From Cistierna to Covadonga: Pictures of some very special places in the Cantabrian Mountains.
IntroductionFrom Cistierna, a village situated on the southern edge of the Cantabrian Mountains, to Covadonga we have to cross almost the entire Cantabrian Mountain chain. The 100 km which separate both villages can be driven by car in about 2 hours, although the beauty of the landscape probably will cause a considerable delay. Yesterday we repeated this trip and in this post I want to share some pictures of some very special places we came along. These places are only a small part of the overwhelming nature which will be encountered on this trip, for instance the mountains of Crémenes, the mountain pass "El Ponton" and the huge gorge of the "Desfiladero de los Beyos" are not photographed.
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The lake of Riaño.The lake of Riaño is a reservoir built for irrigation purposes. The floodgates of the dam were closed on December 31, 1987 after a forced evacuation of the inhabitants of the old Riaño (whose remains now rest at the bottom of the reservoir, this is of the village not of the inhabitants). It is a huge lake with an area of nearly 22 square kilometers and a capacity of about 650 cubic hectometer, which provides 80,000 hectares of farmland with irrigation. However, what interests us more is that the views are truly spectacular and which according to many belong to the most beautiful in Spain.
This view is from the beginning of the bridge that crosses the entire lake.
On clear days the reflection is much sharper. Float these mountains in the air?
The high peak in the middle is the enigmatic "Pico Yordas".
Behind the pine forest the pointed peak of the Gilbo rices high.
View over the northern branch of the reservoir.
The bridge that connects the two banks of the reservoir and which gives access to the new village of Riaño.
On the tops of the higher mountains there is still snow, even though they face south.
The pine forests contain an abundance of mushrooms, such as the penny bun (Boletus edulis).
To the far left the village of Riaño is just visible.
We are leaving the lake to cross the 1280 meters high mountain pass "El Pontón", one of the lowest mountain passes between León and Asturias.
The charming valley of Oseja de Sajambre.Behind the pass lies the valley of Oseja de Sajambre. Despite that this valley belongs to the province of León it has a typical Asturian climate, because of its geographic position on the north of the central Cantabrian Mountain range (like Asturias). However, because this valley drains through a huge gorge which until recent times was inaccessible, the historical and commercial connections with Leon were much closer, hence this geographical anomaly.
Descending "El Pontón" mountain pass we enter the valley of Oseja de Sajambre, densely covered with vegetation and today shrouded in mist.
The sessile oaks (Quercus petraea) are just sprouting their leaves, this year nature is very late.
Who doesn´t want to walk and dream in this lovely place?
Despite the mist it was not cold.
Of course we are always looking for orchids, here we have some big early purple orchids (Orchis mascula) with in the background some mountains shrouded in mist.
Oseja de Sajambre, can a village be located more in nature?
Cangas de Onis.
After descending the 25 km long gorge "Desfiladero de los Beyos", with its up to a 1000 meters high cliffs, we arrive in the tourist town of Cangas de Onis, once the capital of the incipient Spanish kingdom. Here we can find the "Roman Bridge of Cangas", which in fact is built in the 14th century.
The "Roman" bridge of Cangas de Onis. The "Cross of Victory" which can be seen hanging from the bridge, is a copy of the original cross which is kept in the cathedral of Oviedo and which is the symbol of the Principality of Asturias. This photo was taken in March.
Covadonga, the third pilgrimage after Lourdes and Fatima.
The importance of Covadonga lies in the general assumption that at this place and in the year 722 the Moors were defeated by the Asturian king Pelayo, which was the starting point of the seven centuries of "Reconquista" (reconquer) of Spain. The tomb of this king is located in the "Santa Cueva" or holy cave. Here I show just two pictures because the weather was quite bad, but this will be made up in the future, I promise.
The Covadonga Cathedral seen from the access road. The whole place is really surrounded by nature.
.The Covadonga Cathedral seen from inside the complex.