Somiedo Nature Park spans five valleys – Saliencia, Valle del Lago, Puerto y Pola de Somiedo, Perlunes and Pigüeña – and the five rivers of the same name, covering an area of 283 square kilometres.
Humans have managed to understand the nature of the Park, which has returned the care they have taken of it by remaining virtually unchanged throughout the centuries. Even today, it constitutes an example of full integration and coexistence.
The outstanding element in its landscape is the beauty of the lakes, situated to the south of the borough of Somiedo, high up in the mountain ranges separating Somiedo from León: the three small lakes of Saliencia; the Lago del Valle, with its characteristic islet, which is the largest lake in Asturias, with an average radius of 280 metres and an average depth of 10 metres, although it reaches 50 metres in some areas; and the hidden Lagunas del Páramo, between the valleys of the Rivers Somiedo and Pigüeña.
Somiedo Nature Park is one of the most rugged landscapes in Asturias, with slopes rising from 400 to 2,200 metres. The territory as a whole boasts outstanding geological features, including a wide variety of materials such as limestone, siliceous minerals, sandstones, etc., giving rise to spectacular karst forms. Valleys dotted with minerals such as iron and veins of arsenic, mercury, lead, marble and granite. An area of contrasts between peaks and troughs, revealing the footprint of tectonic movements it was subjected to in numerous thrusts, faults and folds.
Brañas, or mountain meadows, can be found throughout the entire territory, with fertile pastures where you can see, not without difficulty, the area’s famous cabanas de teito de escoba: broom-and-shrub-thatched stone cabins used by the vaqueiros de alzada(nomadic herdsmen) and mountain cattle breeders for shelter. Currently there are over 500 of these stone cabins scattered throughout the park. In the surrounding area, even today livestock continues to be moved from one pasture to another in search of the best grazing.
Much of the area is covered by different types of forests, scrubland, high mountain meadows, pasture on the lower slopes and arable land in perfect harmony with the surrounding environment. The main forest area is in the Saliencia Valley, on the slopes of El Coto and in the Pigüeña Valley. The forests are mainly deciduous, although there are a few enclaves with holm oaks in lower areas.
The forests of Somiedo Nature Park occupying a greater extension include beech forests, followed by pedunculate oak, holm oak and birch.
It is also a place that abounds in exquisite plant life, represented by bearberry, asphodel, yellow and blue wolfsbane and «wind herb» (Phlomis herba-venti). The most outstanding typical flower in Somiedo is Centaurium somedanum.
The quality of the water of rivers has given rise to the formation of surprising riverbank forests, endowed with an exceptional ecosystem encompassing the riparian and terrestrial forest.
The Somiedo Nature Park is home to over 100 species of birds – the common blackbird, grey wagtail, kingfisher, etc. -, some living along the banks of the rivers bubbling with the sound of trout, which are abundant in this area. In the peaks and highlands of Somiedo, the outstanding species are capercaillie and golden eagles.
Somiedo Nature Park is also home to all the large mammals of this mountain range, the presence of brown bears being of special relevance. Predators, such as wolves and foxes, and other carnivores, such as otters, badgers and wild cats, share the territory, even to the lower areas of the rivers, with capercaillie and about 20 species of amphibians and reptiles, among which the gold-striped salamander, Iberian newt and Seoane viper stand out.
Article by Turismo Asturias: www.turismoasturias.es
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