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Puerto de Aralla, Arbas, Pajares Carmenes Valverde and La Vecilla

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Offline Dave

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« on: May 21, 2007, 17:36 PM »
For many reasons, people are unable to walk into the mountains and countryside, and enjoy nature at close hand, as most of you know my mum is with us at the moment is 86 years old and a little unsteady on her feet, she has, however a great love of wild places, a good knowledge of birds and a keen interest in wild plants. To this end I have to be careful on where we go and what we can see from a reasonable road, or perhaps a short walk of a few hundred metres. As I have mentioned previously Villafafila is perfect, with little walking involved, and bird watching perfect as the birds are not disturbed. I have, now, a new trip up my sleeve, which I would like to share, it is ideal for any car, but a head for heights is needed as some of the passes are quite steep.
Starting from Leon head towards Puerto de Pajares on the N630
Just past Pola de Gordon at a filling station take the direction for Geras de Gordon, which is to the left, as usual in Spain, to turn left you take the right turn and then cross the main carriageway at 90 degs.
The drive up to Geras is beautiful with high cliffs to one side and riverside pastures full of buttercups and daises to the left. It is worth stopping at Geras for a coffee, by a pretty little river and to stock up on some of the excellent embutidos sold there.
Carry on out of Geras, keeping an eye out on the Cliffs above for Vultures, no luck today, but sometimes.
Carry on up the pass, it is quite steep but manageable with any car, and the road is good. The views are stunning especially if you stop and look back towards Geras.
This is Puerto de Aralla, and tops out at 4500 ft approx
Carry on on this road to a junction and take the turn towards Casares (Right). Take a close look above and to the right and you can see a tunnel high above you, that is your destination, the road is fairly good, but twisty and the meadows either side brimming with all kinds of flowers (in Spring). After the Tunnel is the Puerto de Arbas (not to be confused with Arbas del Puerto which is a village near Pajares) with stunning views across to the small village of Casares, and the Carmenes peaks in front.
Once again drive slowly with the windows open to listen to the amazing variety of bird song, keep an eye open on the peaks, this is Chough (Esp: Chova piquiroja) country, as well as Booted Eagles (Esp: Agulilla calzado) , short toed Eagles (Esp:Culebrera europea) and Golden Eagles (Esp: Aguila Real) as well as Vultures.
Very good Meson at Casares, they also do Rooms (about 8 if my memory serves me right)
After Casares another very good drive through a small pass once again with high cliffs to the left.
Between San Martin de la Tercia and the N630 there are trees to the left, keep the window down and drive slowly, you are almost guaranteed to hear a nightingale.
You now have 3 choices, cross over towards Carmenes, turn right to head back to Leon, or turn left to go to the Ski resort at Pajares.
I usually go up to Pajares, yes the Ski resort is ugly, but the alpine meadows at its foot are a delight. Turn left in the resort (it is one way) and park near the picnic area at the end of the apartments, just nearby is a small hill, the walk around it is wonderful with stunning views into Asturias and the Pajares pass itself, it is a short walk and most people would manage it.
Back to the N630 and head back towards Leon, stopping at Villamaria in Busdongo for Lunch, The goat is excellent.
After this carry on back to Villamanin and head towards Carmenes, stopping at the viewpoint ot enjoy the view ,stretch you legs or have siesta, once again stunning views.
Normally after this we travel towards Valporquero and home via a very twisty road with high cliffs and the very fast Rio Torio, this time the road was closed for repairs and we were forced to take the road towards Valverde de Curueño which ends at La Vecilla and the normal route home. Luckily this route was superb and we came across a lovely series of small waterfalls, close to the road, with easy access for enjoying them, afterwards we saw 3 Griffon vultures and were able to observe them for some time. The final part of the journey is very similar to the Valporquero route with high cliffs and a fast flowing river. With lunch and everything the drive takes about six hours, but it is also possible to park the car for a much longer walk into the countryside especially around Casares.
Regards
Dave

Offline Technopat

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« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2007, 19:27 PM »
Greetings Dave's Mum and Marí­a and Dave,
Thanx for sharing that delightful-sounding outing with us - it reads like a breath of fresh air, and certainly seems the ideal all-inclusive nature field trip for the kids (complete with embutidos for you-know-who). And let's all hope that it will still be there when I'm 86 and they take me on a return visit!

Will make that route a high priority on our next trip up North.

Regs.
Technopat

Ps.
Please keep us informed of future outings and enjoy yourselves - stuck 'ere in the city we need all the day-dreaming we can get (no-one has yet come up with the Eng. equiv. for Sp. envidia sana)!

Pps.
Love the bit about Puerto de Arbas (not to be confused with Arbas del Puerto)! ;D
« Last Edit: February 18, 2009, 18:08 PM by Technopat »
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266