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Follow your guide along an exclusive route by Pura Aventura, through the high mountains and valleys of the Picos. Walk from village to village crossing beautiful meadows and autumnal, amber-leafed forests, as cowbells clang in the distance. Pass through the Liebana Valley, up to the high peaks, and along the stunning Cares Gorge of the Picos de Europa mountains, all in the company of your expert guide. Departs 14th October 2018.
Price £1,450 per person
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Meet your guide in Bilbao, with some free time to stroll around the city depending on flight timings of the group. Travel by private transfer to the Liebana Valley, which lies along the south-eastern edge of the Picos range. Smallholdings dot the landscape – families still farm tiny plots of land largely by hand. The pace of life feels particularly gentle in this part of the mountains. The red roofs of the houses contrast with the deep green of the meadows. Stay in a tiny village high in the hills. The tour is led by Pura co-founder Diego Martín, whose background as a Picos native and mountain guide means you will have an unparalleled immersion into this beautiful corner of Spain.
Leaving your bags to catch their taxi, set off walking today with just things you need for the day. Descend the valley sides towards the medieval town of Potes, views of the hermitage at San Tirso and the Picos de Europa all the way. The centre of Potes has narrow cobbled streets and lots of little bridges over the river. After lunch there is still 8km to walk up into another very pretty side valley. Tonight’s inn really feels like a family home.
Today’s walk takes you through some of the most remote parts of the Liebana Valley. As you move from village to village, crossing meadows and woodland, you also climb up over a ridge between valleys. There is a beautiful panoramic view from the top of Pico Jano, an optional walk that we can take. Stay in a comfortable hotel with a well regarded restaurant.
By now you are walking along the main Liebana Valley as it narrows towards the huge amphitheatre at Fuente Dé, where vultures soar overhead. The path crosses back and forth over the pretty Deva River as it flows down to Potes and out to the sea. Walk through oak forest and meadows under the vertical walls of the Picos or along shady beech forests to get to the dramatic natural amphitheatre at Fuente Dé.
Today you can spend just relaxing and wandering in the area around your hotel though most choose to take the cable car 1,000m up to the high mountains. From the top station you have a variety of options, either a short wander or you can walk up and onto the peak of one of the highest mountains in the whole range. Enjoy stunning views back down the forested Liebana Valley and ahead to the high limestone cliffs ahead.
Today's walk takes you up over a mountain pass into the adjacent province of Leon, and the most isolated valley in the Picos, Valdeon. Follow the old market path to the pass, where you have great views of both valleys, the Picos, and the intersecting Cantabrian mountain range. Tonight you sleep in the village of Posada de Valdeon, in one of the most remote valleys of the Picos, surrounded by high mountain peaks.
Our next walk sees you traverse the renowned Cares Gorge into your third province, Asturias. From your inn you pass through meadows and woods to the village of Cain, where the walls of the gorge are only a few metres apart. Follow the path carved out of the rock through totally different landscape to previous days, with the river below you and the peaks above. End the day at your inn in Arenas de Cabrales, where you can celebrate your walk with some of the superb local blue cheese.
We now head for the west side of the Picos, walking past lakes and through meadows to a small village with an alpine feel. Here you'll encounter local shepherds making the world's most expensive cheese. Learn about the conservation efforts protecting the Bearded Vultures and take in sweeping views across Cares Gorge. We'll be accompanied by a local guide whose grandfather was one of the pioneers of guiding in the Picos. Evening dinner is in a market town restaurant committed to the sustainable 'Slow Food Movement' concept.
Say goodbye to the Picos as you are collected for the drive back to Bilbao for your departure flight. Assuming an afternoon/evening flight departure, you'll have time for a leisurely breakfast this morning before we head back east to Bilbao.
A guided walking holiday along an exclusive route by Pura Aventura following the high mountains and valleys of the Picos. Walk from village to village crossing beautiful meadows and autumnal, amber-leafed forests, as cowbells clang in the distance, all in the company of your devoted guide.
The walks are reasonably strenuous with six days of walking between 12-20km. Altitude gains and losses are fairly substantial with height gains of 700 m on four of the days. Altitudes range from just above sea level to over 2,000m. You can expect to be walking for an average of between five and six hours a day.
Your luggage is always taken on ahead for you so you actually only walk with your day pack, which helps you to concentrate on enjoying the walking and your surroundings.
The weather in the Picos de Europa is very fickle. These are high mountains set just off the northern coast of Spain, off shore is essentially the width of the Atlantic Ocean. Saying this, our inn to inn walk follows a route around the more protected southern parts of the mountains where you are likely to find more sunny days. October gradually gets more changeable but benefits from the beautiful colours of the autumnal forests.
The Picos is a place which takes you out of the day to day, relaxes you. It might be the echoing cowbells or the constant flow of water. It might be the prospect of whiling away an hour watching Griffon vultures circle overhead or anticipation of a picnic lunch of wood-baked bread, local cheeses and chorizo eaten in a mountain meadow. Whatever the magic, we find it hard to be stressed during a Picos de Europa walking holiday and we find it very easy to sleep well.
Accommodation is in a range of comfortable and very friendly inns along the way, all of them are in tiny villages and have different characters and styles, so star ratings are not overly helpful. If you think in terms of 2-3 inns then that will probably set your expectations in the right place. All have en suite bathrooms. The Parador in Fuente Dé is the one exception, this is a larger hotel. When people think of a Spanish Parador, they usually imagine a restored castle or monastery, however, many are in modern buildings – such is the case with Fuente Dé. However, the service, the rooms and the food are very good and the views absolutely magnificent. The accommodation in Arenas is also slightly larger, being a recently renovated family run hotel.
One advantage of the slow pace of an inn to inn walk is that it allows you to enjoy not only nature but the rich rural culture of the area. Although the way of life has been changing quickly in the last 50 years, a lot of people still live from the land and traditions are alive and well. You will still see people scything the hay and leading their sheep out to graze in the high pastures. You will hear the bells of the cows, sheep and goats out in the hills, being looked after by the shepherds. While traditional cheese making from sheep and goats’ milk is still alive, cattle being raised for meat is the most common income source. Most young people have left the villages up here attracted by the tourism industry or the cities, leaving just the elderly relatives to stay.
Rural architecture is still well preserved in the beautiful stone houses with their wood balconies and red tile roofs. In the town of Potes you can wander through the interesting medieval area with an impressive defensive tower. In the Valdeón valley you will see the famous “horreos”, traditional grain barns built on stills typical of northern Spain. In Arenas de Cabrales you will see one of the most beautiful Romanesque churches in the area.
On the last day of walking the group will be joined by Victor, a local mountain guide. Victor's grandfather Cirilo was one of the pioneers of guiding visitors hiking in the Picos, and his family was one of the last to live up in the hills there. Few people can offer such personal insight into life up in these remote parts of the Picos. In addition, the tour is led by Diego Martín, one of Pura's founders. Diego's background as a Picos native and mountain guide means you will have an unparalleled immersion into this beautiful corner of Spain.
There is a detailed itinerary for this trip, please get in touch and we can email that to you. As an inn to inn group walk, the itinerary and dates are set and cannot be altered.
The holiday price includes accommodation & guiding, most meals, luggage transfers, maps and local information. It also includes private transfers to and from Bilbao. 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.
The trip starts in Bilbao (airport code: BIO), which has good air connections.
Price is per person based on two sharing a room. An eight night trip departing on the 14th October.
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The described itinerary is just a taster of what this trip could involve. We would work with you to tailor your personal trip.
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