Example tour: Picos Tour 2016
One or two week options
Day 1. Hotel, Llanes
Transfer from Bilbao to Llanes
Llanes is a wonderful old fishing town and beach resort set on the rugged Asturian coast. It´s really picturesque and has a wonderful breakwater of painted blocks. There are many coves and small beaches nearby. Seafood is a speciality here as is the local hard cider.
Day 2 Hotel, Llanes
Hike the Senda Costera coastal path with its azure waters, hidden coves, cliffs, Rias (river mouths) and pretty fishing villages. This is a quite different day to the others on the tour, with interesting coastal wildlife and we´ll also see the abrupt geological transition between the Jurassic rocks by Ribadesella and the limestone formations that make up the Picos de Europa.
Day 3 Hotel Pola de Somiedo
Drive 1 hour 30 0 to Oviedo. We´ll explore Oviedo a lovely provincial capital and visit Monte Naranco with its beautiful early church and Palace dating from the first half of the 9th Century. We´ll then drive from Oviedo to the village of Pola de Somiedo (1hr15). Pola de Somiedo is set in the Somiedo Natural Park and is a picturesque and idyllic base for hiking. The area is a UNESCO Biosphere reserve with a healthy population of Brown Bears and wolves. Farming in this very rural area is still highly traditional with cattle going up to the Brañas - high mountain pastures - in summer. We stay in the Hotel Palacio Florez Estrada – a lovely hotel by the river with parts of the structure dating back to the 1100’s.
Day 4. Hotel Pola de Somiedo
A valley route up to El Lago del Valle and Lago de La Mina. 6 hours walking at first along the valley through fields and then up to the Lago de La Mina set at 1600 metres. Then we retrace our steps and hike up to the Lago del Valle. This is a classic Asturian walk with beautiful high pastures, picturesque shepherds huts, ancient Roman mines and great views. The bird and plant life is exceptional and we´ll see Vultures, Golden Eagle and enjoy many alpine flowers.
Day 5. Hotel, Pola de Somiedo
A twelve mile circular route taking in 3 high passes, stunning Brañas (shepherds settlement high in the hills), Beech forest and three beautiful villages. A spectacular day of views, rural and high country farming and stunning scenery with very few people around.
Day 6. Hotel, Arenas de Cabrales
2hr15 drive through rugged hill country towards the Picos de Europa. On the way we´ll stop off at a couple of lovely villages and do a short hike to a fabulous picnic spot. Then we´ll continue to Arenas de Cabrales. A lively Asturian village at the northern foot of the highest peaks in the Picos and the perfect base for the second part of the trip.
Day 7. Hotel, Arenas de Cabrales
Circular walk from Arenas following old tracks to high summer pastures and on to a long ridge which we follow back to Arenas. You really get a feel for the old shepherd way of life in this part of the mountains. A beautiful and fairly easy hike.
Day 8. Hotel, Arenas de Cabrales
A short drive to a trailhead from where we hike 3 hours 600m uphill to the foot of the Picos most famous mountain - the Naranjo de Bulnes/Uriellu. We return via a different route to Bulnes – a gorgeous, tiny village set above the main valley. You can go down to the roadhead either hiking down the Bulnes gorge or by using the funicular railway (optional). There is an easier hike if you prefer not to go all the way up to the Naranjo de Bulnes. This is a spectacular day with gentle pastures giving way to the steep and rocky limestone peaks of the high Picos.
Day 9 Hotel, Valdeon BLD
Today we head towards the south western Picos hiking along the famous Cares gorge. This spectacular and easy trail was made to channel water to a hydro station in Arenas. It´s a hike of incredible views, steep cliffs, the raging river Cares and at the end the village of Cain, the highest village in the Valdeon valley. A stunning day. We stay a 20 minute drive down the valley in the stunning village of Posada de Valdeon.
Day 10 Hotel, Valdeon BD
Free day in the village. There are several excellent hikes from the village for those who would like to keep hiking. Otherwise the river, meadows and forest are blissful places to stroll, relax and explore.
Day 11 Hotel, Valdeon
A 4 hour walking circuit from the village climbing 500 metres through forest and pasture up to the Vega de Llos, a broad plateau high above the valley. There are great views of the valley and the limestone pinnacles of the western and central Picos. We return by a different path through oak forest back to the idyllic village of Posada de Valdeon.
Day 12 Hotel , Espinama.
Drive 1hr 30 to Fuente Dé – the head of the Deva Valley where we take the cable car up to the highest part of the Picos. From the top of the cable car station we hike up to the Pico Padierna for incredible views in all directions – back to the Naranjo de Bulnes and South across endless hills and mountains. We´ll see many alpine species including Snowfinch, Chamois and Alpine Accentor. We´ll take the cable car back down, or you can make the long descent on foot and we stay in the nearby mountain village of Espinama.
Day 13 Hotel, Espinama.
A 30 minute drive brings us to the Sierra de Bejes. We´ll walk from the village of Bejes along the ridge of the Sierra looking down into the valley. The route goes through oak and Beech forest and pasture land before going downhill to the Desfiladero (canyon) de La Hermida which is a spectacular gorge noted for the many rare birds which find refuge there.
Day 14 Transfer to Bilbao
A 2 hour transfer to Bilbao. We´ll visit the Altamira cave paintings (an excellent replica) and one of the lovely Cantabrian coastal villages along the way.