Category Archives: Natural Parks in Cantabria

Saja-Besaya Natural Park

  • Region: Cantabria
  • Local towns and villages: Arenas de Iguña, Cabuérniga, Cieza, Hermandad de Campoo de Suso, Ruente and Los Tojos
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1988
  • Park surface area: 23,932 hectares.

Points of interest

The Saja-Besaya Natural Park is located in an area between the hydrographic basins of the Saja and Besaya rivers extending from Monte Río los Vados in the extreme north to the Fuentes-Palombera and Sierra del Cordel (Campoo) mountains in the south. The largest protected area in Cantabria, the entire park is also integrated into the Saja National Hunting Reserve .

The only urban area located within the natural park boundaries is Bárcena Mayor, an ancient town and a superb example of mountain architecture.

The geography of the Saja-Besaya natural park is characterized by deep valleys that have been excavated by the abundant rivers and streams tributaries of the Saja and Besaya. The diversity of its ecosystems is determined by the contrasting altitudes ranging from around 200 meters to the higher peaks of Cueto Iján (2,084 m) and Cueto Cordel (2,061 m).

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The main attraction of Saja-Besaya is its deciduous forest, the largest contiguous forest of the entire Cantabrian mountain range.

A quarter of the park is covered by beech (Fagus sylvatica) and oak groves. The oak area of more than 6,000 ha. harbors three types, the most abundant is the common oak (Quercus robur) but also Quercus pyrenaica and Quercus petraea.

The forest is characterized by a diversity of trees and associated shrubs such as chestnuts, ash, maples, hazelnuts, honeysuckle, and varied flowering and herbaceous plants. With increasing altitude between 700 and 1,500 m the beech appears under which few species are able to thrive apart from the eye-catching anemone (Erythronium) and some orchid species.

Above 1,300 m. of altitude the holly trees (Ilex aquifolium) and birches (Betula pendula) take over.

The extension of the park is classified in several zones of uses: recreational, forestry, agricultural use, reserve and pasture. Tudanco cattle stand out in the areas where livestock is used. This is a breed of cow closely linked to the history and tradition of the area.

This protected area has a great wealth of fauna and flora. Among the numerous species, the wild boar, otter, wolf, golden eagle and roe deer stand out . The deer, which was reintroduced in 1949, is now found throughout the area attracting thousands of visitors hoping to experience the bellowing during the rutting season .

In the southern part of the park the Cantabrian brown bear is present.

Over 150 bird species have been recorded in the area including, golden eagle, eagle owl, griffon vulture and peregrine falcon

Information/Visitors Centers

The Saja-Besaya Natural Park has a visitor center and six recreational areas:

  • La casa del Monte – (Ucieda)
  • Llano Castrillo – (Bárcena Mayor)
  • Cambillas – (Saja)
  • Cieza – (Cieza)
  • El Prauco – (Los Llares)
  • El Vaho – (Los Llares)

There is also the view point La Cardosa which is located on the CA-280 in direction of the mountain pass of Palombera, 4 km from the top at an altitude of 1000 meters.

Centro de Interpretacion del Parque Natural Saja Besaya, Los Tojos

The Interpretation Center of the Saja-Besaya Natural Park is located immediately to the south of the town of Saja at PK 13 of the regional road CA-280 (Cabezón de la Sal-Reinosa), at the beginning of the ascent to the mountain pass of Palombera.

The spacious facilities have a projection room and a generous exhibition space in the old forest house and the old warehouse now houses a permanent photography exhibition on the ecological and landscape values ​​of the Natural Park. The staff are well informed and can give you good information on hiking in the area and other activities.

Opening hours

  • January to March from Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and weekends and holidays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • April to June: Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends and holidays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • July and August: Monday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • September: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • October and November: Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends and holidays from 10am to 6pm.
  • December: Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Closed on 01/01, 06/01, 24/12 and 31/12

Website: https://redcantabrarural.com/ (In Spanish)


The Grazalema Guide

The best way to see all our web projects in one place is over at the Grazalema Guide.

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Collados del Asón Natural Park

  • Region: Cantabria
  • Nearest village: Soba, Asón
  • Declared a Natural Park: 2006
  • Park surface area: 4,740 hectares

Points of interest

A unique area of ​​great interest the Collados del Asón Natural Park is located in an area that has traditionally been scarcely populated and is characterized by its limestone outcrops, small beech forests and unique Cantabrian oak groves along with man-made meadows for livestock use.

The small neighborhood of Asón (in the municipality of Soba) is the only population center that is within the limits of the park.

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Fauna:

the area is inhabited by a wide representation of the Cantabrian mountain fauna including the large raptors such as griffon vulture, Egyptian vulture, short-toed eagle and goshawk. Also, given the high density of caves found in the area, bats are quite numerous with species such as cave bat (Miniopterus schreibersii), horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus euryale) and large horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum).

There are three well known footpaths walks in the area and information about these walks can be obtained in the interpretation centre.

  • Vuelta a Colina
  • Ruta de Cailagua: el nacimiento del Asón
  • Ruta del Glaciar de Hondojón

Information/Visitors Centers

Collados del Asón Natural Park Interpretation Center

The Interpretation Center of the Natural Park of los Collados del Asón is located in La Gándara de Soba next to the recreational area of ​​Monte Lavín. The installation has an exhibition of photographs and interpretive panels that familiarize the visitor with the geomorphology, vegetation, fauna and cultural activity in this markedly rural area.

Various thematic rooms show the importance of quaternary glacierism and the underground world of caves in the area. There is also has a room for the projection of an audiovisual of about 20 minutes, which reflects the main natural and ethnographic values ​​of the area.

Address: Barrio Lavín, La Gándara de Soba s / n. Soba

Opening hours

  • January to March from Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and weekends and holidays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • April to June: Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends and holidays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • July and August: Monday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • September: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • October and November: Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends and holidays from 10am to 6pm.
  • December: Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Closed on 01/01, 06/01, 24/12 and 31/12

The Grazalema Guide

The best way to see all our web projects in one place is over at the Grazalema Guide.

The Grazalema Guide – Tourist Information Portal for the Sierra de Grazalema, Wildside Holidays, the town of Ronda and the Caminito del Rey.

https://grazalemaguide.com/

Macizo de Peña Cabarga Natural Park

  • Region: Cantabria
  • Towns and Villages: Medio Cudeyo, Liérganes, Penágos and Villaescusa
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1989
  • Park surface area: 2,588 hectares

Points of interest

Although the Peña Cabarga Natural Park has been a protected area since 1989 it unfortunately lost this protection in 2005 due to the lack of plans and regulations needed. Various administrations have blamed each other and as of the writing of this article the area lays in a type of limbo waiting for clarification of its status.

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That said the area is still well worth a visit and there are fantastic views from the summit of Peña Cabarga, (also called Pico Llen) of Santander and its bay- Although it is accessible by car the footpath that runs the length of the slope is highly reccomended.

The area is also famous for the Cabárceno karst, a geological formation that is characterized by its attractive morphology and has a reddish color, the result of the dissolution of calcareous rocks.

Waiting for more news as to whether this area will regain its protection status.


The Grazalema Guide

The best way to see all our web projects in one place is over at the Grazalema Guide.

The Grazalema Guide – Tourist Information Portal for the Sierra de Grazalema, Wildside Holidays, the town of Ronda and the Caminito del Rey.

https://grazalemaguide.com/

Dunas de Liencres Natural Park

  • Region: Cantabria
  • Nearest town/village: Liencres
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1986
  • Point of Geological Interest and SCI (Site of Community Interest) in 2006
  • Park surface area: 195 hectares

Points of interest

The Dunas de Liencres Natural Park is located at the mouth of the Pas river (Ría de Mogro) close to the town of of Liencres in the central area of ​​the Cantabrian coast. The area is made up of coves, two beaches, a large maritime pine plantation and one of the most important dune systems in Cantabria.

The two main beaches are Valdearenas (golden, fine sand and dunes) and Canallave, which is oriented to the Northwest and is very popular with surfers. Behind the beaches are the dunes, greatly influenced in their shape and form by the prevailing winds.

The pine forest of Liencres

Planting of this forest commenced in the 1950s and continued into the 70’s with mostly maritime pine (Pinus pinaster) and to a lesser extent stone pine (Pinus pinea) and Monterrey pine (Pinus radiata). This, of course, has had a fixing effect on the once movebale dunes and in turn has created a recently new habitat for local wildlife.

Beaches and dunes

The beaches and dunes have scarce vegetation cover due to the special characteristics of the substrate (composed of loose sand, poor in nutrients and with a high salt content) and the climate (with strong winds). The vegetation presents special morphological and physiological features to adapt to a salty environment that does not retain water. These features are reduced and fleshy leaves and a greater development of the root system. Some of the species present are sea chard (Beta vulgaris), spurge (Euphorbia peplis), European searocket (Cakile maritime), prickly saltwort (Salsola kali) and knotgrass (Poligonum maritimum).

The estuary area at the mouth of the river Pas is a haven for both sedentary birdlife and passage migrants.

Also in the area

Piélagos is one of the most attractive areas of Cantabria for archaeological research and since the end of the 19th century, numerous sites have been discovered in the different towns.

The Altamira cave is 270 metres (890 feet) long, discovered by a hunter in 1868 it is famous for its magnificent prehistoric paintings and engravings. It can be found around 30 kilometres (19 miles) west of Santander.

Address: Museo Nacional y Centro de Investigación de Altamira Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola, S/N 39330 Santillana del Mar

If you want to visit the Altamira museum the information is on the official website.
http://www.culturaydeporte.gob.es/mnaltamira/en/visita/compra-entradas.html

The Cueva de Santián in Arce is of great interest and has Paleolithic paintings in the form of clubs or hands vertical and parallel. It was discovered by Alcalde del Río in 1905. Also in Arce there are other prehistoric caves such as Cobalejos and El Mato as well as a medieval necropolis around the church of San Julián in the village of Velo.

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Information/Visitors Centers

This natural park does not have a dedicated information centre but you can find out more in any of the local municipal tourist information offices and if you are staying close to the city of Santander then the main tourist office there will be able to give you more information.

There are various information boards along the routes through the forest and dunes detailing wildlife in the area.

The tourist information website Cantabria Infinita is also of some help
https://turismodecantabria.com/disfrutala/parques-naturales/2-parque-natural-dunas-de-liencres


The Grazalema Guide

The best way to see all our web projects in one place is over at the Grazalema Guide.

The Grazalema Guide – Tourist Information Portal for the Sierra de Grazalema, Wildside Holidays, the town of Ronda and the Caminito del Rey.

https://grazalemaguide.com/

Oyambre Natural Park

  • Region: Cantabria
  • Local towns and villages: Comillas, San Vicente de la Barquera, Udías, Valdáliga and Val de San Vicente
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1988.
  • Park surface area: 5758 hectares.

Points of interest

The Oyambre Natural Park is a Spanish protected natural area located on the western coast of Cantabria. A great success story as the park was declared after pressure from local and international ecologist groups (begining in the the seventies) protesting against urban development projects that endangered its dunes and beach environment.

The natural park, which includes the estuaries of Ría de San Vicente, Ría de la Rabia and its surroundings constitutes a magnificent example of a coastal ecosystem. In addition to cliffs, areas of meadows and native hardwood forests, there are various dune systems which together with those of the Dunas de Liencres Natural Park make up some of the most important dune ecosystems on the Cantabrian coast.

The estuaries and rocky and muddy intertidal zones comprise an excellent habitat for the many aquatic birds that winter in the area or rest there during migrations. Among the species that can be observed are the common teal, mallard, common sandpiper, curlew and other species such as the shag and the yellow- legged gull.

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Information/Visitors Centers

The Interpretation Center of the Oyambre Natural Park is located in the Punta de la Silla Lighthouse (San Vicente de la Barquera), originally built in 1871 and recently restored through the LEADER Saja-Nansa program.

Maintaining the original masonry structure, the lighthouse keeper’s house has been used to create a spacious and bright space that currently houses the permanent exhibition of interpretive panels representing the landscape and use units of the Oyambre Natural Park.

Opening hours

  • January to March from Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and weekends and holidays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • April to June: Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends and holidays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • July and August: Monday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • September: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • October and November: Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends and holidays from 10am to 6pm.
  • December: Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Closed on 01/01, 06/01, 24/12 and 31/12

Address: Carretera del Faro, La Silla lighthouse


The Grazalema Guide

The best way to see all our web projects in one place is over at the Grazalema Guide.

The Grazalema Guide – Tourist Information Portal for the Sierra de Grazalema, Wildside Holidays, the town of Ronda and the Caminito del Rey.

https://grazalemaguide.com/

Santoña Victoria y Joyel Natural Park

  • Region: Cantabria.
  • Province: Cantabria.
  • Declared a Natural Park:
  • Park surface area: 6,500 hectares.
  • Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.
  • ZEPA (Special Area for Bird Protection).

Points of interest

The Santoña Victoria y Joyel Natural Park is an estuary in Cantabria, protected as a natural park. It is one of the wetlands of most ecological value in the north of Spain. It is used as a winter refuge and migratory passage by many species of birds.

The marshes are formed by the Asón River and the park occupies over 6,500 hectares distributed among the municipalities of Argoños, Bárcena de Cicero, Colindres, Escalante, Laredo, Limpias, Noja, Santoña and Voto.

The Asón estuary is also an important area for commercial fish breeding with sea ​​bass, red mullet, sea bream, sole and eel and atlantic salmon. This is also an important area for shellfish and the development of the canning industry for anchovies and sardines. Fish and fishing and defines the economic activity of this area.

Hotels in the area of the Marismas de Santoña, Victoria y Joyel Natural Park

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Legal action against Spain from the EU about Santoña Victoria y Joyel Natural Park

In 1987 the Spanish Society of Ornithology (now SEO / BirdLife) and ARCA (the Association for the Defense of Natural Resources of Cantabria) presented a complaint to the Commission of the European Union citing the terrible situation and the danger suffered by the Santoña marshes such as desiccation of areas of the marsh, construction of the Santoña-Argoños section of the Ca-141 road, ilegal rubbish dumping and residual contaminated water from towns and villages in the area. All this of course a huge risk to both the annual stay of thousands of migratory birds and residential wildlife.

Spain declared the Marismas de Santoña, Victoria y Joyel as a Natural Park in 1992. However, in 1993, the European Court condemned Spain for breach of its obligations to protect wildlife habitats under the EEC Treaty. This was the first ever environmental condemnation of the European court against Spain.

Spains basic defence was (and I quote) ” The Spanish Government takes the view that the ecological requirements laid down in that provision must be subordinate to other interests, such as social and economic interests, or must at the very least be balanced against them. ” The court rejected this argument completely.

The court ruling

Decision on costs: Under Article 69(2) of the Rules of Procedure, the unsuccessful party is to be ordered to pay the costs. Since the Kingdom of Spain has failed in all essential respects, it must be ordered to pay the costs.

On those grounds,THE COURT

Declares that, by not classifying the Santoña marshes as a special protection area and by not taking appropriate steps to avoid pollution or deterioration of habitats in that area, contrary to the provisions of Article 4 of Council Directive 79/409/EEC of 2 April 1979 on the conservation of wild birds, the Kingdom of Spain has failed to fulfil its obligations under the EEC Treaty;

Orders the Kingdom of Spain to pay the costs.

I have looked but can’t find how much Spain had to pay or evn if they did? Anyone?

You can read the entire very interesting legal document here. (actually it is very readable and not too full of confusing legal quotes.)
https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=CELEX%3A61990CJ0355

Fauna:

The birdlife in the area is undoubtedly the park’s greatest wealth. More than 130 different species can be observed and this is an important point for migrating or wintering grounds for many species of waterfowl. Waders such as Dunlin, Whimbrel, Grey plover, Bar-tailed godwit and gulls. Also European wigeon, Curlew, Common egrets, oystercatcher, sandpiper, Godwit, Redshank, Black – headed gulls and Red necked grebe. .

It is also an important migratory resting place for the common spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) which migrates from its breeding colonies in Holland flying over the coasts of France in order to reach the Santoña Marshes where they rest for a few days before continuing their journey to their wintering grounds in Africa. SEO/Birdlife estimates that a third of the European population of this species passes through Santoña every year

Two other species that are very rare wintering in the Iberian Peninsula, and that are frequent visitors to the Santoña marshes, are the Eider duck (Somateria mollissima), a large sea duck, and the Snow bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis) that inhabits the mountains of northern Europe.

The most abundant mammals are found in the woodlands of holm oaks and meadows. More than thirty species have been detected such as wildcat, boar, roe deer, red deer, otter, fox, badger, weasel, rabbit etc

Information/Visitors Centers

The Visitor Center of the Santoña, Victoria and Joyel Marshes Natural Park, is located on the ground floor of the “Mirador de las Marismas” a building located in the port of Santoña . The unique glass façade allows you to observe, from the inside, a wide panoramic view of the marsh landscape.

Inside there is also and excellent exhibition showing history, culture, wildlife etc of the area.

Opening hours

  • January to March from Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and weekends and holidays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • April to June: Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends and holidays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • July and August: Monday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • September: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • October: Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • November and December: Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and weekends and holidays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Closed on 01/01, 06/01, 01/11, 24/12 and 31/12


Noja Bird Mill. Santoña, Victoria and Joyel Marshes Natural Park

Address: Calle Helgueras, 39180 Noja

The Molino de las Aves de Noja is located in the old tidal mill of the Marisma Victoria inside the Natural Park of the Marismas de Santoña, Victoria and Joyel. Apart from its exceptional location for birdwatching on the marismas there are also cameras located in nest boxes and a feeder in order to observe the daily behavior birds and children are actively encouraged to get involved in observing wildlife.

There are also self-guided ornithological itineraries taking you through the four natural environments of Noja : the dunes, the marsh, the mountain and the countryside.

Open from June 21 to September 1
From 10.00 to 14.00 and from 15.00 to 20.00 every day of the week.

Look out for signs for these top places for birdwatching.

  • Puerto pesquero, marisma de Bengoa and La Arenilla in Santoña.
  • Molino de Victoria in Noja
  • Paseo del Ribero Ancillo, Argoños Paseo marítimo y parque de Tinaco en Colindres.
  • El Playón de Cicero in Bárcena de Cicero.
  • Convento de Montehano Monte de Montehano in Escalante.

The official website for the Marismas de Santoña, Victoria y Joyel Natural Park (In Spanish but has a google translate plugin at the top right of the homepage.)
https://www.turismodecantabria.com/disfrutala/parques-naturales/1-parque-natural-de-las-marismas-de-santona-victoria-y-joyel


The Grazalema Guide

The best way to see all our web projects in one place is over at the Grazalema Guide.

The Grazalema Guide – Tourist Information Portal for the Sierra de Grazalema, Wildside Holidays, The town of Ronda and the Caminito del Rey.

http://grazalemaguide.com/