Picos de Europa Mountains, North Spain
2018 dates: June 16-25.
The incredible Picos de Europa Mountains are situated about 110 km southwest 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, un-touched by agricultural chemicals.
The main ranges are of white/pink limestone and are very abrupt. High peaks (up to 2650m/8500 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 find (and hike through) one of the deepest gorges in the world - deeper even than The Grand Canyon!
Nearby are other spectacular ranges (Cantabrian Mountains) within easy striking distance, where we can 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.
We’ll walk the magnificent Cares Gorge, 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.
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, 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.
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 here 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.
Transport is provided, including collection and return from/to Bilbao Airport.
2018 Dates: June 16-25 (9 nights/10 days)
2018 Price: 1,600 euros, tbc. Single room supplement: 135 euros.
Includes full guidance, transport, bed and breakfast, lunch and evening meals (wine & spirits included with evening meals).
Please contact us for our pdf brochure.
All participants of our International holidays will be requested to sign a Liability Release Form upon arrival at the destination.