epic hikes Picos de europa
START AND FINISH: PONCEBOS, ASTURIAS, SPAIN
5 DAYS, 65 km
Day 2: Sotres – Espinama18km, 6 hoursAccommodation: Hostal Nevandi/Espinama The longest hiking day awaits, continuing along hiking route #202: 3 hours up and three hours down, pretty much in a north-south direction and crossing from Asturias into Cantabria with impressive peaks to your left and right. The #202 follows a so-called Ruta Gran recorrido, which is a gravel road that foolishly permits cars to drive along this beautiful stretch. And during the summer holiday season, you will indeed encounter the odd vehicle temporarily spoiling it for others. Thankfully, they are far and between. After a total of six hours you will descent to the beautifully located village of Espinama with some restaurants and even a Cantabrian-themed deli (!). If you decide to stay at Hostal Nevandi, you can revitalise your bones in a refreshing swimming pool.
Day 3: Espinama – Posada de Valdeón15 km, 6 hoursAccommodation: Los Horreos in Valdeón or La Casa Vieje en ValdeónAnother longish day: From Espinama you can follow the road (there is a footpath along the way) to the Fuente Dé cable car, which should take you about one hour. From there follow route #15 (the so-called Senda del Mercadillo) up a spectacular steep (ish) climb, before descending into the hamlet of Posada de Valdeón.
Day 4: Posada de Valdéon – Cain8 km, 3 hoursAccommodation: Hostal Casa Timo/CainAn easy hop compared with the previous three days. The hike follows route #3, partially along a paved road. As an upside, you will get into Cain (with what might pass as an almost cosmopolitan vibe in these parts) for a lazy afternoon.
Day 5: Cain – Poncebos12 km, 4 hoursAccommodation: Hostal PoncebosSaving the best for last. This is the stuff of travel brochures: This section of the hike is called the Ruta del Cares; an atmospheric, yet modest hike along narrow paths that meander through a steep ravine, also referred to as the ‘divine gorge’ with soaring cliffs (and obviously steep drops) along the way. Together with the cable car access at Fuente Dé this is where most tourists can be found. It is not difficult to imagine why.