At the mouth of the river Pas, in the central area of the Cantabrian coastline, declared a Natural Park in 1986, and within the municipality of Piélagos, in the village of Liencres, Cantabria, the Natural Park of the Liencres Dunes encompasses coves and two beaches of great beauty, a large expanse of maritime pine forest, and the dune system, considered one of the most important in northern Spain due to its unquestionable geomorphological interest and its peculiar ecological and landscape characteristics. Dunes that have been created by the action of the wind, which brings together the sands of the coastal currents and those of the Pas river, in which two different dune areas can be distinguished, the one next to the beach, which has been advancing inland due to the action of the wind and whose movement was controlled by planting a forest mass of maritime pine that stopped its expansion while creating a new landscape, and the other type of dunes that has managed to become fixed thanks to the help of some plant species such as the of sand or marine thistle.
In April 2021, the Plenary of the Parliament of Cantabria approved the law declaring the Natural Park of the Dunes of Liencres and Costa Quebrada, thus creating a new area with a unique landscape, considerably extending the extension of the park from Punta del Águila to the Canal de la Hoz, and which includes all the lands of the previous park and those corresponding to the Natura 2000 Network area and is divided between the municipalities of Piélagos, Miengo, and Santa Cruz de Bezana. In addition to the coastal strip, cliffs and beaches, it includes the islets between both boundaries and a large part of the mountains of La Picota and Tolío, in Liencres, as well as meadows and other areas..
In a place of great beauty such as the Liencres Dunes Natural Park, with a unique and very fragile vegetation, whose ecosystem has been formed thanks to the deposits of sand that the waves accumulate on the upper part of the beach and are dragged inland by the action of the wind, there are hiking routes and walks that lead us to enjoy the cliffs, estuaries, islets, beaches, arrows and dunes. It goes without saying that it is essential, in order to preserve it, among other things, not to leave the marked trails. In the Liencres Dunes Natural Park we can visit beaches such as Valdearenas, which in the middle of a wild environment surprises us with fine, golden sand, or Canallave, which delights surfers as it is windy and has strong waves, whose waves ride over sandy bottoms. Of particular interest to mountaineers is the ascent of La Picota, a 240 m high mountain in the Sierra de Liencres and its highest point, from which you can see the whole park as well as the Mogro estuary and the estuary of the river Pas, or the second highest peak in the sierra, Tolío, near the sea between the towns of Liencres, Mortera and Boo de Piélago.
The beautiful sunsets over its beaches are worthy of the best photography, but if we are also animal lovers and we like to observe them in their habitat, we can enjoy the birds that nest here, grey herons, moorhens, gulls, and especially in winter with migratory waterfowl, ducks, waders and herons, which use the park as astaging area. Other inhabitants of the park that should not be disturbed in their environment are the beautiful black-green lizard, the common hedgehog, the common shrew, the weasel...
The traditional urros of Liencres are small islets located off the coast, near the mouth of the river Pas. This alignment of rocks that leave narrow channels between them and the coast is of great scenic value. The urros are the result of the erosion of the coast by the tides, and it is said that this sea was once populated by bivalves, whose shells formed, like coral reefs, these characteristic urros.
Although the Liencres Dunes and Costa Quebrada Natural Park has been created, there are still five natural parks in Cantabria, with the Liencres Dunes being the first to be created in Cantabria in 1986, as well as being the smallest in terms of surface area. In the Parque Natural de las Dunas de Liencres there are certain restrictions to preserve the dune system, but they are not an obstacle to enjoying the park. Curiously, the medieval pass of Puente Arce over the river Pas, which is upstream, specifically in Oruña, was one of the passes on the Way of Saint James.
Recalling the poem that the Santander-born Gerardo Diego, writer and poet belonging to the so-called Generation of '27, dedicated to the dunes of Liencres, "On one side, the lion of the seas roars; on the other, the sadness of the dunes, which the sea and the wind mould".
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The Liencres Dunes Natural Park is accessed from the Santander motorway, A-67. To get there, the only access by car is to follow the road from Liencres to Boo de Piélagos. There is also a local train service between Santander station and Liencres.
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