Picos De Europa - Fabulous Mountain Walking

Picos de Europa
Self Guided Walking 7 nights

The Picos de Europa is a range of dramatic mountains inland from the northern coast of Spain. They straddle the 3 regions of Asturias, Cantabria and Castille & Leon. The name derives from ships arriving from America and these were the first landmark – “The Peaks of Europe”
The Picos de Europa consists of three massifs: Central, Eastern and Western. The Picos are mainly limestone and thousands of years of weather and glacial action has sculpted the peaks into some awesome landscapes.

The central and western massifs are separated by the breathtaking Cares Gorge (Garganta del Cares), a 1.5km deep gorge with a stunning path running along the water canal that feeds two hydro-electric stations. The highest peak is Torre de Cerredo at 2650m but the most recognisable peak is Naranjo de Bulnes, or Picu Urriellu, at 2529m.

The Picos De Europa has Cantabrian brown bears (Ursus arctos pyrenaicus) and wolves (Canis lupus signatus) live in the more remote regions. There are about 150 bears in the massifs and they are timid. There are roughly 2000 grey wolf in Spain with only a fraction of the population existing in the Picos. The main mammal you will encounter is the Cantabrian Chamois, or Rebeco, of which there were reportedly 8000 sightings in 2008.

We have designed this walking holiday to walk some of the best bits of the Picos de Europa. We walk through the Eastern and Central massifs and utilise El Cable (cable car) at Fuente De to gain 750m and to make the walking easier for some. We walk to the beautiful village of Sotres straight over the Eastern massif below the foot of the peak of Naranjo de Bulnes. We also walk to Bulnes which until 2001 was not connected by any transport but now the Funicular train connects the village to the main road; then we walk the Cares Gorge. The walking holiday stays for 2 nights in each hotel with only 1 night at the Cares Gorge, your luggage being moved onwards for you to the next hotel.

We have chosen family-run hotels that are good quality, comfortable and cook quality local traditional food. All the rooms are en-suite. We use local taxi drivers and we keep your transport to a minimum.

Level : Medium - 8km - 24km(up to)
Accommodation: Hotel Posada Sobrevilla III, Hotel Peña Castil, Hotel Garganta del Cares, Hotel Picos de Europa.
Price: 645 Euro 
All breakfasts, 6 Evening meals (not inc 1 night in Espinama), quality en-suite hotel accommodation, onward luggage transfers, taxi to Fuente De (10min), taxi from Poncebos to Arenas de Cabrales (10 min)
Transfers:- 100 Euro each way from Santander – Espinama
                                                             Arena de Cabrales – Santander
Trains to Unquera – 1hr transfer from here (price to be arranged).

Itinerary 7 nights Picos De Europa
Day 1
Arrive in Espinama - Transfers available from Santander
                Hotel Posada Sobrevilla III – Dinner in hotel
Day 2
Walk 1 Espinama – Pido – Las Ilces – Espinama; 10km 3-4hrs
A beautiful walk through the woods of Monte De Carbon along an easy to navigate and walk route
Walk 2 Espinama – Pembes – Espinama; 13km 5-6hrs
A walk into the national park with some fabulous views of the Central massif
Day 3

Transfer to Fuente De (5mins)
Either walk up to the plateau or catch El Cable(cable car 10 Euro one way Adult, 4 Euro one way Child)
Dinner in Espinama – 4 good restaurants to choose from
Walk 1 Walk to Sotres – via GR202 (if windy or conditions are bad then this can be walked from Espinama) (an early start of 9am to make sure you miss the queues at the cable car)
A trip to the Picos is not complete without a ride on the Teleferico – cable car. This rises 750 m to the plateau where the walk begins. It costs 10 euro one way per adult, 4 euro per child. Breathtaking views at the top before you walk past the Refugio de Aliva and then down onto the GR202, walking along a long valley all the way to Sotres.
Dinner in Hotel
Walk 2 Fuente De – Naranjo de Bulnes – Sotres ; 17km (extra 2km and 750m ascent if cable car not used)
A stunning walk right over the Central massif through the limestone landscape, walking along good paths but must be wary of navigation. All the way to the refugio at Naranjo de Bulnes (lunch can be bought here). Enjoy the dramatic peak above you before the beautiful long descent down in to the valley and on Sotres.
Check into Hotel Peña Castil
Dinner in Hotel
Day 4

Walk 1 Sotres – Tielve – Sotres; 14km 4-6 hrs (can be shortened to 9km with a taxi from Tielve)
Another great walk rising out of Sotres you will walk over grazing land with some stunning views down the Rio Duje Valley. Walk through disused farmsteads along a track before the final descent to Tielve. From here you need to walk along little used road for 2km before taking an ancient mule trail back into Sotres. Lunch can be had at the Hostal Duje just a little down the road towards Sotres.
Walk 2 Hito Escarandi – Sotres; 17km 5-7 hrs (short transfer to Jito de Escarandi – 10mins)
 A beautiful circular walk that takes you right past the old mines of Andara, where they mined Sphalerite (the chief ore of zinc) and lead. Great views and walk.
Dinner in Hotel
Day 5
Sotres – Bulnes – Funicular train (17 Euro one way) 7km or walk on to Poncebos 10km
A lovely walk out of Sotres and over the Collado Pandebano and then down to the village of Bulnes. Bulnes did not have any means of access till 2001 apart from on foot. Lunch can be had at Bulnes. Then you can either catch the Funicular train down to Poncebos or walk along a stunning gorge down to Poncebos.
Check in to Hotel Garganta del Cares – right at the start of the gorge walk
Day 6

Garganta del Cares Walk Up to 24km
(You cannot catch a taxi from Cain as this is a 2.5 hr road journey.)
The famous Cares Gorge is 1.5km to the valley floor and is 12 km long to the village of Cain. You will pass through tunnels with amazing scenery. A walk well worth doing. This was built to serve the canal that runs parallel to the path. 
This walk is a return walk to Poncebos, it is 24 km return from the village of Cain (12km each way). It is not hard walking but it is vertiginous. You can walk as long as you want on this day but bring lunch as the bars in Cain often do not serve food.
Dinner in Hotel
Day 7
 Transfer to Hotel in Arenas De Cabrales
Check into Hotel Picos De Europa
Free day or Walk
Arenas de Cabrales Circular 10km 4-6hrs
A walk from the hotel into the hills to the north of Arenas de Cabrales, providing some wonderful views of the national park. A good walk to finish the week on.
Dinner in hotel.
Day 8
Check out of Hotel and Transfer

London Stansted – Santander
Edinburgh – Santander
Dublin – Santander (Sunday & Wednesday)
Vueling - London Gatwick – Santander
Transfers will be expensive from Bilbao
Bilbao – Manchester  Easyjet
Bilbao – London Heathrow BA
Bilbao – London Gatwick Vueling
Bilbao – London Stansted EasyJet
Asturias – London Stansted Easyjet


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