The geographical crossroads, or what is the same, the abundance of crossroads, the junction points of different branches, but also the strictly religious meaning assigned to it, make the term "Cross" abound in Asturian topinimy. The Cruz de Priena, in particular, has a great epic and Christian connotation. It could be said that it is a symbol of that local "crusade" that was the Battle of Covadonga.
Where is the Cross of Priena?
It is on top of the mountain that bears the same name, in the immediate surroundings of the sanctuary of Covadonga. You can go up to it from the parking area of the basilica, shortly before the Holy Cave. It is a linear route of about 7 kilometers (three hours of walking between the round trip) and a moderate difference in altitude of almost 600 meters. The route is very well signposted and is suitable for children and all kinds of people with a certain physical shape. The difficulty is medium-low due to the unevenness.
The Cross of Priena or Cruz de Pelayo
It can lead to confusion calling this site "Pelayo's Cross", since this is also known as the victory cross, that mythical Latin cross found in the Holy Chamber of Oviedo Cathedral and which, according to legend, was carried by Pelayo after the victory (the carbon 14 test has disproved this point, as it belongs to the later reign of Alfonso III the great). Confusion aside, and all things considered, it is not uncommon for the name Cruz de Pelayo to become popular. Whoever has visited the surroundings of Covadonga and has stopped in front of the energetic sculpture of the Asturian leader, will not have been able to stop admiring the mountain behind him and the small cross on its top; cross that from some perspective can overlap with the Victoria Cross that appears behind the figure of the statue itself. The greater or lesser relevance of the battle of Covadonga (718 or 722), or the conflict between historians over the misnamed "Reconquest", is another matter. But leaving aside hyperboles about the size of the opposing armies, it is sufficiently documented that Priena was the mountain from which the emboscada most productive of its time, dividing the invading hosts of Alkama in two. The stones thrown from high positions by Pelayo's men literally massacred the enemy. Attacking just the center of the column, at the height of the gorge that leads to Covadonga, the survivors were divided between those who tried to flee back and those who climbed the Enol plateau looking for the path to Arenas de Cabrales and Tielve, to continue to the ports of Aliva and Liébana, where they ended their lives.
Routes to the Cruz de Priena
Reaching the Cruz de Priena, whose summit is 716 meters high, is crowning one of the most beautiful panoramic views of Asturias. An incomparable viewpoint of Covadonga and Mount Auseva, as well as the rugged Central Massif of the Picos de Europa, where emblematic peaks such as Torrecerredo, Cabrones... and, much closer to the eye, the Western Massif or Cornión, spectacular, can be distinguished. with the Peñasantas as the highest peaks. We can also make out the interior mountains of Sueve and its peak Pienzu, Mofrechu, Sierra del Cuera, Peña Mayor, Tiatordos; also the Cantabrian Sea in this amazing 360º view. A viewpoint that can also be a bird observatory, because with luck and patience it is not uncommon to see kites, vultures or eagles.
There are at least three different options to go up to Priena. All three depart from towns in Cangas de Onís: the village of Teleña, Corao and Covadonga.
from telena, town located at 240 meters of altitude, it will be necessary to invest an hour and a half approximately. The path is well signposted and for much of it we can see the cross crowning the top. We advance first between meadows and orchards, going up a concrete track to La Cañal, then it will not take long to reach the Majada del Monte Orientes. We find a fork and leave the track taking the path to the right, towards Collado El Pasadero, also with spectacular views. Going around a small rocky outcrop, we gain the path that leads to the top.
From Corao It will take about five hours round trip. We begin to walk along a wide paved path that is located next to the town's cattle market. We arrive at Santa Eulalia de Abamia, cross a bridge over the river Güeña, and a dirt road that begins to climb slightly leads us to the Romanesque church of Santa Eulalia de Abamia (in which the mortal remains of Don Pelayo and the of his wife, Gaudiosa, for centuries). We save one more slope to Cuetu Abamia, then ascend to the wooded area known as Derroncambo. Without leaving the path we reach a cattle pass and going up we reach an area of cabins. After a while we come to a fork: to the left we go to the Covadonga Lakes (this is the popular Frasinelli path), to the right we continue towards the Cross. The final ascent will be moderate but slightly long.
From the Basilica of Covadonga. Shortly before arriving at the Sanctuary, on the left side of the road, passing the “Repelao” parking lot, in front of the Casa Rural Asprón, a sign indicates the beginning of the route. Perhaps it is the steepest path, but it will only take us an hour and a quarter to reach the cross. It is approximately 3 and a half kilometers one way in which we will face a 500-meter drop through the Gusana stream first and then along the Ginés slope. The first part runs through a forest of oak and chestnut trees, and from there we will travel along a dirt road through low scrub. The path gains height in a wide zig-zag that will take us from one side of the hill to the other. The zigzag shape of the route can be clearly seen from the sanctuary. As soon as we go up, the views over Covadonga begin to be fantastic. Soon so are the views of the Peaks, which are closer than you might think.
A cross of wood crowned Mount Priena decades ago. Since 1963, a metal one has taken its place. It was manufactured at that time with tubes from ship scrapping, and installed by the Ensidesa mountain group, whose members carried it to the top divided into pieces and with the help of several mules. His measurements are significant: 7 meters high, 4,75 the width of his arms, and an approximate weight of 700 kilos. The cost of the cross, some 15.000 pesetas at the time, was contributed by the parishioners of Llaranes and by the members of this mountain group, as stated on the metal plate that bears the cross on the back.
This is a route that you can do almost at any time of the year. But perhaps it is more advisable in winter or spring, since it is more than probable to see the snowy massifs. In any case, to really enjoy it, it is essential that the day is clear and no fog. Keep in mind that we are at the gates of the Picos de Europa, an area of abrupt weather changes, where fog is very frequent, so be careful with this phenomenon. Nor, even if it turns out to be a truism, you have to put yourself at risk at the top by peering into the void unnecessarily.
Most of the route is without shade, you will need sunscreen and a hat.
Better long pants because of the scrubs.
Although the route is not long, water and food never hurt.