Asturias, Camín Real de la Mesa
To Spaniards, "Asturias" means rural, green, friendly, tasty and authentic. This is the place to relax, walk, cycle, swim and sample fresh products, straight from the garden, mountain meadows or the sea. Thanks to a relatively mild and humid climate, temperatures are pleasant, even in the height of summer, and the landscape is green year round. Rural Asturias is a patchwork of walled pastures, dense forests and farming villages, bordered by a magnificent coastline to the north and steep limestone massifs to the south. A rich cultural tradition, vibrant historical towns, (pre-)Romanesque churches, welcoming accommodations and superb regional cooking combine to make visitors feel at home instantly.
This walking tour explores the valleys of Grado, Proaza, Quirós and Teverga,. It goes through the mountainous landscapes of natural parks such as Ubiña-La Mesa and Somiedo. The keynote providing the theme for this trip is the historical footpath known as the Camín Real de la Mesa, major route leading from Asturias to the Spanish Meseta and a recently way-marked GR long-distance walking path. Extra nights may be booked to enjoy a few days at the beach in Gijón or in the capital city of Oviedo
Wonderful walks through open countryside and mountains of the Ubiña-La Mesa Nature Park; Friendly villages and welcoming rural accommodation; Historical long distance footpaths
Day 1: Arrival in Asturias
From Oviedo airport, you first travel by bus, to reach the city centre (45min, see www.alsa.es, departures hourly, book in advance). You then take a local train to the peaceful town of Grado. Taxi transfer to tour accommodation, a 3-star rural hotel with spacious rooms and a comfortable sitting room, dining room and garden. A lovely place to relax as you begin to soak up the peaceful ambience in the Asturian countryside. If you’re coming from elsewhere in Spain, there are direct train and/or bus connections to Oviedo from Madrid, Valladolid, Bilbao and Santander.
Day 2: El Valle de Grado
The first walking route of this program (min 4.5, max 5.5hrs) takes you through the valley of Grado, home to over a thousand years of history on the oldest pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, the Camino Primitivo. The trail passes through peaceful countryside, bucolic farmland and tiny (abandoned) villages. After 8km (3hrs walking, 265m in ascent / 250m in descent) you have the choice of doing an adventurous hike on ancient footpaths through the Sierra de Cuota (another 6.5km, 2.5hrs, 250m additional ascent / 415m extra in descent) OR continue along quiet country lanes to the village of Vallonga or Vayo, where you can arrange to be picked up by a taxi (1.5hrs extra, 5km extra, 85m uphill walking/ 135m downhill walking).
Day 3: From Sama to Proaza
Today’s walk (16km, 5.5 hrs, 500m uphill hiking/ 575m downhill hiking) leads from Sama de Grado to Proaza, following quiet country roads with just one ascent, up to the Sierra de Buanga. As you walk, sweeping views widen to reveal an ever-expanding landscape of small mountain ranges. You reach Linares, one in a series of villages along this narrow mountain ridge, then begin your descent toward the Trubia River. Down in the valley, you pick up a converted railway path, now the popular walking and cycling route known as the Senda del Oso. This “Way of the Bear” takes you past a small reserve where two Asturian brown bears have been raised in captivity in a desperate attempt to increase the native (bear) population. At the end of the day, you reach your next accommodation, a family-run hotel situated on the square, in the pleasant village of Proaza.
Day 4: From Proaza to Quirós
Today you combine a walk through the spectacular Xana Gorge, a natural monument, with a high route through pastures on the Ruta de las Relíquias. This long distance trail leads gradually uphill to a pass at 1050m, at the edge of the limestone massif of the Sierra Aramo. Enjoying open views, you descend along (muddy) cow trails and quiet country lanes to the valley of Quirós, where you’ll spend the night at a comfortable hotel, run by a very hospitable Spanish-English couple. You can arrange to be picked up at Bermiego (after 16.5km, 6.5hrs walking, 950m in ascent / 375m in descent). If you prefer a shorter route for today, you can be dropped off in La Robellada this morning (for a total of 10km, 4.5hrs walking, 465m uphill walking/ 375m downhill walking).
Day 5: Circular route from Quirós
After three days of real mountain hikes, today your knees will get some rest doing a circular walk around the Valdemurrio Reservoir (12,5km, 4hrs, 250m uphill/downhill hiking). You pass small hamlets and tiny chapels with a chance to visit the beautiful Romanesque church of San Pedro de Arrojo, all the while following country roads and tracks through the valley.
Day 6: Walking the Brañas
This morning you’ll be dropped off at San Lorenzo Pass (1375m), near the entrance to Somiedo Natural Park. From here, you follow the main variant of the Camín Real de la Mesa, through summer pastures on either side of the ridge with marvellous views. You also pass thatched shepherd huts called teitos, summer residence for the transhumant Vaqueiros, who spend the warmer months on the brañas with their cattle. Until the mid-19th century, there was even an inn at the top of the ridge: Venta de Piedra Xueves. Then, from La Magdalena pass (1517m), you walk down a winding land rover track to the village of Barriu (5.5-6hrs, 17km, 300m uphill walking/ 950m downhill walking). Your accommodation for the night is a lively bar/restaurant/hotel just opposite the Romanesque Iglesia de San Pedro. Dinner is not included, you have the choice of dining at the hotel or somewhere else in the village.
Day 7: Choice of activities
If you are now hooked on views from high ridges, you can arrange to be dropped off at San Lorenzo Pass to follow the Camín Real de la Mesa northward to Puertos de Marabio, a vast karstic landscape in the midst of idyllic summer meadows. You can end your walk at Urria (after 4.5-5h, 14km, 175m uphill hiking/ 665m downhill hiking) or walk another 1.5hrs to Capilla Santa Ana (6km, 50m extra in ascent, 150m less in descent). Another option for today: cycling the Senda del Oso (hotel staff can arrange bike rental for you). Or visit the Prehistory Park, a unique museum which presents intriguing replicas of cave paintings from northern Spain and elsewhere in Europe. Taxi transfers (total 35€ for 2 transfers) OR bike rental (10€ p.p. a day + optional transfer costs) are NOT included.
Day 8: Departure from Asturias
After breakfast, you take a local bus to Oviedo (4 departures a day). A taxi transfer may be booked in advance (to the city of Oviedo or to the airport). Another option is to cycle the Senda del Oso through the valley (35km) then travel from Trubia to Oviedo with the luggage transport (this option is highly recommended, and especially interesting if you have booked extra nights in Oviedo).
Accommodation and luggage transportation:
3*** rural hotels on bed and breakfast basis and 4 dinners. Luggage transport on days 3, 4 and 6, according to program.
Group size: Min. 1 person
(solo travellers - please request a quotation; triple rooms also available)
Price of extra services: Single room supplement: €210;
The price includes: accommodation and luggage transfers as per program; transfers on days 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6, according to program; map and roadbook in English; 24hrs emergency phone assistance;
The price does not include: Transport to and from Asturias; Other meals; Extra taxi transfers; Optional taxi on day 7; Optional bike hire on day 7; Personal expenses such as drinks, phone calls, extra transfers, tips, etc.; Any items not specifically mentioned in the program;
Tips: Public transport -- Flight into Asturias airport (OVD) and shuttle bus to Oviedo city centre. For flights into Santander, Bilbao or Valladolid, transport by bus to Oviedo (for timetables, see www.alsa.es , click on 'rutas y horarios'). From Oviedo, bus or trains to Grado (ALSA Transport or FEVE trains. Taxi transfer from the station in Grado to your first accommodation (included).
By car -- A-8 motorway (Autovía del Cantábrico) into Asturias, direction Oviedo. The A-8 turns into the A-64. From the east, you take direction León (A-66), then direction Grado / La Espina (A-63). Take exit 9, direction Trubia, then direction Proaza / Puerto Venta (AS-228) and turning for Sama de Grado (AS-313). If you arrive early on Day 1 of the trip, you can leave your car at the last accommodation in La Plaza, then take the bus to Sama de Grado. The supplier of this tour can book your flight tickets too (please ask for a quote using the enquiry form below).
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