Spain - Picos de Europa Mountains
Picos de Europa Mountains, North Spain
2019 dates: June, tbc
A stunning trip – so many wonderful wild flowers and beautiful scenery
The truly magnificent Picos de Europa Mountains are situated 110 km south west of Santander. If you have never heard of them before, they are similar in character to The Dolomites in Italy – although somewhat different of course! In mid to late June, the wild mountain flora will be at its very best and the steep hay meadows are crammed full of beautiful flowers, untouched for centuries by any agricultural chemicals.
The main ranges are of white/pink limestone and are very abrupt. High peaks (up to 2,650m/8,500 ft) are interspersed with deep beech, chestnut and oak-forested valleys, with lovely little villages, where centuries old farming methods are still practised.
Here, you can hike through one of the deepest canyons in the world – The Cares Gorge, deeper even than The Grand Canyon. The magnificent Cares Gorge is an awe-inspiring 2,000 metre deep cleft between two high massifs, with an amazing footpath hewn from the rocky sides. It is one of the great largely unknown natural wonders of the world.
Nearby are other spectacular ranges (The Cantabrian Mountains) within easy striking distance, where we will also hike and experience unusual landscapes of conglomerate and schist, as well as limestone.
Staying with our English friends Mike and Lisa, in their 15th century renovated farmhouse in a small hamlet near Potes, we’ll take daily walks in the valleys, along the ridges and high up above the tree line.
The highest parts of the ranges are where limestone pavements and jagged peaks are the home to wild creatures such as mountain Chamoix (locally know as Rebeccos), Griffon Vultures and Golden Eagles. Brown bears and wolves still inhabit these mountains.
The daily walking is very varied and will range from valley walks to hikes high above the tree line. Some walks will find us passing through remote villages where time seems to have stood still and the luxuries of the 21st century are only just beginning to appear, such as paved roads and electricity.
To reach the highest parts of the central range, there is a spectacular cable car that whisks us up over 2,500 feet in one sweep, making the very high tops much more easily accessible for day hikes.
The climate here in early summer is very pleasant, between 18C and 27C. In June, the wild flowers are at their very peak and the burgeoning fruits of the land are bountiful; walnuts, grapes, apples, figs and chestnuts are all preparing their fruit.
Perhaps the most stunning things to observe are the breath taking scenery and wildlife – and the flora of the wild hay meadows (calcareous) is particularly lovely. We will see many species of wild orchids and other wild flowers and beautiful grasses. Right, the incredible trickster, the Bee Orchid.
The hospitality at Casa Gustavo is superb; the house can accommodate up to 14 people and has a variety of rooms, each with its own individual character.
The food is excellent, provincial and international dishes are prepared especially for us. Evening meals are often taken outside in the vine covered courtyard. Excellent local wines are included with dinner and you certainly will not be hungry or thirsty! Picnic lunches are included on all walking days.
Meeting and drop off point is Bilbao Airport.
For photos from our Picos and other Walking Tours please go to our Facebook page.
Transport is provided, including collection and return from/to Bilbao Airport.
2018 Dates: June 16-25 (9 nights/10 days)
Price: €1,600 euros, with a single room supplement of €135 euros.
Includes full guidance by Mike and Martin, transport, bed and breakfast, lunch and evening meals (wine & spirits included with evening meals)
All participants of our International holidays will be required to sign a Liability Release form upon arrival at the destination.