Overview

Varied walks in the beautiful Picos de Europa

Spain's third highest mountain range, the Picos de Europa is a region of dramatic limestone peaks and lush valleys. Carpeted in beautiful wild flowers in spring, this area is also known as 'Green Spain'. Its terrain, tranquillity and inaccessibility make the Picos a walker's paradise. Chamois, Griffon vultures, Golden eagles and many other species are regularly seen, and, although more rarely spotted, bears, wolves and boars still survive in this incredible wilderness. We base ourselves at the friendly, family-run Hotel Torrecerredo, positioned in the heart of the region and offering breathtaking panoramas of the highest peaks from its welcoming bar and restaurant.

Key information

  • 7 nights at the Hotel Torrecerredo
  • 5 days centre-based walking; 1 free day
  • Group normally 4 to 16, plus local leader. Min age 16 yrs
  • Altitude maximum 2214m, average 1000m
  • Challenging departures available
  • Reasonable fitness required
7 Nights 8 Days 22 Jun and 29 Jun
Inclusions/Exclusions

What is included in the tour

  • All breakfasts, 5 picnic lunches and 6 dinners included
  • All accommodation
  • Return flights to London
  • Transfer for group flights

What is NOT included in the tour

  • Travel insurance
  • Visas & Vaccinations
  • Single supplement
Highlights
What makes this tour special
  • Diverse walks in Spain's oldest national park
  • Incredible wildlife including Chamois, Golden eagles and Griffon vultures
  • Traditional mountain villages in the valleys of Green Spain
  • Family-run hotel with stunning panoramic views

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 5 picnic lunches and 6 dinners are included.

The region has several delicious specialities for you to try while you are staying here. The area is famous for its gold-medal-winning blue cheese, Queso Cabrales, which is matured in some of the thousands of deep limestone caves that dot the hills. Lesser known, but equally appealing is the local lamb Cordero al la Menta and a wholesome bean stew, Fabada Asturiana. Fresh fish comes from the coast at Llanes and Ribadesella, half an hour's drive away. The local wine is very drinkable, though a glass of local cider can be more refreshing.

Breakfast: Fruit juice, tea, freshly ground coffee, cereals, bread, cold meats, cheeses and a selection of local fruit (depending on season) offered buffet-style. There are also eggs cooked to order, sponge and Anis cake.

Lunch: Generally includes a large bread roll, with a choice of fillings daily, chocolates and fresh fruit.

Dinner: Homemade four-course meal usually consists of soup or salad for the first course, a choice of 3 main courses, with meat, fish, or vegetarian, followed by a homemade dessert.

Wine: To accompany the evening meal, the hotel has a reasonably comprehensive wine list available.

Over the years, the hotel has developed tasty vegetarian alternatives. Please let us know in advance if you are vegetarian or have any other special dietary requirements.


Weather

There can be snowfalls in the Picos as late as May, and the area is subject to rain at all times of the year (although this typically falls in the evening and rarely affects the walking). From early June to early October the weather should be very pleasant for walking, though it is rather unpredictable and mists can come in from the coast. Those wishing to join the Picos departures at the beginning and end of the trek season should go prepared for cooler weather. In early June and late September there may be snow on the upper reaches of the trek.

North Spain and Picos de Europa


Is this trip for you?

This trip is Activity Level 3 (Moderate) with 5 days of walking.

The walking here is varied and spectacular, with some superb scenery at the higher levels. Over the course of the week we will try and tackle two classic gorges and one peak in each of the three massifs in the Picos de Europe, Spain's first national park. Most of the walking is on shepherds paths, old disused mining paths and some sections of Roman 'roads', although the final ascents of the peaks can be quite rough underfoot.

The majority of the trip departures are Level 3 (Moderate). However, we also offer a selection of departures as Level 5 (Challenging). This is to offer those that wish the opportunity to ascend the higher peaks. It is important to be assured of your fitness on these departures.

As in all mountain ranges, the weather is unpredictable and this may affect several walks. With changeable weather it should be expected that on some rare occasions higher-level walks may not be available. Although please be assured that your leader will always try to find a suitable alternative.

Itinerary

DAY 1

Fly to Bilbao; transfer to Arenas de Cabrales.

Meals included: dinner


DAY 2

Visit the Arenas de Cabrales valley; pastures of Vanu and spectacular views- Moderate departure (level 3)

The walk begins directly from our hotel. After leaving the village, a path leads us up to the pastures of Vanu with the most famous peaks of Picos de Europa visible on sunny days.

We continue onwards where the scenery changes and we are able to view across the main valley of Cabrales. During Spring time, it is possible to see a large variety of flowers. Looking skywards it is also possible to spot some vultures soaring above.

For lunch we will approach the village of Inguanzo before completing the final part of the walk. This section of the walk is more undulating and provides us with fresh views and a comfortable last mile takes us back to Arenas de Cabrales.

Most of this first day’s walk follows wide easy tracks for warming up with some steep ascents. There is only a short section of downhill walking during today's walk.

Walking approx. 16km/ 10 miles; duration 7 hours; ascent +730m; descent -730m. Highest point (Los Fresnos col): 720m.

Classic Cares Gorge Walk, one of the most popular walks in Spain- Challenging departure (level 5)

See day 4 of Moderate (level 3) itinerary description for further details.

Meals included: breakfast  lunch  dinner


DAY 3

Ascent to Pandescura peak with superb views of the Western Massif- Moderate departure (level 3)

A short transfer takes us to the village of Canales. The first part of the day follows farm tracks before a short climb up to the 'Collado de los Buitres'. If you are lucky you may see Griffon vultures soaring above. We then follow open terrain, slowly ascending to the base of the Pandescura peak. A simple ascent to the top will lead us to an ideal lunch spot with superb views of the Western massif peaks. We then descend through green hills to the village of Bovia.

Walking approx. 14km/ 9 miles; duration 6 hours; ascent +550m; descent -580m. Highest point (Pandescura peak): 1000m.

Up to the high pastures of Nava; on to the summit of Juan Robre; descend back to Arenas de Cabrales- Challenging departure (level 5)

The walk begins directly from our hotel. After leaving the village, an ancient Roman path leads us up to the high pastures of Nava, which in the months of May and June are alive with a sea of flowers. We continue up where the scenery changes to one more reminiscent of the Yorkshire Dales, with limestone outcrops jutting out of the landscape. Looking skywards it is possible to spot a variety of eagles and vultures roaming the thermals.

The path leads us to the summit of Juan Robre, which rewards us with commanding views of Arenas de Cabrales far below and the jagged peaks of the central massif in the distance. The descent is via the Juan Robre ridge, which brings us back to Arenas de Cabrales and an opportunity to sample a refreshing glass of cider to cool us down.

This walk may be done in the opposite direction according to the weather conditions.

Walking approx. 14km/ 9 miles; duration 7 hours; ascent +750m; descent‐750m. Highest point: Cabeza Juan Robre 871m.

Meals included: breakfast  lunch  dinner


DAY 4

Classic Cares Gorge walk, one of the most popular walks in Spain- Moderate departure (level 3)

The classic Cares Gorge has been described as the jewel in the crown of Spanish hiking. For 12 km, the engineered path has been blasted into the rock face. Originally built in the 1940s as part of a hydroelectric scheme, it is now one of the most popular walks in Spain. In places, the surrounding peaks rise over two thousands metres above the path and if we're lucky, we may catch a glimpse of the rare and beautiful wall creeper bird. The path eventually emerges in the village of Cain, where we have lunch before our return along the same path to Puente Poncebos. Transport will be waiting here to take us to back to our hotel in Arenas. The walk is relatively flat with a gradual ascent of just 350m from Puente Poncebos to Cain.

Walking approx. 24km/ 15 miles; duration 7 hours; ascent +550m; descent -550m. Highest point (Los Collaos): 510m

Summit Main range; descend to the area of the Pandebano Col then to Bulnes- Challenging departure (level 5)

We start the walk by Tielve village (located 650m above sea level). An ascent of 1000m through hazel and beech woods surrounded by limestone will take us to one of the classic viewpoints of the Picos; the summit of Main range. From the summit, we descend to the area of the Pandebano Col with fantastic views of the Central Massif of Picos de Europa and its northern valleys.

From here we start the second part of the descent into the small hamlet of Bulnes, which is nestled in the shadow of vast cliffs and its only communications to the exterior used to be old donkey tracks until 2001, when a funicular railway was constructed. Those wishing to end the walk here can take the train to the bottom (approximately EUR 17 per person), whilst those wishing to continue will follow a small and narrow valley down to the old bridge.

Walking approx. 16km/ 10 miles ; duration 10 hours; ascent +1150m; descent ‐1500m. Highest point (Cabeza La Mesa): 1612m

Meals included: breakfast  lunch  dinner


DAY 5

Free day. Optional activities include caving, self-guided canoeing, canyoning or a trip to the coast- Moderate (level 3) & Challenging (level 5) departures

Today is free for you to visit the coast or try a spot of caving, self-guided canoeing or canyoning. Our local staff will be able to help organise any of these activities.

Meals included: breakfast


DAY 6

Summit of Peña Main, one of the classic viewpoints of the Picos; continue on to Pandebano Col- Moderate departure (level 3)

Starting close to the village of Tieve, we walk up into the Main range and summit Peña Main, one of the classic viewpoint in the Picos. We walk to Pandebano Col and then begin our descent.

Walking approx. 11km/ 7 miles; duration 7 hours; ascent +1050m; descent -740m. Highest point (Cabeza La Mesa): 1612m

Lakes of Covadonga; Majada de Belbin & Peak Pandescura- Challenging departure (level 5)

Today we head west to the lakes of Covadonga, making a short stop at the Covadonga Sanctuary before following a winding road to the lake. The first part of the day is a loop around the traditional mountain farming area near the lakes. It is a really beautiful part of the Picos and is wonderful to visit during good weather.

After walking past the lakes we soon descend into the Majada de Belbin, where cheese is still produced using traditional methods during the summer. After filling our water bottles, we will then join an ancient Roman path that takes us down to the foothills of the Western Massif for an ascent of Peak Pandescura (1004m).

From the peak we will walk along the green hills and will descend into the Cabrales valley where we will finish the walk at the hamlet of Canales. The transfer back to the hotel will be around 10 minutes.

Walking approx. 17km/ 11 miles; duration 7 hours; ascent +550m; descent ‐1250m. Highest point (Majada Las Bovias): 1270m

Meals included: breakfast  lunch  dinner


DAY 7

Walk up to the twin summits of Mancondiu offering fantastic views of the Central and Eastern Massifs- Moderate departure (level 3)

At 2000m, the twin summits of Mancondiu are the highest point we reach during the week. Most of the walking apart from the last 200m is on disused mining tracks. The top offers fantastic views of the Central and Eastern Massifs and is a fantastic end to a diverse week of walking.

Walking approx. 11km/ 7 miles ; duration 5 hours; ascent +735m; descent -735m. Highest point: Macondiu peak 2000m

Twin summits of Mancondiu; on to San Carlos Peak- Challenging departure (level 5)

At 2000m, the twin summits of Mancondiu will be one of the first highest points we reach today. Most of the walking apart from the last 200m is on disused mining tracks. The top offers fantastic views of the Eastern Massif and is a fantastic end to a varied week of walking. There is the option to traverse between the two peaks across an exposed ridge, but this is not recommended for those who are uncomfortable with steep
drops.

From Mancondiu, we are able to see the next peak we will climb, San Carlos. This ascent is easier but longer than Mancondiu and we will enjoy views over the next valleys and ranges to the south of Picos.We will then backtrack for approximately one hour before we reach an alternative footpath that will take us back to the beginning of the walk.

Walking approx. 17km/ 11 miles; duration 9 hours; ascent +1180m; descent ‐1180m. Highest point: San Carlos or Sagrado Corazon peak 2212m.

Meals included: breakfast  lunch  dinner


DAY 8

To Bilbao; fly to London

Meals included: breakfast

Categories
Walking & Trekking