In this territory, which includes inhospitable landscapes, inhabited until the mid-twentieth century one of the most marginalized ethnic groups in the history of Spain: the vaqueiros of elevation, discriminated against by the Church and by the rest of the neighbors for more than five centuries, not tolerated by the civil authorities, whose physical and social isolation formed a differentiated culture that is today a hallmark of the region.
What is the vaqueiro territory?
With almost 1.600 square kilometers, the call Vaqueira region, made up of five Asturian municipalities: Cudillero, Valdés, Allande, Tineo and Salas, is an uneven mosaic of landscapes. Everything in this vast territory prepares us for hiking and enjoying nature without obstacles.
How did the vaqueiros live?
Many itineraries that we can undertake to regain the visual memory of a town with a nomadic vocation, dedicated to transhumant cattle ranching and herding, which has dotted the routes of brañas and temporary grasses, combined today with the perennial constructions of mansions, granaries and religious architecture, and with the new implantation of rural houses and excellent places to taste the raw materials of the vaqueira gastronomy.
We speak of a unique natural environment and some of the less populated areas of Asturias. The brañas vaqueiras of this region summon tradition and legends that can still be breathed in some of the following basic tours.
Route of the brañas vaqueiras: main route
The vaqueiras routes can be started from San Martín de Luiña (Cudillero) and end in Luarca (Valdés) or vice versa.
We begin in San Martín de Luiña (Cudillero) (Church with discriminatory inscriptions against the vaqueiros de alzada), we head towards Brañaseca (panoramic views over the coast) continue towards Gallinero (Salas), and from there to Malleza (parochial church and houses of Colonial architecture). We take the road to Arquera-Mallecina-Las Corradas-La Gallinas sale and reaching La Espina (communication center), we continue along the road to Brañalonga (Tineo) -Cezures-Casa del Puerto (impressive panoramic views) continue towards Bustellán-Fastias-Calleras (Church of the XVII century) - Muñalén (Forest Museum) - Navelgas (link with the Gold Route) - Naraval (Museum Vaqueiro de Asturias), continue towards the Alto de Aristébano (Valdés), where the last Sunday of July is celebrated the Vaqueiro Festival and the traditional wedding) - we descend already towards Caborno-La Figal and we finish the route in Luarca (Valdés) (fishing port, Palace of the Marquises of Ferreras, Mesa de Mareantes)
Pola de Allande branch:
Departing from La Espina (Salas) we head towards El Pedregal (Tineo) -Piedrafita-Santullano-El Peligro-Gera-San Facundo-San Felix-Ablaneda-Balbona, and Pola de Allande (Allande) we continue the journey towards Porciles-Borres- Bárcena (Benedictine Monastery, Pre-Romanesque Church) San Martín and we can finish our tour in Navelgas.
On this route we can visit: in Tineo the Church of San Pedro, the Parish Museum and the Palaces of Merás and de los García. In Gera the carbayón of Valentin. In Pola de Allande the Parish Church and the Peñalba-Cienfuegos Palace.
Routes vaqueiras: secondary routes
These have a shorter route but also lead us to places of great beauty and vaqueira tradition.
Salas - Tuña
Mallecina - Priero - Salas - Godán - Soto de los Infantes - Tuña - Genestaza - la Azorera.
Ablaneda - La Espina
Ablaneda - The Pevidal - Buspol - Idarga - La Espina
Route of Ayones
Bustellán (Tineo) - Los corros - Ayones - Brieves
Route of Muñás
Naraval - Walls - Brieves - Muñás - Arcallana - Lendepeña -Gallinero (Salas).
Route of Lavio
Las Gallinas - Buscabreiro - Socolinas - Lavio - Pende - Brañasevil - Faedo - Muñas
Navelgas - Foyedo - Rellanos - Alto de Brañuas - Parlero - Busmente - Herías - Masenga - Siñeriz - Degollada - Belén - Carboniella - Menudero - Setienes - Luarca
Route of Pola de Allande
Pola de Allande - La Roza - La Reigada - The Rebollo - Bustantigo
In these secondary itineraries We recommend visiting: in Salas the Collegiate Church, the Church of San Martín and the tower and Palace of Valdés-Salas.
In Soto de los Infantes the Medieval Tower. In Tuña, Exemplary Town 2000, the palatial houses. In Brieves the arches and the Torre de los Abella.
Text: © Ramón Molleda for asturias.com