Etapa 3: Vega de Comeya - Cuadonga/Covadonga

Go to Image Stage 3: Vega de Comeya - Cuadonga/Covadonga
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GR202 - Route of the Reconquest - Stage 3

Stage 3: Vega de Comeya - Cuadonga/Covadonga
GPS: 43.28220414091164, -4.982706257317592

Vega de Comeya - Covadonga

Vega de Comeya - Covadonga 9,2

The Vega de Comeya is located on the northern slope of the western massif of the Picos de Europa, or Picos del Cornión, immediately north of the Covadonga Lakes.

It is a closed depression, approximately 1.2 km2 in area, bounded to the south and west by limestone escarpments and to the north by a gentle ridge modelled on quartzite rocks. The bottom of this basin is practically flat and is furrowed by a small stream that disappears into a sinkhole or "ponor" located at its northwestern end. It is crossed by a peat bog, where you can find carnivorous plants and peat bog vegetation and an abundant sample of amphibians, and where there was a manganese mining operation linked to Buferrera, where the mineral was decanted in large ponds before being transported to Covadonga. We can still see remains of the factory and the barracks, such as La Concentradora and also the towers of the overhead cable where the ore was lowered for processing.

In 1958, the Compañía de Minas de Covadonga concluded its mining work in the Buferrera area; however, from that date onwards, it began to recover the mercury in the dumps by means of settling ponds installed in the Vega de Comeya. In order to improve the extraction of this liquid mineral, a caminet-type washery was even set up. Once on the plain, we must approach the vertical walls of Paré del Arcu located to the left of the plain until we find the Jupioru water spring, which rises from a large fissure in the rock. We continue ascending the hill on the left, not continuing along the track that would lead us first to the slope of La Huesera, then to the Cruz de Priena and then on to Covadonga.

Once on the road, turn left and climb a few metres to the Teón sheepfold, where there is a track on the right. Leave the road to the Lakes and take the track on the right, which descends towards the Fana sheepfold, where there is a plantation of trees completely surrounded by a stone wall.

Just when the track makes a 180º turn to the left, we leave it to continue along the small Vega Jondos channel, which takes us to a hill from where we have a beautiful view of the Las Traviesas valley, squeezed between a beech grove and a rocky wall. We descend towards the bottom of the valley, always sticking to the wall on the right, arriving next to a spring where the ascent begins in search of the La Bobia pass, an antechamber to the Severin hill, where the sheepfold of the same name is located and where at the end of the hill we have a view of the Las Mestas sheepfold. We descend the Cuesta del Pandal in search of the Las Mestas river. Continuing the descent through the grassy meadow, dotted with the occasional copse of holly trees, we find ourselves in the middle of one of these with the fork to the right of the path that takes us to the road to the lakes, through the Les Yaceries fold. The descent continues in search of the valley floor where the river Las Mestas flows.
Once in the vicinity, the route turns to the right to continue along the river, which we cross twice to reach a gate, the entry point to the Vega de Orandi.

The Vega de Orandi is one of those magical places in the Asturian orography, a dead-end valley formed by a river that ends up plunging into a karst cave, crossed by the river Deva, whose name refers to a divine origin, that of the Cantabrian goddess mater Deva. The river water reaches a cave of karstic origin, through which it infiltrates, producing a loud noise until it reappears some 800 m below the Santa Cueva de Covadonga (Holy Cave of Covadonga). The path continues climbing to the right of the sinkhole, surrounded by hawthorn and hazel trees until it reaches the Orandi pass, and then descends along a winding path under a beech forest with lime trees, ash trees, holly trees, etc. The route zigzags at the end to overcome the great difference in altitude, through the forest of La Matona, until it reaches the foot of the Santa Cueva (Holy Cave).

The chronicles tell, with that load of fantasy that magnifies stories lost in time, that an Asturian leader named Pelayo, in command of a group of mountain and Asturian people, managed to defeat the hitherto invincible Muslim troops, led by Alkama, in the mythical battle of Covadonga. The year was 722 AD and Pelayo was named the first monarch of the Kingdom of Asturias. It was the beginning of the Reconquest and the veneration of the Royal Site of Covadonga.

Nowadays, the two towers of the Basilica are the first image of Covadonga for pilgrims, regardless of the route they have taken to reach it. Every year thousands of believers and tourists flock to the Holy Cave, a natural grotto embedded in a cliff on Mount Auseva, to see the Santina, located in a grotto where the tomb of King Pelayo and his wife can be found, in front of the carving of the Virgin. The grotto is also an excellent balcony from which to look out over the pond below, in which hundreds of coins glitter, representing illusions and wishes. From inside the crag, just below the chapel, the river Deva emerges in the form of a beautiful waterfall, which churns the waters of this artificial backwater and feeds the Fountain of the Seven Spouts, from which legends tell that women who drink from the seven spouts get married within a year. We can go down the stairs to the fountain, which some of the faithful prefer to climb on their knees as a sign of promise.

Texts: Antonio Alba Moratillas (Editorial Prames)