Parque Natural de Somiedo

Parque Natural de Somiedo
 

Overview
The Somiedo natural park is in the north-west aspect of the Iberian Peninsula and takes its name from the principal town of Somiedo. The Natural park was created in 1988 and its 39,000 hectares is at the heart of the mountains of Cantabria. The park can be entered from the north travelling towards A Coruña and from the south to the La Babia district, in the León province, which has been compared to the mountains and mists of Scotland.

The rocky and grassy landscape is characteristic of the southern aspect of the park on its way to Somiedo a favourite location for walking. At the Puerto, as the locals refer to Somiedo, you enter the spectacular landscape and panorama of the imposing mountains. Crystal clear streams and dry-stone walls crisscross the mountains with the parks many visitors climb the areas highest peak, Cornón to appreciate the panoramic views.

The vegetation at this altitude is alpine in nature and hardy enough to survive the extreme winter temperatures that led to the creation of glacier lakes, ponds and bogs. The valley and lake of Somiedo are a major attraction of the park that extends into the Asturian areas of Belmonte and Teverga. It is home to the majority of the brown bears of Spain.

Walking
One of the most popular walks of the Somiedo natural park is the one to the Cornón where you will be able to appreciate the majestic and towering mountains and its rich flora and fauna. Another beautiful walk along four lakes is Alto de Farrapona that takes you past lake la Cueva, la Mina, la Calabazosa and del Valle.

Other walks within the park are Puerto de San Lorenzo, Santa Maria del Puerto and four different levels of walks in the Lago valley. Each offers its own unique display of the mountain flora and fauna, as well as the grasslands near the many lakes and streams of the region. Due to the high altitude of this area and the snowy climate of the winter many of these walks are best experienced during the spring and summer.

 

Animals & Birds
With the small human population, undisturbed and natural aspects of this park it provides numerous animals and birds with a protected and peaceful existence. The animals’ natural habitat allows them to live and breed enabling their numbers to increase here whilst in other areas they are endangered.

The extensive and lush forests of the Somiedo provide just such a haven for the brown bear whose numbers are higher here than elsewhere in southern Europe. They can be seen roaming the mountain peaks and fishing in the many rivers and lakes.

The wealth and variety of animals and birds in the woodlands attract the presence of other predators. The Genet or Civet cat as its also known, along with the wild cat and wolves find their perfect habitats among the numerous rugged hillsides, woodlands and river meadows within the park. Other mainly nocturnal hunters that live happily throughout the park are the red fox and the marten.

The many varied terrains of the Somiedo natural park, from subalpine mountains, river gorges and meadows ensure a diverse population. From the nocturnal badge and the boars who live happily in the forests foraging for food. The river, lake and stream based creatures such as the Iberian muskrat and the otter feed on the abundant insects and fish that live in these unpolluted waters. To the meadows and grasslands that merge with the forests at the lower altitudes are home to hares and the endangered grouse or capercaillie, plus the herds of deer and chamois. The more solitary roe deer are also found in the park because Somiedo offers one of the last areas to suffer from deforestation.

There are approximately 120 different birds that live or breed throughout the varied environments of the natural park. The woodland birds are numerous and varied with the extensive forests providing a unique opportunity to hear and see the drilling and drumming of the medium peck, black and middle spotted woodpeckers. The darting and highly maneuverable goshawk also lives in the forests and expertly flies through its plentiful trees catching pigeons, woodcocks and crows, as well as hares, rabbits, mink and martens.

Golden eagles are protected within the park and its numbers have become stable and its large nests can be seen amongst the branches of tall trees or on steep rocky faces of the mountains. Similarly the bearded vulture has found security in the park and they and other vultures can bee seen circling the skies in search of carcasses.

In the skies of dawn and dusk peregrine falcons can be seen in the skies and during the mating season fantastic aerobatic displays can be seen as the male feeds the female on the wing. The protection of their cliff side ledge nest sites in the natural parks has seen the numbers of the fastest animal in the world gradually increase.

 

Plants
This nature reserve is one of the largest of this province and principally has three types of vegetation within it and the diverse flora unique to each environment. Nearly a quarter of the park, at a variety of different levels of altitude is covered with forests and woodland.

The beech and ash forests, along with the oak (Latin name-Quercus petraea) are plentiful in Asturias. There are also areas of woodland rich in maple and lime trees. The gall Mediterranean species is only present in Somiedo and Cares in Asturias. Other altitudes provide the idyllic settings for the forests and woods of yew, holly chestnut, holm oak and birch.

The second type of vegetation in the reserve is grassland. This type of vegetation accounts for over twenty percent of the territory and is home to the Asturian trumpet daffodil, which can be found in the regions mountain meadows.

Finally the third type of vegetation to be found within the Somiedo natural park is scrub. The gorse and heath Erica vagans are relatively prolific within the park. But other areas of scrub including the bearberry, red briar bushes, juniper, heather and bilberry are more common within the park. Creeping celery can also be found in vicinity of the regions ponds and glacier lakes. The flora changes to Potentilla shrub belt, leaf sundew long, water horsetail variegada and the lentibularia minor as you progress into the peatland areas.

 

 
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