure. Once we have the backpack on our shoulders we follow the marked path that starts from the left side of Lake Ercina. A marked bridle path that bears the name PR PNPE-3 of the park's hiking network, and which originally borders the lake on the eastern flank. We advance among some cabins that make up the fertile valley of the Ercina, to take immediately the path that ascends bordering a stream, the Riega del Brazu, and that little by little it is encased in the Canal de la Cuenye, which leads to the Vega la Paré. In this area we begin to see the first wooded spots.
It will be after about 40 minutes, when we get to the charming Majada de las Bobias, dotted with cabins. At the end of it we can refresh ourselves in the fountain "La Canaleta", which emanates from a rock next to the road. After a while we enter a small forest of beech trees, which we cross, shortly after we touch a small descent and see a new fold down there, on our left. Is the Redondiella (to which we do not descend). So far we have a 60 minutes of walking. We continue, we cross the river and enter a slope popularly called The Reblagas. A pebbly and bare road, prior to the stop known as The Campizas.
We're pretty much halfway there and it's a good point to take a break. The path from here is well marked with milestones and some sign of paint, so it is easy to follow. It crosses without losing height an area of "jous" (holes) known as Los Abedules and brings us closer to the hill of El Jitu. We take the opportunity to admire the imposing silhouettes of the Central Massif drawn on the horizon over the popular Cares Gorge.
The clear path to the left, well trodden, guides us without major problems until the Marqués de Villaviciosa refuge, which has kitchen service and has a nearby fountain. The refuge is located on the northern edge of the Vega de Ario (1.630 m) (2.40 h.). Shortly before reaching it, two piles of stones and an orientation table allow us to identify the main summits We spotted from our great position.
The rounded top of the Jultayu it is seen at the bottom (right). If the forces allow us, it is not a bad idea to finish the route ascending to this mountain of 1935 m. The top is easy to conquer, it takes a little less than 1 hour from La Vega. As it is a minor summit, it is worthwhile to make a small effort and crown one of the most famous viewpoints of the Cantabrian mountain.
The panoramic view is really impressive. We observe in all its splendor the massif of Llambrión and Torre Cerrado in front of us, and more than 1.500 down there we see the town of Caín. And it is that the Jultayu is the quintessential balcony of the throat of Cares.
Text: © Ramón Molleda for desdeasturias.com
Information of interestRecommendations
It is best to start walking to the 9.00 or 9.30 in the morning at the latest.
Do not try it in bad weather or with fog.
It is necessary to mark a calm but constant rhythm, without too long stops.
You can do this excursion with trekking boots or strong beach shoes.
Do not forget the canteen, which we can fill in the sources of the road. The camera is almost inescapable.
Estimated time two and a half hours to Vega de Ario, one hour more to the Jultayu. The return, by the same way.