The Picos of Europe National Park is a true treasure of nature, home to mythical mountains, famous lakes, rugged gorges and well-kept villages, all full of history and traditions. In its slope belonging to Cantabria, within the region of Liébana, beautiful corners of imposing appearance await us, as is the case of Fuente Dé and its cable car, an authentic gateway to the exclusive world of the high mountain that awaits us in the Picos of Europe.
The Route Ports of Áliva and its 13,4 Km allows us, after going up the vertical limestone walls that separate us from these colossal mountains thanks to the spectacular cable car of Fuente Dé, to undertake one of the numerous hiking routes through the Picos of Europe that depart from the vertiginous Viewpoint of El Cable. In this case we will return through a pleasant journey to Fuente Dé without having to go down the cable car, visiting green meadows, old abandoned mines, mythical hermitages, without forgetting the majestic granite mountains that will observe us for much of the itinerary. Behind us is the cable car, whose beginnings date back to 1962 and which allows us, as hardened mountaineers, to enter the heart of the Massif Central of Picos following in the first instance the paths that lead to such emblematic places as Horcados Rojos (Red Horcades) or Cabaña Verónica (Veronica Cabin).
But our route when arriving at the pass of the Horcadina de Covarrobres changes its slope to begin the long descent that, under the attentive look of Peña Olvidada first and Peña Vieja later, has to bring us closer to the Chalet Real and shortly after to the Refuge of Áliva. In front of the green landscape of the prairies of Ports of Áliva, that make of nexus of union between the Massif Central and the Oriental of Picos of Europe, sprinkled by the abandoned constructions of the old mines that populated the zone and by the presence of small hermitages like the one of Our Lady of the Snows. A descent that will take us to say goodbye definitively to the wild landscape that surrounded us after our passage by the Portillas the Boquejón, to set course towards Fuente Dé, now furrowing leafy forests of oak groves and green pastures. A final route sheltered by the vertical walls that precede the peaks we have just contemplated and that will take us up the course of the river Deva to Fuente Dé, the final point of this entertaining hiking route in Cantabria.
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Legend has it that during the visit of Alfonso XIII to the sumptuous Chalet Real on the occasion of the hunts he made in the area, were hired as assistants various young people in the area. One of these young men, very devoted to the Santuca of Áliva, was in charge of collecting the pieces that the monarch abathy. One of these animals, badly wounded, fled forcing the boy to chase him to avoid the scolding for not having done with the piece. Suddenly, when it seemed that he was finally catching the animal, a ferocious and threatening bear emerged from nowhere. The boy, imprisoned and immobilized by panic, with no weapon with which he could defend himself, could not help but pray to his Santuca, aware of the near death that awaited him. But then, a thunderous rumor took possession of the place where he was, it was a great avalanche of snow that descending quickly by the mountain interposed between the boy and the bear thus saving to the young one of the threatening jaws of the animal.
To get to Fuente Dé you have to take the CA-185 road that leaves from Potes and after passing through Espinama ends at Fuente Dé. Upon arrival we will have ample parking areas where we can park our vehicle to go to the building that houses the box office. Once with our ticket we will only have to approach the lower terminal of the Cable Car of Fuente Dé to undertake the ascent towards the upper terminal or The Cable.
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Although it is an ideal hiking route to do it with our dog the first drawback that we find is the limitation of access to the cable car, we must also comply with the regulations governing the National Park of Picos of Europe and carry it tied, which in addition to avoiding the relevant penalty can help us not have problems with the mastiffs who keep the herds of cattle.
It is important to bring water and food according to the demanding route you are going to make, although we will have several points of water along the route, you will need to replenish energy and hydrate properly especially if it is hot.
The cattle and the dogs that protect it are, in general, all that we should find in our way, although we do not have to forget the diverse fauna that lives here and that normally does not like to be easily seen.
After enjoying the experience that supposes to ascend in the cable car of Fuente Dé we leave to our back the vertiginous Viewpoint of The Cable (0h 00min) and the superior terminal of the cable car to dispose to us to begin this route of senderismo for Picos of Europe.
At the moment we find the track that the off-roaders use to get here, a track that we have to continue on. We advance gaining height with each step, surrounded by the impressive landscape formed by the mountains of Picos of Europe.
The slope, which is not very demanding, invites us to take this part of the route with a certain amount of calm so that we can enjoy the place we are visiting in peace and quiet.
Soon the imposing crest under which the path leading to Horcados Rojos and Verónica Cabin runs appears before our eyes.
We will leave this path on our left when we arrive at the pass where this ascent section ends to follow the path that will lead us to cross the opposite slope of the mountains that we were contemplating until now.
In front of us extend the wide prairies known as Ports of Áliva, prairies towards which we begin to descend under the watchful gaze of Peña Olvidada, under which we advance.
The cobbled track allows us to advance with a certain speed as it crosses the menacing boulder that falls from the vertical walls of this wild mountain.
The descent becomes even more evident as our track begins to draw the typical zetas that characterize mountain routes.
We quickly lose height while with each step we approach the Chalet Real, from which we are still quite a distance apart.
For the moment we should not leave the path we are following at any time, especially if the fog surrounds us.
To our left is the Chalet Real and the track that if we follow it would bring us closer to it. We continue descending guided at all times by the wide path we are following and by the marks and signs of the PR-24, a path we are following.
Almost without realizing it, the silhouette of the Shelter of Áliva rises, towards which we are heading.
Just at our arrival the road forks forcing us to decide between entering the enclosure of the shelter of Áliva (1h 10min) or follow the track that borders it.
Without a doubt the correct option crosses the enclosure of the shelter avoiding us to have to border it in its totality.
In any case both possibilities join again to continue with the descent, but if we have bordered the shelter and the hotel we must leave to our left the path that we will come across and that arrives here from the town of Sotres.
We continued with the endless descent without being able to stop looking back to contemplate the imposing rocky masses from where we came.
Our track crosses the green meadows that now dominate the landscape that surrounds us. We continue to lose height with each step as we pass close to solitary huts frequented by cattle.
After a while, new paths appear in front of us which, it seems, we have to run into.
Paths that seem to invite us to change course and return to the mountains that we have left behind or that tempt us to make a small detour to visit the solitary hermitage of Our Lady of the Snows.
We, paying attention to the signs that have been guiding us until now, continue with the descent, leaving behind these temptations.
A long stretch of monotonous road still awaits us ahead, fortunately dotted with beautiful nooks.
A good while further on we will come across a new crossroads, where we will leave on our left the steep track that leads to Mogroviejo to continue our descent.
This descent leads us to a curious corner that looks like the gateway to and from this area of Picos of Europe.
The Portillas of Boquejón or Ports of Áliva as they are also known mark the limits of this mountainous zone that we have just crossed, as it was already appreciated as we approached.
As soon as we cross this small gorge, at the same time that the valley of the river Deva opens up in front of us, we come across the detour to Fuente Dé (2h 10min), which will force us to say goodbye to our way, and crossing a wooden bridge, continue the route now along a battered trail.
In the past, the route did not abandon the track and descended along it to the town of Espinama, and from there it went up the road to Fuente Dé itself. This option is still recommended today in case of bad weather or if the terrain may be covered with mud, snow or ice.
And it is that this first part of the new layout runs through a somewhat exposed and decomposed trail that although under normal conditions does not have major complications if it can put us in trouble if the circumstances are not adequate.
The clearly treaded and well-marked trail causes us to lose height quickly as it meanders down the mountain slope.
The areas with the steepest slopes are fitted out with the typical steps that make it easier for us to pass through them.
Soon our path reaches its end at the same time that ends the most technical section of this route. From now on, a wide and well marked path, which looks more like an old road, will be our guide.
This part of the itinerary is characterized by a continuous rise and fall with some or other ramp that sometimes will require an extra effort increased by the distance already overcome so far.
Luckily, we will also see ourselves going through a leafy forest that, in spite of some clearings, will give us all its freshness.
The landscape has long since radically changed the vertical cliffs that accompanied us at the beginning have given way to the typical landscape of forests that populate the slopes of the mountains near the riverbeds that cross the valleys.
In this part of the route we will also come across some other trail or path that thanks to the tread of the terrain and the marks of the PR that we are following should not create any doubt.
The descent sections alternate with one or another ramp of a certain size but which, luckily, is not usually too long. Do not forget that Fuente Dé is at the head of the valley and therefore we must go up the slope that separates us from it, at the same time as we save the terrain.
A terrain that is crossed by countless roads, which we meet at our own pace, being in some cases the ones in charge of guiding us.
In any case, these paths we have to find do not usually create major doubts when it comes to following the right course.
Also like the ups and downs, the clearings alternate with the stretches through thick forests, clearings that at this point and allow us to contemplate over our heads the top terminal of the Teleférico de Fuente Dé from where we left long ago.
Shortly after one of these clearings we will come across a new crossroads where we must leave the path we were descending to prepare ourselves to cross a narrow and limited footpath that cuts a field of pastures in two.
This trail leads us back to the leafy forest in front of us, a forest that we will cross without any major problems, guided by the PR marks.
After crossing the bed of a stream, and perhaps because we are already at this stage of the route, a new and demanding stretch awaits us. Once again we alternate hard ramps with fast descents, while we leave behind the paths that meet us.
Luckily, the last steep slope that we have to overcome reaches its end, rewarding our effort with a beautiful panoramic view.
From now on, we will find a battered path that little by little brings us closer to the end of this hiking route in Cantabria.
But we still have to lose part of the height previously gained until we reach the meadow where Fuente Dé is situated. The vegetation gives way to the imposing walls that surround our destination.
All that remains is to border the enclosure that delimits the enclosure of one of the lodgings that are located around the cable car. Our route reaches its end leaving us in the lower parking lot of the Cable Car of Fuente Dé (4h 05min), under the strong cables through which the cabins run, just next to the road by which we arrived with our vehicle until here.
Total distance. 13,4 Km
Total time. 4h 05min
This figure will be increased if we decide to visit, for example, the hermitage of Our Lady of the Snows or one of the abandoned mines in the area, without forgetting the time we spend enjoying the landscape that will surround us at each step.
Time of year. Not in bad weather or fog
The sudden changes of time, almost without realizing it, here are more habitual than we can imagine. That is why it is important to know in advance the weather forecasts before venturing to make the route. A nice sunny day with good temperature can turn into an unpleasant and cold day in which we ask ourselves what the hell are we doing here. In addition to the conditions of the terrain that we cross, which of course will affect the suitability or not of facing this route, is the magnificent landscape that we can enjoy if the good weather accompanies us.
Required equipment. Don't underestimate the route
The easy access to the high mountain area through which the route passes, the itinerary almost in its entirety in descent, by paths in good condition and well marked paths, does not have to deceive us and make us think that it is not necessary to equip ourselves correctly and take into account factors such as the changing climate that characterizes this area of Picos of Europe. A good trekking footwear, specific and warm clothes, water and food, the first-aid kit and the walking sticks, among other things like information and the necessary material to be able to consult and follow the route, if necessary, cannot be missing in our rucksack. Consult our list of material and equipment for hiking. Read more.
Slope acumulate. 1485 m Slope positive. 387 m Slope negative. 1098 m
Maximum altitude. 1931 m Minimum altitude. 1036 m
Initially the distance of this route through Picos of Europe is what brings almost all the difficulty. We should not be fooled by the fact that almost all the slope is negative, as it is in the final part of the itinerary when we already carry the accumulated tiredness of the route, where we have to find almost all the ascent ramps, more demanding if possible because of the distance already covered.
Severity of the environment
The ease of access via the cable car, the roads generally travelled by a good number of jeeps or the conditioned shelters through which we will pass, can make us feel as if we are walking on civilised terrain without apparent danger. And although to a great extent and normal conditions, we would practically not have to face major complications, we must not forget that we are in a high mountain terrain and we will cross sections exposed to rock falls and possible slips or falls due to gravel or mud. As long as the snow or ice are not the protagonists of the landscape in which case the difficulty and exposure would expand considerably. Pay attention also to the possible meteorological changes that we may find because it can change significantly the risks we face.
The itinerary to follow, largely through wide dirt tracks and well trodden and visible paths, together with the generally good signposting of the entire route should not create too many moments of doubt. Almost at the end, when we have to leave one of the paths we will travel to cross a pasture following a narrow path, we may find ourselves with the moment of greatest doubt, especially if the gate that prevents the passage to the pasture is open and we do not notice the trail that begins a little further ahead.
|1-Cable Viewpoint||0h 00min||1844 m||0 Km||30T 353163 4779430|
|2-Shelter of Áliva||1h 10min||1667 m||3,9 Km||30T 354772 4780995|
|3-Detour Fuente Dé||2h 10min||1347 m||7,8 Km||30T 355634 4778894|
|4-Fuente Dé||4h 05min||1080 m||13,4 Km||30T 352688 4778431|
Coordenadas UTM Datum WGS84
This sketch of the route is not made to scale nor does it contain all the information relating to the area, it is merely indicative.
This schematic with the path is approximate and has been created from the derived cartographic base © Instituto Geográfico Nacional "Cuadrante 081-1 y 056-3, 1:25.000"
Senditur has manipulated the tracks to correct the aberrant points that may exist, caused by problems with the reception of the GPS signal. In any case the tracks are always approximate. SENDITUR encourages you to use the new technologies within your reach, using them as support and consultation in your activity, not basing the realization and orientation of the same only and exclusively on them, since they may see their functioning altered by very diverse causes, not functioning correctly and their indications may not be precise.
La subida en el teleférico es una pasada y la ruta preciosa, se hace un poco larga ya al final pero el paisaje es precioso.
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¿Did you know that...
The Cable Car of Fuente Dé saves in only 4 minutes the difference in level of 753 m that separates the inferior terminal from the superior one of The Cable, allowing this way to accede to one of the most spectacular places of the Picos of Europe.
Don't miss out...
The impressive panoramic view that can be enjoyed from the dizzying Viewpoint of The Cable, which awaits us as soon as we leave the building that houses the top terminal of the cable car of Fuente Dé.
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This route has been carried out in the field by SENDITUR on 12-08-2017. The route may vary greatly depending on the time of year, weather conditions and terrain, as well as the actions of third parties and the evolution suffered in the natural environment where it is located. All opinions, advice and/or assessments made by SENDITUR in their descriptions are for guidance only and are subject to and/or refer to the specific conditions of the specific day of the route, referring to that specific day, taken from trained people, with the appropriate experience and with a high level of physical and technical preparation as a reference, as well as correctly equipped.
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