Located in the border between Galicia and Castilla y León, we find ourselves in one of the most authentic and virgin areas of the country. Plagued by wide valleys, mighty rivers and thousand-year-old peaks, the Ancares region acts as a natural border between the Bierzo region and the Galician community.
Inhabited by Celtic tribes, traditional elements and customs inherited from its ancient inhabitants, such as the famous O Cebreiro pallozas, are still preserved here. It is the most well-known locality in this area, housing the largest number of this type of traditional buildings in the entire valley. In a circular way and built with stone and straw, it served to shelter both families and animals, an ancestral source of heat. Its roof, made with very dense and cone-shaped straw, served to conserve the heat of the room and prevent the accumulation of snow, which is very common at these levels.
Nowadays we can visit some of them as they have been transform as museums, after being declared Ethnographic Ensemble and open-air museum, being able to appreciate the customs and everyday tools used in this mountain area.
One of the main attractions of this whole area are the multiple tourism alternatives. In particular, one of the most spectacular hiking routes is the ascensiong of Tres Bispos. It is a circular route of just under 20 km, perfect to spend a day breathing the pure mountain air. Starting from the hostel of the Ancares, we will pass through Campa de Ortigoso and Campa dos Bispos, places full of hundred-year-old oaks, to reach the almost 1,800 meters high of the summit. The amazing views from the top allow us to remember ancient feats, being able to glimpse at its maximum splendor the Sierra de Ancares with the peaks two Charcos and the Cursed Cone. On the horizon you can also see several peaks: Somiedo, Peña Ubiña and Leitariegos, reaching to see the city of Ponferrada in the distance.
It couldn’t be other way, the entrance of the Camino de Santiago in Galicia is incredible: by the Pedrafita do Cebreiro mountains. It isn’t casual, since here we can discover the oldest church of all the Santiago’s route: the temple of Santa Maria To Real, built in century IX by the Benedictine order. Another of the main symbols of O Cebreiro related to the Camino is the Monument to Elias Valiña Sampedro, parish priest of O Cebreiro and one of the main drivers of the Camino and the famous yellow arrows. In the mid-80s he encouraged and actively worked in the cleaning, signaling and delimitation of the Camino from Roncesvalles (French Way). With his famous Citroën CS loaded with paint boats he traveled thousands of kilometers, signaling the entire Jacobean route. He was appointed curator of the Camino de Santiago, promoting the I Meeting Jacobeo and the formation of Friends of the Camino de Santiago associations.
Flora and Fauna
Forests of chestnut, oak, beech, yew, birch, hazel trees live in these lands, giving shelter to several protected species that coexist in freedom in the mountain of the Ancares. It highlights the presence of brown bears, which has been recovering since the 90s, and the capercaillie, species protected since 1986. We will also find roe deer, wild boar, deer, wolves, wild cats and trout rivers.
If you want to visit the area of the Ancares and O Cebreiro, one of the best times of the year to do it is towards the end of summer or autumn, where the thaw allows you to see its streams and waterfalls at its maximum splendor. The winter also gives us incomparable views, with an extensive mantle of snow covering its peaks. It is mandatory to have a private transport since the dispersion of many towns and villages prevents the proper functioning of a public transport. We recommend you to arrive to your accommodation in your private vehicle and once there make the different hiking trails with a specialized nature guide, in order to be able to appreciate all the beauty of this Nature Reserve.