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From: 695 €
Duration: 12 days
The Picos de Europa. Without a doubt the most impressive mountains in Spain, emerging dramatically from the coastal landscape to form a natural frontier between the lush north coast and the more arid Castille. Three capricious limestone massifs marked by rushing rivers, plunging gorges, and stunning high peaks. Some of the most vertical terrain in all of Europe (120m to 2648m) and home to a great variety of alpine flora and intriguing fauna. From the green north side to the warmer and drier climate of the south, straight through the Central Massif. An unforgettable odyssey which will you have planning your return before the postcards even reach home.
Arrival in Asturias, on the north side of the Picos, at your hotel in Arenas de Cabrales. Shop for some last-minute trekking supplies or sample the local blue cheese and traditional apple cider on one of the outdoor terraces.
Challenge: Arrival in the Picos de Europa.
Villages along the way: Arenas de Cabrales
Ascent to the summer meadows at Nava, situated 500m above the Cares River, with excellent views of the Picos. A strenuous but very rewarding walk, especially in early summer when the meadows display a multitude of brightly coloured flowers. Option of doing an alternative shorter walk to Vanu (Banu), through shady countryside at a lower elevation.
Challenge: 5,5hrs, 12km, ascent 650m, descent 650m.
Villages along the way: Arenas, Nava
An absolute classic from the local repertoire, this stunning route is walked by thousands each year and remains strikingly beautiful. You walk on a good footpath, used to maintain a 12km channel which feeds the hydroelectric station in Poncebos. Your day starts off with a 5min transfer to the start of the walk. After a short but steep ascent of 150m on a zig-zag trail, the path then levels off and you continue the rest of the way to Caín nearly “on the flat” (12km). From there, you have the choice of continuing another 8km up the valley or taking a taxi to your hotel in Posada de Valdeón.
Challenge: 6,5hrs, 20km, ascent 680m, descent 100m.
Villages along the way: Poncebos, Caín, Posada de Valdeón
After 2 tougher routes, today you do a circular nature walk in wooded surroundings near Valdeón, an area inhabited by wolves and bears. At mid-day you reach a shepherd’s refuge on the north side of the Picos’ western massif: Vega de Llos (1545m), an excellent place to stop for a rest. If you’re aching for an even better panorama, option of continuing on up to El Frade pass (1785m), for sweeping views all the way to the sea.
Challenge: 5horas, 12km, ascent 600m, descent 600m.
Villages along the way: Posada de Valdeón
Today's route starts off with an ascent on the historic traders' path, el Camín del Mercadillo, which leads from Posada de Valdeón to Liébana. After 7km walking with 800m in ascent, you reach the meadowlands at Caben Remoña, situated on the border between the provinces of León and Cantabria. Here you have the choice of walking straight on down to Espinama (9km with 900m in descent) or taking the spectacular high route via Vega de Liordes down to Fuente Dé (bus or taxi 3,5km to your hotel). If you have booked luggage transport, there’s the option of riding for the first 5km with your bags (thus saving 500m in ascent).
Challenge: 7-8hrs, 16km, ascent 800/1235m, descent 900/1135m.
Villages along the way: Posada de Valdeón, Liordes, Espinama
Option of taking a rest day today, to relax in the hotel garden by the pool, or doing a day-trip to nearby Potes, a lovely village with historic Medieval centre. If you prefer to walk, you first take the bus to Fuente Dé (1100m) and ride the cable car up to 1835m. There you begin a spectacular route up to Horcados Rojos, an impressive vista point with splendid views of the Picos and far beyond.
Challenge: 4,5-5,5 hrs, 10/12km, ascent 500/650, descent 500/650 OR rest day.
Villages along the way: Espinama, Fuente Dé OR Potes
A long but technically easy walk, first along footpaths through woodlands near Pembes, then on farming tracks to Áliva Pass (1645m). You then follow a glacier moraine down the Duje River valley to reach Sotres. At 1050m, this is the highest village in the Picos making an ideal base for some excellent walking routes. After a long day, the end of your route is a stimulating 150m ascent to reach Sotres!
Challenge: 6,5-7 hours, 16km, ascent 900m, descent 750m OR rest day.
Villages along the way: Espinama, Áliva, Sotres
After a short transfer, you start a beautiful and extremely varied route in the Eastern Massif known as Andara. The first section follows a historic mining track, into the heart of the massif. You then continue on to reach an elevation of 2215m. Descent via cattle trails, back down to your hotel in Sotres.
Challenge: 5,5/8hrs, 12,5/16km, ascent 640/1040m, descent 900/1300m.
Villages along the way: Sotres
Today's is a shorter route beginning with a transfer. Then you walk into a landscape with fields of heather and ancient oakwoods to reach the nearby village of Tresviso. Along the way, stunning views down into the Urdón Gorge and a chance of hearing the characteristic laughing call of the rare capercaillie.
Challenge: 4,5-5hrs, 11km, ascent 450m, descent 680m.
Villages along the way: Sotres, Tresviso
The highlight of this trek of highlights, takes you up to the legendary Picu Urriellu – also called Naranjo de Bulnes – a stunning peak and mecca for world-class rock climbers. You first take farming tracks from Sotres up to Pandébano Col. Then you follow a footpath up into the lunar landscapes at the heart of the central massif, home to chamoix and alpine choughs. For your overnight stay here at the refuge, you’ll carry just the things you need for the day, while your luggage in transported to the next hotel. Early in the season, snow can be a factor. If the event the hut cannot be reached, the alternate program includes a circular walk to nearby Tielve and overnight stay in Sotres.
Challenge: 5hrs, 10km, ascent 1025m, descent 150m.
Villages along the way: Sotres, Pandébano, Vega de Urriellu
Your last day of walking explores yet another facet of the Picos as you traverse a steep footpath down Camburero Gorge to reach the remote village of Bulnes (no road access). You then continue in descent through the Teju Gorge to reach Poncebos, coming full circle back to the start of your trek. Early in the season, today’s descent may be impracticable due to water level from snow run-off. The alternate route goes by way of Pandébano. Short transfer to your hotel in Arenas de Cabrales.
Challenge: 4,5-5hrs, 8,5km, ascent 0m, descent 1650m.
Villages along the way: Vega de Urriellu, Bulnes, Poncebos, Arenas
Your trek comes to an end today, after breakfast. Taxi transfers can be arranged to the airport (Oviedo, Santander or Bilbao).
Villages along the way: Arenas de Cabrales
Welcoming rural accommodations situated in peaceful mountain villages.
Start: Arenas de Cabrales
Finish: Arenas de Cabrales
Trip availability: 01 June to 15 October