Paul Richardson firma un llargu artículu dedicáu al Camín Real de la Mesa qu’espubliza The Guardian. Dientro una estaya dedicada a los viaxes, con títulu Secrets of Spain on a road less travelled, escribe un testu qu’encabeza cola frase An ancient trail linking Asturias and León provides a door to some of the most spectacular, least-known scenery in Europe. Tol artículu sepártase en cuatro páxines. Reproducimos darréu la primera d’éstes y amestamos un enllaz col envís de facilitar la so llectura completa.
Like when Guillermo Mañana, a 70-year-old scholar, first told me about the 56km Camín Real de la Mesa. The Camín Real, said Guillermo, was an ancient trail through the mountains of northern Spain, winding spectacularly among some of the grandest yet loneliest and least-known scenery in Europe. I had never heard of it, but if I was up for it, he said, he’d show me the secrets of this magical route.
That was in May 2009. I had just met Guillermo through a friend in Oviedo, capital of the region of Asturias, where together we walked the awe-inspiring gorge of the river Cares in the Picos de Europa mountains. Since he retired from his profession as an anaesthetist, he has devoted his time and energy to his overriding passion: the mountain landscapes of his Asturian homeland.
I was already familiar with his marvellous books, a series of lavish tomes documenting these landscapes in extraordinary detail. Now, he told me, he was preparing what would perhaps be his greatest work, a definitive study of the Camín Real de la Mesa.
For centuries the Camín was one of the few points of contact between the provinces of León and Asturias. It is essentially Roman in construction, but the route has been used for trade for 5,000 years, traversing a mountain range with peaks of 2,000m, reaching into some of Spain’s most wildly beautiful and otherwise inaccessible landscapes.
While livestock and gold mining were flourishing industries, the way held a strategic importance. But with the rise of modern roads it fell into disuse, and now it is barely known except by a few local farmers and a handful of keen walkers who are happy to stay off the beaten track.
I was gripped by Guillermo’s vision of this long and winding road, its historical importance and its near-obliteration at the hands of modern life. So we arranged a two-day trek on the section of the way that is accessible only to walkers, leaving out the northerly part which has been covered with asphalt, its beauty spoilt.
Our route would take us from Torrestio, at the northern edge of the province of León, to the village of Dolia in the county of Belmonte, Asturias – a distance of some 30km. At both ends of the route there would be simple places to stay, but the Camín passes through no other villages, so the plan was to take food and a sleeping bag. In summer you can sleep under the stars or take a tent but, since it was autumn, we would bed down in one of the thatched shepherds’ huts, called teitos.