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Discovering the Divine Gorge, the Cares Route

 

The Peaks of Europe National Park boasts a considerable number of spectacular spots and routes with their own name, such as the Cares Route, also known as the Divine Gorge. The popular Cares trail links the towns of Caín, in León, and Poncebos, in Asturias. This route was created by man in 1945 to facilitate access to the canal of the hydroelectric power station, which accompanies us practically the whole way.

 

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Where to start the Cares Route

 

To answer this question we need to know if we want to do the whole route, there and back on foot, in which case it doesn't make much difference whether we start from Cain or Poncebos. It will of course depend on whether we are in Asturias or León. If you are not used to long walks or if your idea is not to walk the whole of the Cares trail, it is best to start from Caín, in the province of León. This part of the route is arguably the most spectacular part of the route, and the difference in altitude that we will have to overcome is not remarkable. For example, we can go as far as Los Collaos, just before starting the descent towards Poncebos, and turn back. Another possibility is to return to the starting point by public or private transport from the town where we finish the route, although we should be aware that we have just over 2 hours of road travel between Cain and Poncebos.

 

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Itinerary of the Cares Route

 

From Cain to Poncebos 12 Km


 

The official PR-PNPE 3 or Cares Route links Posada de Valdeón with Poncebos for 21 km, but nowadays the easy access to Caín de Valdeón (0h 00min) has made it the main starting and finishing point of this hiking route, thus reducing its distance. The starting point will depend on where we can park our vehicle, in any case the route is perfectly signposted and the course of the river Cares also serves as a reference to follow. We leave Caín behind us following a comfortable path that leads us to cross a first bridge to continue along the other side of the river. We soon reach the start of the Divine Gorge where we cross over the dam on the other side of the river.

 

This part of the route takes us through galleries with large windows that allow us to contemplate the narrow gorge. But soon we come out into the open air, allowing us to contemplate the Cares Gorge in all its splendour.

After a while we reach the photogenic Rebecos Bridge, which we cross. After crossing this vertiginous bridge and now on the other side of the gorge, we arrive almost without noticing at the Bolín Bridge, which allows us to cross the gorge again and continue on the other side, with no more changes of side. This area also offers us more tunnels and vertiginous areas where the river flows a few metres below the path we are following. We continue on to find the Martinez footbridge, another of the most representative places on the Cares Route. This point can serve as a reference point to differentiate the Leonese side of the Cares from the Asturian side of the Cares. From here the gorge gradually becomes wider and wider as we gain altitude until we reach Los Collaos. Once there we only have to start the descent that will take us to Poncebos (3h 15min).

 

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How to get to the Cares Route

 

Getting to Cain


 

If our starting point for the Cares Route is Cain, we must take the town of Posada de Valdeón in León as a reference point, as the road that will take us to Cain starts there. Posada de Valdeón can be reached either from the N-625 which links Cangas de Onís with Riaño and León. Or from the N-621 which connects Potes with Riaño. Once in Caín there are several parking areas, although in high season they fill up quickly and some of them have to be paid for.

 

 

 

Getting to Poncebos


 

If our starting point for the Cares Route is Poncebos, then we will take the Asturian town of La Arenas as a reference point. From there, the road leads to Poncebos, which is actually just an area of hotels and rural houses. It should be borne in mind that the funicular railway that goes up to Bulnes also leaves from Poncebos, which means that the area is even more crowded with people and vehicles if possible. To get to Las Arenas we have to follow the AS-114 road either from Panes or from Cangas de Onís. We can also reach this road from the A-8 Cantabrian motorway at Llanes and Ribadesella. Once in Poncebos there are several car parks on both sides of the road.

 

 

 

Transfers on the Cares Route


 

If our idea is only to do the outward journey, and we do not have the possibility of leaving a car at each starting point of the route, we have available both taxi and 4x4 transport services. In addition, in high season there is usually a public bus service, for which information is available at the bus station in Cangas de Onís.

 

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Tips for doing the Cares Route

 

1-While the Cares Route is not very difficult, it does require a good physical preparation if our idea is to do the whole route, there and back, on foot. Of course, we have the advantage of being able to adjust the distance to our liking, which allows us to enjoy the route if, for example, we go with children.

2-The path does not present any technical problems either, but we must not forget that we are in the middle of nature and that in many areas we will have a precipice with a vertical drop of several metres next to us.

3-That is why it is important to equip ourselves with suitable clothing and footwear for hiking routes, and also take some warm clothes with you, even if it is summer.

4-Taking enough water and food with you and being careful at all times is another important point as the route is not free of dangers, there are no side barriers on the cliffs and rockslides are not so rare to see.

5-If you plan to do only the outward journey, you will have to calculate and schedule the time it will take you, in order to plan and balance the transfers.

6- Try to get up early, you'll have less trouble finding parking.

 

 

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Waypoints of the route


1-Caín 0h 00min 460 m 0 km 30T 345250 4786267
2-Poncebos 3h 15min 230 m 12 Km 30T 351214 4790974

Coordinates UTM Datúm WGS84

 

Slope acumulate. 1050 m  Slope positive. 525 m  Slope negative. 525 m

 

Maximum altitude. 500 m   Minimum altitude. 230 m

 

Profile of the Cares Route

Profile of the Cares Route the Divine Gorge

 

Cartography

Topographical map of the Cares Route the Divine Gorge

ico IGN

 

This schematic with the path is approximate and has been created from the derived cartographic base © Instituto Geográfico Nacional  "Cuadrante 55-2, 55-4, 56-1 y 56-3 1:25.000".

 

 

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Route information updated on 27-08-2020. The route can vary greatly depending on the time of year, weather conditions and terrain, as well as the actions of third parties and the evolution of the natural environment where it is located. SENDITUR is not responsible for any misuse or inappropriate use of the comprehensive guides of its routes and/or publications, nor for any variations in their descriptions for the aforementioned reasons, and recommends that everyone be responsible and prudent in carrying out the activity. Likewise, we invite you to read books and specialised guides to complement the information described. All the times are approximate and take an orientative character, the stops have not been taken into account, no matter how small they may be. All the information related to the route, texts, images, videos, maps, diagrams, tracks, towns, and places of tourist interest are published as a guide, and may not coincide with the current state of each place. Before undertaking any activity, assess your technical knowledge, your physical condition, find out about the weather and the variations that the route may undergo, equip yourself correctly, be prudent and responsible at all times, and do not exceed your capabilities. All opinions, advice and/or assessments made by SENDITUR in their descriptions are subject to and/or refer to the specific conditions of the specific day of the route, referring to that specific day and always taking as a reference to trained and experienced people, with a high level of physical and technical preparation, as well as properly equipped, therefore all opinions, assessments and/or advice are for guidance purposes only.

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¿Did you know that...

 

From 1916 to 1921, the Viesgo electricity company built a water canal linking Cain to the Camarmeña load chamber in Poncebos. Later, from 1944 to 1950, a path was built parallel to the canal to clean and maintain it. The construction of these works claimed 13 human lives, and the Cares Path is currently one of the most visited hiking routes in Spain.

 

Don't miss out...

 

If your starting point on the Cares Route is Cain, you should not miss the different viewpoints, such as the Tombo Viewpoint, which you will find both on the road to Cain and on the road to Posada de Valdeón from the N-625.

 

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