Asturias is one of the least well known Spanish provinces and is, in my opinion, the most beautiful. It’s certainly an ideal place to make a rejuvenating and peaceful retreat in wild nature. There are many natural parks and biospheres in Asturias and, among them, Parque Natural de Somiedo stands out as one of the most pristine and preserved areas, not just in Spain, but in all western Europe. It is a lush, green and fertile landscape of ancient beech, chestnut and oak forests, interspersed with rivers, rushing streams and wild flower meadows
The culture of Asturias continues the livestock grazing tradition of the bronze age Celts and has a very familiar feel for people from northern Europe.
Somiedo is mountainous and this particular stretch of the Cordillera Cantabrica has the largest population of brown bears in western Europe. These are grizzly bears the same as you will find in the US and Canada only smaller because of their mostly vegetarian diet. Incidentally, the “grizzle” in grizzly bear refers to the grey hairs on their shoulders not their temperament as some people believe.The bear has become emblematic of Somiedo Natural Park but wolves, red deer, chamois, wild boar, wild cats, the common genet, lizards, salamanders, red squirrels and many exotic birds including vultures and eagles are equally of interest. The presence of large charismatic creatures like the bear and wolf brings a special atmosphere to Somiedo but they pose no threat at all to walkers.
Although it is extremely rare to see a bear or a wolf, many of the other animals and birds mentioned are regularly seen in the park. In early summer the abundant wild flowers bloom and the air fills with the buzzing sounds of insects. In the Autumn the stags roar and the forest turns incredible shades of red, orange and purple. Prints and droppings of bears and wolves are all over the place and one of the great pleasures of walking in Somiedo is finding the signs of the animals that live here. I am very happy to share with my guests what I know about how to recognise them.
Somiedo is a nourishing feast for all the senses and is the perfect place for establishing a mindfulness practice whilst walking. Ground your awareness in the living sensation and bathe your senses in the tranquility and beauty. Sensory perception is the gateway to awareness beyond thought and this awareness is the font of our creativity.
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about the Walkinginspirit, mindful walking retreat.
I hope to walk with you someday.