Cares Gorge (Garganta del Cares)

  • Cares Gorge - ? From Flickr user Carlos_m_Gonzales
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • Sea of clouds - ? From Flickr user Acebal
  • Cares Gorge - ? From Flickr user Ctrlw
  • Cares Gorge - ? From Flickr user Mikelo
  • Cares Gorge - ? From Flickr user Ctrlw
  • Cares Gorge - ? From Flickr user Mikelo
  • Cares tunnels - ? From Flickr user Acebal
  • Cares Gorge - ? From Flickr user Josemaria
  • Cares Gorge Bottom - © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy

Key information: Cares Gorge (Garganta del Cares)

  • Deep, improbable gorge, a mile deep in places, that splits this stunning, jagged limestone mountain range close to Spains northern coast. Unmissable if you are anywhere near.
  •  Walk on a dramatic old hydro-electric maintenance track carved into the cliff-faces, high above the river.
  •  Magnificent throughout, with varying microclimates, vast rock walls on both sides; particularly beautiful in its upper reaches.
  •  Gets crowded at popular times.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating87
  • Beauty32
  • Natural interest17
  • Human interest4
  • Charisma34
  • Negative points0
  • Total rating87
  • Note: Neg: can get crowded at high season and at weekends

Vital Statistics

  • Length: 15km / 3.5hrs one way
  • Level of Difficulty: Moderate
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© Cares Gorge - ? From Flickr user Josemaria

WALK SUMMARY

The Cares Gorge (Garganta del Cares) is enormous, outstandingly beautiful in its upper reaches, and unmissable if you are anywhere near the Picos de Europa.

The river Cares has carved an improbable gorge through the heart of the huge limestone Picos range, dividing its Western and Central massifs. This chasm is a mile deep in places, with vast rock walls on both sides.

The river has been partially diverted for hydroelectric power, water coursing down a canal built into the mountain itself, and walkers can use the related maintenance path. This is an impressive feat of engineering, clinging to the cliff face and tunnelling through live rock. Although the track is wide and easy, its not the best place for sufferers from vertigo.

The lower gorge is huge and grand, the path winding perhaps a thousand feet above the river after an ascent from the perfect Roman bridge (with wonderful swimming-pool beneath it) near Poncebos. You get big views along the gorge from ridgetops, where you will want to sit and marvel. On the southern side is the vast Murallon de Amuesa wall. The river is a small glistening thread from here.

Around the great bend, the upper (south-north) gorge is more beautiful, more verdant and more enclosed. Between cliffs and crags, thinly forested couloirs soar for hundreds of metres to the impossibly distant peaks framed between their walls. The deep recesses of the gorge rarely see the light and harbour a dank, ferny microclimate.

It is hard to do justice to the drama of the path as it winds, hundreds of sheer feet above the river, around the smooth walls of the gorge, sometimes dipping through arches or longer galleries. As you approach Cain, you will cross the gorge twice on spectacular bridges, and pass through a series of galleries.

Some people descend the gorge from Cain (where the gorge-proper begins) to Poncebos, although it is possible to start/finish at the villages higher up the Cares valley. However, ascending the gorge is probably preferable.

The gorge path from Poncebos to Cain is around 15km (figures vary wildly) and takes around 3.5 hours to walk but assume a lot of extra gawping time. Getting between the two roadheads is difficult 2 hours and E 130 by taxi so some people walk both ways along the gorge, or walk in as far as their time and inclination allow them before turning back.

The trail gets pretty crowded at weekends and in high season, although it is emptier around lunchtime go mid-week if you can.

Animals you may see include goats and huge vultures soaring high above the spikes.


See detailed general information on the Picos de Europa.

Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

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Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

© Cares tunnels - ? From Flickr user Acebal

OTHER ACCOUNTS
share your experiences

Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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© William Mackesy...
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