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Whether you sample artisan cheeses at the market in Cangas or walk ancient Roman roads across high mountains, set your own pace as you explore Spain's Picos de Europa mountains equipped with insights from days spent with your own local guide.
Call 01273 676 712 to talk to someone who knows this trip
Both Lynda and I had a ball. The hotels/B&Bs were great. Clean, friendly and in great positions for all our walking plans. The walking notes were spot on and the accompanying maps were a great help to name the peaks we could see. Steve & Lynda D
Arrive in northern Spain. Collect your car at the airport for the drive to your first hotel. Since we tailor each of these holidays to your needs, this description should be taken as a suggestion rather than a fixed itinerary. Spend the first part of your trip to the west of the mountains in a small, family run hotel. You arrive in Spain with maps, walking notes and local information to make the most of your holiday.
Spend today with your private Pura guide. Having a local guide with you gives you the opportunity to learn about the area and settle in so that you can enjoy the rest of your holiday all the more. One of the most stunning walks is to a viewpoint from where you can see all three massifs of the Picos range.
The most famous walk in the Picos, probably in all of Spain, is the Cares Gorge. It is a path cut along the cliff face high above the Cares River which cuts right through the heart of the Picos de Europa. In places, the path is just two metres wide cut into a cliff face some 1,500m high. Towards the end of the gorge you pass through a series of short tunnels and over bridges as the path criss-crosses the river below.
The coast of northern Spain is defined by rolling hills breaking off into the sea to reveal hidden sandy coves and beaches. What makes this stretch of coastline so unusual and special is that you can see the high mountain peaks, some up to 2,600m, whilst standing on the sand. Today’s walk takes you out along the edge of the coastal mountain range and then down to the sea to ride along the undulating cliff tops. If you prefer to ride bikes, that is a possibility.
Change hotels today as you travel to the south-east of the mountains and the Liebana Valley. To get there you have to drive though the narrow, winding Hermida Gorge, a spectacular drive. Stay in a small inn near the medieval town of Potes. There are lots of shorter walks for you to choose from in the information we provide you.
The Liebana Valley has many red-roofed villages perched on green valley walls where the way of life has changed little in many years. Today you walk old trails across meadows between villages then on uphill to a small shrine set on a natural balcony with views over the valley and mountains beyond.
The cable-car at Fuente Dé provides a spectacular ride up 1,000m to the upper reaches of the mountains in the heart of the National Park. The contrast with the green valley floor is striking as you step out into a moon-like landscape of splintered rocks, jagged peaks and deep ravines. You will usually see chamois goats perched on the cliffs and vultures circling below. From here walk up to a high peak for fantastic views.
Return to the airport to drop your car and travel home.
Whether you sample artisan cheeses at the market in Cangas or walk ancient Roman roads across high mountains, set your own pace as you explore the Picos de Europa mountains equipped with insights from days spent with your own local guide.
As a tailor made trip, the level of exertion on this trip is determined by you. The sample itinerary described above assumes that you walk on most days. However, the way it works on the ground is that we provide you with maps and routes for a variety of hikes, from half day strolls to full day hikes so you can choose to walk as much or as little as you like.
With two days in the company of your Pura Aventura guide, we can take you on walks which are harder to find independently. It also means that they can help to structure the remainder of your trip, for instance by advising you on the best walks for you in function of the latest weather forecasts.
When walking, you will notice that the Picos de Europa are dramatic and rugged mountains but there is a huge difference between walking in the rocky uplands and walking through the green valleys or even along the coastal meadows. There is genuinely a walk to suit all moods in these mountains, from easy to very challenging. Over the course of your stay you can be walking along the coast, up on a high peak, through a forest, across meadows between villages, around mountain lakes and through gorges. No two days' walks need be at all the same.
The accommodation on this journey is comfortable though not fancy. We tend to use two different hotels on this trip in order to allow you to explore the different parts of the Picos without having to travel back and forth too much. The hotels are very traditional rustic stone buildings with thick walls and small windows. Expect a warm welcome, delicious food and very peaceful nights' sleep.
The weather in this part of Spain is notoriously fickle i.e. wet. This is 'green Spain' after all. If you travel in May or June you are likely to enjoy decent daytime temperatures of around 15°- 20°, though you will almost certainly see some rain and cloudy days. It is a beautiful time of year in the forests and mountains with spring flowers in the meadows and snow still up on the high mountains.
The peak summer months are warmest though still daytime temperatures are unlikely to go much over 25°. September is usually the driest month of the year, will be pleasantly warm and the sea should still be good for a refreshing dip. October is going to be similar in temperature to May/June, perhaps a little drier, as you get into later October the autumnal colours will be beautiful particularly in the forests of the Liebana Valley.
The Picos de Europa is rich in rural culture as well as having some fascinating historical sites.
The way of life up in the mountains has changed remarkably little in the last 50 years, you will still see people scything the hay and leading there sheep out to graze in the high pastures.
Artisan food production is a major part of the economy here, cheeses in particular are famously good. The powerful blue Cabrales cheese is made up in the village of Tielve, the very, very special Gamoneu cheese just across the valley. Bread baked in wood-fired ovens (pan de lena) is still made in most parts of the mountains.
There are very significant prehistoric cave paintings at the Tito Bustillo caves though easier to visit are the Altamira caves an hour or so to the east of the mountains in Santillana del Mar.
The church of Santo Toribio tucked away near the town of Potes is said to contain the largest piece of the lignum crucis, the true cross. As a result, it is considered to be the fourth most important pilgrimage site in Christianity, behind Jerusalem, the Vatican and Santiago de Compostela. In truth it's quite a way behind…
With time spent with your own guide exploring the area, you will start to discover how people live in the Picos so we fully expect you to come away from this trip having enjoyed spectacularly varied walking in beautiful surroundings but also with an appreciation of the culture of the Picos.
We provide you with all the maps, walking notes and local information you will need to make the most out of your trip.
There is a detailed itinerary for this trip, in the form set out above. Please get in touch and we can email that to you.
We would love to prepare a personalised proposal for you to consider so why not call us on 01273 676 712 and we can get started? To do this properly we want to understand the things you care about and the things you don’t need.
In the form set out here, the holiday consists of rental car, accommodation, breakfasts, two days of private guiding and local information, maps and walking notes. Naturally, on each and every one of our holidays, we include Pura’s expertise, local contacts, support and advice throughout, along with the reassurance of our financial protection and safety auditing.
Normally guests will start their trip in Santander (airport code: SDR) or Asturias (airport code: OVD), both of which have good air connections and are about an hour away from the mountains. Bilbao (airport code: BIO) is also an option, though the drive to the Picos slightly longer at 3 hours.