GR 71: The Reserve of Saja path
The National Reserve of Saja, covering 1,800 km², includes all of the western valleys of Cantabria.
It runs from the river Besaya to the Picos de Europa, serving in a way as a pre-park for the Los Picos de Europa National Park.This route crosses the Reserve of Saja from one end to the other, connecting Bárcena de Pie de Concha in the centre of Cantabria with the Asturian locality of Sotres in the heart of Los Picos de Europa. It is wise to take the path in this direction, from east to west, given the attractiveness of the high massifs of the Picos on the landscape.
The valleys and sierras of the Reserve of Saja are very well conserved, with extensive beech tree groves and oak groves on its slopes and beautiful brañas (summer pastures) in the higher areas, which are used for grazing by the Tudanca cows, local to Cantabria. These mountains house a great wealth of faun, with red deer, roe deer, wild boar, chamois, wolves, numerous birds of pray and two very scarce species yet still present in some points of the Reserve of Saja: the brown bear and the capercaillie.
As well as the great natural and landscape interest of its mountains, the Reserve of Saja hides another equally valuable heritage: its villages. Rural centres that still withhold their farming tradition and a local architecture that is perfectly adapted to the environment.The path of the Reserve of Saja crosses some of the most notable villages in the region and three of the stages end in villages declared Historic-Artistic Sites: Bárcena Mayor, Tudanca and Potes, without forgetting others such as Los Tojos, San Mamés, Luriezo, Cahecho, etc...
Departure point: Bárcena de Pie de Concha
Arrival point: Sotres
Distance (km): 127
No. of stages: 8
Spa town of Corconte - El Escudo - E. de Alsa - Bárcena de Pie de Concha -Bárcena Mayor - Saja - Tudanca - Pejanda - Cahecho - Potes - Bejes - Sotres (Asturias).
All of the village at the end of a stage have a bar and the possibility of accommodation, either in a hostal or farmhouse (rural tourism) or in a boarding house or other hotel establishment.