Picos de Europa tour a must for avid walkers
It was a dream of mine to visit the Picos for many years. I had heard and read about it, and in 2015 I finally made it out there!
The Picos de Europa are a range of mountains up to 2650m in height populating the northern provinces of Asturias and Cantabria just off the uppermost coast of Spain. A two hour flight from Dublin to Santander and a scenic two hour bus ride sees you there in time for evening meal and tapas.
Not far south pilgrims progress along the flatter and infamous ‘Camino’- you’ll meet several on the flight out. The Picos however a completely different offering- they are the Spanish equivalent of the Alps. They offer big enough mountains to choose a different type of route each day.
Photo: Conor O’Braonain
They also offer culture and quaintness a-plenty in the rustic villages of rural Spain. There are a wide variety of spin-off activities to choose from like mountain-biking, rafting, kayaking, sight-seeing or plain relaxing in the local cafes, museums and attractions (cable cars, mountain railways etc).
Far and Wild sent a week there in May 2015, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience to want to go back with you in May 2016. We did a good deal of moderate walks and several challenging ones, above the snow line.
It was the first time for some of us using snow axes and crampons and it was a superb season to learn the basics and push our boundaries a bit. In the pic below you can see Mark doing an easy enough snow traverse about the temperature inversion. the popular Cares Gorge is in the background.
May 2016 would not involve mush snow- possibly a small bit on approach to the most accessible refuge, and the majority of routes would be between 800-1500 metres. May is early in the season and ensures great accommodation options and routes. There are a wide variety of walks for easy, moderate and more challenging days out, and an itinerary with a choice of walks each day to give a mix of adrenaline and relaxation if preferred.
From lowland meadows and pastures, satisfying limestone rocky ridges and trails to the plateau of the central massif (around 2000m), the area is a must for walkers looking for a week of mild to strenuous adventure.
The area is famed for its goat’s cheese and chorizo- which is made with chilli- as we recently found out! Never far from a lolling bell of a grazing four legged creature of one kind of another, it is the perfect place to absorb some traditional culture, learn a bit of Spanish and savor pure mountain air.
I can’t recommend the Picos enough personally, and I’m really looking forward to going back.