Start: Arenas de Cabrales Finish: Arenas de Cabrales
Travel to the Picos de Europa and settle in at your hotel in Arenas de Cabrales. Check out the Romanesque parish church of Santa Maria de Llas and get last-minute walking gear and special food items at the village shops. If you arrive early, stretch your legs on an optional warm-up walk. This evening, get a taste for the Picos with a bit of local blue cheese, Queso Cabrales, and refreshing apple cider.
Challenge: 3,5-4 hrs, 10 km, 380 m ascent/descent
Your introduction to the national park is an absolute Picos de Europa ‘must-hike’, the stunning Ruta del Cares. Walked yearly by thousands, this impressive limestone gorge remains strikingly beautiful. And pleasantly easy, as the route parallels a 12-kilometre canal which feeds the Poncebos hydroelectric station. After a 5-minute transfer and short steep ascent, the path levels off and you cruise the rest of the way to Caín ‘on the flat’. From there, you have the option of continuing up the valley on foot (another 8 km) or taking a taxi to your hotel in Posada de Valdeón.
Challenge: 3,5-7 hrs, 12- 21 km, 300 m ascent and 50 m descent OR 800 m ascent and 125 m descent
Take a deep breath of clean mountain air and set off uphill on the historic traders’ path called ‘el Camín del Mercadillo’. After 7km and 800m in ascent, you reach the idyllic meadows at Caben Remoña right on the border between León and Cantabria. From there you can choose to walk straight down to Espinama or do the spectacular high route to Vega de Liordes and Fuente Dé, ending with a bus or taxi ride 3,5km to your hotel. If you have booked luggage transport, option of shortening the route at the start by riding the first 5km with your bags (also saves on ascent).
Challenge: 6,5-8,5 hrs, 16-17 km, 800 m ascent and 900 m descent OR 1270 m ascent and 1120 m descent
Amble over to Fuente Dé and steel yourself for the cable car journey (pardon the pun) soaring high up into the Central Massif. Optionally, you can choose to climb directly up from Espinama following woodland tracks to Áliva Pass, elevation 1645m. An impressive glacier moraine then leads down the Duje Valley to Sotres. At 1050m, the highest village in the Picos makes an ideal base for unbeatable walking on the Asturian side of the range. After a long hike, the end of your route is an invigorating 150-metre ascent up to the village!
Challenge: 6.5-7 hrs, max. 17 km, 700 m ascent and 560 m descent OR 925 m ascent and 750 m descent
Zoom uphill on a short taxi ride into the Eastern Massif and embark on a gorgeous and infinitely varied loop in the area known as Andara. Trundling up a historic mining track into a world of karst, you make your way to a fabulous overlook at the far eastern edge of the massif, San Carlos Peak, elevation 2215m. The long descent takes rocky paths and winding cattle trails down steep slopes bakc to your hotel in Sotres.
Challenge: 5,5 hrs, 12 km, 550 m ascent, 840 m descent. For optional peak, add: 3 hrs, 6,5 km, 500 m ascent
The highlight of this trek of highlights pierces the very heart of the Central Massif as you clamber up to the hut beneath Picu Urriellu, a stunning slab of limestone and mecca for world-class rock climbers. Starting slow on local farming tracks, you wind your way up from Sotres passing happy cows and perfect stone barns to reach Pandébano Col. Next is a narrow path going up and up into a lunar landscape, home to chamoix and alpine choughs with the peak's imposing 400-metre looming above.
Today you carry just a few things for your overnight stay at the refuge, while your main luggage is transported to the next hotel. Snow can be a factor on this route early in the season. In the event the hut cannot be reached, the alternate program includes a circular walk to nearby Tielve and overnight stay in Sotres.
Challenge: 5,5 hrs, 12 km, 1085 m ascent, 180 m descent
Get to know yet another facet of the Picos as you test your knees on a steep descent to the remote village of Bulnes (no road access). After a swig of water and helpful 'tapa' to keep you going, it continues to be all downhill, this time through the craggy goat-filled Teju Gorge to Poncebos. You have now come full circle, back to the very start of your trek. A splendid journey full of mental snapshots and, most certainly, an inordinate number of holiday photos!
Challenge: 5-6 hrs, 9,5 km, 50 m ascent, 1900 m descent
Your self-guide trek comes to an end today after breakfast. Taxi transfers can be arranged to the airport (Oviedo, Santander or Bilbao).
Challenge: Departure from the Picos de Europa
Welcoming rural accommodation, located in the limit of the National Park of Picos de Europa, no too far from the well-known "Cares Gorge" route. Warm atmosphere and traditional decoration, with good quality services that will make your stay a very nice experience.
This hotel is located in Posada de Valdeón. Surrounded by the impressive summits of Picos de Europa and on the Cares riverbank. An ideal place to relax and enjoy nature. Comfortable rooms
This hostel is set in the picturesque town of Espinama, one of the main entries to the central massif of Picos de Europa. It has 9 comfortable and welcoming rooms, as wel as a nice restaurant with a magnificent gastronomic offer that includes homemade specialities from the area. It also has a private outdoor swimming pool.
Family-run hotel, inaugurated in 2005. The rooms and terraces offer spectacular views to the Picos de Europa. They have a restaurant that offers the traditional gastronomy of the area.
Urriellu mountain refuge is located in the very heart of the National Park of Picos de Europa, just at the base of the iconic "Picu Urriellu", also known as "Naranjo de Bulnes". It has a total of 96 beds, grouped in 4 dormitories of 24 beds, distributed in 4 large bunk bed rows.
NOTE: This trip is also offered as a 12-day option (See trip "Picos de Europa Mountain Trek")
You can start on any day of the week, subject to availability, between May 15th and October 15th
Arrive in Arenas de Cabrales
From the airports there are good bus connections to city centre bus stations, where you can catch a connecting bus to your destination (ALSA bus company, see time tables at www.alsa.es).
From Oviedo centre there are direct buses to Arenas de Cabrales, though these services cannot be booked in advance. From Santander and Bilbao, you take a direct bus to Unquera and then continue by taxi to Arenas de Cabrales.
NOTE: It is wise to book your bus tickets and taxi transfer in advance, especially for arrivals and when travelling in summer or on Friday afternoons. You can buy your bus tickets through the ALSA website www.alsa.es or through your S-cape office in Spain, also responsible for booking your taxi from Unquera to Arenas.
Departure from Arenas de Cabrales
Your trek ends in Arenas de Cabrales. Bus tickets can be booked in advance through S-cape Travel.
Airport transfers for arrival / departure can be booked in advance through S-cape Travel. Costs will depend on number of passengers, airport used and time of pick up.
GPS tracks are available on request.
This trip is also offered as a 12-day option
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