Spain’s mountains made of cheese
From Poncebos, the trail rises up the gorge beside a channel that feeds water to the hydroelectricity plant powering Arenas de Cabrales. Far below, beside the gin-clear Cares River, is the remnant of a road that authorities tried to whittle through the gorge before Word War II. The folly of the exercise is quickly realised down the route as the gorge becomes little wider than a footpath. The road may have failed, but the walking trail is a marvel in itself. Dynamite scars remain imprinted in the cliffs, and walkers pass through a multitude of small tunnels as the gorge thins towards the village of Cain. Finally, the river becomes so narrow -- if you were to stand in the middle of the riverbed, you could just about touch both rock walls -- and the cliffs so steep, the trail is forced into a tunnel several hundred metres long.
At the tunnel’s end, the gorge butterflies into a wide valley enclosing the town of Cain. A soundtrack of rushing water is audible throughout Cain, a town filled with hotels, souvenir stands and restaurants. It is a chance to rest and perhaps try the local cheese, tucking into tapas at one of the many restaurants, before beginning the return walk back through the gorge to Poncebos.