Sunday, May 31, 2009

Six Routes In Ponga And The Picos De Europa

Tell most Spanish people that you are going to spend a holiday weekend in Ponga and the chances are that you'll get the kind of look that says "just what is this idiot guiri trying to tell me now". Yet the Parque Natural de Ponga lies just beside the much better known Picos de Europa. We went there for the May 1st puente, to do a weekend of walking in fantastic surroundings. Ponga still seems to be living in another age, with tiny villages located in what were once almost inaccessible river gorges. The terrain justifies the description "complicated", and as with much of Asturias the differences in altitude between the valleys and the surrounding peaks are impressive. A tough place to live, and the area has traditionally been one of emigration.

Our base for the weekend was the small town of Cangas de Onis, which I liked a lot although the number of shops selling regional products suggests that in summer it can be a lot more crowded. Try some of the local cheeses, it's not just cabrales country. A perfect way to relax in Cangas after a hard days walking is to head down to the terraza by the roman bridge and order a bottle of cider. The food in the restaurants is good, filling and reasonably priced. Given the proximity to the Picos, I've included the routes we did on the map I prepared in 2007 of routes in the Picos de Europa. At this rate I only need another couple of hundred years to have the area well and truly mapped. Click on each route on the map for a description.

View Routes in the Picos de Europa and Ponga

Day 1 was a relatively gentle route known as Las Hoces del Río Pendón. It's a circular route starting from the well known mineral water spring of Fuensanta. Just us, the cows, and the Picos de Europa in the distance.

Day 2 was tougher, although with all of these routes it's always possible to do part of it and return. The weather was amazingly good, not least because it had rained solidly for the two days prior to our arrival. The views all along the route are spectacular, and for those who find an 1100 metre ascent insufficient, there is always the option of continuing up to Pico Tiatordos.

Day 3 was another simpler route, along the valley of the River Cormenero. We returned to Madrid following the road down from where this route finishes. This road takes you through some of the best scenery of the Picos, including the area round Riaño.

1 comment:

Roger said...

bookmarked for later - useful - thanks