Escape the heat in northern Spain - Sierra de Ancares

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Every June, July and August, the heat in the coastal areas of Spain as well as the central parts becomes almost unbearable. This year there has even been a particularly nasty heatwave in the early part of August, and so with temperatures soaring to well above 40 degrees Celsius, I wanted to show you an area in the northern part of Spain for you to explore, and to hopefully get away from the crazy summer temperatures. Of course if you are a sun-junkie and need your beach sun fix, you can check out my articles about some walking routes in Valencia or some beaches on Costa de Luz.

The Sierra de Ancares area...

Located in the province of Galicia in the north-western part of Spain, just above Leon, this mountain range is the border between Galicia and Castille and Leon (with its remarkable cathedral). This is a not particularly popular (tourism-wise) part of this huge and beautiful country, but really it should be higher up of people's list of where to go in Spain. The highest mountain here is Cuina Peak, which soars to almost 2000m (6500 feet) as well as other peaks reaching 1935m (Mustallar) and 1969m (Miravalles). This mountain range is a bit like the little (and under-loved) brother of the Picos de Europa national park and mountain range just 100km to the east.

This is not a heavily populated area at all, and until relatively recently (1950's), there were no major road networks and so the region was essentially very small villages clustered around the foothill (and higher up) of the Sierra de Ancares mountains. This is place that still exists in very traditional and essential ways, and for that reason I'd recommend to visit and enjoy the natural beauty here before tourism starts to heat up (as it seems to wherever and no matter how remote an area).

Speaking of the natural beauty...

Realistically people who love the idea of getting away from the cities, finding some expansive open spaces without crowds are going to love the Sierra de Ancares area. This is not a place to come to to find cell reception or wi-fi signal, nor one where fancy restaurants or hotels are common. It always has been and remains, a simple and local place, packed with topography, space and awe-inspiring views.

Traditional villages

This is also a fantastic area to see some of the traditional hut villages that you can find in several areas of Spain, but these ones are built slightly differently and are unique in Europe - more about them in part 2 of this article. These little huts, known as 'Pallozas', are constructed from stone walls and thatched roofs, and squat down into the land to avoid being blown away by high winds and to avoid being crushed by heavy rain and snowfall in the fairly harsh winters.

Piornedo Stone Village
Piornedo Stone Village
Piornedo, Lugo, Spain

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The author

Joe Thorpe

Joe Thorpe

I am Joe. I grew up in the UK, have lived in Africa and Paris, and now reside in Spain. An outdoor enthusiast, I like nothing more than to find a deserted beach, build a campfire and enjoy the view.

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