Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The Beyos Villages

Since we moved to Asturias 15 years ago the Beyos gorge and particularly the Beyos Villages or “Pueblos Beyuscos” have always fascinated us and been one of our favourite places to visit.

Looking across the impressive Beyos gorge to the Picos de Europa from near Casielles.

The Beyos gorge was formed by the river Sella eroding through the impressive masses of the Precorninon limestone. It is about 12kms long and runs mostly through the Ponga region starting in the valley of Sajambre in Leon and finishing near Amieva in Asturias. Driving down the gorge is stunning; on either side white limestone rocks tower above you imparting a sense of power and dominance that is quite intimidating at times. Abeyu” is a local name for ravines, gorges and canyons and they could not have found a better word to name this imposing gorge.

The road leading up to Casielles

The cementry at Casielles

The Beyos villages or Pueblos Beyuscos are the remote villages impressively situated along the gorge. Three of the villages are still inhabited; Casielles which is approached via a “new” road with twenty three tight hair pin bends has just one farmer living there. Viboli with a couple of inhabitants is set slightly back from the Beyos gorge and is reached by a painfully narrow road which edges along a small gorge the “Foz de los Andamios.” The village of San Ignacio which is anchored to the rock at the edge of a precipice also has a couple of inhabitants. The other villages; La Caviella, Biamón, Canisqueso and Rubriellos are now all uninhabited and Tolivia probably the most remote of all the Beyos villages has sadly been totally taken over by brambles, chapel and all.

The church at Casielles

Typical ruined house at Biamon

The main characteristic of the Beyos villages is their geographical location and adaptation to the surroundings; steep terrain, steep roads, very closed enclaves and on occasion literally hanging from the rock into the valley. Simple stone built houses and granary stores with their two sided roofs unique to the Beyos are examples of the functional traditional mountain architect to be found in these villages. In times gone by, necessity drove the inhabitants of this land to create settlements in such a remote and demanding location. Even today, despite the improvement in communications, it remains hard to reach some of these villages and this has contributed to their decline and depopulation.

The village of Biamon lost on the edge of the Beyos gorge

"Horreo Beyusoc" Unique to the area; granary stores with two sided roof.

Despite the hard life there was still time for art; gate in Biamon

But the charm of these villages and hamlets lies precisely in their remoteness and timeless state. This is an area like no other, oblivious to changes in the modern world, natural beauty and landscape impact. Whilst walking through these abandoned villages one cant help but imagine just how hard living and working in such a precipitous landscape must have been. Growing food, farming, moving animals, collecting firewood and most aspects of daily life must have posed incredible challenges.

The chapel and granary stores in Viboli

Approaching Viboli on the "path" from Casielles

The paths and tracks which connect these villages and the surrounding pastures never cease to amaze and at times their trajectories defeats imagination. Some of the tracks are wide enough for a horse and cart to pass along, often built up at the edges with rocks and stones to facilitate their passage. Others are frighteningly narrow making the most of rock ledges, caves or whatever natural features there may be in the terrain which coupled with bravery and ingenuity would allow villagers to pass from one place to another with out having to remount some of the daunting mountains that surround them.

The major track from Casielles to Viego

The "Sedu Vibolinse" connecting Casielles with Viboli!

It is a unique experience visiting these villages and hamlets, the views are spectacular and the ancient roads and tracks offer tours of great natural and ethnographic interest. However as some of the photos show extreme care is needed if you decide to go walking away from the major tracks!

Goats in Biamon

We named our asturcon ponies after two of the Beyos villages; Tolivia and Viboli, wild and beautiful, and that’s what these villages are.


Coco said...

What a stunning area.

I just ran across your blog on Tales from Toriello and wanted to tell you how much I´m enjoying it. We looked for a place in Asturias before finally settling on Galicia. It´s truly gorgeous.

Hope you don´t mind if I add you to my blog list.



Nigel and Joann Burch said...

Hi Coco.
Glad your enjoying the blog: your find theres quite a lot of different information on our web page not only about the area and the hotel but about more practical aspects of sustainable living and farming if your interested, some may be of interest for you in Galicia.You will find links to our web and Facebook from the blog. Only too pleased you that you add us to your blog list. Enjoy Galicia. Nigel


Hotel Posada del Valle is a small hotel in Asturias Northern Spain surrounded by its own organic farm and where we are passionate about organic farming, food, and sustainable livelihoods. In this Blog those of us who live and work at Hotel Posada del Valle open a door to share with all of you who are interested in what we are doing.