The path from Lake Enol to the Mirador de Ordiales is, without any doubt, one of my favourites. For the quiet beauty of the landscapes, the human dimension of the meadows and summits, and because for me it has just the right amount of length and effort: enough to tire you out, but not too much to get exhausted.
The path starts in Pandecarmen. (You can also start at Buferrera, but it will take about 10 kms longer). By car we arrive from Covadonga to the lakes (from our house it takes 40 minutes). Just as we reach Lake Enol there is a track on the right, which although it is sometimes a sample list of potholes, now (November 2020) is in perfect condition and could almost be called a road. It crosses the beauty of the Enol valley, leaving behind the refuge on the right, the Buen Pastor chapel on the left, and a little further on a wintering hut with well-kept cabins. We continue along the track to Pandecarmen, where there is a prepared place to leave the cars. There we start walking.
From Pozo del Alemán to Vegarredonda
We soon reach an emblematic point: the Pozo del Alemán (German’s Well). It was named after Roberto Frassinelli, the German from Corao. He, completely in love with the peaks of Europe, in 1811 exchanged the landscapes of his native Germany for those of our mountains. He used to bathe in this small well, which is always alive and full of fresh, crystal-clear water… And ice-cold!
We continue on our way and arrive at the “majada de Piedra”, for me one of the most beautiful in Picos de Europa. We are lucky, the clear day gives us a wonderful autumn light. We don’t know whether to look forward, to enjoy the rocky peaks against the sky, or backwards, to enjoy the sea beyond the green meadows. At this point on the route, it is always the same for me: I don’t know whether I feel like Heidi or a little shepherdess.
The ascent continues smoothly, treading on the soft grass is a pleasure. This is how we arrive at the Redondiella (or Rondiella) valley, with its characteristic constructions to keep the livestock. At this point, the silence that we had been enjoying is populated by the sounds of cowbells and bells, and we are accompanied by a herd of horses. From here it is only a short walk to the refuge via the Gamonal pass.
Vegarredonda is an ancestral fold of shepherds. Time stands still when you reach this place, and the soul rests and rejoices. The current refuge, wellcoming and cosy, is a perfect place to rest, recharge your batteries and fill your water bottles at the Fuente Mojosa. And here I am again: so many memories of so many times, of so many companions on the route, whose faces have been changed over the years!
Majada de Piedra
Refugio de Vegarredonda
We still have an hour’s climb to reach Ordiales. The landscape changes as we approach the peaks, still comfortable but less pleasant. The rock and limestone formations are now the main features.
We arrive and climb up to the Ordiales sheepfold, an antechamber to the famous Viewpoint. This is a natural balcony suspended in the void, at an altitude of 1,700 metres. What the eye discovers is worth the effort: a thousand meters below, the meadows of Sajambre and Angón in Amieva, the Dobra river, the councils of Sames, Parres and Ponga, the Cantabrian mountain range, the Sueve… And to our left some of the most emblematic peaks of Picos de Europa.
Don Pedro Pidal y Bernaldo de Quirós, Marquis of Villaviciosa, the driving force behind the Picos National Park, the first National Park in Spain, is buried here. And on his tomb an inscription reads:
“We, in love with the National Park of the Mountain of Covadonga, in it we wish to live, die, and rest eternally; but the latter in Ordiales, in the enchanted kingdom of the chamois and eagles, there where we knew the happiness of the Heavens and the Earth, there where Nature truly presented itself to us as a Temple…”