From its past history, the remains of a fort are still visible in Villagatón, El Llastrón, located on a steep elevation known as La Prudencia, it probably dates from the centuries immediately prior to the Roman presence in these lands.
It was founded by Count Gatón, in the year 853, who under the reign of Ordoño I, proposed to colonize Astorga and La Cepeda. They were times of repopulation of the devastated and abandoned lands after the wars against Muslim forces. The border that divided it with Astorga was established by means of the stream that passed through the town, in this way the bishop Indisclo was in charge in Astorga and the count in Villagatón, from where his name comes.
Although the council itself is not located here, Villagatón is the name of the City Council, which moved to Brañuelas at the end of the 60s. In fact, the house that served as the City Council was acquired by an individual who still conserves the mayor's chair and preserves the original layout of the place where taxes were paid and which hosted meetings with councilors.
We can approach the Villagatón reservoir built in 1994, named after the town, with its gates closed for some years. The Porcos River, a tributary of the Tuerto, has its origin in this reservoir, with a capacity of 5 hectometres.
The church, dedicated to Saint Stephen, probably from the 18th century, was built on top of an older one. With a slate roof, it was rehabilitated a few years ago and preserves its spiral staircase protected by a square tower and attics on the transept roof. Inside, which still retains its first flagstone floor, there are hardly any remains of the dismantled altarpiece, some Solomonic columns of the altar or the supports with figures of angels. Its people were dedicated to agriculture, livestock and coal mining.
It is a district of the municipality of Villagatón in the province of León. It is located at 1,046 meters of altitude, in the western part of the La Cepeda region.
This route runs for 9 - 11 km, between the Brañuelas Town Hall and the “El Llastrón” forest in Villagatón, most of it parallel to the Muelas river along the rural road that runs from Brañuelas to Valbuena and also parallel to pine forests of which we can see two types: wild (from the middle and upper parts, they have an orange colour) and pinus pinaster (everything is the same dark colour, which is being resin).
Along it, you will see the ruins of 5 water mills, a resin mining area, mycological areas, two old town centers, strange caves drilled into the rock, a bee colony, the Villagatón Church, the Villagatón (empty) swamp. … and beautiful views from the mountains of several towns in the region.
It is a route of low difficulty, all of it between 1,000 and 1,125 meters of altitude, and special care must be taken when crossing the roads (twice, once in Brañuelas and another arriving in Villagatón) and the train track (Milestone No. 19, at 5.71 kilometres from the beginning). All of them are clearly signposted.
When leaving the road and approaching a mill, there may be water on the ground, so it is recommended to wear suitable footwear. Also, depending on the time of year, there are cattle grazing, so it is recommended to be especially careful and not approach or disturb the animals. Some of them, if they have young, can become violent in their eagerness to protect and defend their offspring.
There is a varied fauna in this area (another thing is that you will be able to see it!): Squirrels, rabbits, roe deer, foxes, wild boars, some wolves ..., as well as various types of birds, some more frequently than others: crows, kites, vultures, eagles, storks, partridges, quail...etc.
In addition to being able to do the route on the road (walking by bicycle or by 4x4 car), the most intrepid could do it by the river in summer: the landscape is splendid, but the difficulty is much higher, having to cross the river several times(wear high boots) and clear an obstacle.
The route signs are usually mostly on the right side, as well as off the road.