Cantabrian Mountains, Asturias, Spain

The Cantabrian Mountains or Cantabrian Range /Spanish-Cordillera Cantábrica, are one of the main systems of mountain ranges in Spain. They extend for more than approximately 180 miles (300 km) across northern Spain, from the western limit of the Pyrenees to the edges of the Galician Massif close to Galicia, along the coast of the Cantabrian Sea. The Cantabrian Mountains offer a wide range of trails for hiking, as well as many challenging climbing routes. Skiing is possible in the ski resorts of Alto Campoo, Valgrande-Pajares and Manzaneda.

The Cantabrian Range has three very distinct sections:

  • Western: The Asturian Massif in Asturias, León Province and Cantabria with paleozoic folds and east-west oriented rift valleys. The Sierra de Ancares is an extension, to the south-west, of the Cantabrian Mountains, forming the boundary between Galicia and Léon Province.
  • Central: The Cantabrian Massif, in Cantabria. Mesozoic limestone and marl, with the Paramo de Masa and La Lora grasslands in the south crossed by the Rudrón Valley.
  • Eastern: Basque Mountains in The Basque Country and Navarre, with very eroded Mesozoic folds.

The Cantabrian Mountains are home to an important variety of plant life, as well as the Cantabrian brown bear (Ursus arctos pyrenaicus), catalogued as being in danger of extinction, which travels from Léon to areas in Palencia and Cantabria, and theCapercaillie (T. urogallus cantabricus). Other animals associated with the range include the Iberian Wolf (Canis lupus signatus), Pyrenean chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica) and the rebeco, or Cantabrian chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica parva). The Cantabrian mountain range includes such important protected areas as the Picos de Europa National Park, which is one of several Cantabrian parks included in UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves. Some sites are included in the European Union’s Natura 2000 network and Special Protection Areas for the Conservation of Wild Birds.

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