Walking Holidays ~ from a genuine specialist

Organised & self-guided walking holidays in Europe’s most majestic mountains

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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.

Outstanding High Level Walks For Stronger Walkers

  • Awe-inspiring hikes through the majestic peaks & high mountain passes of the Picos de Europa
  • This week is ideal for hikers in search of more strenuous days out in the mountains
  • The walks each week will include classic routes in both the Picos de Europa National Park and the Cordillera Cantabria
  • This holiday includes both 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

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“…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.

So many curious, beautiful mountains, so wild and unknown! So many gorges! So many sharp needles! So many forests! If you seek the unknown, this is where you must come – Count of Saint Saud

Approximately 300 million years ago a huge chain of mountains rose up out of the earth’s crust due to plate tectonic movement creating the Picos de Europa. History then repeated itself 50 million years ago furthering the height of these soaring giants.

Walking in the Picos de Europa - Bustantivo Walking in the Picos de Europa - Bustantivo
Walking in the Picos de Europa - Cicera Loop Walking in the Picos de Europa - Cicera Loop
Walking in the Picos de Europa - La Hermida Gorge Walking in the Picos de Europa - La Hermida Gorge
Walking in the Picos de Europa - Los Urrieles Walking in the Picos de Europa - Los Urrieles
Walking in the Picos de Europa - La Hermida Gorge Walking in the Picos de Europa - La Hermida Gorge
Walking in the Picos de Europa - Los Urrieles Walking in the Picos de Europa - Los Urrieles
Walking in the Picos de Europa - Cicera Loop Walking in the Picos de Europa - Cicera Loop
Walking in the Picos de Europa - San Pedro Walking in the Picos de Europa - San Pedro
Walking in the Picos de Europa - San Pedro Wildflowers Walking in the Picos de Europa - San Pedro Wildflowers
Walking in the Picos de Europa - San Pedro Walking in the Picos de Europa - San Pedro
Walking in the Picos de Europa - San Pedro Group Walking in the Picos de Europa - San Pedro Group
Walking in the Picos de Europa - San Pedro Walking Group Walking in the Picos de Europa - San Pedro Walking Group
Walking in the Picos de Europa - Somaniezo Stroll Walking in the Picos de Europa - Somaniezo Stroll
Walking in the Picos de Europa - Somaniezo Stroll, Lunch break Walking in the Picos de Europa - Somaniezo Stroll, Lunch break

An abundance of rain and snow, due to the proximity of the sea to the mountain peaks, has then been responsible for dissecting these limestone giants through erosion and the freeze thaw effect into the three Massifs we know today; El Corniōn (the Western Massif), Los Urrieles (Central Massif), and Āndara (the Eastern Massif).

Along with providing us with these three soaring peaks, over time erosion has also delivered gorges, two of which; La Hermida, and The Carres Gorge you can witness during our organised walks. Numerous passes providing perfect high level lunch spots with panoramic views. Chasms and caves, all sculpting the Picos scenery to what we now see today, one of the most important and varied karstic landscapes in the world.

See Walking Holidays in the Picos de Europa for more information.

Thanks to Emma Saunders and Mike Ball two of our walk organisers from the Picos de Europa team for these superb photos and blog piece!

The Picos de Europa team are all set up and have had a glorious first week welcoming guests. John and Jo, our resident flower walkers, have included a variety of gentle strolls and managed to sight 4 different species of wild daffodil, an assortment of orchids including both the Man Orchid and Pink Butterfly Orchid, and a plethora of Peonies. They also topped off their week with an extension to the Hamlet of Vañes to watch the mating rituals of storks who reside amongst church rooftops.

Spring Walking in the Picos

Bustantivo Circular - Walking in the Picos de Europa with Collett's Bustantivo Circular - Walking in the Picos de Europa with Collett's
Pink butterfly orchid, picos de Europa Pink butterfly orchid, picos de Europa
Bustantivo Circular - Walking in the Picos de Europa Bustantivo Circular - Walking in the Picos de Europa
Angels Tear Drop Daffodil Angels Tear Drop Daffodil

The walks here in The Picos are awe-inspiring whatever level of walker you are, with something to offer for everyone. However, we are excited to share that the Bustantivo Circular is now clear of snow and ready for guest adventures. Some late snowfall had put some of our high level routes on temporary hold, but the Bustantivo Circular is an excellent option for guests seeking more of a challenge.

Starting at 1100m, this circular route provides superb views towards Fuente Dē cirque and both the Central and Western Massifs. The 16.3km/10 mile route climbs to approximately 1900m offering panoramic views and making you feel like you can soar with the birds.

See Walking Holidays in the Picos de Europa for more information.

Thanks to Emma Saunders, one of our walk organisers from the Picos team for these superb photos and blog piece!