Protected Natural Areas
We have chosen for you the areas that we think are most beautiful in this area. Don’t hesitate to ask if you have any doubts or questions!
Somiedo Natural Park
Somiedo, declared a UNESCO biosphere reserve, is 20 km from Villandás.
It is one of the most magical places in this region, a mosaic of different landscapes such as the lakes of Saliencia or Lago del Valle. It still has hidden villages with buildings thatched with broom, the “brañas de teito”, that carry on one of the oldest building traditions in this area. Brañas such as La Pornacal or La Peral take us back in time.
In these wild mountain spaces survives the greatest number of Iberian brown bears, as well as other species: capercaillie, wolves, golden eagles, deer, wild boar, fox and mountain cats.
Within the park there are many walking and horseback routes to take. The reception centre for the whole park is in Pola de Somiedo.
This museum, divided in two parts, aims to explain country culture. There are two parts to the displays:
- An exhibition about traditional crafts in Pola de Somiedo
- Three houses in the village of Veigas that explain how the houses of the area evolved.
DISCOVER THE LAND OF THE BEARS
This is a iniciative of the Fundación del Oso Pardo (FOP) which offers to take visitors on guided walks of the Natural Park and surrounding areas to learn about the land where the bears live, their habitat and to get closer to an understanding of this emblematic endangered species. Ask well in advance if you want a guided tour in English.
All funds are put back into conservation projects for the brown bear in the Cantabrian mountains.
More information www.fundacionosopardo.org
The Protected Area of Pico de Caldoveiro and the Senda del Oso
The varied vegetation of this area, as well as the contrasts effected by erosion, go to make a picturesque landscape dotted with little mountain lakes and huts or “corros”. Puerto de Marabio, which joins Yernes and Tameza with Teverga, is notable (10 km from Villandás). In Entrago you can walk the Senda del Oso, or hire bikes, to descend to Proaza and visit the Casa del Oso (Tel: 985 761 252).
On the mountainside you will find the famous bears Paca and Tola in captivity.
The Senda del Oso goes along an old railway line for 40 km. 21 km have so far been prepared as a “senda verde”. At the start of each stage there is an information panel that explains the path and what to look for; the whole path is well marked: villages, crossings, rivers, bridges, picnic areas and other places of interest are all signposted with information boards showing a range of interesting information.
The Natural Park of Las Ubiñas- La Mesa
This magnificent mountain zone has deep valleys and steep slopes that are ideal for hiking and enjoying nature. The principal mountain is over 132 square km with some peaks higher than 2000 metres (6000 feet). In total the Natural Park covers more than 42,000 hectares and covers the whole of Teverga and parts of Quirós and Lena.
This is one of the few places where the Iberian brown bear can still be seen. And it is not the only species typical to the area that has been included on the Regional List of Endangered Species. In the woods you can still see capercaillie, which share the landscape with wolves, boar, fox, genet, wild cats, ermine and badgers. There are many kinds of deer in these mountains as well as birds of prey such as eagles, vultures and peregrine falcons. Otters and muskrats, which are designated in the Regional catalogue as species of special interest, show what a priceless environmental resource the waters that flow through the park provide. The Cueva Huerta Natural “Monument” is a refuge for several kinds of bats.
Up to a third of the surface area is taken up by mature woodlands, a good indicator of the value of the vegetation here. Beech woods predominate, comprising more than seventy percent of the woodland, but there are plenty of oaks and silver birch.
In addition to this natural wealth there are also cultural treasures. It has one of the richest areas of inhabited caves in the northwest of Spain (Abrigos Rupestres de Fresnedo), with paintings from the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. There are also remains from the pre-Roman “castro” period, although there is no question that the most remarkable feature is the Camino Real de la Mesa, a Roman road as old as the first Asturian peoples, which joined the region with the tableland of Leon.
Inside the park you can find Picu Caldoveiru and the Puerto de Marabio.
Las Xanas Gorge
This is a unique geological structure created by the stream of the same name. Spectacular and beautiful, it has become one of the emblematic trails of Asturias, a smaller scale version of the one at Cares.
The Xana is an Asturian mythological character who lives in river caves and sources. This excursion is certainly evocative of that ancient mythology.