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
Handpicked medium & high level walks for moderate walkers
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.
A Picos de Europa Walking Holiday
Twin Centre Explorer
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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)
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)
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)
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
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.
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.
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.
Getting to the Picos de Europa is easy and airport transfers are included in the price of your holiday.
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.
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.
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.
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.