The natural park of Ponga is a sort of Asturian Garden of Eden. It is half hidden and steep, and it also spreads for more than 20.533 hectares full of a richness landscape. It is located on the western side of the Peaks of Europe, half way to these and half way to another important natural park, the Natural Park of Redes (Reserve of the Biosphere for its forest richness).
All the corners of this park always offer us a captivating view, its orography is formed of limestone mountains ranges where we find many advantage points. From them we can see the forest of Peloño, Copa of Tiatordos, the Moru valley, the Foz of La Corina, the Andamios, the Candanu, Ventaniella, the Escalada, Tolivia and an endless list of more natural views. The summits of the mountains are linked through natural passes between its closed valleys and the Castillian Plateau.
The network of roads of this park link the mountain passes with dozens of remote hamlets where many natural routes start on a steep territory. Even though on the shores of the river Ponga the landscape is still steep, because it runs through gorges and defiles up to the plains the river Sella bathes.
This Asturian paradise preserves a great number of forests, mainly the beech woods of the Mount Peloño, with more than 15 square kilometres of surface and 200.000 trees. For this reason, this is today the beech wood best preserved of all the Iberian Peninsula.
This park is also the ideal place for numerous animal species, such as deers, the kings of these forests, which find their refuge in the forests that spread along the neighbour council of Caso, Ponga and finally end in the woods of Sajambre. «The Berrea» (sound that animals do when they are on heat), is the perfect occasion to get into these forests and enjoy the landscape at dawn or when the sun is going down. After the last summer rains and the temperature fall, it is the time when deers are on heat. So we can take an advantage of it, and enjoy this particular season when the Licensed Victuallers Association usually offer more accommodations and more guided excursions.
This rich ecosystem also includes human settlements that are usually small traditional towns that make their living of cattle and also offer their own gastronomy. There are a lot of typical towns in the council of Ponga, including its capital: San Juan of Beleño, Taranes in the shadow of Tiatordos, Sobrefoz built over a gorge or the inhabited town of Vallemoro. In all these towns we discover a rich architectural and popular patrimony, with native Asturian big houses: with its own stable and pantry. It is also easy to see South American houses with glazed galleries, ceramic floors and glazed ceramic ornaments.
The council of Ponga also houses a valuable cultural treasure. Apart from its rural architecture it is important to mention its ethnography and folklore. In San Juan of Beleño, in New Year the legend of Guirria is brought to live. Guirria is a mythological character, with a hood that keeps at the same time some kind of carnival features. He is kissing and embracing women form town while their men are chasing him and asking for Christmas boxes from one house to another. The origins of this tradition are so old that we can not date them.
Ponga is a land of cattle whose life still keeps the traditional way of years ago. But this land also offers many natural attractions for its visitors: rural accommodations, mountain shelters, active tourism, hunting and fishing.
Its gastronomy is genuine: Asturian stew, animal pieces depending on the hunting season, liver soup, beans with wild boar, deer and boar stew, many varieties of red meat and meat with cheese. Among all cheese varieties the most important one is probably that from Beyos. It is a small and rough cheese with a butter taste, very consumed in this area.
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How to get there
The Natural Park is located in the central eastern sector of the Cantabrian Mountains. It limits the south with the province of Leon, the east with the same province and Amieva, north with the municipalities of Piloña, Parres and west with Amieva and Case.
To get from Cangas de Onis by the N-625, later taking the local PO-2 (San Ignacio-Beleño).
From the village of Sevares, Piloña the council, the AS-261.