From sun-kissed coast to soaring mountains,Asturias is a walker’s dream...
There are very few places across the whole of Europe where you can wander along world-class beaches in the morning, before heading into a magnificent mountain range in the afternoon. But Asturias is one of them.
In the heart of ‘Green Spain’, Asturias occupies a space that is roughly half the size of south-east England, but it packs in a wealth of attractions for walkers: the Picos de Europa National Park; six UNESCO Biosphere Reserves; some of the most important forests in Europe (including the stunning Muniellos oak forest); incredibly beautiful beaches and an immense variety of wildlife. Little wonder that over one third of the region is protected by special status. And it’s all within a two-hour direct flight from Britain’s major airports.
The majestic Picos de Europa mountain range dominates the skyline of Asturias – and it’s just 15 miles inland from the seashore. There are three main massifs in the range: the eastern Macizo Ándara; the western Macizo El Cornión; and the jagged Macizo Central, reaching heights of 2648m. All three are covered by the vast Parque Nacional de los Picos de Europa. Up among the Picos you’ll find open meadows, glittering lakes and spectacular limestone mountains, plus deep river gorges which can be explored on foot.
Asturias boasts 400km of unspoilt coastline, with 200 beaches, and it is fabulous for walking. From beetling cliffs above crashing surf to white beaches facing out to the Cantabrian Sea, it’s a coastline of limitless adventure, peppered by tiny traditional fishing villages tucked away in tranquil coves. The secret of its beauty is legislation: it’s now one of the best-protected stretches of coastline in Spain.
Traditional forms of farming are still practised across Asturias, ensuring sustainable use of the landscape can continue for decades to come. You can visit well-preserved Paleolithic cave paintings or pre-Romanesque churches, and soak up the region’s folk music scene. And after a day on the trail, you can reward yourself with authentic local cuisine such as the famed fabada Asturiana, a hearty stew made with Asturian beans, chorizo, black pudding (the key to a good fabada), pork shoulder and other meats derived from pork to the taste of each chef.
A WILDLIFE HAVEN
Asturias is the last refuge in Western Europe for species such as the brown bear, with a population of around 300 specimens across the region, as well as Iberian wolves, golden eagles, wild boar, bearded vultures, wood grouse and the agile, mountain-roaming ibex.
After an easy two-hour journey from Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted, you’ll find Asturias is just as easy to get around. By car you can access both coastline and mountain areas easily from Asturias airport (OVD), with even the longest journeys covering barely 100km. You can book with Iberia (www.iberia.com), EasyJet (www.easyjet. com) and Vueling (www.vueling.com/en)