The road goes up and up from the bridge of Poncebos, then we go through small and artisan tunnels made by the explosion of dynamite on the rocks. The riverbed of the river Duje follows us. In the valley of Tielve, 700 metres high, and 6 kilometres from Poncebos we discover the old tradition of the town of Cabrales, famous for its exquisite cheese, its flocks of sheep or its numerous trees which stand by the road we follow by car. Then we see the Peña Maín which is 1500 metres over the sea level and just in front of it we also find Portudera which stands over 1200 metres. The orography of this area is capricious that only leave us to see the low valleys because we are at a very high altitude. Before this road was reformed, it was even narrower and with more curves but today, it is much safer so we almost we do not feel that we are leaving behind a huge abyss.
Then we arrive Sotres after covering 11 kilometres of a curved road from Poncebos, and we get to the highest parish church of this council and Asturias. Probably, someone of the 200 people living here will tell us about the hard working cattle that in other times used to reach the summit with no few efforts. At present, to go up Sotres is no longer difficult as it used to be, and once on the summit we are not going to find a small village full of huts and pastures but an urbanized centre where farm men, adventurous people and managers live here altogether. In the last years, hotel business has been growing in importance, mountain guiders and artisan products (also including local products such as sausages, meat and cheese). There is a popular artisan tradition of producing valuable objects. Here we also find producers of Cabrales chesse since in Sotres there is a high number of caves where this cheese is left to mature. These cheeses have won many official prizes.
The Peaks of Europe surround the town and its centre has paths, long walks and rustic houses. We are on firm ground but around us there are many reasons for which to feel dizziness. Here, on the top we can enjoy ourselves only by observing the landscape, breathing the pure air or simply enjoying the calm and quietness, so difficult to find in these days. If we go on following this same road for two more kilometres on the way to the neighbouring town of Tresviso, we find extense meadows full of pastures and huts. If the day is sunny we can enjoy the beautiful panorama of the town of Sotres with several paths which go up to the Peaks of Europe where they finally get lost.
In this area there are many routes for walking available for all kind of people.
From Sotres we can go up to the Lake of the Moñetas, a close summit. To get there we have to avoid an unevenness of 800 metres. First we have to take the road towards the Texu on direction to Aliva, at only a few metres to the entrance of Sotres. On the way to Aliva we go up to Vegas of Toro, another unique natural environment where we find numerous flocks of sheep. Here it is the valley of Moñetas. From here at our right, we take a road that will lead us to the Lake. It is one of the numerous Asturian paradises. If we are not keen on walking for long, we can rent in Sotres a 4×4 to make other adventurous routes.
If we go on direction to Aliva by a broad trail, then we will be near to the border between the region of Asturias and Cantabria also between the Central Mass or Urrieles or the East Mass or Andara. This route is now transited by people walking but in the past, it used to be busy because of the mining activities. From the Vega of Sotres this starts pending and at 700 metres it crosses the stream of the river Duje, also called Vao Jumiellu. It is a suitable place for having a picnic. If we go on following this path for another 200 metres we find at our left a new path. Following other more 1500 metres, at our left hand we find the hermit of The Virgin of Las Nieves. From here, we have a wonderful sight of the Refuge of Aliva and the mines of lead and zinc of the Royal Asturian Company of Mines. At this point an easy route starts towards the region of Liébana already in Cantabria.
From the Vega of Sotres instead of taking the direction to Aliva we can take the direction to Pandébano up to the slope of Naranjo of Bulnes or Peak Urriellu. This is a long walk, but from Pandébano we have a spectacular view of the mount Naranjo. We have 2518 m. for enjoying and relaxing. The accesses to the mount Naranjo and to the refuge of Vega of Urriellu were traditionally made from the canal of Caburero and the Jou Lluengo from Bulnes or by Horcados Rojos from the cable-railway of Fuente Dé (Cantabria). It was in the 80′s onwards when Sotres, Pandébano and Vallejo (La Terenosa) became the best option. If we follow this route we see how Sotres is contemplated from its wonderful location in the Peaks of Europe and it spreads its prestige as the king town in mountain climbing.
Traslation by Rebeca Couto.