Saturday, 12 October 2013

Asturias – Somiedo

Somiedo is a national park in Southern Asturias. As everybody goes to hike in the Picos the rest of the national parks are underestimated even though I think they have lots to offer to everybody who loves walking.

One of the most popular hiking routes here is the one that starts from the village of Valle de Lago. It´s 8km away from Pola de Somiedo, the Park´s biggest town and the road that leads to the village is steep with gorgeous views over the valley. 

At the end of Valle de Lago there´s a car park where you can leave your car. The path will take you to Lago de Valle, a lake with glacier origins that you can find after 3km at 1200m height and is the biggest lake in Asturias. The path is easy and picturesque and with only 300m elevation it´s ideal for families, too.

One of the features of the Somiedo National Park is the teitos, these little shelters with thatched roof and very low walls. Being built on the side of the hills half sunk in the ground and moss growing on the roof they completely blend into their environment.They were used by people who took the cows to high pasture since the medieval times. There are less and less of these little huts and Somiedo is proud to have them.

Interestingly, the people who live in the park belong to two groups that are very distinct, culturally and socially as well. One of them, the appellate vaqueros, live in a closed nomadic society and their cultural and mythological traditions are still alive.

We took the advice of the lady in the tourist office in Pola de Somiedo and instead of doing the 14km walk to the Lakes of Saliencia and back (making it all together 28km), we did the 3km walk to Lago the Valle and back, then drove to the other end of the track which is right at the border of Asturias and Castilla y León. We left the car in the car park then went to see the Lakes of Saliencia.

These lakes also have glacier origins and hide in valleys that take your breath away. I dare to say that these lakes, valleys and mountains are actually better than the ones in the Picos the Europe. There are still scars in the mountains form the mining of the iron and that´s what gives it its red colour.

We didn´t have much time so we only managed to see two of the lakes. Here´s the first one, Lake Cave.

The second one, Lake Calabazosa.

On the way home we passed through a bit of Castilla y León. The difference between the two regions is quite striking. It seems like the vegetation itself has it own identity and as soon as it grows in León it becomes yellow. We drove through the mountain pass called Puerta de Ventana and the views over León were spectacular.

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