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Looking at the Picos from the summit of Canto Cabronero

The first part of this spectacular walk is along the ancient Senda del Arcediano a track built by the Archdeacon of Villaviciosa in the 17th century providing communication for the villages of Sajambre with Asturias. Communication routes in the olden days were normally over the mountain tops rather than along the river gorges. These high tracks would be impassable in the winter due to snow but did not suffer from landslides and fallen rocks when the snow melted which was the problem with many of the lower gorge passes. The “Senda del Arcediano” goes through some spectacular mountain scenery and was the major track to Cangas de Onis before the road along the Beyos gorge was built.

Pastures on the edge of the Archdeacons path

To start this walk you follow the Senda del Arcediano GR201 out of Soto de Sajambre in direction Amieva. The area around Soto de Sajambre has the greatest expanse of beech forests in the National Park of the Picos de Europa and as I started walking up from Soto de Sajambre and looked back towards the vast forests behind me they were tainted with marvellous hues of copper and gold. The sky was blue and the first snow lay shimmering on the high peaks. Peña Santa the highest peak in the western massif which can be seen so well from Soto de Sajambre looked stunning.

La Portilla separating Leon and Asturias

After about 45 minutes climbing the track flattens out whilst crossing over a meadow.  From this point it is possible to see the Ponga Mountains point as well as the Picos so I stopped here to have some breakfast and enjoy the many lovely views.  You then follow the path up to La Portilla; a small gate in a stone wall which is the boundary between Leon and Asturias. At this point you leave the Archdeacons path and start the climb up to Canto Cabronero.

Looking towards the Dobra gorge on the ascent to Canto Cabronero

First there is a small limestone rock face to overcome, which is done by ascending a small gulley. With a little bit of a scramble your above the rock face and come out to more pastures with the daunting peak of Canto Cabronero in the distance.  Looking at the peak from this point you might be tempted to turn back but it’s actually easier to ascend than the little gulley you’ve just climbed. The path goes around the bottom of this meadow before crossing a small stream and then passes over another small rock face by a cave. Then it carries up another grassy slope before starting the final ascent to the summit which is way marked most of the way with piles of stones.  The views on all this section of the walk are stunning.

The aerial summit of Canto Cabronero

After a steep climb near the top there is a small gap between two peaks; Canto Cabronero (the highest peak) is on your left. From this gap you can now see the Western massif of the Picos de Europa in their full splendour. The very last few meters to the summit are rather exposed but present no real technical difficulty. When you’re on the summit it is another of these places where words or photographs can in no way capture the magnificence that surrounds you.  Time just to sit back and bask in nature’s glory before the descent back the way you came. This was the third time I had climbed this peak and for people who are comfortable with a 1000m ascent it is one I would certainly recommend.

Stunning views from the summit of Canto Cabronero

Technical Information

Profile Ascent of Canto Cabronero from Soto de Sajambre

Map Ascent of Canto Cabronero from Soto de Sajambre

Download GPS trail from wikiloc

Self guided walking notes and GPS trail available for guests from the hotel


Type of walk There and back
Starting Point Soto de Sajambre 5km from Oseja de Sajambre
Finishing Point Soto de Sajambre
Acces 48 km from the hotel 60 minutes by car
Public transport options Very difficult
Grading Very difficult
Total Length 14,8 km
Total Ascent 1160 m
Altitude 870 – 1996 – 870
Total Walking time 6 hours
Terrain Some scrambling
Navigation Paths not well defined in some points
Refreshments Two Bars at Soto de Sajambre
Map Adrados Western Massif Picos de Europa

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