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Traversing the Picos de Europa

THIS IS A TRIP OF TWO HALVES, IF YOU THOUGHT THE FIRST HALF WAS GREAT, THE SECOND IS EVEN BETTER! The walking wasn't particularly easy, it's far fr... Read more
Traversing the Picos de Europa


The walking wasn't particularly easy, it's far from it, but the outstanding views made the tough treks worthwhile. The first part of the trip starts with a drive into the heart of the mountains on twisting mountain roads climbing high above the villages, soon to arrive at a remote car park from where we start our trek.

From the car park, the gentle path winds its way through old grazing meadows deep into the mountains. It's not long until we arrive at our overnight accommodation nestled deep in the mountains; however our day is not yet over. We leave overnight equipment in the remote hut and take our essentials for an afternoon hike to the edge of the national park and a great viewpoint where we can see the limestone massive end. We continue 'off piste' taking in Pico Cotalba one of the 200+ peaks over 2000m in the Picos, before returning to the refuge for a welcome beer.

The following morning starts with a gentle downhill trek through limestone pavements and beach forests before gently climbing up through the pastures. We were lucky enough to take a short break and stop off at a cheese maker’s house, one of the last few that live in the mountains making cheese the traditional way. After saying farewell to the cheese maker we climb over some small cols which take us deeper in to the mountains to our overnight refuge.

The last day of the first half is mainly downhill. We awoke to the refuge surrounded by cloud. However we soon dropped below it and the spectacular Cares Gorge appeared where the views over the central massive were amazing. After completing the descent we join the tourist path alongside the gorge, before arriving at our hotel. The second half of the trip starts from the hotel which is nestled at the end of the Cares Gorge. From here we trek alongside a gorge which rises steeply up to the small village of Bulnes. The village is only connected to the outside world by an underground railway and there are no cars. The ascent up to the village was approximately 600m and it's a lovely place, with a great cafe for a rewarding drink. We continue ascending for another 600m through shady forest and across green pastures. We break out onto the high mountain terrain leaving the green pasture behind us heading up steep rocky paths to the base of the Urelliu peak, a dramatic shear face of rock popular with climbers. The reward of this 1800m ascent is the great Uriella Refuge with fantastic views across the high Picos.

Our journey continues across the high Picos, through barren lunar landscapes, seeing chamois in the distance. As we continue the path becomes slightly scramblier in places, but I felt this just adds to the adventure! The terrain is more undulating than the day before, but this does make it easier on the knees. On the journey we take in the summit of Torre de los Horcados Rojo one of the 200+ peaks that are over 2000m in the Picos. This provides a fantastic view of where we have come from and of the journey we still have in front of us. As we descend from our high point, we visit the Veronica refuge, an emergency refuge manned all year by volunteers. They usually sell refreshments which they have carried up, so if you're lucky, a cool beer may be your reward! As we continue to descend we cross high mountain terrain and pasture land before arriving at our overnight refuge. This is a decent day in the hills as we rack up around 1000m of ascent and decent.

From our beautiful overnight refuge we traverse the rocky Hill side to the summit of Valdecoro which gives us great views back across the Picos and our previous days hike. Before gradually descending deep in to the valley, through forest before arriving at our accommodation for a well earned drink! A fantastic adventure all round.

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