Picos mountains walking holiday in Spain

“An eight day walking holiday in Spain’s Picos de Europa Mountains, with five full days of guided walks travelling in a small group.”

Highlights

Arenas de Cabrale | Picos de Europa National Park | Collado Las Arnias | Caraves village | Collado de los Buitres | Cares Gorge walk | Peña Main | Pandebano Col | Mancondiu twin summits

Description of Picos mountains walking holiday in Spain

This eight day Picos Mountains walking holiday is still a relative newbie on the walkers’ worldwide wishlist, but the word is out. And it is good. The Picos de Europa, which translates as Europe’s peaks, are just 20km inland from the north coast of Spain’s Bay of Biscay and, as such, have always been the first mountains seen by people arriving in across the Atlantic. Which explains the name. The highest peak, Torre de Cerredo, towering over the region at 2,650m, is often snow covered as are many of the high elevations in his stunning limestone massif. A hiking heaven, much of it has been protected by national park status, proffering an eclectic array of waymarked ways and ancient paths, but also celebrated for its prolific wildlife including bearded vultures, Iberian wolves, brown bears and chamois.

With five full days of guided hikes, categorised at moderate level in terms of activity and fitness required, our hotel for the week is a beautifully located, locally owned small establishment in the mountain town of Arenas the Cabrales, where the morning views just make you want to start walking. With ancient Roman paths on the doorstep that take you through flower filled meadows, and then up to more rugged limestone uplands, you will gain superb views over surrounding valleys all in a morning’s hike.

It’s not all rolling hills and valleys on this walking holiday, however, with a few challenges thrown into the mix, albeit worth it for the view - and the journey. Such as a short climb up to the Collado de los Buitres, followed by another hike up to Pandescura peak, with well earned views over the massif which give great perspective of the region. Other pretty spectacular summit walks include one to Peña Main at 2000m and then, two for the price of one, at 2000m, the twin summits of Mancondiu.

For many people, however, the hiking highlight of the week is through Cares Gorge which cuts through the Picos and where an elevated 12km trail has been built into the rock face, originally designed to access a hydro-electric project from the 1940’s. Every day offers dramatic and devastatingly beautiful scenery in the Picos, however, making it one of those holidays that walkers come away from thinking ‘how can I never have been here before?’ but always plan to come back.

Travel Team

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Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

Environment
Accommodation and Meals:
It is ideally situated for anyone wishing to visit the Picos de Europa National Park or the beautiful beaches and fishing ports of the ‘Costa Verde’. As well as being predominantly locally staffed, the hotel also strives to buy the majority of its produce used for meals from local suppliers. The owners of the hotel also grow some of their own vegetables and you will be able to sample these in meals during the week. Meals provided are plentiful and a great chance to get in touch with cuisine in the Picos. The area is famous for its gold-medal-winning blue cheese, Queso Cabrales, which is matured in some of the thousands of deep limestone caves that dot the hills. Lesser known, but equally appealing is the local lamb Cordero al la Menta and a wholesome bean stew, Fabada Asturiana. Fresh fish comes from the coast at Llanes and Ribadesella, half an hour's drive away.

Activity:
Few holidays have as little detrimental impact on the environment and local residents as a walking trip. Erosion on and adjacent to popular paths is a growing problem in certain places and therefore our trip leaders encourage clients to stick to advised routes in order to minimise this. Your local guide knows the Picos so well that you will be able to take unmarked routes and avoid other groups entirely.We do believe in leaving no more than footprints, although this tour actively encourages guests to talk to local people, visit local cafes and restaurants and to use shops to buy handicrafts.

Water:
Water is a really important issue with active trips and whilst we must stay hydrated, it is also vital that we have a system for providing clean water without causing lots of waste with plastic bottles. We suggest that instead of repeatedly buying bottled water, guests should pack a refillable water bottle as the water at the hotel is drinkable and your guide will be able to advise where you can fill them up during the hikes.

UK Office:
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.

Group Size:
This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.
Community

The Impacts of this Trip

Community:
We suppport the community by using businesses in the village. Due to its location, our using local restaurants (at least one a week is scheduled), purchasing from local shops and using local transfers, is a very important source of income for many people here. Even profit made from buying locally produced souvenirs is significant for artisans in the village; handmade clogs, pottery and walking sticks are all on sale. Day 5 is free and often clients use this time to try an optional excursion, like caving, canoeing and canyoning. Again, this brings business and income to many companies in the region

Accommodation:
We spend the week at the small, family-run Hotel Torrecerredo, which is just five minutes from the centre of the rural village of Arenas De Cabrales

Climate

4 Reviews of Picos mountains walking holiday in Spain

5 out of 5 stars
SHOW
4
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Reviewed on 01 Oct 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


All the walks were memorable - difficult to rank them as each one enabled us to experience a new and different aspect of the area - from mountain pastures to
dramatic gorges and airy peaks circled by griffon vultures.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Get some hill walking experience under your belt before you start - and expect to be challenged!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes - we were scrupulously careful to minimise our impact on the landscape. The food at our hotel was locally sourced and delicious.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent - surpassed my expectations in every way. I managed to complete all the walks despite being the oldest in the group. Lovely, friendly companions
and a comfortable hotel, with staff that went out of their way to help. And the food was amazingly good and imaginative

Reviewed on 22 Oct 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


One of our walks included scrambling up a peak in the Macizo de Andara...it was tough but exhilarating when we reached the top. The views were amazing and
I felt a sense of achievement! Great walks throughout the holiday.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Be relatively fit in order to get the most benefit from the walks..and good quality walking shoes/boots.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


It definitely benefited local people, as we had dinner in a local restaurant and bought locally made cheese and goods.
As for reducing environmental impact or supporting conservation well, maybe, by using the routes in the mountains I hope that we helped contribute in the upkeep of the way of life in the area, which is so incredibly beautiful.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


I had the best time, the group was an excellent bunch of people and our guide was very knowledgeable, being from the area.
The hotel was lovely, my room comfortable with a view to the hills were cows were grazing. The staff were exceptionally helpful and friendly..I felt totally at
home.

Reviewed on 30 Oct 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The last days (Fridays walk) was the most memorable because 1) We reached the highest part of the walk. 2) the sun shone and we relaxed in a scheduled area just before we completed the walk - a great finish and memory.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


I cannot think of anything specific. The guide and hotel were very professional and had everything well honed and perfectly practiced. Take some sun block and anti midge stuff as even in October you could well need it. On a personal note I omitted to pre-book the long stay car park and got stung on the exit - my fault but a heads up from tour rep might be useful in pointing this out!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes the local who worked in the hotel seemed to directly benefits, as did the local taxi firm and café/shops.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Very good trip. Hotel was excellent, food both great and plentiful. Trip members were all good: agreeable and excellent company. Guide was knowledgeable, approachable and helpful. Overall nothing to complain about and everything to be completely happy with the trip

Reviewed on 08 Jun 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The views from the high Picos; the varied, lush, green landscape; the amazing wildflowers…the walks were very diverse and a great introduction to a beautiful area led by an excellent and informative guide.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


The terrain and weather is variable - be prepared for a variety of conditions underfoot.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, the hotel made an effort to source local food and it is small and family run. A group holiday is also pretty travel efficient.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


This holiday was great - the combination of a very friendly welcoming hotel with excellent food, the knowledgeable, engaging and good humoured guide and the variety of walks combined to make this one of the best holidays I have had
in ages.

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