The walk to Vega Ario from Lake Ercina with the possible climb to Jultayo peak is one of the classic walks starting from the Lakes of Covadonga in the western massif. I hadn’t climbed the Jultayo peak for about 2 years and made a flash decision Saturday morning to do the ascent. I frantically packed my rucksack and jumped in the car wanting to get past Covadonga before the road was shut. (In high season the road up to the lakes is shut to private cars from about 08.30 and after that it’s necessary to take a bus from Cangas de Onis.) Luckily I had plenty of time and managed to drive up to Lake Ercina in splendid sun.
The path all the way up to the refuge at Vega Ario is well marked compared to many routes in the area. The first part of the route offers views over the lakes and towards the coastal hills and then passes the summer settlement of Las Bobias. I was lucky to be there just as the farmer was releasing his goats from their overnight shelter and saw how he carefully herded them up the mountain. It’s the harmony of the ancestral mountain farming and the landscape which makes the lower reaches of the Picos so special.
There’s a spring (Fuente La Canaleta) just beyond Las Bobias and well worth filling up with water as Vega Ario has real water problems in the summer.
The next part of the route is in a wide valley, a bit of a slog really and with limited views, but as you approach the col just before Vega Ario more peaks appear to your right and suddenly you have the jugged central massif in front of you the other side of the depths of the Carres gorge. There’s a granite plaque on the col showing all the surrounding mountains very useful to help identify all the peaks.
Like most of the refuges in the Picos, the refuge at Vega Ario is pretty unattractive building, but is set in a spectacular situation and serves as a strategic stopping point for many walkers. The track from the refuge to the base of Jultayo is chaotic limestone and although the path is marked about every 5 meters with yellow paint I wouldn’t want to have to cross this section in poor visibility! This track also leads to the beginning of the canal de Trea one of the major passes dropping from the Western Massif down to Cain.
Climbing up to the Jultayo peak is well marked nearly all the way with piles of stones. The summit doesn’t look that exciting but the ascent does offer spectacular views over the Carres gorge. After a bit of a climb the cross on the summit becomes visible and then my god; it’s an absolutely shear drop the other side with the village of Cain beneath your feet, not for those who suffer with vertigo. Walking along the summit top gives truly breathtaking views and the vultures carry on gliding in the air currents way beneath your feet.
It’s possible to make it a circular walk back to the col just before Vega Ario but the path is NOT that obvious with only an occasional pile of stones marking the way now and again. From the col it’s the same way back down to the lakes.
Self guided walking notes and GPS trail available for guests from the hotel
|Type of walk||There and back|
|Starting Point||Lake Ercina|
|Finishing Point||Lake Ercina|
|Acces||33km from hotel 45 minutes by car|
|Public transport options||Bus from Cangas de Onis only in summer months|
|Grading||Difficult to Vega de Ario, very difficult to Jultayo|
|Total Length||13km there and back to Vega de Ario, (Jultayo 4km more)|
|Total Ascent||500m to Vega de Ario, 840,m to Jultayo|
|Total Walking time||5 hours to Vega de Ario and back, 7 hours to Jultayo|
|Terrain||Mostly rocky paths|
|Navigation||Mostly way marked to Vega de Ario, great care needed with mist|
|Refreshments||Bar at lake Ercina|
|Map||Adrados Western Massif Picos de Europa|
Self Guided Walking notes available at the hotel.
GPS Track availble from the hotel