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  • Writer's pictureFogar Mozárabe

The Roman canals of Peñalba

Today we bring you what we consider the perfect complement to the emblematic, and undoubtedly mandatory, visit to the Cueva de San Genadio during your stay in Peñalba de Santiago.


We had the opportunity to do this route on a sunny day in January 2020 and the sensations it has left us are very good. Both the Silencio waterfall and the Roman canals can be considered old acquaintances for us, however, there are many hikers who pass by these two detours. Perhaps because they are a bit far from the route, almost hidden, and in short... to be a little more secret and special.

The Silencio waterfall is very easily accessed by entering the forest that forms the Valle del Silencio, on the left hand side, just in the final stretch before facing the ascent to the cave. The route is subtle but very well marked, you will find a wooden sign pointing to a single path, once on it, there is no possible detour, so reaching the waterfall is inevitable. The climb is not very hard, for mountain enthusiasts it is almost a walk. It crosses a particularly picturesque stretch of forest; with dense vegetation and ferns on each side of the trail, and infinite oak trees that form real walls through which the light filters. After the detour, in about 20 minutes we will be next to this beautiful waterfall, especially picturesque in rainy seasons, when it brings greater flow.

The second detour on the route to the Cueva de San Genadio brings us to the Roman channel CN-2, carved into the rock two millennia ago to steal the waters of the Valle del Silencio and transport them to Las Médulas. This small stretch of canal, which is part of the extensive network formed by the Empire, is conditioned to be able to walk along it until beyond Montes de Valdueza. We are satisfied with the images that the beginning of this route leaves us, which remains pending for another occasion. It is certainly hard to imagine the colossal effort made to divert thousands of tons of water, in a process known as "ruina montium", and thanks to which we can enjoy in El Bierzo the largest gold mining of antiquity. These Romans were crazy!

Lucas and Álvaro Docampo

Photography: Gustavo Docampo

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