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Cueto de Arbás
Cangas del Narcea (Western Asturias)
Open to the public


29 km2
Maximum elevation
2,002 m at Cueto de Arbás Peak
Contact Address

Cangas del Narcea.
Casa de Cultura "Palacio de Omaña"
Plaza Mayor, 48.
33800 Cangas del Narcea.

Phone 985 811 498

  • The Cueto de Arbás Partial Nature Reserve is located in the southwest of the Cantabrian Mountains, west of Leitariegos Pass, and forms the eastern boundary of Fuentes del Narcea, Degaña e Ibias Nature Park. It belongs to the borough of Cangas del Narcea.

  • Plant life

    The vegetation of the reserve is characteristic of the montane and sub-alpine areas of the western sector of the region. There are large birch woods in the upper reaches of the Rivers Molín, Corros and Naviego. Ash and maple grow in the lower reaches of the River Molín and on the slopes of the valleys near Villar de Rogero and Vegameoro, and Western alder at the confluence with the River Naviego. There are outstanding beech woods on the northern slopes of El Fraile Peak towards Riomolín, while oak woods spread along the eastern slopes of Mount El Gato, reaching the brañas (high mountain meadows dotted with herdsmen's dwellings) of Villar de Arbás and almost to Las Llamas del Racín Pass, at the source of the River Corros. The Pyrenean oak woods and hybrid oak copses and shrubland on the southern-facing slopes of Alto de Rogeiro in the Riomolín Valley are of great interest on account of their rarity in the western areas of the region.

    However, the real treasures that the reserve houses comprise the typical peatland complexes and collections of sub-alpine vegetation. These features make Cueto de Arbás Nature Reserve a unique setting, with this collection of the most important plant communities in the region.

    These include the Chouchinas, Reconcos and Fuentes del Narcea peatlands. The first drain into the headwaters of the River Molín, a tributary of the River Naviego. Unique plant species are to be found in these areas. The most notable species is the water lily. The only known spot on the Iberian Peninsula where this species can be found is a small pond in the Reconcos peat bog.

    You can also find other lakes, ponds and small peatlands containing a range of very interesting plants, such as the pteridophytes Isoetes vellatum ssp. asturicense, Huperzia selago and Lycopodium clavatum and the phanerograms Potamogeton natans and Sparganium angustifolium, among others.


    The brown bear is the most representative animal in the reserve, where it finds suitable conditions for its growth and survival. It is a critical area forming part of what is known as the Leitariegos Corridor, a narrow strip connecting the larger areas where bears still exist in Somiedo with those in Degaña and Hermo.

    Other important species are the wolf, which retains a high population; the otter, which inhabits the rivers of the area; and deer, which are abundant in forests and thickets. Noteworthy birds include capercaillies, mallard ducks and storks, which regularly visit Arbás Lake. Reptiles and amphibians also have significant populations in Arbás Lake and Reconco. In the lake there are also odonates, aquatic Heteroptera, leeches and other wildlife typically found in stagnant waters.

Of enormous natural value, the Cueto de Arbás Partial Nature Reserve encompasses deep valleys and high peaks.

A Nature Reserve of a great value located in southwestern Asturias with glacial landforms of major interest, with a predominance of valleys, ridges and cirques of great rarity in its western region.

It also boasts the best mountain peat bogs and sub-alpine vegetation in Asturias, constituting one of the largest and best preserved examples of these Asturian ecosystems.

The river network is embedded in these glacial landforms, constituting the main feature of the relief in the lowlands and forming steep-sided valleys. There is an exceptional collection of lakes, ponds and small areas of peat bogs to be found in Laguna de Arbás on the northwest slope of Cueto de Arbás.

The bioclimate in the highlands is sub-alpine, above all on Cueto de Arbás and El Fraile Peak. The rest can be classified as montane and upper montane bioclimates.

Average annual rainfall is 1,900 litres per square kilometre. In the winter months, precipitation is usually in the form of snow. The annual average minimum temperature is below 2°C, and does not exceed a maximum of 12°C. The average temperature of the coldest month is below -6°C.

Cueto de Arbás