Cascada La Mea (or Cascada de la Mea) was an unexpected waterfalling excursion for us. The only reason why we visited the nearby town of Puentedey was to check out the impressive natural bridge along with that rare phenomenon of having a historic town built right on top of it! We didn't even know that this waterfall existed! However, when I noticed some signage about this waterfall situated near the natural bridge, we decided to pursue it (especially since the natural bridge visit was very short). Unfortunately, the waterfall was only trickling (as you can see from the photo at the top of this page), but despite this disappointment, it did offer us a chance at examining closely the effects of water with high mineral content leaving behind interesting formations (e.g. the conical stalagmite at its base).
The hike from the trailhead (see directions below) was said to be a mere 10 minutes in each direction. Overall, we spent 25 minutes away from the car. The hike was along a narrow but well-defined trail leading gently uphill to the head of the small gully we were in. The trail dead-ended at the falls, where we were able to go behind what was left of its trickle. Under the low-flow conditions, it allowed us the chance at examining the interesting cone at the base of the falls. It appeared that this "stalagmite" was in a state of growth (albeit slow) for as long as there was water in the waterfall (a characteristic typical of limestone or karstic waterfalls). Thus, over time, it's conceivable that the height of the vertical drop of the falls would actually shrink!
We didn't linger long at this falls so we quickly went back the way we came, which was now a downhill hike. This time, we were able to pay more attention to the landscape before us, where we saw lots of windmills perched atop the ridges and hills surrounding flanking the gully we were in. The brook giving rise to Cascada La Mea (El Barranco de la Mea) was said to only flow in the Winter and Spring months. I guess our early June visit was too late.
Finally, the Puentedey Natural Bridge, which was the main attraction of the area, was said to be 15m tall by 35m wide and 80m long. While there was the historical town center atop the natural bridge, I did notice some lines (cracks?) radiating from the right side of the opening. I'm sure over time, water and ice can get into the cracks, expand and contract with temperature, and ultimately undermine the stability of the bridge. Over time, arches and natural bridges collapse, but it's hard to say how much longer this place will stay standing atop the bridge. That said, the town of Puentedey was said to date back to 1351 so it has already stood for over 660 years!
From Orbaneja del Castillo, we took the CA-275 (formerly Bu-613) road for 6km back to the N-623 road. Then, we turned left to go north on the N-623 road for about 22km to the town of Cilleruelo de Bezana. Next, we turned right to go onto the Bu-574 road for about 5km, then we turned right onto the N-232 road. After about 500m, we then entered the town of Valle de Valdebezana before we turned left to go onto the Bu-526 road. We then followed this road for about 6km before we turned right onto the Bu-561 road near Pedrosa de Valdeporres.
We followed the twisty and narrow Bu-561 road for about 8km into the town of Puentedey. We turned left at a sign near its center leading down to a bridge over the Río Nela with a view of the natural bridge. We found parking on the other side of the bridge as the side before the bridge was too full to find parking. Overall, this drive took us about 55 minutes.
From Pedrosa de Tobalina, we'd follow the Bu-550 road south to Trespaderne for about 7km. We'd then turned right onto the N-629 road and follow it for roughly 16km before turning left onto the CL-628 road in the town of Medina de Pomar. We'd then drive 7km west on CL-628 before turning left onto Calle Severiano Villanueva Bascones, then following this spur road for about 1km before turning right onto CL-619 entering the town of Villarcayo. After 500m on the CL-619, we'd then turn left onto Calle Alejandro Rodríguez de Valcárcel and follow it for under 400m, then turn left again onto Bu-561. Finally, we'd follow the Bu-561 for a little over 11km as we'd enter the town of Puentedey, where the turnoff to the bridge would now be on our right.
The drive from Pedrosa de Tobalina to Puentedey along the described route would take about an hour.
Finally, for some geographical context, Burgos was 185km (under 2 hours drive) east of León, 159km (over 1.5 hours drive) southwest of Bilbao, and 249km (2.5 hours drive) north of Madrid.
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