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The huge pastures of Arcenorio as seen from Pileñes

This walk starts at Ventaniella where there ia a medieval Inn and chapel, and when you arrive there you think you’ve jumped a couple of hundred years back in time. The setting is amazing; isolated in a valley surrounded by high mountains and beautiful beech forests. To reach Ventaniella you have to drive a long a road from Sobrefoz which deteriorates into a dirt track and may be that’s what holds time back.

The medieval Inn and Chapel at Ventaniella

The walk starts along a track though a small beech forest and shortly joins part of a marked route “Puerto de Ventaniello” before coming to some neglected pastures. There’s a ruined farm building on this pasture but this time I couldn’t find it presumably it was hidden by the tall growing brooms a sign of abandonment.  Next there is a quite a long stretch following a stream up to its source just beneath the Los Arriondas col. Today it was easy walking as the stream was dry in many places and this made crossing from side to side very easy.

Beech forests just above Ventaniella

When I got to the col I was amazed to see the Arcenorio pastures down in front of me, I had forgotten just how big these pastures are, extending into the distance with the tiny chapel at the far end. The pastures at the base of the valley were still in good condition but on the slopes there was a lot of gorse and heather taking over and some quite large patches of this had been burnt recently. We have had 6 weeks of dry hot weather and in the last few days there have been lots of fires in the region provoked by farmers. These fires are terrible but I also find it very sad to see these pastures which are the essence to sustainable cattle farming being lost to prickly scrub. Controlled burning has been a technique used by farmers for decades to help keep the pastures clean. The problem these days is that the burning is uncontrolled.

Broom and gorse encroaching the pastures of Arcenoria. The black areas are where gorse was burnt a week earlier

Before carrying on the circular walk I decided to climb Peña Ten a large characteristic “rounded” mountain on my right; a (very) steep climb up the grassy spur and I was soon on the top. I guess I felt it would be nice to bag an extra peak and the last time I climbed Peña Ten it was in winter and I fancied seeing it in the summer.

Walking on the summit of Peña Ten in the winter

Once I had returned back down to the Arriondas col it was time to make for the ridge slightly to my left and climb the crest up to Pileñes. Again I was just flabbergasted at the views when I arrived at the crest, the Peloño beech forest beneath me with many of the Ponga Mountains in the foreground and the Picos as back drop. I really went slowly along this crest not because it was difficult but because I spent so much time admiring the views and seeing how many different peaks, meadows and passes I could recognise.

Looking over the Peloño beech forests from the ridge leading up to the summit of Pileñes

On the Pileñes summit I carried along the crest down to a col where I could make out the next section of the route before dropping down a steep gassy valley and on to a lower meadow which was full of cows. What seems amazing to me about this area is the amount of meadows and pastures in really remote places often hidden by the huge beech forests and mountains with difficult access and yet they are still being used by farmers. I just hope their work will be appreciated and properly remunerated so these meadows can de maintained and this magnificent mixed scenery will be around for many to see.

Farming in remote places, coming down from Pileñes

From this meadow it was along a cow path to the col I had previously visualised and into yet another large meadow surrounded by beech forests and with great views, but this time there were lots of horses in the meadow as well as cows. I left the meadow through beech forests to join the track I started walking on in the morning on and whilst walking back to the medieval inn I couldn’t help but think how lucky I was living in this wildly beautiful natural area. When I arrived back at Ventaniella they were doing building work on the Caseria as I since have found out it has a new tenant. I just hope they don’t spoil the amazing atmosphere inside this historic Inn in the name of progress.

Inside the Inn at Ventaniella

Technical Information

Contour profile Pileñes and Ten from Ventaniella

Map Circular walk of Pileñes and Ten from Ventaniella

Download GPS trail from wikiloc

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

 

Type of walk Circular
Starting Point Ventaniella 6 km from Sobrefoz
Finishing Point Ventaniella
Acces 49km from hotel 70 minutes in car
Public transport options None
Grading Difficult to very difficult
Total Length 13,0 km  (15,2 km including ascent of Peña Ten)
Total Ascent 1020m  (1400 m including ascent of Peña Ten)
Altitude 1125 – 2133 – 1125
Total Walking time 7 hours
Terrain Tracks, meadows and mountain paths
Navigation Difficult at times
Refreshments Bar in Sobrefoz and Ventaniella
Map Mapa Topográfico nacional de España:  Beleño + Oseja de Sajambre

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