Have you ever pictured a place where pale limestone slopes touch the bright sky while a crystal clear river rustles? That place exists: Las Xanas trail. The spectacular gorge carved by the homonymous river (also known as Viescas) expands through 1.2 miles and it is part of a 5.5 miles circular route. It is conveniently located in central Asturias, in the lusciously green counties of Santo Adriano and Quirós and it has many surprises up its sleeve.
This path was first created to connect the villages of Pedroveya, Rebolleda and Dosango with the Trubia valley.
Both the river and gorge were named after one of the most popular mythological characters in Asturian culture, the Xanas. Legend has it that they are exceptionally beautiful fairies who live in fountains, rivers, waterfalls or areas with pure and clean waters. They are often depicted in a pre-Raphaelite style and they bear similarities with the Greek myth of Lamia.
The first time I visited Las Xanas –Monument of Natural Interest since 2002- it was a spectacular clear day in the middle of the summer. A man we came across, equipped with all the good rambler gear, asked us if we were Asturians. We nodded and he said “I am green with envy” and kept walking pointing out to the mountains with both arms. Back then I didn’t give it much thought, but every time I go back to Las Xanas I remember his comment and I understand for it doesn’t matter how many times you go, it is a walk that captivates you every time. The scenic view takes you by surprise, the gorge is right there, after less than ten minutes walking you can marvel at this wonder of nature. The dramatic landscape might make you feel vertigo, but remember that the trail is completely safe and well kept.
Beyond the gorge there is a forest in which you can expect a very Asturian sight: dozens of hazels nearby a shaded creek. Soon after, green pastures open wide in front of you, the village of Pedroveya recognizable by a church in the distance.
This is a much loved hike among Asturians because its difficulty is low (the ascent is 1500ft) and with a little surveillance (the path is wide enough for two people to walk side by side) children can easily do it. It is especially busy -meaning you might find over 20 people- at weekends.
Many called Las Xanas the little Cares, a well-known hiking trail in Picos included on the top 10 European gorge hikes according to British newspaper The Guardian. However, Las Xanas is less busy and it is at a stone’s throw away from the main cities in the region, which makes it a recurrent destination for tourists as well as locals. If you are lucky you might even spot one of the cutest animals in Asturias: ponies.
GET ME THERE
By car: From Oviedo head to road A-63 Grado-La Espina to Trubia. Once in Trubia, after the bridge turn left on road AS-228 towards Villanueva. You will find the free parking space when you leave behind the village of Tuñón and right before arriving to Villanueva. The journey takes just under thirty minutes.
By public transport: This might be a challenge since there are only three buses a day. The route you need to look for is Oviedo – Teverga. Check at the Oviedo Bus Station prior departure. The timetables as of January 2016 are: Oviedo - Teverga: Monday to Friday: 09.15; 14.30 and 18.15/ Teverga - Oviedo: 07.00; 10.15 and 17.00. Saturday and bank holidays: Oviedo – Teverga: 09.00; 12.00 and 17.00 / Teverga – Oviedo: 10.15; 13.15 and 18.30. The journey takes around one hour and fifteen minutes.
Best time of the year to visit: autumn and spring
Aprox. walking time: 5 hours return / 2.5h one-way to Pedroveya
Where To Eat: Casa Generosa (closed on Wednesdays: +34 985 78 30 46)