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Geography E-mail

Territory - Surface

The council of Sobrescobio (Sobrescobiu), totally integrated into the Natural Park of Redes and declared Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, is situated in the central-eastern area of Asturias. Its surface is 69,42 Km2, with immeasurable natural treasures and it is limited by the councils of Piloña, Caso, Laviana and Aller.

Sobrescobio is a paradise with valleys, rivers, streams, forests, meadows, pastures and narrow gorges becoming it in the best reference of nature and mountain tourism of the north of Spain.

Sobrescobio takes its name from the Latin root super scopolum, over ‘the escobio’ (it’s the name in Asturian language for the narrow gorges) and it is related to the narrow rock carving path by the river Nalón, this river was the way in to the council. Nowadays, this path is transformed for the regional road AS-17, known as the Corredor del Nalón, main way to access to the Natural Park of Redes, crossing the whole Nalón Valley to the mountain pass of Tarna, border of León.

The council of Sobrescobio includes the next villages: Rioseco (capital of the council), Soto de Agues, Campiellos, La Polina, Villamorey, Anzó y Comillera. From Rioseco start all the local roads which link the rest of the villages: one of them towards the south (SC-2) leads to La Polina, Villamorey, Soto de Agues and Ladines; and another one towards the north (SC-1) leads to Campiellos.



From a geological point of view, the main characteristic of Sobrescobio is the superposition of two lithological units; one of them is massive and resistant, made of quartzite and mountain limestone, and the other one is less powerful and more despicable, made of slate-like materials. These units make one structure over another one in a west-east direction, and this cycle is repeated in the whole area. The same way as in the Cantabrian Mountains, we can detect here, especially in the mountains of Divisoria, the traces of glacier modelling, evidenced by ‘U’ valleys, cirques, and small moraines.

There are elements resistant to erosion like the quartzite outcrops in La Sierra del Crespón, Retriñón, Cuyargayos and La Xamoca, and also elements of limestone in Corbellosu, Guanalón, and La Mezquita, mountain gorges made of quartzite in some areas of river Alba and the Torrexón over the dam of Rioseco, or made of limestone like mountains in Anzó, waterfalls in the river Alba´s route; masons, silicious or limestone cliffs, sinkholes, karst depressions, caves in Monte Llaímo; mountain peaks like Retriñón (1.862), Moroma (1660), La Fraya (1403), Riegos (1389), La Mezquita (1316), Cullargayos (1391), Gamonal (1064), La Xamoca (1.288), Arganosa (1154), Guanalón (1230), La Collaidella (1485), La Forcada (1556), Cuchu (1646), La Praera (1641), and a large etcetera with a great attraction for the lovers of mountaineering.

The ‘less resistant’ elements are in the soft mountains; surface creep phenomena, with slow movement of soil and tree trunks curved; argayos or landslides, stream canals in areas with no vegetation, abandoned mines of steal in Monte Llaímo or copper in Ladines, glacial cirques with glacier tongues like Cruz de los Ríos; vegas in ‘U’ valleys with a flat bottom like Soto de Agues and river valleys with the shape of ‘V’, with river erosion in soft areas.

Reservoir of Rioseco


Vegetation is mainly represented by the great dimension of beech and oak forests, these ones are a stronghold of the rare precious Iberian Atlantic forests and also we can find chestnuts trees in lowlands. The woodlands show up among small pastures areas and grasslands. 

Also vegetation is very important because the Cantabrian Mountains give a bio-geographic uniqueness due to the fact that it is the only Atlantic mountain range and also its isolation from the rest of the mountains of Western Europe with distinctly Alpine character.

The importance of this flora is also because of diversity, on the one hand the affluence of weird species with Atlantic elements, oro-Mediterranean, the Pyrenees and Alps, with cántabro-atlantic and oro-Cantabrian endemics, with a lot of protected species and communities and also habitats for these communities.

Related to species wealth, Sobrescobio is the habitat of a large number of species of vascular flora (1.100 species), more than the half of the group of flowers in Asturias with a 2.170 species.

The flora wealth comes from bio-geographic reasons, (because it belongs to two regions: The Cantabro-atlantic region and Oro-cantabric region, sharing elements with Mediterranean and Euro-Siberian fields), and also to geo-botanic reasons due to the fact that there is coexistence of limestone substrates that characterize the eastern Iberia.

On the other hand, the coexistence of 14 of the 19 vegetation series described in Asturias, shows up in presence of a large number of habitats and communities.

There are 12 (of the 71 species in Asturias) catalogued into the flora like tejo (Taxus Baccata), acebo (Ilex Aquifolium), genciana (Gentiana Lutea), narciso de asturias (Narcisus Asturiensis), narciso trompeta (Narcisus Pseudonarcisus Subsp. Nobilis), estrella de agua (Callitriche Palustris), helecho juncal (Isoetes Asturicense), junco lanudo (Eriophorum Vaginatum), helechilla (Vanaesboschia Speciosa) and licopodio alpino (Diphasium Alpinum).

There are plant communities with a community interest like enebrales subalpinos calcícolas (Daphno Cantabricae-Arctostaphyletum uva ursi), robledales and east-central alisedas (Hyperico Androsaemi-Alnetum Glutinosae).


Related to fauna, all the elements that correspond to the animal wealth of the east-central mountains are represented in this place.

It is confirmed the presence of 208 vertebrate species, of which 50 are mammals, 131 are birds, 13 reptiles, 10 amphibians and 4 fishes.

A large amount of these species have some type of protection, 11 (of 20) through the Regional Catalogue of Endangered Vertebrate Fauna, 9 species are into the Management Plan of Natural Resources in Asturias (PORNA)and there are some other species in the National Catalogue, the Guideline Habitats 92/43,the Guideline Birds 79/409, or the Berne Convention, it is important to highlight the emblematic forest species like the Cantabrian Brown Bear (endangered), the cantabrian capercaillie or the Pico Mediano, with demanding ecological requirements.

They are recognised as endangered species the brown bear (Ursus Arctos)and the cantabrian capercaillie (Tetraeo Urogallus). In the category of sensible to the change in their habitat we have the golden eagle (Aquila Chrysaetos), and the green frog. As species of special interest there are the Egyptian vulture (Neophron Pernocterus),the Northern Goshawk (Accipiter Gentilis), the Falcon (Falco Peregrinus),, the Swallow (Riparia Riparia), the Cave Bat (Miniopterus Schreibersi), the Geoffroy Bat (Myotis Emarginatus)and the Otter (Lutra Lutra).

The extraordinary species are black whistle (Dryocopus martius), minor peak (Dendrocopus Minor), wolf (Canis Lupus), northern hare (Lepus Europaeus), hare de piornal (Lepus Castroviejoi), partridge pardilla (Perdix Perdix), and Iberian desman (Gelemys Pyrenaicus).

Also the communities of 7 invertebrates are present like the green and black lizard (Lacerta Schreiberi), and the serrana lizard (Lacerta Monticola), the long-tail salamander (Chioglosa Lusitanica), the greater horseshoe bat (Rhinolopus Ferrum-Equinum), the small horseshoe bat (Rhinolopus Hipposideros), and the forest bat (Rhinolopus Euryale).

The wildlife hunting species are the cantabrian Rebeso (Rupicapra Pyrenaica Parva), the roe deer (Capreolus Capreolus), the deer (Cervus Elaphus), and the wild boar (Sus Scrofa).


Escudo de Sobrescobio