Walking Holidays

Europe’s majestic mountains ~ with a genuine specialist
Organised & Self-guided Walking

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Tel. 01799 513331 - - Open Today - 9am to 5.30pmCollett's Ltd. is ABTA bonded W6883 - Travel with confidence
Organised & Self-guided Walking with a Genuine Specialist

“I wonder if there is any better way to spend a week of a what is a short life than wandering at a gentle pace in warm, sunny weather through acres of alpine meadows filled with spring flowers and framed by snow capped mountains?”

Add to that a background sound track of jays, chiff-chaffs, cuckoos and cow bells and some very good company and you have, in my view, the recipe for a perfect trip… The Spring flower season here is short but spectacular – there are around three weeks between 20th May and 7th June when the mountains burst into life with a wide array of colourful alpine plants. You can see at least 170 different plants (the number featured in Mountain Flowers, Pyrenees and Picos by Cliff Booker and David Charlton) including some stunning orchids and a number of plants that grow only in this region, making sightings extra special. Meadows jam packed full of orchids that would be protected as a site of special interest and attract numerous visitors back home in the UK are laid out here seemingly just for you. On the majority of our walks in the Picos this week, we saw no-one on other than the group we were walking with.

Walking in  the Tuscan Hills with Collett's Walking in  the Tuscan Hills with Collett's
Flower Holidays in the Picos de Europa Flower Holidays in the Picos de Europa
Flower Holidays in the Picos de Europa Flower Holidays in the Picos de Europa
Flower Holidays in the Picos de Europa Flower Holidays in the Picos de Europa
Flower Holidays in the Picos de Europa Flower Holidays in the Picos de Europa
Flower Holidays in the Picos de Europa Flower Holidays in the Picos de Europa
Flower Holidays in the Picos de Europa Flower Holidays in the Picos de Europa
Flower Holidays in the Picos de Europa Flower Holidays in the Picos de Europa
Flower Holidays in the Picos de Europa Flower Holidays in the Picos de Europa
Flower Holidays in the Picos de Europa Flower Holidays in the Picos de Europa
Flower Holidays in the Picos de Europa Flower Holidays in the Picos de Europa
Flower Holidays in the Picos de Europa Flower Holidays in the Picos de Europa
Flower Holidays in the Picos de Europa Flower Holidays in the Picos de Europa
Flower Holidays in the Picos de Europa Flower Holidays in the Picos de Europa

We joined a trip organised by Collett’s Mountain Holidays and were very impressed with their organisation and how the trip was constructed – I would recommend them highly.

The Picos is where Northern and Southern Europe meet. This means that you can see a huge variety of flora in one place. The weather during our week was warm and sunny and quite hot on a number of days towards the end of the week – even in the high mountains. The cool mountain breeze really helped to refresh us on the hot days though. We had just a shower of rain on the first day, although the forecast was for more rain the week after our trip finished, so I think we were somewhat lucky with the weather.

​The trees are mostly deciduous here which gives a lovely soft feel to the mountain sides and the play of light through the branches makes for much more interesting scenery than you would get if the trees were evergreen. It would be a beautiful place to visit in the Autumn as the leaves began to turn, although you would not see as many flowers as we did then. We picked our way carefully through the paths, treading gently and taking care not to tread on the delicate little alpine plants we had travelled so far to see. In several places, it seemed at first sight that there was nothing much to see – you could easily have driven or walked straight past and missed everything. With careful guiding though, a closer exploration of woodlands, rocks, meadows and crevices yielded a string of treats and surprises. Stopping to inspect still closer, the intricate beauty of the alpine flowers slowly reveals itself. When you are seeing so many orchid, which are the undoubted stars of the show here, it is all too easy to overlook some of the other equally beautiful plants. For example the alpine eyebright – a minuscule flower only just over a couple of millimetres wide – so small you could pass by without noticing or easily crush it underfoot. Pause a while to inspect its delicate beauty and you will be well rewarded.

Fascinating fact: The alpine meadows are in fact man -made. If they were not grazed or mown, they would cease to exist because they would be overtaken by woodlands. The tree seedlings that you see scattered through the meadows are a constant reminder of this.

Foodie Firsts: Padrón pepper. Pimientos de Padrõn are small, bright green peppers from the northwest part of Spain. They are mild but occasionally surprisingly spicy making eating them an exciting voyage of discovery. To make them at home, take around 300 grams of Padrõn peppers and wash and dry them well. Heat around 50ml of extra virgin olive oil in a pan over a high heat until it starts to smoke. Add the peppers and cook, tossing them continuously until the skin starts to blister and soften. Pile the glistening green peppers high on a serving plate and season generously with flaky sea salt to taste. Heavenly!

Wish I had packed: – binoculars, plastic bags for picnic waste, compede plasters (we walked a LONG way in the heat!). Woolly hat and gloves – we didn’t actually need them, but it could well have been cold up there in the mountains and they are no use to you left back at home.

Glad I packed: – suncream, water bottle, raincoat.

Margot Harbot is a walker and travel blogger – you can see her blog at lovetowander.co.uk and you can follow her on instagram @lovetowander.co.uk

For next year’s dates – see Flower Walks in the Picos de Europa for more information.

We look forward to seeing you in the mountains. Please forward this link to all members of your party – and perhaps bookmark it for quick reference?
Any questions or concerns? Please call us on 01799 513331.

Essential Info.
Tuscany Handbook Information

Useful to know before you go

Click here to print this page as a PDF.

Arrival

On your arrival at Il Rigo, you will be asked to hand in the signed disclaimer sent to the person who booked the holiday prior to your departure. This should be signed by all members of your party. See the Disclaimer tab for a copy and more details.
If you have not already provided the UK office with your passport details, we will also need to take a copy of your passports for the purposes of tourist registration, so please ensure you have your passport to hand on the first evening or bring your own copy if you prefer not to be without it.

Banks

The nearest cash point is in the village of San Quirico D’Orcia (a 30 min walk or 10min drive). There is also a cash machine at the airport.

Day Off – Wednesdays

Our resort staff have their day off on a Wednesday. In Agritursimo Il Rigo, breakfast is served but dinner is not included. You can book in for dinner at Il Rigo if you would like. We just ask for 24 hours notice to do so. Our staff can recommend some excellent nearby restaurants. There are no Organised Walks and there is no Office Hour so you will need to subscribe to Thursday’s Organised Walks on Tuesday evening.

Dietary Requirements

Please contact us now if you have not informed us of any dietary requirements. If you are organising a group, have you checked the dietary requirements of your party? This concerns vegetarians, vegans and coeliac’s. Unfortunately, we cannot cater for personal food preferences.

Duty of Care & At Your Own Risk

Our walkers organise days out during your stay. They are not qualified guides and you join them at your own risk. We put safety first but you are as responsible as we are! You join our organised days out at your own risk, responsible for your own safety and as part of an autonomous group, in which each member has a duty of care to each other. Not being professionally responsible for you does not mean we turn a blind eye to safety, nor does it make us exempt from owing a duty of care to people joining our organised itineraries.
We deem the safety of our staff and guests to be of unparalleled importance and we therefore take our own safety measures and endeavour to minimise the possibility of personal injury and death. We do this in line with legal requirements pertaining to duty of care.
As with any person or organisation involved with activities where there is a possibility of personal injury or death, the issue of duty of care is ever-present and, in the absence of a qualified guide in ‘non-professional’ activities anywhere in the world, such as walking (whether organised by a company, club, university or even a friend) every member of the group has a legal commitment to all involved. This commitment to your fellow walkers should form the basis of your behaviour and actions during an organised walk, especially in the event of accident or injury.

Estimated Time of Arrival

If you are making your way to Agriturismo Il Rigo independently, please contact us ASAP with your arrival time if you haven’t already. So that we can be there to greet you and settle you in. Please visit www.colletts.co.uk/eta and enter your details. Have a guess if you are not sure. Not required if you have booked an airport transfer.

Fly-Drivers & Self-Drivers

According to the AA, all valid UK driving licences should be accepted in Italy. If you have a new licence, then take both the card and paper sections.
If you have booked a hire car, a credit (not debit!) card is essential. It is generally swiped but not debited, although it is wise to make sure it is not being debited.
Self-drivers should familiarise themselves with the driving requirements for Italy, and the compulsory equipment that must be carried in your car. See www.theaa.com
If you are self-driving or hiring a car rather than joining us on a transfer please refer to Google Map Directions here.

Hairdryers

Every room at Agriturismo Il Rigo has a hairdryer.

Internet

Free WiFi access is available throughout Agriturismo Il Rigo, in both the Casabianca and Poggio Bacoca farmhouses, for guests with their own laptops or other devices.

Packed lunches

Packed lunches are available for purchase. Simply order one at Office Hour for collection from Casabianca the following day. Either a filled baguette for €3 or together with a juice and a snack for €5 (€18 for 6 days).

Other Info & Local A-Z

Local A-Z

Here is some local information in an A-Z format that will hopefully whet the appetite and help you hit the ground running. Click here to print this page as a PDF.

Agriturismo

The Italian word for a farmstay. Agriturismi are working farms offering traditional farmhouse accommodation.

Bakers

Bread can be purchased in the ‘il Forno Di Montisi’ Bakery in San Quirico. They will be happy to make sandwiches with your chosen filling.

Beer

If you would like a beer, ask for ‘una birra’. The most popular bottled beers in Italy are Birra Moretti and Peroni. There is also a small brewery in San Quirico producing two beers of its own, the ‘Iris’ and ‘Giulitta’.

Bike Hire

Both mountain bikes and road bikes are available to hire from the neighbouring village of Pienza, and cost around €30/day. The bike shop will also delivery the bikes to Agritursimo Il Rigo.

Birds

The geographical diversity of this region means that a wide variety of birds can be spotted including the tawny owl, ring ouzel and the glossy ibis.

Brunello wine

This wine made from the Sangiovese grape grown on the vines around Montalcino has been produced since the early 14th Century. In 1980 it was one of the first 4 wines to be given the prestigious DOCG designation.

Chemist – Farmacia in Italian

In Italy a chemist is always indicated by a green cross. There is a chemist in the centre of San Quirico opens at 9am -1pm and again from 4.30pm-7.30pm.

Day Off – Wednesday

Our resort staff have their day‐off on a Wednesday. In Agirturismo Il Rigo, breakfast is served but dinner is not included. It is possible to book in for dinner on this evening and pay locally, please speak to a member of staff in advance if you would like to do this. Alternatively, our staff can recommend some great nearby restaurants. There are no Organised Walks and there is no Office Hour so you will need to subscribe to Thursday’s Organised Walks on Tuesday evening.
Some options for Wednesday:
Siena: The wonderful city of Siena offers a fantastic day of cultural exploration. It is about an hour’s drive by taxi.
Montepulciano: Home of the famous Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, this historic town has much more to explore than just the vineyards.
Bagno Vignoni Spa: Hotel Adler Terme boasts a wonderful spa with natural thermal waters as well as swimming pools which guests staying at Il Rigo are able to use for a small discount.

DOCG

This title for Italian wines meaning that the wine has passed a test for controlled and guaranteed designation of origin, is the highest level a wine can reach in Italy. Tuscany as a whole, has the highest number of wines for any region in Italy, that have been given this status.

Environmental Awareness

We would be grateful for your support in reducing our impact on the local environment.
‐ In the hills, leave the landscape in its natural state, in particular take any litter away with you and do not pick flowers;
‐ Turn off lights when you leave your room, turn down heating if not required and be conscious of your water usage.

Fresco

These murals, painted directly onto wet plaster, are common place in religious buildings throughout Tuscany. Monte Olivetto Monastery boasts a truly impressive selection of these paintings.

Flora

Nestled in the heart of Tuscany farmland, the Val D’Orcia is home to a number of wildflowers which are in bloom throughout the spring months.

Fauna

The region is home to a wide range of wildlife, with wild boar and deer roaming the woodland, with red foxes and porcupines also ever present in the area.

Internet

Free WiFi access is available throughout Agriturismo Il Rigo, for guests with their own laptops or other devices.

Monte Amiata

The highest peak in the Val D’Orcia, sitting at 1738m, this long dormant volcano sits at the southern most end of the region and now boasts a small ski resort.

Olive groves

One of Tuscany’s most famous exports is olive oil and as a result the area is rife with olive groves. The trees are often heavily loaded during the autumn months with the olives being picked for pressing in October and November.

Packed Lunches

Packed lunches are available to you wherever you are staying ‐ and can be ordered for a cost of €6 at Office Hour for collection from our staff team the following day. They include a sandwich with a choice of fillings, a piece of fruit, a snack bar and a drink.

Pecorino Cheese

A local delicacy made from cheese milk, Pecorino cheese is typically a hard cheese similar to parmesan however softer versions are also found here in the Val D’Orcia.

Petrol & Diesel

Petrol = Benzina (95 & 98 octane)
Diesel = Gasoleo/Diesel
The nearest petrol station is located on the way into the village San Quirico.

Pici

A certain type of pasta used locally. Think a thick type of spaghetti often served with a tomato and herb sauce. Luisa, the owner of Agriturismo Il Rigo has won the title of Val D’Orcia Pici champion on a number of occasions.

Pienza

The nearby town of Pienza gained UNESCO status in 1996 and is believed to date back to the 9th Century. It is a perfect example of Rennaisance Italy after being redesigned by the order of Pope Pius II in 1459.

Podere

The Italian word for a farmhouse.

Poggio

The Italian word for a knoll, this word often proceeds the name of the farmhouse which is built there. Poggio Bacoca is named after the apricot trees that once grew on the hill.

Rainy Days

Hopefully there won’t be any! If you are unlucky, please bear in mind that the weather in the mountains can be very localised and it is not unusual to leave the village on a rainy day to find brighter conditions a few miles away. Suggestions for what to do if it does rain are available at Office Hour or please ask a member of staff for more information. Our Organised Walks would only be cancelled if it is deemed that the weather makes conditions dangerous.

San Quirico d’Orcia

The closest village to Agriturismo Il Rigo, San Quirico d’Orcia dates back to the late 8th Century as is home to the Horti Leonini gardens. San Quirico also hosts a number of nice bars and restaurants.

Sauna and spa

There is a sauna, steam room and jacuzzi at Hotel Adler Terme in the nearby village of Bagno Vignoni. This can be paid for locally and makes for a relaxing day off option.

Siena

Consistently described as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and at just under an hours drive away, a trip to Siena makes a perfect day off option whilst in Tuscany. The Piazza del Campo, home to the famous Palio horse race twice a year and the beautiful Duomo are must see sights.

Smoking

Since January 2005, smoking in public places has been illegal in Italy. All of our accommodation is non‐smoking.

Stamps

You can buy stamps from a post office in San Quirico. A stamp (‘francobollo’ in Italian) to send a postcard to the United Kingdom (Regno Unito) from Italy will cost around €0.95 and it will take about 4 days to get there.

Supermarkets

There nearest supermarket is the Coop in San Quirico d’Orcia. It sells most things and sandwiches can also order made to order here.

Taxis

Taxis are available to hire in San Quirico and Pienza at reasonable rates.

Thermal baths

There are a number of natural hot springs in the area with impressive examples in the villages of Bagno Vignoni and Bagno San Fillipo.

Towels & Bed Linen

One bath towel and one hand towel is supplied for each guest. Towels are changed every two days and linen every three days.

Vineyards

In an area so well known for its wine, it is little wonder at the plentiful vineyards out in the Val D’Orcia. With the world-famous Brunello and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wines being produced here, be sure to have a glass or two.

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

This world famous wine, made primarily from the Sangiovese grape blended with small amounts of other local grapes originally dates back to 789AD. Like the Brunello wine, this was one of the first 4 wines in Italy to receive the prestigious DOCG accreditation.

Water

The tap water in the area is safe to drink. If you would prefer bottled water, it can be purchased cheaply from the supermarket in San Quirico. Remember to take plenty of water out walking with you, we recommend at least 2 litres of water when on one of our walks.

Weather & Climate

Please don’t ring us to find out what the weather will be like during your holiday! We would hate to get it wrong and it is hard to get it right! Generally, the prevailing weather in the Val d’Orcia during the spring and autumn is good and mostly dry, but as in any hilly area, the weather can be unpredictable and very localised.

If you wish to find out about the local weather before you go, visit www.meteoblue.com and search for San Quirico d’Orcia
As for temperatures, March/April and end of October/November can sometimes be chilly first thing in the morning and in the evenings with temperatures rising to high teens/low 20s in the middle of the day. An up‐to‐date forecast will be available at Office Hour each evening. Naturally, our Walk Organisers keep a firm eye on weather conditions and try to ensure it is safe to proceed with an excursion, but it is everybody’s responsibility to consider the possibility of cancelling an excursion (and voice any anxiety) if worried about the risk of adverse weather conditions.

Travel & Transfers

Travel & Transfers

Before leaving home

Passport – Is it in date? Contact the passport office here if you need to renew your passport
Walking Holiday Insurance – Do you have any? Contact us on 01799 513331 or click here for details
Flight Check-in – Remember to print off your boarding pass
Baggage – Have you checked the size & weight of your baggage?
Book Airport Hotel – Click here
Book Airport Parking – Click here

Transfers & Arrival Day

If you are booked to join an Airport Transfer, you will be met by a member of our staff at Pisa airport at a pre‐arranged time. Details of transfer times are sent by post by Viv Wilkins to the person who booked the holiday approximately 2 weeks before your holiday.

We meet by the “Café Famoso” café, which is straight ahead on the left as you leave baggage reclaim, and inside the arrivals hall of the terminal building. The transfer time is around 2 and a half hours.

Important Notes concerning Collett’s Transfers – We try to keep ‘waiting at the airport’ to a minimum, but you have booked a transfer on the understanding that it is a possibility on both your day of arrival and departure. We are not offering a personal taxi service. Our transfer times are set to help us group people together from a number of different flights, both morning and afternoon. Waiting may also be caused by delayed flights – within reason. Please cancel your airport transfer and make your own plans if you are not happy with these arrangements, which by and large work very well.

On arrival at Il Rigo, you will be met by another member of our staff who will help you with your luggage and settle you in to your room.

Directions for Fly-drivers & Self-drivers

If you are self-driving or hiring a car rather than joining us on a transfer please refer to Google Map Directions here.

All guests (whether staying in Casabianca or Poggio Bacoca) should make their way to the Casabianca farmhouse of Il Rigo. You can check-in from 12pm onwards and if you have provided us with an ETA, a member of Collett’s staff will be available to meet you. Please contact us if you have not yet provided an ETA, or are delayed. Click here to submit your E.T.A.

Parking – there is plenty of parking available at both the Casabianca and Poggio Bacoca farmhouses.

Google Map Directions

Click here for Google Map Directions to Il Rigo from any location.

Resort Contacts

Useful Numbers & Contact Info.

Click here to print this page as a PDF.
Please ensure you have the following telephone numbers with you on your day of travel.

Collett's Mountain Holidays
c/o Agriturismo Il Rigo
Localita Casabianca
San Quirico d’Orcia
Toscana
53027
0039 0577 897291
Collett's Resort Mobiles - Main 0039 327 615 0299 or 0044 7491 161 908
Collett's Mountain Holidays UK - 0044 (0) 1799 513331 Monday - Friday 9am-6pm / Saturday 9am-3pm

Packing Suggestions
Tuscany Handbook Information

Checklist & Packing Suggestions

Click here to print this page as a PDF.

Essential Items

☐ Passport
☐ Euros or credit/debit cards
☐ Holiday Insurance (Call 01799 513331)
☐ EHIC (European Health Insurance card)
☐ Mobile telephone & charger
☐ Signed disclaimer
☐ Medication?

Flyers

☐ Flight tickets and/or printed boarding pass
☐ Have you checked the size & weight of your
baggage?

Fly Drivers

☐ Driving license
☐ Printed copy of driving licence ‘check code’ Visit www.gov.uk/view-driving-licence
☐ Car hire voucher
☐ Credit card of the lead driver
☐ Sat Nav & European road map
☐ Torch

Self Drivers

☐ Driving license (both the photocard and paper parts!)
☐ Ferry / tunnel ticket
☐ Insurance & car registration documents
☐ European breakdown cover
☐ GB sticker (must be carried in EU)
☐ Warning triangle (must be carried in EU)
☐ Fluorescent bibs (must be carried in EU)
☐ Spare bulbs
☐ Sat Nav & European road map
☐ Torch

General

☐ Clothes, footwear & wash kit
☐ Sunglasses, sun hat & sun cream
☐ Camera, memory card, batteries & camera charger
☐ Binoculars
☐ Pocket reference books (e.g. flowers)
☐ Italian phrase book
☐ Games, playing cards, books?
☐ Continental plug-adapter
(European voltage for normal appliances is 220-240 Volts)
☐ A level of fitness to suit your own intentions!

Walkers

☐ Strong, light, comfortable walking boots,
which support the ankle
☐ Waterproof jacket (and trousers – optional)
☐ Clothing suitable for hot and cold temperatures
☐ Lightweight rucksack (25 litres plus)
☐ (Telescopic) walking poles
☐ Basic first-aid kit
☐ Water bottle
(min. 2 litres, 3 litres is recommended for harder walks)
☐ Map case
☐ Compass, whistle, torch, survival bag

Save to your mobile contacts

Resort Mobiles: 0044 7491 161 908 / 0039 327 615 0299
Agriturismo Il Rigo: 0039 0577 897 291
Collett’s UK Office: 0044 1799 513331
Emergency Services: 112

Disclaimer
Tuscany Handbook Information

Important

On arrival, you will be asked to hand in the disclaimer sent by post to the person who booked the holiday.
1. The disclaimer below sets out the relationship between your party and Collett’s Ltd., emphasising that we are not qualified guides and that you walk at your own risk
2. Ideally it will be signed by each member of your party and handed to us on your arrival. If you require more copies, click here to print it as a PDF.

Copy of the Disclaimer

Party Name:
Mobile Phone No:

Everything you do during your stay in Tuscany is done ‘at your own risk’.

To make your arrival in the Val d’Orcia as plain sailing as possible, please could you and each member of your party read and sign this disclaimer, handing it to us on your arrival. If it is not possible to obtain all signatures prior to your holiday, signatures will need to be obtained on your party’s arrival in Tuscany.

In these days of litigation, it is important you and your party understand your relationship with Collett’s and without your party’s signatures on this disclaimer, you will not be able to join our Organised Walks and we would be reluctant to pass on information and opinions to you during your stay.

Information & Opinions

We are happy to offer information and opinions on the area (such as additional walks and places of interest). We always endeavour to give accurate and appropriate information and opinions, but we do not take any responsibility for them and they are acted upon by you at your own risk. By signing this disclaimer, you agree you do not hold Collett’s responsible for any information or opinions it offers you during your stay and that you do everything during your stay with Collett’s at your own risk.

Organised Walks

The Walk Organisers attend these on a goodwill basis so that you might partake in an itinerary you might not otherwise come across during your stay in a sociable atmosphere with like-minded people.
By signing this disclaimer you confirm the following:

  • You understand the Walk Organisers are not qualified mountain guides.
  • You join them at your own risk and of your own free will.
  • You are part of an autonomous group, responsible for your own safety and happy to accept the discretion and actions of any or all participants on that Organised Walk or activity in the event of injury to you, the need to have you rescued or otherwise.
  • You will only sign up to an Organised Walk having independently studied the route sufficiently and deemed it to be within your capability

Transport
When joining an Organised Walk or excursion, you might be asked to share a local taxi with, or drive/accept a lift from someone who is not in your booking party, to and from the Organised Walk or excursion. By signing this disclaimer you accept that Collett’s will not accept any liability in the event of a road accident and that all such journeys shall be taken at your own risk.

Activities supplied by Third Parties
We are happy to inform you of (and book) activities supplied by third parties but it is important that you understand that: these excursions and activities are neither run nor controlled by Collett’s (even if advertised by us); that we only act as your agent; and that your contract for these services is with the third party supplier in question and not Collett’s Limited. Consequently, we are not responsible/liable for the provision of any such third party excursions or activities or for anything that happens during the course of its provision by the supplier. This applies to all activities advertised by Collett’s in our brochure, on our website and in resort.

Finally, during your stay, you might inadvertently (or not!) be included in photography that subsequently appears in Collett’s promotional materials. By signing this disclaimer, you agree that this is ok with you.

Signature 1 :
Print Name :
Date :

Signature 2 :
Print Name :
Date :

Signature 3 :
Print Name :
Date :

Signature 4 :
Print Name :
Date :

Thank you. Have a good and safe stay in Tuscany.
Collett’s Limited trading as Collett’s Mountain Holidays – 3a Market Hill, Saffron Walden, Essex, CB10 1HQ

Procedures & Safety
Tuscany Handbook Information

At Your Own Risk, Duty of Care & Safety

As you will know, we offer two organised walks daily (except Wednesdays) which you can join at no extra cost. Our walk organisers are not qualified guides and you join them at your own risk. We urge you to decide individually and independently which of the two organised walks best suits your level of fitness and ability, so that the progress and safety of others is not compromised. Whilst we do offer a formal self-guiding option in the Val D’Orcia, the quality of maps and waymarking makes it difficult. If you choose to walk independently, we cannot take responsibility for any information or opinions that might be passed on to you by our own people.

In short, everything you do during your stay in Tuscany is done at your own risk. In the event of personal injury or death, we are not liable for efforts made by us to enhance your stay, amongst which are our organised walks and perhaps verbal suggestions. It is a fact that activities undertaken in the mountains are associated with personal injury and death. By coming to such an area with Collett’s Mountain Holidays – or indeed independently – you are exposing yourself and your party to the (thankfully small) possibility of personal injury or death. In such an event, Collett’s Mountain Holidays will not be held responsible for your interest in mountainous areas and your involvement in mountain pursuits, which can occasionally have tragic consequences.

We put safety first but you are as responsible as we are!
You join our organised walks as part of an autonomous group, in which each member has a duty of care to each other. Not being professionally responsible for you does not mean we turn a blind eye to safety, nor does it make us exempt from owing a duty of care to you. Your safety is essential to us and we therefore take our own safety measures, endeavouring to minimise the possibility of personal injury and death. We do this in line with legal requirements pertaining to duty of care. We assess, communicate and manage risk as part of a formal company Health & Safety Policy, which is regularly reviewed and includes the training our own walkers. We try to make people aware of the importance of mountain safety and their responsibilities as part of a group. As with any person or organisation involved with activities where there is a possibility of personal injury or death, the issue of duty of care is ever-present and, in the absence of a qualified guide in ‘non-professional’ activities anywhere in the world, such as walking (whether organised by a company, club, university or even a friend) every member of the group has a legal commitment to all involved. This commitment to your fellow walkers should form the basis of your behaviour and actions during an organised walk, especially in the event of accident or injury. At the heart of our procedures are basic mountain safety measures, which should be undertaken by any walker when preparing for a day out in the mountains, especially when walking/climbing in a group, where your actions (or inaction) could compromise your safety as well as that of other people in the group.

Some notes about our Organised Walks

Our programme of organised walks is put together on a goodwill basis by our own walk organisers and we ask you to accept their discretion where the selection of walks is concerned. You won’t be disappointed. When deciding to join an organised walk, please remember somebody else’s opinion of a walk is not your knowledge. Try to acquaint yourself independently with the proposed route using the relevant map to help you decide if it is suitable for your level of fitness and experience. Also, ask about precipitous features if prone to vertigo. Some walks do feature ledge paths with significant drops. Wednesday is our staff day off and there are no organised walks on this day. Our organised walks take place in a sociable and informal atmosphere and, whilst you are encouraged not to join one unless you are certain it is within your physical capabilities, we walk at the pace of the slowest person and pause regularly. In the event of a walk organiser being ill, we cannot guarantee the excursion will take place. Children can join our organised walks but only if accompanied by a guardian, who takes full responsibility for their safety and behaviour.

Procedures on meeting up for a walk – All organised walks will depart from the Casabianca farmhouse of Il Rigo at a time established at Office Hour the night before. Prior to leaving, the walk organiser will run through an equipment checklist and at the start of the actual walk, he/she will state the following:

  • They are not qualified guides and everyone joins them at their own risk;
  • The party is walking as a group of non-qualified individuals and the walk organiser, as someone who knows the route, is the nominal leader only;
  • Everyone should follow the course and progress of the route on their map checking the correct route is being adhered to;
  • They will generally walk at the pace of the slowest person in the party and it is the responsibility of each member of the party to keep the rest of the group in sight;
  • If anyone wants to rest at any time, they should not hesitate to ask;
  • If anyone wants to leave the party at any time could they please let someone in the group know, otherwise we might have to assume you are lost and alert mountain rescue;
  • Everyone owes a ‘duty of care’ to each other. In the event of an accident, the organiser will act in a way they deem safest to offer assistance, but would of course appreciate the assistance of the rest of the party;
  • If it is the first time the organiser has done a route, the party understand this and it is an ‘adventure’ for all involved.

Notes

Here are some notes that might help you refresh or improve your awareness of safety in the mountains. When in the mountains and when planning itineraries, apply your mind to safety at all times. Poor preparation is often the cause of many accidents and dramas. As a general guide to safety we have used information published by the Italian Alpine Rescue Corps and the British Mountaineering Council to produce the following notes:

Prevention Of Accidents – Basic Rules For Increased Safety when Walking or Hiking

  • Select itineraries within your level of fitness and technical/physical ability and within those of your party members.
  • Do not go alone – if possible, go with others or, for more safety, go in the company of an alpine guide or a qualified organisation. (Collett’s is not a qualified organisation but we will endeavour to arrange local guides if requested to do so). Prior to departing, research and familiarise yourself adequately with the characteristics and difficulties of the itinerary. Study carefully the relevant topographical map.
  • Let someone know where you are going and leave details of your itinerary. (Do not change your itinerary without informing somebody).
  • Have a contingency plan in the event of the unexpected. An innacurate or out of date map, route deterioration or a landslide, could all cause a change in your itinerary.
  • Mountain Weather conditions should always be taken into account. A forecast is available from local tourist offices every day and whilst variations in mountain forecasts are not uncommon, they are worth consulting.
  • Have the right clothing. You should have a robust pair of walking boots/shoes, which support the ankle. Take a waterproof/wind-proof jacket and some spare clothes in your rucksack.
  • Be responsible. Always carry the relevant map at all times. Carry safety equipment such as a compass, torch, whistle, spare food and an understanding of how to use them in case of emergency. If you have a health condition, please ensure that you carry any necessary medication at all times, and inform another member of your party so that somebody is aware of your circumstances.
  • Have adequate insurance cover. Don’t leave home without it, you can’t take out insurance after you departure!

Emergency Procedures

Based on information published by the Spanish Mountaineering and Climbing Federation (FEDME), the Fédération Française de la Montagne et de l’Escalade and the British Mountaineering Council – for anyone wishing to take the following emergency notes with them on an itinerary, a printed copy is available:

  • Stay calm and do not do anything on impulse.
  • Evaluate the situation and identify the actual dangers;
  • Take immediate and sensible precautions to prevent further risk;
  • Give spare clothing to the injured person and do your best to provide shelter
  • All reasonable efforts should be made to cope with the situation without resorting to the rescue services, providing that you do not make any injuries worse than they are already. If self-help is not possible, rescue services should be contacted. Call for 112. The rescue team will need to know where you are and have an idea about the condition of the victim;
  • If you do not have a mobile, you would have to use a nearby dwelling, or descend to find a landline. Choose a safe route – this might not be the quickest, but the possibility of a second accident must be avoided;
  • Mark the casualties’ position on a map and take it along with you. Going for help is a relatively easy decision to make if there are four or more people in the party. At least two can leave to ring for help, leaving one to care for the casualty. If there are only two or three in the group then this becomes a more difficult judgement. In this situation, attracting help from others in the mountains will help;
  • To attract attention use the International Distress Signal, using either a light, a whistle or by shouting: six long flashes of a torch/blasts of a whistle/shouts/waves in succession, repeated at one minute intervals. Repeat until replied to. A reply is given 3 times a minute (every 20 seconds) in either a visible or audible manner. If a helicopter is involved, the pilot’s questions can be answered as described on the right;
  • If no local help is forthcoming a decision will have to be made to leave the casualty alone or potentially sending somebody on his or her own. To make this decision you would have to consider the injury, the conditions and the capabilities of the other members of the party; and
  • As far as the injured are concerned, do for them only those things that you are certain you can do safely.

Emergency Contact – Call 112

If the operator manning the emergency line does not speak English and you are unable to communicate, please try calling one of our staff and we will relate the information as best we can.

  • Call 112 – give your full name.
  • Say where you are calling from and let them know your telephone number.
  • If the location of the accident (and casualties) is far away, try to memorise some landmarks to help the search party find the group.
  • Explain in brief what has happened.
  • Give the time of the accident and the exact number of casualties and their relative conditions.
  • Give the number of people in the rest of the group still at the accident, and try to remember the colour of their jackets etc. in order to aid finding them.
  • Describe the weather conditions and the visibility.
  • Do not leave the place from which you are making the call, in case the rescue services have to contact you again.

Weather

We keep a firm eye on weather conditions and try to ensure it is safe to proceed with an excursion, but it is everybody’s responsibility to consider the possibility of cancelling an excursion (and voice any anxiety) if worried about the risk of adverse weather conditions

  • Take plenty of liquid (min. 2-3 litres)
  • Protect yourself from the sun with high factor sun cream, sunglasses and a hat
  • Plan your route according to the weather
  • Plan for worse weather than forecast as the weather can change rapidly
  • Always carry clothing for poor weather, even if the day starts fine

Insurance
Tuscany Handbook Information

Holiday Insurance

Being adequately insured during your stay with us is essential – we strongly recommend you buy a comprehensive holiday insurance package at the time of booking. Having a travel insurance policy is one of the booking conditions for joining us on a Collett’s Mountain Holiday. Full details are available on request or on our website – www.colletts.co.uk/walking-holiday-insurance

Collett’s Limited is an Introducer Appointed Representative of Campbell Irvine Ltd. who is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. This can be checked on the FCA’s register by visiting the FCA’s website at www.fca.org.uk or by contacting them on 0800 111 6787.

In Summer 2018, I hosted walks for walkers on flower holidays in the Picos de Europa with Collett’s Mountain Holidays. When I got there in mid-May there was snow up high and the valleys were warm and arid with an unusual scarcity of flora. This was a problem, as May in the Picos is usually a festival of flora. What was I going to do? Well, I was let off the hook by the rain, which precipitated a quick and wonderful explosion of floral development and snowmelt. But it remained a unique May from the flower lover’s perspective. The daffodils were not as abundant as usual – and the same applied to the wetland orchids. But the Mediterranean orchids that thrive in warm and dry conditions blew my socks off and I had never seen such an abundance! That said, the Pink Butterfly orchids (Orchis papillonaceae) in their thousands took the biscuit.

Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Scarce swallowtail Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Scarce swallowtail
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Sawfly orchid Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Sawfly orchid
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Knapweed fritillary Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Knapweed fritillary
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Saxifraga Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Saxifraga
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Rebecco Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Rebecco
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Dogs tooth violet Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Dogs tooth violet
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Fuente dé Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Fuente dé
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Fuente dé Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Fuente dé
Walking Holiday Ideas and Information - Office Hour Walking Holiday Ideas and Information - Office Hour
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Daffodils Peurto de San Glorio Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Daffodils Peurto de San Glorio
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Peurto de San Glorio Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Peurto de San Glorio
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Man Orchid Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Man Orchid
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Meadows near Fuente dé Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Meadows near Fuente dé
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Bartons orchid Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Bartons orchid
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Angels Tear's Narcissus Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Angels Tear's Narcissus
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Grass Snake Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Grass Snake
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Schriebers Green Lizard Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Schriebers Green Lizard
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Lebana Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Lebana
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Flower rich meadow Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Flower rich meadow
Walking Holiday Ideas and Information - Office Hour Walking Holiday Ideas and Information - Office Hour
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Spiny Toad Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Spiny Toad
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Pink butterfly orchid Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Pink butterfly orchid
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - White Storks at Vanes Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - White Storks at Vanes
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Daffodils Peurto San Glorio Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Daffodils Peurto San Glorio
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Spring Gentian Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Spring Gentian
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa
Walking Holiday Ideas and Information - Office Hour Walking Holiday Ideas and Information - Office Hour
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Peony Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Peony
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Asturias Daffodil Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Asturias Daffodil
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Bug orchid Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Bug orchid

Any flower walking holiday in the Picos de Europa with Collett’s is likely to feature Lebena in the Hermida Gorge and in 2018 it was a real winner. In exquisite low-lying woodland we were overwhelmed by Mediterranean flower species, thriving in the gorgeous weather. Further up, another wood accommodated deep pink Peonies (Paeonia mascula), which I had never seen in flower previously. Another first for me was the yellow Pyrenean lilies (Lilium pyrenaicum) that typically flower In July. The pastures were unbeatable in their offerings and we stood in awe in front of a backdrop of impressive rock formations. Experiences like these gel a group of like-minded, flower-appreciating strangers very quickly and we were soon a close-knit bunch, bonded by the heartwarming power of a flower holiday.

Fuente Dé is a ‘must-visit’ location for alpine flower lovers – superlative in almost every way. Here the trumpet daffodil Narcissus asturiensis took our breath away because it was so abundant. The Pasque flowers were impressive too. The first to bloom are the Spring Pasque flowers (Pulsatilla vernalis) with pretty white petals tinted with purple outside and golden stamens within. After these, we saw the Common Pasque flowers (Pulsatilla vulgaris, a rare British native) with flowers of deep purple. We also saw Pulsatilla hispanica subspecies rubra, endemic to the Picos with maroon flowers that seem black in sunlight.

I left the Picos at the end of May and made my way to the carpet of Gentians, Saxifrage and Primulas in and around Panticosa, where I was to host flower holidays in the Pyrenees for Collett’s. Nevertheless, my visit to the Picos had confirmed to me that they represent one of the best places in Europe to enjoy high alpine flora simultaneously with profuse meadow flowers, woodland species and an unrivalled display of orchids.

For upcoming dates and holidays – see Flower Holidays in the Picos de Europa for more information.

The best access to both the northern and southern approaches to the Picos National Park

  • Enjoy a selection of the best day walks in both the north and south of the Picos massif – handpicked by Collett’s
  • Includes the three ‘must-do walks’ – Fuente Dé, The Cares Gorge & Covadonga lakes
  • This holiday includes airport transfers from Bilbao and all transport throughout the week
  • Grade: Moderate – Moderate/Hard
  • 23 – 30 June 2019
  • 7 – 14 July 2019
  • 22 – 29 September 2019
  • £875 per person
  • Single Supplement – £125

Twin Centre Explorer

Handpicked medium & high level walks for moderate walkers

Twin centre hiking in the Picos de Europa with Collett's Mountain Holidays

The Picos de Europa is an impressive range of beautiful mountains that might not be on the radar of too many UK walkers, but year in year out their grandeur and beauty blow the socks off our first-time guests. The intermediate and high-level walking here is truly spectacular. This twin-centre holiday will give you the outstanding access to both the southern and northern approaches to the Picos National Park. It includes ‘must-do’ walks, such as Fuente De, the Covadonga Lakes and the Cares Gorge. You will spend your first three nights in the delightful Posada El Corcal, situated in the hamlet of Tama, a mile or so from the vibrant market town of Potes. Your last four nights are in the 3* Hotel Picos de Europa in Arenas de Cabrales. Both locations are superb springboards for this stunning mountain range and each day you will explore this splendour on the best moderate and moderate/hard walks we know, returning each late afternoon to your charming accommodation.

Return transfers from Bilbao, as well as daily transport to walk trailheads, is included in the holiday.

Click on the ‘Itinerary & Factsheet’ tab above and find out more.

Itinerary & Factsheet
Twin centre hiking in the Picos de Europa with Collett's Mountain HolidaysTwin centre hiking in the Picos de Europa with Collett's Mountain HolidaysTwin centre hiking in the Picos de Europa with Collett's Mountain HolidaysTwin centre hiking in the Picos de Europa with Collett's Mountain HolidaysTwin centre hiking in the Picos de Europa with Collett's Mountain HolidaysTwin centre hiking in the Picos de Europa with Collett's Mountain HolidaysTwin centre hiking in the Picos de Europa with Collett's Mountain HolidaysTwin centre hiking in the Picos de Europa with Collett's Mountain HolidaysTwin centre hiking in the Picos de Europa with Collett's Mountain HolidaysTwin centre hiking in the Picos de Europa with Collett's Mountain Holidays

A Picos de Europa Walking Holiday
Twin Centre Explorer

To download and print this factsheet on our Twin Centre Explorer Weeks, click here.

At a glance

Grade : Moderate – Moderate/Hard
Ascents/Descents : 400m to 650m each day (950m for Refugio Vega de la Urriellu)
Walking Time : 5 to 6 hours each day
Terrain : Generally good footpaths which at times can be steep, rocky and loose underfoot. Some short sections are very steep and may be considered by some to be exposed. Previous hiking experience, surefootedness, a good head for heights and a good level of fitness are essential. If you are in any doubt whether this holiday is suitable for you, please call the office on 01799 513331 or email enquiries@colletts.co.uk and we will be happy to discuss the likely itinerary in more detail with you.

The Picos is rich in great day walks, many of which have become favourites of ours. Consequently below is just a sample itinerary to whet the appetite. The exact programme may of course also vary as a result of adverse weather or trail conditions. Please note that where we outline two walks on any given day, both walks will be offered, but depending on interest, this may require some walkers to indulge in a well earnt rest and drink in a local bar or cafe at the end of their walk whilst they wait for their transport to arrive.

Day 1 (Sunday)
Arrive & Settle in

After being picked up from Bilbao, you will be transferred to Posada El Corcal, our delightful base in Tama, a hamlet in the Liébana valley nestled in the foothills of the central massif. You will stay here for your first three nights. Settle into your room after a quick check-in process. Dinner will be served at 8.15pm during which there will be a brief welcome meeting.

Day 2 (Monday)
Coriscau (2234m)

8.6km, 550m ascent/descent– A fabulous first day walk to help you find your walking legs, orientate yourself and settle in to your week in the Picos. This enchanting ridge walk offers stunning panoramic views of the mountains of the Picos de Europa National Park in one direction, and of the Cordillera Cantabrica in the other.

Day 3 (Tuesday)
Fuente Dé Ramble or Horcadas Rojos (2503m)

The impressive Fuente De glacial cirque is the starting point of both one of the most spectacular cable car rides in Europe ‐ 753m of ascent in 3 mins 40 secs ‐ and one of the ‘must do’ trips in the Picos de Europa alongside the Cares Gorge!

Fuente De Ramble – 9km, 400m ascent/descent – This leisurely ramble first explores the Aliva high pastures, where cattle roam free and the historic Chalet Real – King Alfonso’s hunting lodge – proudly stands. We then have a rest stop at the Aliva Refugio where sweeping views can be enjoyed over a drink. If energy levels and time permit, this route can be extended to explore the old mine workings from the days when minerals were heavily mined here in the Picos.
Horcadas Rojos – 9.7km, 550m ascent/descent – This route climbs through rocky terrain under the summit of Pena Vieja leading to Horcados Rojas, which offers fantastic views over to Naranjo de Bulnes and the Cantabria Mountain Range.

Day 4 (Wednesday)
San Pedro or Cicera Loop

San Pedro Circular – 10.2km, 400m ascent/descent – This lovely walk passes through a variety of lanscapes (forests, openmeadows and vineyards), offers spectacular views of the mountain and Hermida Gorge, and meanders through three typical Cantabrian villages.
Cicera Loop – 11.7km, 650m ascent/descent – A fantastic walk with superb views overlooking the Liebana region and the La Hermida Gorge, passing through the picturesque village of Cicera and experiencing the tranquillity of this ‘off the beaten track’ area.

At the end of today’s walk, you will be transferred (40 mins) to the 3* Hotel Picos de Europa in the village of Arenas de Cabrales, the ‘gateway’ to the Cares Gorge, on the northern side of the central massif, for the remaining four nights.

Day 5 (Thursday)
Cares Gorge

12.1km, 400m ascent/descent – no trip to the Picos de Europa would be complete without doing this world-renowned classic. It is the signature walk of the range. This deep narrow canyon separates the western and central massifs and is home to a route which only exists because of a mind-boggling feat of engineering in the 1920s, when the water canal for the Poncebos hydroelectric power station was built. This is a there and back itinerary, and so can be made as easy / difficult as you like.

Day 6 (Friday)
The Covadonga Lakes

The twin lakes of Lago Enol and Lago Ercina – another ‘must do’ of the Picos. After enjoying both lakes, we will seek out the quieter trails of the surrounding landscapes. We could walk towards the Mirador del Rey and indulge in the stunning views of the western massif; or we could venture towards Refugio Vega de Ario where the enormity of the Cares Gorge can be appreciated from above; finally, we could opt for the ancient mule trails and farmers tracks, which meander through open pastures and woodland back towards Arenas de Cabrales. Itinerary and time permitting, we may also stop off and visit the famous Covadonga Sanctuary. Today involves a transfer of approx. 1hr each way and might involve the use of a local shuttle bus along the approach road to the lakes.

Day 7 (Saturday)
Ruta de Bulnes or Refugio de la Vega Urriellu

Ruta de Bulnes – 8.3km, 600m ascent/descent – The remote village of Bulnes, nestled high in the central massif, remains without road access even today. This picturesque walk heads deep into the Picos and offers a glimpse of a land that time forgot.
Refugio de la Vega Urriellu – 19.5km, 950m ascent/descent This classic route of the central massif visits Refugio de Urriellu, which at 1960m nestles in a moonscape at the foot of the spectacular peak of Naranjo de Bulnes – the signature peak of the Picos.

Day 8 (Sunday)
Departure

Depending on the exact time of the transfer, after a breakfast you will be transferred to Bilbao Airport.

Included in the price

  • Accommodation – 4 nights in Posada El Corcal, Tama & 3 nights in the 3* Hotel Picos de Europa, Arenas de Cabrales
  • Breakfast each day
  • Packed lunch each walking day (6 days)
  • 3 course evening meal, wine included (7 nights)
  • Detailed route notes
  • Transport to/from the trailheads each walking day
  • Transfers to/from Bilbao Airport. See the ‘Travel’ tab for more details.

Not included in the price

  • Flights & Insurance

Places are limited, so book early – Call us on 01799 513331 or make an enquiry here.

At your own risk

You join our organised itineraries and make use of our ideas & information at your own risk. It is important that you understand that whilst our own walkers have substantial local knowledge and are familiar with the routes which our organised walks follow, they are not qualified mountain guides.

Accommodation
Walking Holiday Accommodation in the Picos de Europa - Posada El CorcalWalking Holiday Accommodation in the Picos de Europa - Posada El Corcal

The exquisite Posada el Corcal

Our base in the Picos de Europa is the beautifully appointed Posada El Corcal. It is run courteously and with unassuming efficiency by its owners, the Soberon family. Posada el Corcal is in a charming rural setting in the hamlet of Tama alongside the road between Potes and Panes near the Picos National Park. It is less than 2km (5 minutes in the car) to Potes, but you can also walk there in 40 minutes along a riverside track.

You will be more than comfortable at El Corcal. It is immaculately presented throughout. Whilst modern inside, there are some delightfully rustic touches. All of its en suite bedrooms, most with balconies, have been individually decorated with exquisite taste. Bright colours and stylish furnishings characterise every room.

After a day in the mountains, relax in the lounge over a book and a drink, or wander through French windows into an attractive garden with furnished terraces. Or you can take time out in the posada's health spa, where there is a jacuzzi, sauna and small gym.

At the entrance of El Corcal’s driveway just 50 yards from the posada itself, there is a traditional Spanish taverna restaurant, Casa Fofi, which is also run by the Soberon family. It has the charming and easy-going atmosphere of a rural restaurant and it is where we meet each evening (except Thursday) to enjoy a three course dinner (with wine included). A good breakfast is served everyday in El Corcal’s attractive breakfast room.


Walking Holiday Accommodation in the delightful 3* Hotel Picos de EuropaWalking Holiday Accommodation in the delightful 3* Hotel Picos de Europa

The delightful 3* Hotel Picos de Europa

Our base for the last four nights of our Twin Centre Explorer is the delightful Hotel Picos de Europa situated on the banks of the Rio Cares in the centre of the village of Arenas de Cabrales - gateway to both the 'must see' Cares Gorge and ideal springboard from which to explore the northern corners of the National Park.

Whilst it has a reassuringly modern air about it, it has been run by the Somohana family for generations.  You will be more than comfortable here - it is run by friendly and attentive staff who will make you feel very welcome and it will soon become another 'home from home'.

After a day in the mountains, you will find it easy to relax here – either in the large lounge bar over a book and a drink, in the garden, or beside the refreshing swimming pool. Arenas is also home to many bars and cafes, all of which are only a short stroll from the hotel.

An extensive breakfast buffet is available each day, and each evening we will enjoy a delicious three course evening meal (with win included) either in the hotel’s restaurant, or weather permitting outside on the terrace.

Travel

Airport Transfers

Getting to the Picos de Europa is easy and airport transfers are included in the price of your holiday.

Inbound

We offer transfers every Sunday to/from Bilbao Airport to pick-up people who have flown with Easyjet from Edinburgh, Stansted, Manchester & Bristol; with BA from Gatwick; and with Aer Lingus from Dublin. 
Please do not book a flight that lands later than 17:00.

Outbound

Please do not book a return flight that departs earlier than 10:30.
Exact transfer timings will be confirmed approx. three weeks before your holiday.  Our transfer service is not a personal taxi service and waiting can be unavoidable, so please do not book a transfer unless you are relaxed about the possibility of having to kill time in Bilbao or at the airport. 

Places are limited, so please check availability with us before you book your flights.

Call us on 01799 513331 or make an enquiry here.

Self Drivers

Some people may like to travel to Northern Spain with their own car using Brittany Ferries services into Santander and Bilbao. Others might fly and then hire a car via Santander (1½ hours), Bilbao (2½ hours) or Asturias (2½ hours).

Either way, in such cases, we reduce your holiday price by £50 per person but you would be expected to use your own vehicle to drive to the walk trailheads during the week - unless we have space in our designated minibus(es).

Extra Nights - If you choose to self-drive or fly-drive and you require accommodation for an extra night or two at the start or end of your stay in order to help with flights, ferries or wider holiday plans – simply let us know and we will be happy to help.

Car Hire - For a competitive car hire quote please visit our Car Hire page.

Notes

Notes

To download and print this factsheet on our Twin Centre Explorer Weeks, click here.

Your ‘Twin Centre Explorer’ holiday will be spent at your own risk as part of an autonomous group, in which each member of the party is responsible for their own safety and has a duty of care to their fellow walkers.
The following is an explanation of the status of our organised ‘Twin Centre Explorer’ holiday – which we refer to as organised, not guided.

Our ‘Twin Centre Explorer’ holiday is a series of self-guided walks which are made available to you on a basis of goodwill so that you might enjoy a route you might not otherwise have undertaken if you had visited the area independently. It represents nothing more than the opportunity to go out on a beautiful walk in the company of like-minded individuals.

It is a fact that mountains, mountainous areas and activities undertaken in them are associated with personal injury and death. By coming to such areas, you are exposing yourself and your party to the possibility of personal injury or even death. In such an event, Collett’s Mountain Holidays will not be held responsible for your interest in mountainous areas and your involvement in mountain pursuits, which can occasionally have tragic consequences.
In these days of litigation it is important you know that you (and each member of your party) join us on this holiday at your own risk as part of an autonomous group, in which each member of that group has a duty of care to the other. This is no different from the responsibilities you have on a casually arranged weekend walk with friends or family in the UK.

Our walk organisers all have experience of the mountains, some more than others. Some may have qualifications relevant to mountain activities, but they are not qualified mountain guides. We recruit and train our walk organisers in line with a Health & Safety Policy, which is based on Risk Assessments and recognised mountain safety procedures. Not being professionally responsible for you on our organised itineraries does not mean we ignore safety, nor does it make us exempt from owing a duty of care to each person who joins us on an organised itinerary.

Your safety is paramount and we therefore take our own measures to maximise safety. We do this in line with legal requirements pertaining to duty of care. We apply codes of practice to the procedures carried out by our outdoor staff. We assess, manage and communicate risk. We try to make people aware of the importance of mountain safety and to highlight their responsibilities when part of a group.

Our codes of practice should not really be taken into consideration or relied upon by you when deciding to join this ‘Twin Centre Explorer’ holiday, for at the heart of our procedures are basic mountain safety measures, which should be undertaken by every individual when preparing for a day in the mountains.

Finally, during your holiday with Collett’s Mountain Holidays you act at your own risk on any ideas, information and opinions you might acquire from our walk organizers or from material prepared by us to help you get the most from the area.

7 Night Holiday for stronger walkers exploring the dramatic splendour of the high trails

  • Awe-inspiring hikes through the majestic peaks & high mountain passes of the Picos de Europa
  • This holiday is ideal for the more ambitious hikers in search of more demanding days out in the mountains
  • The itineraries include classic routes in both the Picos de Europa National Park and the Cordillera Cantabria
  • Includes a midweek rest day, airport transfers from Bilbao and all transport throughout the week
  • Grade: Moderate/Hard – Hard
  • 14 – 21 July 2019
  • 28 July – 4 August 2019
  • 1 – 8 September 2019
  • 15 – 22 September 2019
  • £825 per person
  • Self-Drivers – deduct £50 per person
  • Single Supplement – £125

Picos Peaks & Passes

Join Collett’s for a week of higher level harder walks in the Picos

hike peaks and passes in the Picos with Collett's Mountain Holidays

This holiday has been especially designed for stronger walkers in search of awe-inspiring days in high mountains in the good company of other like‐minded walkers. This impressive range of beautiful mountains might not be on the radar of too many UK walkers, but year in year out we watch as their grandeur and beauty blow the socks off our first-time guests. The intermediate and high-level walking here is truly spectacular. Each day (except Thursday, your rest day) you will venture out on glorious higher level and harder walks, returning each evening to your accommodation at Posada El Corcal in Tama just outside the vibrant town of Potes. This is a week of tried and tested ‘winners’ located either in the Picos de Europa National Park or the surrounding Cordillera Cantabria.

Return transfers from Bilbao, as well as daily transport to walk trailheads, is included in the holiday.

Click on the ‘Itinerary & Factsheet’ tab above and find out more.

Itinerary & Factsheet
Peaks and Passes in the Picos de Europa with Collett's Mountain HolidaysPeaks and Passes in the Picos de Europa with Collett's Mountain Holidays - Cares GorgePeaks and Passes in the Picos de Europa with Collett's Mountain HolidaysPeaks and Passes in the Picos de Europa with Collett's Mountain HolidaysPeaks and Passes in the Picos de Europa with Collett's Mountain HolidaysPeaks and Passes in the Picos de Europa with Collett's Mountain HolidaysPeaks and Passes in the Picos de Europa with Collett's Mountain HolidaysPeaks and Passes in the Picos de Europa with Collett's Mountain HolidaysPeaks and Passes in the Picos de Europa with Collett's Mountain HolidaysPeaks and Passes in the Picos de Europa with Collett's Mountain Holidays

A Picos de Europa Walking Holiday – Peaks & Passes

To download and print this factsheet on our Picos de Europa Peaks & Passes Walking Weeks, click here.

At a glance

Grade : Moderate – Moderate/Hard
Ascents : 550m to 1000m each day
Walking Time : 4 to 7 hours each day
Descents : 550m to 1000m each day
Terrain : Footpaths which can be steep, rocky and loose underfoot. Some sections are steep and may be considered by some to be exposed. Previous hiking experience, surefootedness, a good head for heights and a good level of fitness are essential. Some basic scrambling experience may also be beneficial for one short section of the Pena Prieta walk. If you are in any doubt whether this holiday is suitable for you, please call the office on 01799 513331 or email enquiries@colletts.co.uk and we will be happy to discuss the likely itinerary in more detail with you.

The following is a sample itinerary only and the exact programme may vary due to adverse weather or trail conditions.

Day 1 (Sunday)
Arrive & Settle in

We will meet you at Bilbao and transfer you to the Posada El Corcal, our attractive base in Tama, a hamlet in the Liébana valley nestled in the foothills of the central massif. This will soon be a welcoming ‘home from home’ for you. After a quick check-in, you can settle into your room. Dinner will be at 8.15pm during which there will be a brief welcome meeting.

Day 2 (Monday)
Coriscao Ridge & Peak (2234m)

8.6km, 550m ascent/descent – A fabulous ‘first day’ walk to help you find your walking legs, orientate yourself and settle in to your week in the Picos. This walk offers stunning panoramic views of the mountains of the Picos de Europa National Park in one direction, and of the Cordillera Cantabrica in the other. Stunning scenery throughout.

Day 3 (Tuesday)
Vega de Liourdes (2559m)

13.2km, 950m ascent/descent – This spectacular route to Vega de Liordes, which was once an impressive high mountain lake, offers a fantastic contrast between the lush green of the vega and the ring of 2000m+ limestone peaks which tower above it.

Day 4 (Wednesday)
The Cares Gorge

12.1km, 400m ascent/descent – Whilst neither a peak nor a pass, no trip to the Picos de Europa would be complete without doing this world-renowned classic. It is the signature walk of the range and well worth the one hour drive to the trailhead. This deep narrow canyon separates the western and central massifs and is home to a route which only exists because of a mind-boggling feat of engineering in the 1920s, when the water canal for the Poncebos hydroelectric power station was built.

Day 5 (Thursday)
Rest day

You are free to have a well-deserved lie-in. Breakfast is served until 10.30am. This is a day for you to rest and relax. You might take a leisurely tour of the excellent Picos de Europa Visitor Centre, which is close to the Posada, or take an easy stroll into Potes along the river for a late lunch. On Wednesday night we will be on hand to help you to arrange taxi shares should you want to team up with other guests to visit the spa or travel further afield.

Day 6 (Friday)
Fuente Dé, Cabana Veronica & Horcados Rojos (2503m)

9.7km, 550m ascent/descent – After taking the dramatic Fuente De Cable Car, there awaits one of the most sublime walks in the Central Massif. The route climbs through rocky terrain under the summit of Pena Vieja leading to Horcados Rojas. You will have breathtaking views over to the iconic Naranjo de Bulnes and the Cantabria Mountain Range.

Day 7 (Saturday)
Pena Prieta (2536m)

17.5km, 1000m ascent/descent – This is a spectacular high mountain ridge walk to the highest peak in the Cordillera Cantabrica. It is a fascinating part of the range and the geology and landscapes will captivate you at length. Indeed, it has been described as North Wales on steroids – and hopefully without the rain! A truly impressive walk to finish the week.

Day 8 (Sunday)
Departure

Depending on the exact time of the transfer, after a breakfast you will be transferred to Bilbao Airport.

Included in the price

  • Accommodation – 7 nights in Posada El Corcal, Tama
  • Breakfast each day
  • Packed lunch each walking day (5 days)
  • 3 course evening meal, wine included (6 nights, not Thursday- your rest day)
  • Detailed route notes
  • Transport to/from the trailheads each walking day
  • Transfers to/from Bilbao Airport. See the “Travel” tab for more details.

Not included in the price

  • Flights & Insurance
  • Transport, activities, lunch and dinner on Thursday – your rest day

Places are limited, so book early – Call us on 01799 513331 or make an enquiry here.

At your own risk

You join our organised itineraries and make use of our ideas & information at your own risk. It is important that you understand that whilst our own walkers have substantial local knowledge and are familiar with the routes which our organised walks follow, they are not qualified mountain guides.

Accommodation
Walking Holiday Accommodation in the Picos de Europa - Posada El CorcalWalking Holiday Accommodation in the Picos de Europa - Posada El Corcal

The exquisite Posada el Corcal

Our base in the Picos de Europa is the beautifully appointed Posada El Corcal. It is run courteously and with unassuming efficiency by its owners, the Soberon family. Posada el Corcal is in a charming rural setting in the hamlet of Tama alongside the road between Potes and Panes near the Picos National Park. It is less than 2km (5 minutes in the car) to Potes, but you can also walk there in 40 minutes along a riverside track.

You will be more than comfortable at El Corcal. It is immaculately presented throughout. Whilst modern inside, there are some delightfully rustic touches. All of its en suite bedrooms, most with balconies, have been individually decorated with exquisite taste. Bright colours and stylish furnishings characterise every room.

After a day in the mountains, relax in the lounge over a book and a drink, or wander through French windows into an attractive garden with furnished terraces. Or you can take time out in the posada's health spa, where there is a jacuzzi, sauna and small gym.

At the entrance of El Corcal’s driveway just 50 yards from the posada itself, there is a traditional Spanish taverna restaurant, Casa Fofi, which is also run by the Soberon family. It has the charming and easy-going atmosphere of a rural restaurant and it is where we meet each evening (except Thursday) to enjoy a three course dinner (with wine included). A good breakfast is served everyday in El Corcal’s attractive breakfast room.

Travel

Airport Transfers

Getting to the Picos de Europa is easy and airport transfers are included in the price of your holiday.

Inbound

We offer transfers every Sunday to/from Bilbao Airport to pick-up people who have flown with Easyjet from Edinburgh, Stansted, Manchester & Bristol; with BA from Gatwick; and with Aer Lingus from Dublin. 
Please do not book a flight that lands later than 17:00.

Outbound

Please do not book a return flight that departs earlier than 10:30.
Exact transfer timings will be confirmed approx. three weeks before your holiday.  Our transfer service is not a personal taxi service and waiting can be unavoidable, so please do not book a transfer unless you are relaxed about the possibility of having to kill time in Bilbao or at the airport. 

Places are limited, so please check availability with us before you book your flights.

Call us on 01799 513331 or make an enquiry here.

Self Drivers

Some people may like to travel to Northern Spain with their own car using Brittany Ferries services into Santander and Bilbao. Others might fly and then hire a car via Santander (1½ hours), Bilbao (2½ hours) or Asturias (2½ hours).

Either way, in such cases, we reduce your holiday price by £50 per person but you would be expected to use your own vehicle to drive to the walk trailheads during the week - unless we have space in our designated minibus(es).

Extra Nights - If you choose to self-drive or fly-drive and you require accommodation for an extra night or two at the start or end of your stay in order to help with flights, ferries or wider holiday plans – simply let us know and we will be happy to help.

Car Hire - For a competitive car hire quote please visit our Car Hire page.

Notes

Notes

To download and print this factsheet on our Picos de Europa Peaks & Passes Walking Weeks, click here.

Your ‘Picos Peaks & Passes’ holiday will be spent at your own risk as part of an autonomous group, in which each member of the party is responsible for their own safety and has a duty of care to their fellow walkers.
The following is an explanation of the status of our organised ‘Picos Peaks & Passes’ – which we refer to as organised, not guided.

Our ‘Picos Peaks & Passes’ is a series of organised self-guided walks which are made available to you on a basis of goodwill so that you might enjoy a route you might not otherwise have undertaken if you had visited the area independently. It represents nothing more than the opportunity to go out on a beautiful walk in the company of like-minded individuals.

It is a fact that mountains, mountainous areas and activities undertaken in them are associated with personal injury and death. By coming to such areas, you are exposing yourself and your party to the possibility of personal injury or even death. In such an event, Collett’s Mountain Holidays will not be held responsible for your interest in mountainous areas and your involvement in mountain pursuits, which can occasionally have tragic consequences.
In these days of litigation it is important you know that you (and each member of your party) join us on this holiday at your own risk as part of an autonomous group, in which each member of that group has a duty of care to the other. This is no different from the responsibilities you have on a casually arranged weekend walk with friends or family in the UK.

Our walk organisers all have experience of the mountains, some more than others. Some may have qualifications relevant to mountain activities, but they are not qualified mountain guides. We recruit and train our walk organisers in line with a Health & Safety Policy, which is based on Risk Assessments and recognised mountain safety procedures. Not being professionally responsible for you on our organised itineraries does not mean we ignore safety, nor does it make us exempt from owing a duty of care to each person who joins us on an organised itinerary.

Your safety is paramount and we therefore take our own measures to maximise safety. We do this in line with legal requirements pertaining to duty of care. We apply codes of practice to the procedures carried out by our outdoor staff. We assess, manage and communicate risk. We try to make people aware of the importance of mountain safety and to highlight their responsibilities when part of a group.

Our codes of practice should not really be taken into consideration or relied upon by you when deciding to join this ‘Picos Peaks & Passes’ holiday, for at the heart of our procedures are basic mountain safety measures, which should be undertaken by every individual when preparing for a day in the mountains.

Finally, during your holiday with Collett’s Mountain Holidays you act at your own risk on any ideas, information and opinions you might acquire from our walk organizers or from material prepared by us to help you get the most from the area.

Handpicked gems for moderate walkers at medium and higher level

  • Enjoy a selection of the best day walks in the area – handpicked by Collett’s
  • Includes the two ‘must-do walks’ – Fuente Dé & The Cares Gorge
  • This week is ideal for fellwalkers in search of rewarding days out in the mountains
  • This holiday includes both airport transfers and all transport throughout the week
  • Grade: Moderate
  • 9 – 16 June 2019
  • 16 – 23 June 2019
  • 30 June – 7 July 2019
  • 21 – 28 July 2019
  • 8 – 15 September 2019
  • £825 per person
  • Self-Drivers – deduct £50 per person
  • Single Supplement – £125

Collett’s Classics

Handpicked Medium & High Level Walks for Moderate Walkers

hike peaks and passes in the Picos with Collett's Mountain Holidays

This holiday has been especially designed for moderate walkers in search of rewarding days out on the hills and mountains in the company of other like‐minded walkers. This impressive range of beautiful mountains might not be on the radar of too many UK walkers, but year in year out their grandeur and beauty blow the socks off any first-time guests. The intermediate and high-level walking here is truly spectacular. Each day (except Thursday, your rest day) you will venture out on our favourite intermediate walks, tried and tested ‘winners’ that will enthrall you. We return each late afternoon to our accommodation at Posada El Corcal in Tama just outside the vibrant town of Potes. A couple of times, on the way back to the Posada, we will stop-off in Potes. Here you can wander the cobbled streets or have a drink in one of its picturesque squares, whilst soaking in its vibrant medieval character. Your walks will take place in both the Picos de Europa National Park and the surrounding Cordillera Cantabria.

Return transfers from Bilbao, as well as daily transport to walk trailheads, is included in the holiday.

For those of you in search of more strenuous routes, and later finishes, then our ‘Peaks & Passes’ walking holiday might be of more interest.

Click on the ‘Itinerary & Factsheet’ tab above and find out more.

Itinerary & Factsheet
Classic Peaks in the Picos de Europa with Collett's Mountain HolidaysClassic Peaks in the Picos de Europa with Collett's Mountain HolidaysPeaks and Passes in the Picos de Europa - Coriscau PeakClassic Peaks in the Picos de Europa with Collett's Mountain HolidaysClassic Peaks in the Picos de Europa with Collett's Mountain HolidaysClassic Peaks in the Picos de Europa with Collett's Mountain HolidaysClassic Peaks in the Picos de Europa with Collett's Mountain HolidaysClassic Peaks in the Picos de Europa with Collett's Mountain HolidaysClassic Peaks in the Picos de Europa with Collett's Mountain HolidaysClassic Peaks in the Picos de Europa with Collett's Mountain Holidays

A Picos Walking Holiday – The Collett’s Classics

To download and print this factsheet on our Collett’s Classics Weeks, click here.

At a glance

Grade : Moderate
Ascents/Descents : 400m to 550m each day
Walking Time : 4 to 5 hours each day
Terrain : Footpaths which are generally good underfoot. Some short sections are steep and may be considered by some to be exposed. Previous hiking experience, surefootedness, a good head for heights and a good level of fitness are essential. If you are in any doubt whether this holiday is suitable for you, please call the office on 01799 513331 or email enquiries@colletts.co.uk and we will be happy to discuss the route in more detail with you.

The Picos is rich in great day walks, many of which have become favourites of ours. Consequently below is just a sample itinerary to whet the appetite. The exact programme may of course also vary as a result of adverse weather or trail conditions.

Day 1 (Sunday) Arrive & Settle in

We will meet you at Bilbao and transfer you to the Posada El Corcal, our attractive base in Tama, a hamlet in the Liébana valley nestled in the foothills of the central massif. This will soon become a welcoming ‘home from home’ for you. After a quick check-in, you can settle into your room. Dinner will be at 8.15pm during which there will be a brief welcome meeting.

Day 2 (Monday) Pico Jano

9.2km, 500m ascent/descent ‐ A fabulous first day walk to help you find your walking legs, orientate yourself and settle in to your week in the Picos. This is an excellent circular walk taking in Pico Jano with its panoramic 360° views of the Picos de Europa and Cordillera Cantabrica.

Day 3 (Tuesday) Mogrovejo Circular

9km, 450 m ascent/descent – a sublime walk, which introduce you to the idyllic, step-back-in time character of the foothills, featuring timeless hamlets that are dotted about the flower-rich upland pastures and pretty woodlands. This walk starts at the supremely quaint village of Mogrovejo and weaves its way between the hamlets of Redo and Tanarrio, through stunning meadows and passes beneath the high flanks of the Picos mountains, giving walkers both a superb close‐up view of the imposing limestone cliffs as well as beautiful views down into the Liebana Valley.

Day 4 (Wednesday) The Cares Gorge

12.1km, 400m ascent/descent – no trip to the Picos de Europa would be complete without doing this world-renowned classic. It is the signature walk of the range and well worth the 60 – 90 min drive to the trailhead. This deep narrow canyon separates the western and central massifs and is home to a route which only exists because of a mind-boggling feat of engineering in the 1920s, when the water canal for the Poncebos hydroelectric power station was built. 

Day 5 (Thursday) Rest day

You are free to have a well-deserved lie-in. Breakfast is served until 10.30am. This is a day for you to rest and relax. You might take a leisurely tour of the excellent Picos de Europa Visitor Centre, which is close to the Posada, or take an easy stroll into Potes along the river for a late lunch. There are also a couple of excellent local walks which you could self guide. On Wednesday night we will be on hand to help you to arrange taxi shares should you want to team up with other guests to visit the spa in the La Hermida Gorge or travel further afield. In the evening you are free to sample the delights of one of Potes’ many excellent restaurants – taxis are inexpensive for the 5 minute journey.

Day 6 (Friday) The Fuente Dé Ramble

9km, 400m ascent/descent– The impressive Fuente De glacial cirque is the starting point of both one of the most spectacular cable car rides in Europe ‐ 753m of ascent in 3 mins 40 secs ‐ and one of the ‘must do’ trips in the Picos de Europa alongside the Cares Gorge. This leisurely ramble first explores the Aliva high pastures, where cattle roam free and the historic Chalet Real – King Alfonso’s hunting lodge – proudly stands. We then have a rest stop at the Aliva Refugio where sweeping views can be enjoyed over a drink.  If energy levels and time permits, this route can be extended to explore the old mine workings from the days when minerals were heavily mined here in the Picos.

Day 7 (Saturday) San Pedro Circular

10.2km, 400m ascent/descent – this gorgeous walk passes through a variety of idyllic landscapes (forests, open meadows and vineyards). Enjoy spectacular views of La Hermida Gorge and surrounding peaks. Includes three exquisitely typical Cantabrian villages.

Day 8 (Sunday) Departure

Depending on the exact time of the transfer, after a breakfast you will be transferred to Bilbao Airport.

Included in the price

  • Accommodation – 7 nights in Posada El Corcal, Tama
  • Breakfast each day
  • Packed lunch each walking day (5 days)
  • 3 course evening meal, wine included (6 nights, not Thursday- your rest day)
  • Detailed route notes
  • Transport to/from the trailheads each walking day
  • Transfers to/from Bilbao or Santander Airport. See the “Transfers” tab for more details.

Not included in the price

  • Flights & Insurance
  • Lunch, dinner, transport and activities on the Thursday – your rest day

Places are limited, so book early – Call us on 01799 513331 or make an enquiry here.

At your own risk

You join our organised itineraries and make use of our ideas & information at your own risk. It is important that you understand that whilst our own walkers have substantial local knowledge and are familiar with the routes which our organised walks follow, they are not qualified mountain guides.

Accommodation
Walking Holiday Accommodation in the Picos de Europa - Posada El CorcalWalking Holiday Accommodation in the Picos de Europa - Posada El Corcal

The exquisite Posada el Corcal

Our base in the Picos de Europa is the beautifully appointed Posada El Corcal. It is run courteously and with unassuming efficiency by its owners, the Soberon family. Posada el Corcal is in a charming rural setting in the hamlet of Tama alongside the road between Potes and Panes near the Picos National Park. It is less than 2km (5 minutes in the car) to Potes, but you can also walk there in 40 minutes along a riverside track.

You will be more than comfortable at El Corcal. It is immaculately presented throughout. Whilst modern inside, there are some delightfully rustic touches. All of its en suite bedrooms, most with balconies, have been individually decorated with exquisite taste. Bright colours and stylish furnishings characterise every room.

After a day in the mountains, relax in the lounge over a book and a drink, or wander through French windows into an attractive garden with furnished terraces. Or you can take time out in the posada's health spa, where there is a jacuzzi, sauna and small gym.

At the entrance of El Corcal’s driveway just 50 yards from the posada itself, there is a traditional Spanish taverna restaurant, Casa Fofi, which is also run by the Soberon family. It has the charming and easy-going atmosphere of a rural restaurant and it is where we meet each evening (except Thursday) to enjoy a three course dinner (with wine included). A good breakfast is served everyday in El Corcal’s attractive breakfast room.

Travel

Airport Transfers

Getting to the Picos de Europa is easy and airport transfers are included in the price of your holiday.

Inbound

We offer transfers every Sunday to/from Bilbao Airport to pick-up people who have flown with Easyjet from Edinburgh, Stansted, Manchester & Bristol; with BA from Gatwick; and with Aer Lingus from Dublin. 
Please do not book a flight that lands later than 17:00.

Outbound

Please do not book a return flight that departs earlier than 10:30.
Exact transfer timings will be confirmed approx. three weeks before your holiday.  Our transfer service is not a personal taxi service and waiting can be unavoidable, so please do not book a transfer unless you are relaxed about the possibility of having to kill time in Bilbao or at the airport. 

Places are limited, so please check availability with us before you book your flights.

Call us on 01799 513331 or make an enquiry here.

Self Drivers

Some people may like to travel to Northern Spain with their own car using Brittany Ferries services into Santander and Bilbao. Others might fly and then hire a car via Santander (1½ hours), Bilbao (2½ hours) or Asturias (2½ hours).

Either way, in such cases, we reduce your holiday price by £50 per person but you would be expected to use your own vehicle to drive to the walk trailheads during the week - unless we have space in our designated minibus(es).

Extra Nights - If you choose to self-drive or fly-drive and you require accommodation for an extra night or two at the start or end of your stay in order to help with flights, ferries or wider holiday plans – simply let us know and we will be happy to help.

Car Hire - For a competitive car hire quote please visit our Car Hire page.

Notes

Notes

To download and print this factsheet on our Collett’s Classics Weeks, click here.

Your ‘Collett’s Classics’ holiday will be spent at your own risk as part of an autonomous group, in which each member of the party is responsible for their own safety and has a duty of care to their fellow walkers.
The following is an explanation of the status of our organised ‘Collett’s Classics’ – which we refer to as organised, not guided.

Our ‘Collett’s Classics’ is a series of self-guided walks which are made available to you on a basis of goodwill so that you might enjoy a route you might not otherwise have undertaken if you had visited the area independently. It represents nothing more than the opportunity to go out on a beautiful walk in the company of like-minded individuals.

It is a fact that mountains, mountainous areas and activities undertaken in them are associated with personal injury and death. By coming to such areas, you are exposing yourself and your party to the possibility of personal injury or even death. In such an event, Collett’s Mountain Holidays will not be held responsible for your interest in mountainous areas and your involvement in mountain pursuits, which can occasionally have tragic consequences.
In these days of litigation it is important you know that you (and each member of your party) join us on this holiday at your own risk as part of an autonomous group, in which each member of that group has a duty of care to the other. This is no different from the responsibilities you have on a casually arranged weekend walk with friends or family in the UK.

Our walk organisers all have experience of the mountains, some more than others. Some may have qualifications relevant to mountain activities, but they are not qualified mountain guides. We recruit and train our walk organisers in line with a Health & Safety Policy, which is based on Risk Assessments and recognised mountain safety procedures. Not being professionally responsible for you on our organised itineraries does not mean we ignore safety, nor does it make us exempt from owing a duty of care to each person who joins us on an organised itinerary.

Your safety is paramount and we therefore take our own measures to maximise safety. We do this in line with legal requirements pertaining to duty of care. We apply codes of practice to the procedures carried out by our outdoor staff. We assess, manage and communicate risk. We try to make people aware of the importance of mountain safety and to highlight their responsibilities when part of a group.

Our codes of practice should not really be taken into consideration or relied upon by you when deciding to join this ‘Collett’s Classics’ holiday, for at the heart of our procedures are basic mountain safety measures, which should be undertaken by every individual when preparing for a day in the mountains.

Finally, during your holiday with Collett’s Mountain Holidays you act at your own risk on any ideas, information and opinions you might acquire from our walk organizers or from material prepared by us to help you get the most from the area.

Welcome to the rolling hills of glorious Tuscany

If you require any information, please contact us on 01799 513331 or email admin@colletts.co.uk

Make an Enquiry


“…there is a lot for the naturalist to discover and enjoy in the Picos, and we look forward to finding more interesting species next year” – John & Jo Morris

We were delighted to be invited by Collett’s to lead ten wild flower walks in May 2016. We stayed in the very comfortable Posada El Corcal in Tama run by the Soberon family, with meals in their friendly restaurant just nearby. It was our second visit to the Picos, having been shown a number of good flower sites by David Charlton during our stay the year before. However this year we started a couple of weeks earlier in mid May. It had been a cold winter with quite a bit of snow, so some flowers were later to appear than we had expected.

Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Scarce swallowtail Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Scarce swallowtail
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Sawfly orchid Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Sawfly orchid
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Knapweed fritillary Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Knapweed fritillary
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Saxifraga Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Saxifraga
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Rebecco Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Rebecco
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Dogs tooth violet Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Dogs tooth violet
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Fuente dé Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Fuente dé
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Fuente dé Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Fuente dé
Walking Holiday Ideas and Information - Office Hour Walking Holiday Ideas and Information - Office Hour
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Daffodils Peurto de San Glorio Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Daffodils Peurto de San Glorio
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Peurto de San Glorio Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Peurto de San Glorio
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Man Orchid Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Man Orchid
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Meadows near Fuente dé Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Meadows near Fuente dé
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Bartons orchid Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Bartons orchid
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Angels Tear's Narcissus Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Angels Tear's Narcissus
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Grass Snake Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Grass Snake
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Schriebers Green Lizard Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Schriebers Green Lizard
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Lebana Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Lebana
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Flower rich meadow Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Flower rich meadow
Walking Holiday Ideas and Information - Office Hour Walking Holiday Ideas and Information - Office Hour
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Spiny Toad Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Spiny Toad
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Pink butterfly orchid Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Pink butterfly orchid
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - White Storks at Vanes Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - White Storks at Vanes
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Daffodils Peurto San Glorio Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Daffodils Peurto San Glorio
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Spring Gentian Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Spring Gentian
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa
Walking Holiday Ideas and Information - Office Hour Walking Holiday Ideas and Information - Office Hour
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Peony Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Peony
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Asturias Daffodil Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Asturias Daffodil
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Bug orchid Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Bug orchid

David suggested we visit Lebena early on to see the wild peonies. We found them in full flower during our first walk, along with lots of sword-leaved white helleborines and tall violet limodores in the woodland. All had finished flowering when we went back just a week later, but we were then treated to flower rich meadows with pink butterfly orchids, robust marsh orchids, so many serapias, and my first ever bug orchid.

A similar story of rapid flowering was seen elsewhere. We went up by cable car to the heights of Fuente Dé twice during our stay and the first time there was still lots of snow so few species of flowers to be seen. But we did see numerous tiny Asturias daffodils flowering in the melt areas and we had great views of rebecco, a local form of the chamois, and of choughs and griffon vultures. When we went back to Fuente Dé for our last flower walk at the end of May, the bright blue spring gentians and various pasque flowers all opened during the day. We also found the yellow Saxifraga fellineri , Saxifraga conifera and a tiny Daphne shrub Thymelaea dioica.

There are some spectacular mountain views from the high passes, making the windy drive up to Puerto de San Glorio with its impressive bear statue worthwhile. Here a pine plantation, thinned since our visit the year before, had a carpet of dogs tooth violets Erythronium dens-canis in full flower, along with Hepatica nobilis, to be almost completely replaced by wood anemones by our second visit. Other highlights of this area were the delicate forms of numerous white angel’s tears daffodils Narcisuss triandrus and of the beautiful sand crocus Romulea bulbocodium. There were also good numbers of Pyrenean fritillary and elder-flowered orchids in both pale yellow and purple forms. During our lunch break on this walk we enjoyed a thrilling view of a hovering short toed eagle and later saw red backed shrikes in the scrub.

In the beech woods below Fuente Dé were many plants that I am familiar with from the Chilterns where I work, but with plenty of extra species. These included large pale blue Scilla and other plants which are rare back home but growing in good numbers here, such as red helleborine, herb Paris and Solomon’s seal. In the lower meadows we found a good mix of showy orchids including sawfly and very fresh dull orchids, only to find on a second visit that cattle had been allowed in to one flower rich area, including a sizeable bull, so our exploration was more limited than expected! Nearby, Bartons and Man orchids were in full flower. In wet flushes were colourful masses of purple insectivorous large flowered butterwort, golden marsh marigolds and the tight yellow heads of globe flowers.

In the fields around the fascinating old town of Potes just up the valley from the Posada, where Collett’s is based, there were many other species to see, including lizard, green winged, bee and woodcock orchids. Birds such as swifts, redstarts and black redstarts can be seen flying around the old buildings from the cafes in the centre of town.

In this part of Spain as well as an amazing range of alpine and lowland flowers, birds, butterflies, and amphibians can all be seen in good numbers. We found reptiles such as the spectacular blue headed Shreiber’s green lizard, grass snake and slow worm. Walking the mountain paths we were lucky to come across a rare fire salamander and a spiny toad sitting in a perfectly clear mountain stream. We enjoyed a drive to Vanes to see white storks on their nests on the roof tops of the village by the lake, their comical displays of clacking bills contrasting with their beautiful soaring grace in flight. At a mirador viewpoint overlooking the spectacular Hermida gorge we shared our packed lunch with an abundance of swallowtail, scarce swallowtail and other butterflies, with close views of Griffon and Egyptian vultures.
So there is lots for the naturalist to discover and enjoy in the Picos, and we look forward to finding more interesting species next year.

John & Jo Morris

For next year’s dates – see Flower Walks in the Picos de Europa for more information.

Wildflower Report – Summer 2017
Picos de Europa Wildflower Walking Holidays with Collett's Mountain HolidaysPicos de Europa Wildflower Walking Holidays with Collett's Mountain HolidaysPicos de Europa Wildflower Walking Holidays with Collett's Mountain HolidaysPicos de Europa Wildflower Walking Holidays with Collett's Mountain Holidays

With thanks to John & Jo Morris – Flower Walks Hosts

Well what a difference a year makes! 2017 was a very different flower season in the Picos de Europa to 2016. This led to new discoveries. Just as in England spring started very early in March and it had been very dry period with little snow, which unfortunately led to some forest fires in April. These burnt areas could prove to be very interesting for wild flowers in the next year or two.

We stayed in the very comfortable Posada El Corcal in Tama run by the Soberon family with other Colletts guests. Birds such as redstarts and black redstarts are common, serin (a small yellow green finch) and Egyptian vultures, black kites and short toed eagles can all be seen flying around from the Posada, along with numerous house martins, swallows and swifts. Tama is just a couple of miles from the ancient market town of Potes, the centre of this region, with plenty of shops, bars and restaurants. You can easily walk there along the back road by the river. The red squirrels around here are almost black, I had a close view of one in an orchard opposite the supermarket! Lizard and bee orchids grow in the road verges.

A mammal highlight was a probable beech marten crossing the road on the drive to the limestone heights of Fuente De. We went up by cable car at Fuente De three times. This year the bright blue spring and trumpet gentians were everywhere, along with pale blue spring squill. A highlight was finding black pasque flowers, which seem to develop after the white and purple species. In the beech woods below Fuente De were many plants that I am familiar with from the Chilterns where I work, including herb Paris and Solomon’s seal. We also found a couple of very early English iris, normally a summer species. In these woods and meadows we found many orchids, some familiar from England like twayblade, pyramidal, early spider, man and birds-nest orchids, but others such as woodcock, dull bee, bartons, sawfly and pink butterfly orchid which occur in the Picos. A first for me was the delicate pink of Lange’s orchid in woodland. We recorded and photographed over 30 species of orchids in the three weeks we were in Spain.

This part of Spain has an amazing range of alpine and lowland flowers, many birds, numerous active butterflies (over 150 species of butterflies have been recorded in the Picos De Europa) and other interesting species. We also found reptiles such as the impressive foot long green Occelated lizard. There are spectacular mountain views from the high passes, making the windy drive up to Puerto de San Glorio with its impressive bear statue worthwhile. I saw my first Citril finch from the picnic site at the pass. One bright sunny day we continued on through the Picos De Europa National Park to Cain and the start of the famous Cares Gorge.

I was pleased to find a number of areas with ancient veteran trees, mainly old sweet chestnut pollards, some now in woodlands but others in wood pasture with grazing cattle and horses. Whilst at Pendes admiring these trees overhead there was a circling flock of over 60 Griffon vultures and not far away Peregrine falcons were calling to their young. Along with a return trip to the highly entertaining nesting storks at Vanes, both the flora and fauna of the amazing Picos de Europa area were as impressive as ever.

Thanks to John & Jo Morris for the report and superb photos.

Orchids in 2017
White lizard orchidWoodcock orchidPicos de Europa Vanilla orchid

Orchids found by John Morris

  1. Man Orchid
  2. Early Purple
  3. Lange’s
  4. Lizard
  5. Pink Butterfly
  6. Pyramidal
  7. Early Spider
  8. Dull bee
  9. Bartons
  10. Birds nest
  11. Common  Spotted
  12. Burnt
  13. Sawfly
  14. Violet Limodore
  15. Sword leaved white helleborine
  16. Woodcock
  17. Bug
  18. Robust Marsh
  19. Southern Marsh
  20. Small tongue – Serapia
  21. Tongue orchid – Serapia
  22. Heart tongue – Serapia
  23. Red helleborine
  24. Broadleaved helleborine
  25. Small leaved helleborine
  26. Fragrant – (marsh)
  27. Fragrant – (chalk)
  28. Vanilla
  29. Elderflower
  30. Bee
  31. Twayblade
  32. Pale flowered orchid
  33. Green winged orchid

Birds in 2017
Nesting white storksVultureVultures in the Picos de EuropaAlpine Choughs in the Picos de Europa

Birds seen by John Morris

  1. Redstart
  2. Black redstart
  3. Robin
  4. Swift
  5. Swallow
  6. House martin
  7. Crag martin
  8. Jay
  9. Magpie
  10. Raven
  11. Carrion crow
  12. Blackbird
  13. Song thrush
  14. Mistle thrush
  15. House sparrow
  16. Corn bunting
  17. Cirl bunting
  18. Chaffinch
  19. Goldfinch
  20. Greenfinch
  21. Bullfinch
  22. Citril Finch
  23. Linnet
  24. Serin
  25. Wren
  26. Egyptian vulture
  27. Griffon vulture
  28. Buzzard
  29. Sparrow hawk
  30. Kestrel
  31. Peregrine
  32. Black kite
  33. Short toed eagle
  34. Great spotted woodpecker
  35. Stonechat
  36. Spotted flycatcher
  37. Grey Heron
  38. White stork
  39. Chough
  40. Alpine chough
  41. Blue tit
  42. Great tit
  43. Long tailed tit
  44. Goldcrest
  45. Treecreeper
  46. Nuthatch
  47. Willow warbler
  48. Blackcap
  49. Whitethroat
  50. Spotted flycatcher
  51. Wood pigeon
  52. Red backed shrike
  53. Grey shrike
  54. Dipper
  55. White wagtail
  56. Grey Wagtail
  57. Mallard duck
  58. Rock bunting
  59. Alpine accentor
  60. Snow finch
  61. Water pipit
  62. Yellowhammer
  63. Skylark
  64. Tree pipit
  65. Tawny Owl (H)
  66. Cuckoo (H & S)

Other Fauna

  1. Fox (near Puerto San Glorio)
  2. Red squirrel (including in Potes)
  3. Beech Marten (crossing road near Fuente De)
  4. Mole (dead)
  5. Rebecco (on Fuente Dé)
  6. Occelated lizards at Lebena<
  7. Wall lizards
  8. Toads

Butterflies in 2017
Black veined whiteOld Cleopatra on ValerianOrange Tip on Blue Gromwell

Butterflies seen by John Morris

(most were photographed to help ID)

  1. Orange Tip
  2. Scarce Swallowtail
  3. Swallowtail
  4. Brimstone
  5. Clouded yellow
  6. Cleopatra
  7. Small tortoiseshell
  8. Painted lady
  9. Red admiral
  10. Green hairstreak
  11. Small blue
  12. Adonis blue
  13. Long tailed blue
  14. Black veined white
  15. Purple shot copper
  16. Small copper
  17. Marbled white
  18. Meadow brown
  19. Pearly heath
  20. Speckled wood
  21. Large white
  22. Cardinal
  23. Queen of Spain Fritillary
  24. De Prunners Ringlet
  25. Heath Fritillary
  26. Marsh Fritillary
  27. Spotted Fritillary

Useful book DK / RSPB Pocket Nature – Butterflies & Moths of Britain & Europe photo guide

Well what a difference a year makes! 2017 was a very different flower season in the Picos de Europa to 2016. This led to new discoveries. Just as in England spring started very early in March – in the Picos it had been very dry with little snow, which unfortunately led to some forest fires in April. These burnt areas could prove to be very interesting for wild flowers in the next year or two.

We stayed in the very comfortable Posada El Corcal in Tama run by the Soberon family with other Collett’s guests. Birds such as redstarts and black redstarts are common, serin (a small yellow green finch) and Egyptian vultures, black kites and short toed eagles can all be seen flying around from the Posada, along with numerous house martins, swallows and swifts. Tama is just a couple of miles from the ancient market town of Potes, the central market town of this region, with plenty of shops, bars and restaurants. You can easily walk there along the back road by the river. The red squirrels around here are almost black, I had a close view of one in an orchard opposite the supermarket! Lizard and bee orchids grow in the road verges.

Wildflowers, Birds & Butterflies

Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain
Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain
Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain
Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain
Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain
Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain
Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain
Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain
Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain
Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain
Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain
Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain
Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain
Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain
Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain
Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain
Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain
Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain
Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain
Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain
Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain
Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain
Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain
Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain
Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain Wildflower Walks, Birds & Butterflies in the Picos de Europa, Spain

A mammal highlight was a probable beech marten crossing the road on the drive to the limestone heights of Fuente Dé. We went up by cable car at Fuente De three times. This year the bright blue spring and trumpet gentians were everywhere, along with pale blue spring squill. A highlight was finding black pasque flowers, which seem to develop after the white and purple species. In the beech woods below Fuente De were many plants that I am familiar with from the Chilterns where I work, including herb Paris and Solomon’s seal. We also found a couple of very early English iris, normally a summer species. In these woods and meadows we found many orchids, some familiar from England like twayblade, pyramidal, early spider, man and birds-nest orchids, but others such as woodcock, dull bee, bartons, sawfly and pink butterfly orchid which occur in the Picos. A first for me was the delicate pink of Lange’s orchid in woodland. We recorded and photographed over 30 species of orchids in the three weeks we were in Spain.

This part of Spain has an amazing range of alpine and lowland flowers, many birds, numerous active butterflies (over 150 species of butterflies have been recorded in the Picos De Europa) and other interesting species. We also found reptiles such as the impressive foot long green Occelated lizard. There are spectacular mountain views from the high passes, making the windy drive up to Puerto de San Glorio with its impressive bear statue worthwhile. I saw my first Citril finch from the picnic site at the pass. One bright sunny day we continued on through the Picos De Europa National Park to Cain and the start of the famous Cares Gorge.

I was pleased to find a number of areas with ancient veteran trees, mainly old sweet chestnut pollards, some now in woodlands but others in wood pasture with grazing cattle and horses. Whilst at Pendes admiring these trees overhead there was a circling flock of over 60 Griffon vultures and not far away Peregrine falcons were calling to their young. Along with a return trip to the highly entertaining nesting storks at Vanes, both the flora and fauna of the amazing Picos de Europa area were as impressive as ever.

John & Jo Morris

Thanks to John and Jo Morris for all the superb photographs!

See Flower Walks in the Picos de Europa for more information.