Picos de Europa, Spain's first National Park
Exodus client Phillip Beck reports…
In Northern Spain about 2.5 hours west of Bilbao airport is a special mountainous region called Picos de Europa. The mountains in this region rise up to over 2,000 metres and are made up of three different massifs in three different provinces. Exodus runs either Grade B or Grade C hikes on a centre based trip in a village called Arenas de Cabrales up to twenty five times per year.
My trip was a Grade B trip and included 5 full days of hiking. Some of the hiking days started outside the hotels front door, with about a 45 minute to 1-hour drive. On this trip the hiking days ended between 4:30 and 5:30 pm. This allowed us to get back to the hotel, relax, take a hot bath or shower and wander around the village to take in the local life, before heading back to the hotel for dinner.
This part of Spain is not the flamenco, paella, olive grove and bull running part of Spain. This part of Spain is right out of the film “Pan’s Labyrinth”. The rushing streams, high mountains, oak forests, mists, caves, old churches, and villages which all evoke a sense of mystery.
We walked through high mountain pastures passing lonely huts, often sharing our tracks with goats, cows and donkeys. This part of Spain shares a Celtic past the same as Scotland, Brittany, and Cornwall. The local music features bagpipes and they have a local dish similar to haggis. The area is truly unique in Spain.
We stayed the week at a family-run hotel called Hotel Torrecerredo. If you like: small, family-managed places brimming with character and run by caring, humorous hosts and fantastic staff and serving great food and offering great views then this hotel is for you! The hotel was completely refurbished in 1992 and includes 19 en suite bedrooms each fitted with TV, telephone and central heating. Each day the Hotel offers a different set menu including local specialities such as Fabada Asturiana, chickpea stew, and the famous blue cheese “Queso Cabrales”. All evening meals are served in the panoramic dining room and are accompanied by wine.
Breakfast is buffet style and includes cereals, fruit juice, tea or coffee, “Sobaos” (Little cakes) , toast & marmalade and eggs. Packed lunched were provided for the days activities. This consists of a good-sized roll with various fillings, a piece of fruit and a bar of chocolate. Vegetarian meal requests are easily accommodated.
The owners, staff, guides, and drivers were super friendly and all would bend over backwards if necessary. Genuine smiles were there 100 % of the time. You could tell everyone was proud to be there and work there. Safety on the trails was paramount and excellent local knowledge meant we got to feel included.
The trip was truly remarkable. If you want to discover a different view of Spain, then get yourself to this beautiful off-the-beaten track region!