Somiedo Nature Park
Biosphere Reserve Asturias
Land of bears, brañas and vaqueiros
The Somiedo Nature Park can be considered the protected area that best represents the natural and ethnographic values of the Asturian mountains. Its broken territory, with deep valleys and peaks over 2,000 meters, constitutes one of the wildest and best preserved mountain environments in the north of the Iberian peninsula. The Somedan landscape is home to all the diversity of geological substrates of the Cantabrian Mountains and the best sample of mountain lakes in all of Spain, with the exception of the Pyrenees. Extensive and well-preserved deciduous forests of beech, oak, birch, rowan and other Atlantic species, and a complete community of wildlife with the presence of such representative species as wolves, chamois, and roe deer. marten, capercaillie, black woodpecker..., in addition to the emblematic bear, give the nature of this Asturian region a truly exceptional and unique character.
Cantabrian Brown Bear Refuge
After centuries of relentless persecution, the bear has become the most protected, loved and emblematic animal of Asturian wildlife.
Today, the inhabitants of Somiedo feel the pride of living with the bears, and the visitors of the park, the emotion of sensing their presence.
Lakes, witnesses of the ice age
Lakes and peaks, which belong to the kingdom of snow winters. They are two of the most suggestive attributes of any high mountain landscape.
Somiedo combines both as no other place in the northern mountains does, with the exception of the Pyrenees.
Beech and oak groves, home to Asturian wildlife
Tibleos, Bocibrón, Las Sendas, La Enramada ... are the sonorous names of some of the beech and oak groves of Somiedo, which are among the best preserved in the Cantabrian Mountains. Under the shelter of its foliage the last bears and grouse take refuge.
And who knows if also the Busgosu, the Asturian elf of the forests!
Brañas, scene of the cattle tradition
The "brañas" in Somiedo maintain the last vestiges of a traditional pastoral culture unparalleled in the rest of the Spanish and European mountains.
These are ancestral, almost magical places that, like a tunnel of time, transport us to the cradle of the cattleman.
Crossroads of Valleys
The Somiedo Nature Park is structured around four main valleys, furrowed by many other rivers that give them their name: Saliencia, Valle, Somiedo and Pigüeña. Next to them other secondary valleys can be distinguished, such as those of El Puerto, Aguino, Las Morteras, Clavillas or La Bustariega.
Scattered around the most sheltered bottoms of the fluvial depressions, and sometimes also hanging on steep slopes, 38 towns are distributed throughout the rugged relief of Somiedo. They are almost always small, quiet and remote villages, which still preserve numerous samples of traditional architecture and which only add, as a whole, about 1.6oo inhabitants. Only a few, such as La Pola, Villar de Vildas or Valle de Lago, have more than a hundred inhabitants and it is difficult to maintain their rural entity, partly due to the economic resurgence that the declaration of the natural park and the consequent boom in rural tourism have brought with him and that complements the traditional cattle activity.
Peaks and Lakes
Geologically, Somiedo is one of the most interesting spaces in the Cantabrian Mountains. Its orography is so tortuous that, after the Picos de Europa and the Ubiñas massif, it is the sector that brings together the highest peaks of the Asturian mountain. Its peak is El Cornón (2,194 m), but several other famous peaks follow close behind, such as Peña Orniz (2,190 m), Picos Albos (2,109 m) and El Mocosu (1,989 m).
The action Glacier and karst formation has generated, at the foot of some of these peaks, the basins and circuses that house the famous Somiedo lakes. The largest of all of them and also of all of Asturias is the Lake of the Valley. A teito cabin on its shores and an islet in the center of its waters give it placidity and a special charm. But it is the Saliencia lake complex that is the most spectacular due to the number and beauty of its lakes, among which are La Cueva, Cerveri, and the mysterious Lago Negro or La Calabazosa. Away from this nucleus of lakes there is another set of small, shallow lagoons in the Sierra de Páramo, as well as an isolated lagoon, Lake Bueno, at the head of the Pigüeña valley.
Halfway between the peaks and the valleys, the forest belt emerges, in which all the characteristic tree species of the Atlantic montane forest are present. Beeches, sessile oaks, prawns, birch, rowan, holly, maple, ash, linden,
mountain elm make up these forests, which in autumn, from early October to mid-November, show all their chromatic splendor of greens, golds, reds and ochres. The mountains of Saliencia, La Enramada, Las Sendas, Bocibrón, Vildeo and Tibleos are some of the best forest redoubts, dominated for the most part by beech forests. But to guarantee the peace of mind of wildlife and of such sensitive species as the bear or the capercaillie, many of these forest areas have been included in restricted use zones, where access is regulated and prohibited.
All the Cantabrian biodiversity
In Somiedo there are some 1,125 species of vascular flora, a really significant number , since it represents almost half of those that do so in the entire Asturian territory. Suffice it to say that of the 73 species of trees and shrubs native to Asturias, 65 are present in Somiedo.
The wildlife of Somiedo is made up of some 180 species of vertebrates (4 fish, 11 amphibians, 10 reptiles , about 120 birds and about 40 mammals), of which the most visible are the large ungulates -deer, roe deer and chamois- and some forest and mountain birds. But there is no doubt that the two most emblematic Somedan animals, due to their rarity and for having become a true conservationist symbol, are the bear and the Cantabrian capercaillie. Other characteristic animals of the Cantabrian Mountains, such as the alpine newt, the gray partridge, the black woodpecker, the Iberian desman, the broom hare, the marten and the wolf, are also present in Somiedo.
Braffias, the pastoral legacy
Along with its lakes, forests and bears, there is something that makes de Somiedo a truly unique territory, not only in Asturias, but also on a Spanish and even global scale. It is about that harmonious coexistence between this exceptional natural heritage and an ethnographic legacy that is its own and exclusive —the set of "brañas" of "corros" and "teito" cabins—, associated with an ancient pastoral culture that is still keeps current. It is surprising, and therefore worth knowing, that at the beginning of the 21st century such an ancestral way of managing cattle and using pastures still survives, which has generated models of traditional architecture that are still alive today. in the archaic "corros" and "teito" huts of the "brañas" of Somiedo.