“There’s a lot that I think is special about walking in the Picos de Europa,” says Ana Rodríguez García, founder of our specialist operator Peak Me Languages. Ana grew up in the region and returned a few years, and now organises walking and Spanish language tours
here. “There is the great variety of landscapes from one valley to the next – the woodlands, the meadows, the mountains. There is the coast just a 15-minute drive away, so you can be snowshoeing in the peaks in the morning and looking up at them from a white sand beach in the afternoon. And then you mustn’t forget the opportunity to explore Asturian gastronomy.”
Ah yes, the food. There are some old traditions here, such as basketmaking, that are sadly close to dying out. But others flourish, among them cheese and cider-making. “There are several from this region that are known both nationally and internationally, and there is also a strong cider-making culture,” Ana continues. “We try and incorporate these into our itineraries – we hope soon to include a visit to a working cider farm with an orchard, a 200-year-old mill, and tastings of course.”
The Picos de Europa, a mountain range rising up from the Atlantic coast and Spain’s first national park, is dotted with old villages, many of which have little bars that you can stop in for a caña
(beer) and a slice of cheese. Income from tourists helps ensure these places, which are often a place of community for local people, can survive. If you’ve built up a healthy appetite walking, you can eat extremely well in these small places, avoiding prices inflated for tourists in more well-known areas. And the proprietors are always happy to repeat what they’re saying so you can grasp it.