Asturias: a winter wonderland in the mountains

The Cantabrian mountain range stretches for over 180 miles across the top of northern Spain and as well as rare flora and fauna is also home to brown bears and wolves! During the summer this is a popular hiking area and there are many well known hikes you can take. You can ski there during the winter.

From our accommodation next to the coast of Asturias, we were able to drive for about 1 hour 30 minutes to the heart of the Parque Natural de Redes (the Redes Natural Park).

Redes Natural Park

Our friend Efren has spent almost all of his life living in Asturias and he kindly drove us in his VW camper van through the stunning UNESCO national park pointing out many places of interest and explaining more of the local culture of the area. We contemplated stopping to hike for 10 km through the spectacular autumnal mountain scenery but decided to continue in search of snow!

We drove higher into the mountains and it didn’t take long before we were at the snow level at around 1000 metres. Thankfully the road had been cleared and other than the snowplough there were almost no other vehicles.

Source of the Nalón River

Just about visible above is the source of the Nalón River. We had followed this river as it flowed next to the road for most of our journey into the mountains. Later in the week, we were at the wide estuary where the river ends its journey at San Esteban de Pravia and flows into the Atlantic Ocean.

Efren parked at the summit of the Puerto de Tarna pass at an elevation of 1492 meters. We added our extra layers and decided to venture out from the warm camper and into the cold mountain air to take a short trek in the snow!

Chris and Efren

There was nobody else around and clearly nobody had been there since the blanket of snow had fallen as we began to make our way higher into the mountains. This proved a bit challenging as we were soon knee deep in snow and couldn’t see the path to take!

It was difficult not to fall over as we made our way through the unblemished landscape of pure and fluffy snow. When we returned to the van there were two journalists standing nearby. They had also driven into the mountains to report on the unexpected snow fall which was early for this time of the year. As there was nobody else around, they did a short interview with us and took a photograph.

Redes Natural Park

Efren drove us a little further along towards the boarder of Leon, the next region of Spain which gave us more spectacular views of the valley.

We then turned around and back down the incredible autumnal scenery which had been laced with a covering of snow.

Mountain village

As we drove back down the mountain we stopped a few times to take some photographs. We also spotted a number of birds including vultures.

We stopped at this 16th century church which is located next to a picturesque lake.

Again, we followed the Nalón River as it flowed next to the road. At one point, it flows through a cave and emerges a short distance around the side of the mountain.

Nalon River flowing through a cave

We stopped for lunch in La Puerta de Arrobio where we had a set meal for just 10 euros per person. This included: soup, a bowl of hearty local stew, a main dish (e.g. steak and chips), a dessert, coffee, still and sparkling water and a bottle of red wine! It was amazing value and there was no compromise on the excellent quality.

Our final stop was at Puente de Arco (Arch Bridge) with its mediaeval bridge that has been there for centuries. In the summer during festival time, hundreds of people dress up and descend to the river in makeshift boats and parade through it!

The following day we were featured in an Asturias newspaper!


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