Tuesday, July 5

In search of summer freshness: Luarca-Valdés and the charms of Asturias

The council of Valdés is one of the landscape and cultural references of western Asturias. In July 2020 it led the hotel occupancy throughout the Principality and this year, once again, it shows again that it is one of the favorite destinations of those looking for a different summer, where green reigns, the nights are cool and everything has a smell and taste of the sea.

The Cantabrian Sea, the rivers, the valleys and the mountains welcome those who are looking for a corner of disconnection. A place of ancestral customs, contrasting landscapes and important fishing ports such as Luarca, capital of the council. We travel to the north of the Iberian Peninsula to stretch our legs in the mountains, stroll among boats and relax on beaches surrounded by vegetation. Undoubtedly the best way to see and see why Luarca-Valdés can become the ideal place for your next vacation.

Luarca, a white town crossed by a Negro river

We arrived at a green coast, with a white village, crossed by a Negro river and on the shores of a blue sea. Very blue. With such a reception it is not difficult to imagine that a visit full of colors awaits us. They say that Luarca is the whitest town on the entire Asturian coast and we can see that as we look at one of the viewpoints that watch over it from above: the Atalaya and the Chano, one on each side.

Luarca is a fishing town, it has traditionally been and continues to be. El Cambaral, la Pescadería and la Carril are its neighborhoods of medieval origin, with small houses and asymmetrical streets that surround the dock where one of the most important fishing fleets in Asturias rests. Outside, in the Villar area, the counterpoint is the imposing Indian houses that recall the Asturians who emigrated to the Indies and returned with fortune.

Luarca saw the birth of Severo Ochoa, Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1959, and following in his footsteps he offers a whole tourist route to get to know him better. From his birth house to the cemetery where he is buried, so beautiful that you cannot miss it, passing by the Palace of the Marqueses de Ferrera, the permanent exhibition of the Tourist Office, the Villar family house and the Portizuelo beach, so haunted in his childhood.

The Negro river crosses Luarca and that fills it with bridges. One of them, the bridge of the Kiss in the vicinity of La Pescadería, has its own medieval legend that tells us about the love between a fearsome pirate and a young woman, with a tragic but romantic ending. Just as you cannot ignore it, you should not miss visiting the Mesa de Mareantes y Navegantes in which the ancient sailors decided on the convenience of going out to sea based on the weather conditions.

And finally, after visiting Luarca beach, the Fonte Baxa Forest-Garden can delight nature lovers with its cedars from Lebanon, ferns from Australia, pines from Canada and redwoods from the United States. All among its 500 varieties of camellias and other native species that immerse us in an authentic botanical garden.

Valdés, a council to disconnect

Luarca is the capital of Valdés and it is where our feet have to take us first, but it is only a small part of everything we can see in the council. Around Luarca, green spaces await us, along the coast and in the mountains, that go into the sea or that look out from the heights. Cape Busto is one of those special places, a promontory that, together with Peñes and Video, becomes one of the most prominent points of the entire Asturian coastline. You can make a circular route through it to see huge cliffs, beaches and, of course, its famous lighthouse.

The Luarca-Valdés coast is a protected area called the Protected Landscape of the Western Coast of Asturias. If we want to walk, the GR-204 path will allow us to cover a good part of its extension and between the Barayo Natural Reserve and the town of Cadavedo we will find rocky cuttings 80 meters high above the sea, capes, bays and orphaned islets at the mercy of the Cantabrian.

If we go inland, the Esva is the largest river that crosses this territory. We can follow its valley upstream from the point where it starts at the estuary that forms at the Cueva beach, to later reach the towns of Canero and Trevías and then that of Brieves. The valley forms a landmark ethnographic stronghold in Asturias, known for its elevated passes formed by slate arches. And if you want more, you can always go into the Hoces del Esva Natural Monument.

When we prefer to get away from the sea, even if only a little, we have the mountains of the vaqueiros de alzada, which put the right contrast to the seafaring tradition of Luarca. In the interior mountains is where the transhumant cattle ranching marked the life of the ethical group of the vaqueiros de alzada since the 15th century, and although they already disappeared decades ago they left a still tangible legacy in the form of customs, dances, clothing and a wide folklore that the highlands of the council of Luarca-Valdés are still preserved today.