We´ve just finished a truly wonderful trip to the mountains of North West Spain with a group of 8 Americans.
After a wet Spring the weather finally came good and we had good days with any rain we had falling in the evenings. The mountains were at their absolute best – greener than ever and with one of the best displays of alpine flowers for years.
We started in Llanes on the coast where the group had done a couple of days hiking along the beautiful Coastal Camino de Santiago and drove via Oviedo to Somiedo – three days of truly idyllic hiking followed and the hotel – a beautifully restored ´Palacio´couldn´t have been better. This area is perhaps my favourite in Northern Spain – the scenery, the lack of people – we hardly saw anyone on some of the most beautiful hikes you can do anywhere – people´s genuine hospitality in the villages and the traditional pastoral way of life which still hangs on in this corner of 21st Century Europe.
The next part of the trip was in the Picos near the famous peak of Naranjo de Bulnés/Uriellu. Again we stayed in a great hotel which gave us the best dinners of the trip including superb salads, great fish and locally produced beef. Again we had some great hikes with a classic route up to the foot of Uriellu and another circuiting around a less frequented sierra to the North. Here there were high hay meadows, a long descent down a ridge with wonderful views and a beautiful labyrinth of karstic limestone with gnarled old Beech trees where we felt as if we would see a Hobbit any moment!
Next was the Garganta del Cares Gorge – a stunning 16km hike with sheer limestone walls and the river in full flow. This is the one hike that everybody does in the Picos and with good reason.
Three days in Valdeon followed, first with a day to relax and enjoy this valley which is really quiet compared to other parts of the Picos and which has some of the best hiking. Next day we did a circuit around the high valley with a sea of mist below us as we walked in bright sunshine. Apart from a shepherd we saw no one else all day. Carlene found some Boletus mushrooms which we were thrilled to find and I promised to prepare them for a picnic. Afterwards we felt as if we had dreamed the hike as it had been so beautiful. Next day we followed the old route towards the Liébana Valley – another great hike finishing by the cable car at Fuente Dé and stayed in a nice village auberge with a nice, homely restaurant. Next day we hiked the trails between some high, isolated farming villages in the hills. I took my cook stove and a frying pan and, for our lunch, we cooked the Boletus/Porcini mushrooms with scrambled eggs and some local pancetta (dry cured bacon). Delicious!
On our way back to Bilbao we stopped on the coast for a really nice hike near San Vicente and then had a great seafood lunch by the beach – an hour later we were in Bilbao saying goodbye. I was sad to see everyone go as we´d had a really special trip together. Everyone had a great time and got on really well. I couldn´t ask for better company! Thanks all for coming and for being such nice folks!
Please get in touch if you´d like to plan a similar tour with us and we´ll be delighted to help.