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Welcome to Hooked on Walking Holidays and our walking holiday in northern Spain. This particular hiking holiday in Spain explores the fabulous Picos de Europa Mountains of northern Spain situated to the west of Bilboa and south of Santander. This walking holiday is available as a eleven night self led tour. This walking holiday for certain allows you to see the high peaks of green Spain. The Picos de Europa are without a doubt the most impressive mountains of Spain emerging from a coastal landscape as a natural frontier between the green north of Spain and the more arid Castille. The heart of the Picos is formed by three limestone massifs, that aren’t easily crossed on foot or by car (luggage transport). In this depopulated region, with a completely different landscape of conglomerate rock, bears and wolves try hard to survive.
Day 1 Arrival in Arenas de Cabrales
Settle into your hotel situated on a quiet lane of the village. If you have time, visit Santa Maria de Llas Church of Romanesque origin. For walking gear or special food items, Arenas is an excellent place to do your shopping. In the evening, try the local cider on an outdoor terrace.
Day 2 Circular Walk from Arenas 7.1 miles miles 11.5km,650m up/down 5.5 hours
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.
Day 3 From Poncebos to Posada de Valdeón through the Cares Gorge 12.5km, 20km 680m/100m up/down 6.5 hours.
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.
Day 4 Circular walk from Valdeón 7.8miles, 12.5km 600m up/down 5 hours
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.
Day 5 From Valdeón to Espinama via Liordes 10 miles 16km, 800/1235m , 900/1135m up/down 7-8 hours.
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).
Day 6 Horcados Rojos 6.5 miles, 10km, 500m up/down 4.5 hours.
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.
Day 7 From Espinama to Sotres 10 miles, 16km, 900/750m up/down, 6 hours.
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!
Day 8 Circular walk in Ándara (Pico San Carlos) 10 miles, 16km, 640-1040/900-1300m up/down 5.5-8 hours
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.
Day 9 Circular walk via Tresviso 6.8miles 11km , 450/680 up/down 4-5.5 hours.
Today’s is a shorter route beginning the 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.
Day 10 From Sotres to Vega de Urriellu 6.2 miles 10km 1025/150m up/down 5 hours.
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.
Day 11 From Urriellu to Poncebos 5.3 miles, 8.5km 1650m down 5 hours.
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.
Day 12 Departure
What is Included
Tour Code Picos12
Price per persons based on 2 persons sharing double room
High season price per person 1/7-31/8
£808 (Double) / £1238 (Single
How to get there
By plane to Bilbao or Santander airports where transfers are available to Arenas
Fly Easyjet or others to Bilbao or Ryanair to Santander
By Ferry to Santander or Bilbao.from UK.
Public Transport from Bilbao around 3.5 hours (cost around 32€) and from Santander around 1.5 hours.
Private transfer from Santander are around 110€ paid locally for 1-4 persons
Extension Hotels: Bilbao, Sotres , Trevino and Llanaves de la reina
Photo by Anneamrie Dekkers, Marieke Knaapen
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Cycling Holidays in Spain