gathering information about the Picos and would welcome any comments anyone can make.
Is this a popular destination?
When do you are go?
Where do you stay?
If you have been would you go again?
Ta muchly peeps
Went in August years ago, stopped at Fuente De. Hot, very crowded and very noisy camping. Would go again but deffo not in high summer,
Stayed in el cares camp campsite this time last year. Bugger to get to. Not much there(potes was the nearest supermarket for food )and I found it quite quiet. Defo would go again. But worth it picos on your doorstep literally.
The great thing about the Picos is the lack of established tourism providers. It's one of the few places in Europe that you can get back to enjoying the culture primarily whilst secondly enjoying the climbing and mountains (despite them being incredible). There's plenty of accomodation around Arenas de Cabralis although most won't wont be speaking English as you check in and planning a trip there is a lot more challenging them most european areas!
Long do I hope it remains this way, understandably all of this will slowly change but I hope this change will be a sensitive one. I would love to see the area remain the home of Cantabrians and Austrians running the businesses etc. There is a lot of concerns amongst the locals regarding the potential impact of tourism. This all probably tells you how great the place is!
If you get the chance to visit, enjoy the culture, heritage and unpolished limestone!
We camped at Camping Naranjo de Bulnes in Arenas de Cabrales - in late July/early August. It's a little further from the Naranja than the camping at Fuente De, but we had no problems with noise and had a lovely quiet pitch at the back on the camping. The river that runs down the valley has some great little swimming spots. Climbed in the valley at Poo de Cabrales and Hermida for a couple of days on arrival. We then drove up to Sotres and walked in to the Naranjo from there - bivvied for a couple of nights in a great spot not far from the refuge. Did a couple of routes on the Naranjo then had a day or two out on the coast somewhere around Llanes, where we found some good DWS spots. I thought the area was superb and the climbing equally good.
Any more info on the DWS spots? I’ve climbed on Bulnes and would love to go back via a bit of DWS in the mix.
Hmm I read and re read your comments as not sure if saying a business should only be ran by the locals sits right with me, as a person who runs a business in southern Spain without any issues from the locals, in fact I know we are welcomed very much in the winter when the restaurants are full of our guests.
I also know that if people want to stay away from the crowds on the Costa Blanca it is 100% possible, you only search in Spanish and choose spanish speaking hosts, surely its a choice?
PS does that mean that a Spanish person should not be running an ice-cream parlour in Cornwall because he is not a local?
I went in late september and the place was deserted and i had one of the best holidays ever.
Did a massive walk so talk the cable car up to el cable, walked up and over to the rifugio at base of naranjo del bulnes and then down to the little hamlet of bulnes - one of the only places in europe with no road access still. Then walked cares gorge the next day. Incredible.
Great climbing - there's a mix of sport climbing by the beach and in the valleys and bigger stuff in the mountains.
Only popular in a few places.
Don't stay anywhere. It is a small set of small mountains. It is not the Alps, and that is part of the charm. Go with the flow. Camp wild up high or in lost valleys (we did). Keep moving. Be a nomad. Camp, do a route, move camp to the next objective. Rich is a big boy and will carry your stuff too I'm sure! Consider hiring a donkey. These are much like Rich, but better looking.
Yes, I would, and will, go again.
The 'issue' with the Picos is that the weather can be very unsettled (must be a reason why it's so green and beautiful ;-)). So, you want to be totally flexible. We just moved around and then when the weather was good, headed up to Picu Urriellu (camped wild outside the hut).
We were there late August/early September. It was cold up high.
We stayed on the coast in Ribadesella for a couple of weeks a couple of years ago. Nice seaside resort with mainly spanish tourists, some surfers (main reason I was there, basically), and folk passing through on the Camino de Santiago etc pilgrimage. Really nice place. Llanes is too, but a little quieter.
Anyway, the foothills of the Picos run right down to the sea, and have some pretty good off-road bike riding (I was getting miles in for the 3 peaks cyclocross). Bit of an underrated area and really really quiet (end of Aug, first week Sept). I also did a horrendously scary ride along the Cares gorge, on a terrace below the main tourist route. Not difficult but failure = death. Anyway...
You can't really drive across the main Picos, so need to decide which side you want to access. From Ribadesella it's a 20 min drive to Cangas de Onis, gateway small town to that side of the range. Also a nice place and v outdoor stuff orientated. Did a few good walks to and around refugios etc. What's marked as a track on the map can turn out to be a fair scramble. Anyway, brilliant area and would love to go back on a proper mountain orientated trip. (Though may struggle if the surf was good.)
Like any mountain range there are hotspots. Like anywhere, if you look at the map it is easy to avoid them - unless you want to do what they are doing.
I've been in summer, avoided the two or three hot spots and you can spend a whole day roaming the amazing peaks and hills without seeing anyone.
Bulnes as Wtf mentions is well off the beaten track. Well its off the road completely and well worth the walk to visit an unspoilt mountain village with no vehicular access.
Also stayed there, importantly the campsite has a bar/restaurant. Very quiet and easy access to the mountains.
Yes, we would go back, problem is there are so many places yet to visit!
I've been four or five times over the years, and would still go back because it's a lovely place. For sure it's hot and busy during the middle of the summer, but June has been great the last few times. Even in July, I've climbed on Naranjo and been the only ones there because it was drizzling below the inversion layer. Wild camping seems to be tolerated at the Urriellu hut, and it helps to introduce yourself to the guardians and buy a few things. There's a fee for daytime use of the hut, but I've not found it being enforced.
In Potes, Camping la Viorna is very nice.
Finally, the night life in Potes is something to behold. Go to the Bodegas on a Saturday night, and party like it's 1999 (again).
Thanks everyone for taking the time to reply and give so much information.
When we go again in October this year it will be to house hunt! So much to think about and look and yes decide which side of the mountain we want to live on..
Very excited now!
Sam Orange House
I love it around Potes, because the town is quite bustling. I had a base in Ojedo, which is about 1km from Petes itself. A friends has a place now up towards Pendes and Cabanes, which are a little further out from town and require driving. It is a good 45 minutes to Poo de Cabrales and even more to Sotres (Northern approach to Naranga Del Bulnes).
For me I would like to have access to the Hermida gorge and Fente Du, which means you could have a base near Panes which is at the northern end to the Hermida Gorge. This would give easier access to the coast road and the beaches (Playa Del Meron is my favourite spot, awesome longboard wave!). The Panes area would give better access to the Northern approach to Naranga Del Bulnes and Poo de Cabrales, whilst still being close to the Hermida Gorge and reasonable (40 minute drive to Fuente Du).
Email me or FB for more info. I might still be out there in October, so would be good to catch up, although if I miss you I will be down in Costa Blanca. I might even be keen for some work for van parking. Either way look forward to catching up in Spain.
Relevant to your house hunting I think it’s right to say that the northern part of the range is (generally) cloudier/rainier than the southern. Think the Pyrenees.
Anyone with more Picos experience care to confirm/disagree.
Just spent 2 weeks there. 1 week in Potes and 1 week on the coast.
It is a totally different part of Spain. Loved it.
Sound advice. I’d agree with everything there. Nice spot that Panes and perfectly situated for a wide range of options.
We had a month-long trip around the Picos / "Costa Verde" area end September through to end October Fabulous weather (but perhaps we got lucky). Initially based at Camping Viola in Potes (recommended) which gives good access to the cragging in the Hermida gorge but also is fairly conveniently located for getting into the higher mountains
Then headed off on a grand tour taking in some of the crags nearer the coast then heading west to Teverga (the best Spanish climbing you've probably never heard of and looping back via Leon (beautiful climbing but the grades are nails)
If you follow the link above you will get some beta for the whole area. Enjoy!
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