Found in the far northern province of León, the little-known mountain range of Riano sits to the south of the spectacular Picos de Europa National Park and forms part of the extensive Cordillera Cantábrica that traverses Northern Spain.
The landscape is characterised by extensive forests of beech, holm and Pyrenean oak, and broom covered hillsides with craggy limestone peaks. There are also numerous small hay meadows rich in wildflowers, butterflies and small mammals. The valleys around the village of Boca de Huérgano have been identified as supporting Europe’s highest density of wildcats.
For most of the year wildcats remain elusive and hidden deep in the woodlands. However, during the late summer months when the meadows are cut, exposing the burrows of montane water voles, the cats can be spotted hunting in the open during the first and last hours of daylight.
The remote hills of Riaño are also home to one of the highest densities of Iberian wolf in the country. Local guides regularly monitor their movements and den sites giving excellent opportunities for sightings. There are also good numbers of red and roe deer, wild boar, broom hare, chamois, otter and red squirrel, and a small population of brown bears.
The birdlife is also impressive with black and middle-spotted woodpeckers, white storks, dippers, goshawks, honey buzzards, golden eagles and griffon and Egyptian vultures.