Fancy a 2017 holiday with a difference? A healthy and inspiring walking tour in one of the most stunning areas of Europe?
The Picos de Europa are a dramatic range of mountains in the northern provinces of Spain (Cantabria, Castille y Leon and Asturias) in the middle of the Camino de Santiago. A two hour flight from Dublin or London to Santander and a scenic two and a half hour bus ride sees you at the trail start in time for evening meal and tapas.
A stone’s throw from the famous Camino de Santiago, the Picos offer you the opportunity of quieter trails, authentic Spanish culture and villages and routes with stunning visual backdrops in the limestone mountains that make up the Picos. The Spanish equivalent of a mini set of Alps, in late June and early July they are uncrowded, fresh, welcoming and wonderful.
We are running two tours back to back with a limit of 12 places on each. Each tour lasts Wed- Wed, with 5 days of walking in each tour. Walking is moderate (4-5hrs per day), with an option to do a challenging day mid-tour (6-7hrs). The tour cost includes your guide, accommodation, food, airport pick-up and drop-off and luggage transfer.
As well as a fascinating local culture and a rich history there are a wide variety of spin-off activities and sight-seeing (mountain-biking, rafting, kayaking), as well as museums, cable car rides and mountain fenicular railways to enjoy when you want to catch your breath.
Our guide from Ireland will work with local guides where required and will accompany your tour thorough-out.
To book, choose your preferred week and pay a £100 deposit below to secure a place. The remaining balance can be paid in two equal lump sums by Dec 2016 and Feb 2017.
|DEPARTURE / RETURN||Santander Airport, Spain|
Day 1 - Arrive Santander - travel to Espinama (677m)
Day 2 - Espinama (677m)
Day 3 - Espinama to Sotres (10km) (1050m)
Day 4 - Sotres to Bulnes (7km) (550m)
A short descent from the village of Sotres is following by an ascending trail to Terenosa (1200m), a 3km walk from the village.
From here a challenging alternative route is the 5km ascent to the magnificent Naranjo de Bulnes (1960m), a Tor rock dominating the entire central massif of the Picos. Following lunch at the Refugio de Uriellu in the shadow of Naranjo de Bulnes, a 4km descent brings you to Bulnes village.
For easy to moderate legs, the route from Terenosa goes downhill, through alpine meadows with magnificent views of the Naranjo de Bulnes to the south. Grazing goats and cattle nibble the alpine flora and a 3km descent sees you into Bulnes village nestled at the head of a quiet valley, serviced not by road, but a funicular rail link. We lodge in the convivial Albergue de Cabrales (no goats indoors!)
Day 5 - Bulnes to Cain (12km) via ‘Ruta de Cares’ or Cares Gorge (480m)
For those suffering any excesses from the challenging route of the day prior, the 2km funicular rail descent to Poncebos for the start of the day can be a welcome option.
Otherwise the 1 hour descent by foot is one of the flavours of the central massif. At Poncebos the funicular and trail meet at the eastern end of the ‘Ruta de Cares’ or Cares Gorge.
Sometimes described as the most stunning walk in Europe, the ‘Ruta de Cares’ is a 10km gorge walk extraordinaire. Using a path established for an innovative hydro-electric canal in the early 1900’s, the trail ascent to the south of the river and reaches 200-400 meters above the river bed. Dramatic views and a trail cut through solid rock in places are not for the vertiginous, but as one of the most popular routes in the entire Picos, are well trod and convivial.
We overnight in the family run Alberque el Diablo de la Pena.
Day 6 - Cain and surrounds (4-8km)
Having walked from the principality of Cantabria right into Castille y Leon the previous day, Cain is a tiny mountain village supporting a few guest houses and corner shops in a spectacular cauldron of mountains at the head of Cares gorge and valley.
As the final walking day, the routes around the village allow for a pleasant warm-down and offer all grades of terrain and length depending on your energy levels.
Traditional copicing and small-hold agriculture and husbandry (including bee-keeping) are much in evidence and a pleasure to explore on a relaxing day walk.
In early evening we are picked up from Cain and transport to Tama near Potes to stay in Casa Gustavo, a local guesthouse run by English couple Mike and Lisa Stuart, proprietors of Picos Rock and Snow.