The Cares Route, placed in the very heart of Picos de Europa National Park (León), also known as “La Garganta Divina” (The Divine Gorge), is a unique route where to stare at nature at its height. Kilometres of path dug into limestone rocks, surrounded by mountains over 2,000m in height, and always sharing the untamed Cares River.
Ancient communication route between the villages of Caín (León) and Poncebos (Asturias). It was rather a goat path, where the way was complicated and sometimes disappeared completely. At the beginning of the 20th century, from 1945 to 1950, the path was improved to build water channelling and supply the Poncebos hydroelectric power station. Lots of workforce and hard-work were necessary in order to manage to dig a path into the rock. It is a very craggy place (terreno escarpado, si es montañoso) / a very steep place with a severe weather. In the present time we can enjoy its amazing landscapes with much less effort.
The original Route starts in Posada de Valdeón (León), crossed through Caín (León), and ends in Poncebos (Asturias). It is a 21km way/route, therefore it is necessary to consider the options before doing the route. The most accepted / popular choice consists of starting in Caín and ending in Poncebos (11km one way), making a stop to have lunch and coming back to Caín, or viceversa. You can also start in Posada de Valdeón and having someone with a car waiting for you in Poncebos. This is a good option if there are several people, as some could start on one of the ends of the route while others would do it on the other end. Another good option is starting in Posada de Valdeón and ending this route in Asturias border, and then coming back to the starting point. By this way, we will do a more enjoyable route and could stare at the most spectacular part of this way without losing any shred of the beautiful landscapes from Posada to Caín.
Preventive measures and suggestions
- Comfortable footwear for hiking / trekking.
- Water and food (essential), above all in hot periods.
- Warm clothing: the weather in this area is very changeable. Wearing warm and waterproof clothes is recommended, just in case, and although it is a sunny day.
- Take your mobile phone with you (make sure it is full charged), although there are areas where there is no coverage.
- Watch your step. Be aware of where you are because this route is mostly based on narrow passes, so stumbles and slips can occur. When taking pictures it is better to stop and not to be too close to the edge.
- Be careful with possible rockslides.
- Due to the route difficulty (it could be suitable for everyone), it is not recommended to go with children under 12, as it is a craggy area with narrow passes. Although children are under your control, there is a risk to have a shock or an accident.
- During the walk it is very likely to have good luck and see some of the smart goats grazing in the area. Be careful when they descend from the slopes because there could be any rockslide. They are harmless, but it is better to leave them alone and, first of all, respect them.
- During the route we must be respectful with nature, avoid throwing away any waste, and do not bother animals.
The best times of the year to do the route / When to do the route
The best times of the year to do the route are, with no doubt, spring and autumn. Nature in these dates is much more spectacular and the weather is more merciful. If winter is not a really cold one, it is possible to do it then, but we could have a fright as high mountain weather changes a lot in this season.
In summer, as it is holidays, this route becomes overcrowded by hikers, so it can be stifling and more dangerous: narrow passes, hot weather, and lack of shaded areas. If it is not possible to do it in the suitable dates, just summon all your patience and keep yourself hydrated, because the experience os doing this route is unique. The experience will not disappoint you!