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Climbing up to Bustaco

Above the early morning mist on the way up to the Pico Pienzu from Hotel Posada del Valle

Its not often we discover new footpaths close to the hotel so when we learnt about the new PR or “pequeño recorrido” (an official short route) from Arriondas up to the Pico Pienzu it was quite exciting. It was even better when I realised this route past just behind the small out crop in front of the hotel and could easily be incorporated into a new self guided walking route for our guests.

Almost at the summit

Almost at the summit

Some guests already walk from the hotel to the Pico Pienzu via the Mirador del Fito, but this involved 6 kms along small tarmac roads. So by using this new PR the new route barely goes on any tarmac roads and offers some very spectacular and varied scenery. It’s also the route the runners use when competing in the yearly mini marathon from Arriondas to the Pienzu cross.

Looking at the coast from the Pico Pienzu summit

View of the coast from the summit of the Picos Pienzu

Starting at the hotel the route follows a woodland stream to the village of Bodes and then up some farmers tracks to the Bustaco pastures. From here it is up to the Pienzu cross on the standard route returning and back to Bustaco the same way. Another farmer’s track takes you to the village of Cofiño where a smaller path takes you over the Peña Las Escodas and eventually brings you round the Peña Forcada to the hotel. For those of you have got the energy a steep but rather lovely walk.

Hotel Posada del Valle

Arriving back at Hotel Posada del Valle

 

Technical Information

Map Pico Pienzu circular from Hotel Posada del Valle Collia

Download GPS trail from wikiloc

Self guided walking notes and GPS trail available for guests from the hotel

Type of walk Circular
Starting Point Hotel Posada del Valle Collia
Finishing Point Hotel Posada del Valle Collia
Grading Moderate – Difficult
Total Length 17,5
Total Ascent 1,200 m
Altitude 190 – 1160 – 190
Total Walking time 6-7 hours
Terrain Tracks and paths
Navigation Easy
Refreshments No only at the Hotel
Map Colunga

Sotres from Andara

Looking at the Village of Sotres from the Andara Massif

The Picos de Europa are divided into three massifs and the Eastern Massif also known as Andarra is the smallest of the three. For over a hundred years mining was an important activity in Andarra and its presence can still be seen by a network of tracks many of which are ideal for walking along. This circular walk uses  some of these miners’ tracks and passes by the Andarra refuge, originally a miner’s hut.

Andara Refuge

The Refuge At Andara

The walk starts at the Jito de Escarandi four kms beyond Sotres on the road to the isolated village of Tresviso.  From the car park at Jito de Escarandi the walk starts descending slightly and then the track levels out for a couple of kilometers when you can see the village of Tresviso in the distance. Soon you can also see the beautiful “Majada de Llama” with its farming huts and protected pastures. Time for a rest, listen to the cow bells and enjoy the scenery before the next part of the route which is a gradual but continual climb. You start climbing through beech forests and then after a while the scenery opens and then you cary on climbing with views over Karstic formations out towards the coast.

Andara in the snow

Winter walking in the Andara Massif

The snow seems to stay longer on the Eastern Massif than most of the surrounding mountains and this attracts walkers interested in doing snow walking. It also means care needs to be taken in the spring on the highest part of this track as there can often be some snow making it difficult to pass. It’s a very small section no more than 20 meters but its north facing and accumulates snow from the mountains slopes above. Despite the warm weather we were having when I did this walk I was glad I had my crampons, well it was December. Normally from May onwards this shouldn’t be a problem.

Pico Mancondiu

Looking back to see where you’ve come from

Once past this point you come to the refuge “Caseton de Andarra” dramatically set amongst rock and scree although I reckon the building itself must rate as the Picos ugliest refuge. From the refuge it’s downhill all the way back to the car park with great chance to enjoy the views and work out where you’ve come from.

Technical Information

Map Andara Circular walk

Download GPS trail from wikiloc

 

Self guided walking notes and GPS trail available for guests from the hotel

Type of walk Circular
Starting Point Jito de Escarandi
Finishing Point Jito de Escarandi
Public transport options No
Grading Moderate – Difficult
Total Length 16,3
Total Ascent 650 m
Altitude 1300 – 1100 – 1700 -1300
Total Walking time 5 hours
Terrain Tracks
Navigation Easy
Refreshments Bar in Sotres
Map Adrados; Central and Eastern Massif

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The path by the stream on the way back from the Santa Marina chapel

 

This short walk starting from the hotel follows a small stream through beautiful woodland scenery and on much of the route and you feel as though you are lost in a fairytale landscape.

 

View from the hamlet of Andeyes

 

You start the walk passing the hotel vegetable garden and then a short stroll up the road past the cemetery till you come to the hamlet of Andeyes.  Here you follow a small path down to the isolated chapel of Santa Marina. Next you meander for 1½ kms along the edge of a stream where there are a couple of ruined water mills but are now lost in the undergrowth.

 

The isolated chapel of Santa Marina

 

The chapel porch

 

After a while the path maintains level as the stream drops, and you walk along what was an old stone track leading from the church of Santa Thomas del Collado to Bodes. This track has cut stone edges and about 10 years ago when it was totally overgrown we asked the town hall if they would clean the track or if there was some type of grant to help us restore this track. The answer was no, so we cleaned it ourselves and have maintained this track ever since!

 

The small stream by the side of the path

 

Finally you leave this track at a sign for the hotel and climb back up along another old track “El Camino del Muerte” or track of the dead. This was the path that the villagers used for taking the dead from the church to cemetery. Finally you arrive back at the hotel.

 

Sign back to the hotel!

 

Technical Information

Map Circular walk Santa Marina Chapel

Download GPS trail from wikiloc

Self guided walking notes and GPS track available for guests from the hotel

Type of walk Circular
Starting Point Hotel Posada del Valle
Finishing Point Hotel Posada del Valle
Public transport options Not necessary
Grading Easy
Total Length 2,5 kms
Total Ascent 120 m
Altitude 180 – 250 – 140 – 180
Refreshments Hotel Posada del Valle
Map Mapa Topográfico Nacional de España: Arriondas

Lake Ercina with the snow capped peaks in the distance

Many hundreds of thousands of people come to visit the lakes of Covadonga every year and when you arrive there and see such a beautiful setting you can understand why. But despite the affluence of people (who come mostly in July and August) it’s still very easy to take a short walk and soon get away from the crowds and enjoy such outstanding scenery with out the masses.

Walking on the edge of Lake Ercina

This walk starts at the car park by “Lake Ercina” and you gently walk along the waters edge admiring the dramatic scenery before climbing very slightly to a stone hut. In times gone by many families would past the summer months in these stone huts in the mountains looking after their animals.  In this hut an elderly lady still passes the summer months making and selling cheeses and tending to her animals

The path towards the stone huts

You soon come to a small group of ruined huts overlooking El Bricial; a lake which only has water at times of heavy rain or snow thaw. From here the path goes over a rocky slope where in one point the National park has cut some of the rock to make it easier to walk along.

Lke Ercina

After passing a tiny chapel you come to Lake Enol which you pass round the edge by means of some conveniently placed stepping stones before arriving at a few more stone huts. From here there is a newish paved stone path which takes you over the glacial Moraine back to Lake Ercina with some more stunning views on the way.

Technical Information

Map Circular Walk Lakes of Covadonga

Download GPS Tracks from Wikiloc

Self guided walking notes and GPS trail available for guests from the hotel

Type of walk Circular
Starting Point Car park at Lake Ercina
Finishing Point Car park at Lake Ercina
Public transport options Only in high season
Grading Easy
Total Length 5 kms
Total Ascent 100 m
Altitude 1160 – 1070 – 1160
Total Walking time 2 hours
Terrain Paths and tracks sometimes rocky
Navigation Easy
Refreshments Bar at Lake Ercina
Map Mapa Adrados Western massif

"Cuevas del Mar" Sea Cave Beach

If you want a gentle stroll along the cliff tops, a couple of sandy beaches for an enticing swim and stunning views of the coastline and the Picos, this walk is a must.

The caostline around Cuevas del Mar

If the tide is not too far in you can start the walk along the edge of the beach passing by some impressive rock formations which give the name to the beach; Sea caves or Cuevas del Mar. You then climb gently through a field and up on to the cliff tops where you can see a range of caves, arches and broken cliffs which are the result of the waves continually bashing against the limestone rock.

Impressive blow hole on the headland from Cuevas del Mar

This part of the Asturian coast line is sometimes referred to as the coast of the Picos de Europa because this is where the pure limestone which forms the geological unit of the Picos meets the sea.  In the high mountains the acid rain cuts through the limestone rock forming deep gorges and an underground network of pot holes.  However at the coast its water in the form of waves which work from below beating up through the limestone rock forming all sorts of features.  In some places the waves eventually break through to the rock surface making blow holes which roar like dragons as the waves swell under the cuttings in the rock. At high tide spectacular spurts of water can be seen shooting out these blow holes. You pass one of these blow holes on the cliff tops before coming to a small chapel and it’s from this part of the headland where you can see The Picos de Europa through a gap in the coastal mountain range.

The small cove of San Antonio accessible by foot

Next the walk passes by two small sandy beaches the first can only be reached by boat but the second is easily accessible and this is another idyllic spot to stop, rest and may be have a swim. Finally a small farm track winds through some fields and then takes you back along a lane to the Sea Caves beach and thestart of the walk.

Technical Information

Map Cuevas del Mar circular walk

Download GPS trail from wikiloc

Self guided walking notes and GPS track available for guests from the hotel

Type of walk Circular
Starting Point Playa Cuevas del Mar
Finishing Point Playa Cuevas del Mar
Public transport options Narrow guage train Feve to Nueva (2kms from start)
Grading Easy
Total Length 2,5 kms
Total Ascent 50 m
Altitude 0 – 40 – 0
Total Walking time 1 hour
Terrain Tracks and cliff tops
Navigation Easy
Refreshments Bars in Nueva
Map Mapa Topográfico Nacional de España:   Nueva

 

The cross on the summit of Pico Moro

The Pico Moro is a minor summit which can be reached from the hotel with out a car and although it is only 560 m high the views of the mountains and surrounding countryside are stunning. I’ve done this walk many times and I still enjoy it each time I do it. For me the best way is to do it as a circular walk which takes about 5 hours but it is also possible to do a shorter version just there and back via the road to Ribadesella.

Goats on Pico Moro

Leaving Collia along the green path you descend down to a small river and it suddenly feels quite isolated. The track takes you past a couple of farm houses and although you are only a few kilometres from Arriondas you feel as though the farmers are used to being on their own. After a climb through a forest the views open out again and the Picos de Europa can be seen lingering in the distance.

 

Descending from the summit of Pico Moro with views towards the coast

 

Like the Picos most of the surrounding mountains and outcrops are limestone, but Pico Moro differs with a predominately silicate based subsoil. As a consequence the flora on the slopes is quite distinct and in parts there are even small forests of Mimosa trees. You climb along forest tracks lined with mimosas before you turn of for the final ascent to the summit where there is a rather bold cross made out of metal road barriers.

Views on the ascent of Pico Moro

Then there is a descent along the ridge with views towards the coast and you soon arrive at another isolated farm house this one with its own chapel which is now being used as a store building. A small cement track takes you back to a minor road where it’s a 3 km walk back to the hotel passing the farm at Las Corronas.

Technical Information

Map Circular walk Pico Moro

Download GPS trail from wikiloc

Self guided walking notes and GPS track available for guests from the hotel

Type of walk Circular
Starting Point Hotel
Finishing Point Hotel
Public transport options
Grading Medium
Total Length 13 km
Total Ascent 560 m
Altitude 180 – 90 -560- 180
Total Walking time 5 hours
Terrain Tracks, animal paths and minor road
Navigation Easy to moderate
Refreshments Hotel
Map Mapa Topográfico Nacional de España: Cangas de Onis, Ribadesella

 

 

Torimbia beach

This is a lovely coastal walk which takes you round the stunning beach of Torimbia. Stunning not (just) because it’s a nudist beach but because of its  semicircular shape surrounded by steep green slopes and with its golden sands gently caressed by the breaking waves.

An inviting swim

This is my favourite beach to go swimming in; I love being thrown around in the water by the pounding waves and here there is no fear of stones or rocks to be bashed against as the beach is large enough to avoid its rocky edges. I avoid the busier months of July and August and generally do this walk the rest of the year when you can very often have the beach to yourself.

The church at Torimbia surrounded by the river estuary.

To start the walk you leave the village of Niembro along the river estuary and then start winding up a small path through the picnic area. The views back over the estuary are very picturesque with the church of Niembro and its cemetery on the rivers edge surrounded by water at high tide.  You soon come to the top end of Niembro village and then go along a farmers track looking down at the beach of Toranda. You then go around a small headland before reaching the path down to the Torimbia beach. It’s nearly always possible to walk all the way around the beach and only at very high tide can it present some problem.

Looking west from the viewing point above the beach at Torimbia

At the far end of the beach you start following the track up and back to the viewing point and car park high above the beach. The views from here are gorgeous; green fields touching the waters edge, and an abundance of gentle hills and small coves as you look east to LLanes whilst looking west over and beyond  Torimbia beach the cliffs are more dramatic.

Views walking back down to Niembro village

From here you walk back down to the village of Torimbia, which despite some new buildings has been more or less spared from excess property development. This really is a very special and beautiful area.

Technical Information

Map Circular walk Torimbia

Download GPS trail from wikiloc

Self guided walking notes and GPS track available for guests from the hotel

Type of walk Circular
Starting Point Niembro
Finishing Point Niembro
Public transport options Feve train to Balmori (1,5 kms from Niembro)
Grading Easy
Total Length 5,5 kms
Total Ascent 200 m
Altitude 0 – 100 – 0
Total Walking time 2 hours
Terrain Tracks
Navigation Easy
Refreshments Bar in Niembro
Map Mapa Topográfico Nacional de España:Nueva

 

La Vega Beach

There is something very satisfying about walking to the sea from the mountains and Playa La Vega where this walk takes you is a lovely wild sandy beach. The first hour of the walk is the hardest as you climb continually along quiet lanes. I started the walk quite early in the morning and I was surprised just how many different birds I could hear in the trees that lined the road side. There was even the continual hammering of a woodpecker.

Trees on the side of the road

It was one of those mornings when there was mist in the valley but it wasn’t long before I walked up out of the mist into brilliant sun and could see the snow capped Picos de Europa in the distance.

Walking out of the mist

After about 3 kms the climbing ends and you leave the road to start following forestry tracks which gently descend along the Fito hills. Along the track there is a mix of pine and eucalyptus forests as well as open views towards the surrounding hills and mountains. After about two hours walking you cross a small coll and in the distance have your first sighting of the coast. I was checking our self guided walking notes as I walked and was pleased to see that despite the number of different tracks the notes seemed to explain the route well.

Forestry tracks

The walk carries on winding around different tracks and eventually comes out at the Berbes golf course. Over the years I’ve watched how they have managed to convert this rough hilly terrain into a manicured golf course. Although it’s still quite rough compared to a lot of sites it’s gone a long way from when they used to use cattle and sheep to maintain the greens! They’ve even built a small wooden clubhouse to replace the original club house which used to be a tin shed.

Just before arriving at the golf course

After passing through the golf course you follow a small lane to the old coastal road which you cross and then wind your way down through fields to arrive at La Vega Beach with its fine golden sands and quite strong currents. There are two bar restaurants by the beach one of which is a good fish restaurant.

Golden sands of La Vega Beach

If you’ve still got the energy it’s possible to extend the walk onto Ribadesella a lovely coastal town.  To carry on walking to Ribadesella first you pass through the hamlet of La Vega with its protected microclimate. Much to my envy I noticed small vegetable gardens with potatoes plants well over 30cms high; my potatoes haven’t even appeared above the soil yet. There was an avocado tree with fruits on as well as other exotic tender plants.

The hamlet of La vega

Once up and out of La Vega hamlet you go through a small forest and then pass a farm with an organic cider apple plantation. You then follow a small lane along the head land till you come to Terrenes with its two bars where it’s well worth a drink and a rest to admire the views. After continuing on country lanes a small path takes you through a forest and then brings you out at the far end of the beach at Ribadesella. It’s a lovely contrast walking along the promenade at Ribadesella dotted with its fine summer houses. Finally you walk along the river estuary till you come to the main bridge to cross over the river Sella and then you’re in the old the town of Ribadesella.

The river estuary at Ribadesella

In Ribadesella it’s possible to get a train or bus back to Arriondas (3 kms ) from the hotel, though the services are not that frequent.

Technical Information

Profile Hotel Playa La Vega Ribadesella

Map Hotel La Vega Ribadesella

Download GPS track from Wikiloc

Self guided walking notes and GPS trail available for guests from the hotel

Type of walk A to B
Starting Point Hotel
Finishing Point La Vega Beach or Ribadesella
Public transport options Need to get a taxi back to Hotel from La Vega or train from Ribadesella
Grading Medium
Total Length 16 km to La Vega  25 km to Ribadesella
Total Ascent 480 m to La vega, 730 m to Ribadesella
Altitude 179 – 460 – 0
Total Walking time 4 ½ hours to La Vega 6 hours to Ribadesella
Terrain Mostly forest tracks and country lanes
Navigation Fairly easy
Refreshments Bar in Playa la Vega and in Ribadesella
Map Mapa Topográfico nacional de España:  Colunga + Ribadesella

 

 

View from the Senda Verde

The Senda Verde or green path is an easy circular walk from the hotel with spectacular views over the Sella Valley and the Picos de Europa and can be extended to take a scenic route into Arriondas. It’s an official registered footpath and as such its maintenance (in theory) is the responsibility of the town hall. When I walked this route a couple of weeks ago it was encouraging to see that new way marks had been put up along the route by the “Comarca del Sueve” a local government body whose function is to try and promote the area. So it was good to see that they are investing in waymarking and recognize the potential of the area for walkers.

The village of Collia

The village of Collia

The walk starts from the hotel following the road into the village of Collia and then carries along a grass track where I came across a local; Pepe. He was cutting down some hazelnut sticks growing on the side of the track to use them for training his peas. In this area there are lots of hazelnuts that grow wild and their pinnate sticks make excellent support for peas. It was early afternoon and though it was slightly overcast it was quite warm. The next part of the track is very beautiful away from roads and with lovely views over farmland and layers of mountains disappearing into the horizon. A little further on there were 2 more locals from the village; Jose and his mother. They were sitting on a “natural” stone seat admiring the views and told me they came out walking along the “Senda Verde” most afternoons. Jose also told me that he had asked in the town hall and that he was trying to get them to place a wooden bench on the route.  It somehow seemed very nice that the some of the villagers were also enjoying “their” local footpaths and wanted a bench to be able to enjoy the views.

Walking the Senda Verde just before Pendas

After a while the track joins a cement track and enters the village of Pendas which stands above the river Sella with impressive views over to the Picos. A new display board has been put here showing the names of some of the different surrounding mountains. A little further on the green path turns left and follows a minor road back to the village of Collia but if you want you can carry on the road and wind your way down 2 kms to Arriondas.

Arriondas as seen from the Senda Verde

The road back to Collia gives you good views of the Sueve Mounatin range and the route then joins a small track back to the village of Collia. This last part of the route used to be totally overgrown  and was  partially blocked by a fallen wall but a couple of years ago the town hall repaired the wall and cleaned the path and ever since its made a good way to return to the village of Collia and back to the hotel.

Canoes on the River Sella in Arriondas

Technical information

Map Senda Verde from Hotel Posada del Valle

Download GPS trail from Wikiloc

Self guided walking notes available for guests from the hotel

Type of walk Circular or A to B
Starting Point Hotel
Finishing Point Hotel / Arriondas
Grading Easy
Total Length Circular route  5,4 km.  To Arriondas 5,3 km (one way)
Total Ascent Circular route 170 m. To Arriondas 90m ascent 220m descent
Total Walking time Circular route 1 ½ hours. To Arriondas 1 ½ hours
Terrain Minor roads and small tracks
Navigation Easy
Refreshments Hotel and Arriondas, Bar sometimes open in Collia
Map Mapa Topográfico nacional de España; Arriondas

 

 

Crossing the River Piloña at Sevares to start the walk

We call this our country villages and rural heritage walk as it takes you along quiet country lanes and farm tracks passing through small hamlets and gentle rolling countryside, giving you an insight into Asturian rural life and a slower pace of life. I developed this walk almost 10 years ago and it’s always been very popular with guests, it was even featured in The Telegraph in 2007.

The drive to the manor house lined with plane trees

The walk starts with a short train journey on the narrow gauge railway from Arriondas to Sevares and despite being mid November the temperatures were in the mid 20’s. From the railway station in Sevares you cross over the River Piloña and then start walking up a narrow road lined with plane trees to the impressive manor house “El Palacio de Sevares.” This belongs to one of the wealthy land owners of the area and the estate has a very noble feel about it as well as good views of the Picos.

View of the Sueve mountains from near Cua

The track carries on around the estate passing some of the properties the estate owners converted into rental cottages back in the nineties in the early years of Austrian rural tourism. As you carry on the views change towards the Sueve and then you come into the village of Cua with an interesting church and bar.  I saw an old farmer raking leaves into piles on the edge of his field and then a small tractor slowly passed me, piled high with raked leaves.  No doubt he would be taking the  leaves to his stable where they would be used as bedding for the animals over the winter.

Traditional hay stacks near Uncal

From Cua the track follows a stream to another farm house which has sadly been sandwiched between two high tension pylons.  Next is the only part of the walk where the tracks are slightly less defined but you soon come to a more defined track leading to another farmhouse. Again you get this lovely feeling of traditional farming as you pass by conventional hay stacks, with a centre pole and hay piled high around it. You come to another bar “Uncal” conveniently placed to enjoy some refreshment (which I did) and then on a short section of road before more tracks and hamlets.

The watermill "La Teyera"

You soon pass the water mill “La Teyera” the only mill in the area which still grinds maize for flour. It’s a 20 meter detour to see the mill but well worth it. This time there were various bags of maize just left outside of the mil waiting for Juan the miller to come and grind the maize for flour. I’ve spoken with him on previous occasions and he told me that he takes one eight of the flour in weight as his fee. You follow a track and soon come to Santo Thomas del Collado with Cesar’s house and his 55 beehives. His wife and daughter came out to talk to me as they saw me walk past. They told me how little honey they had harvested this year only 70 kgs from their 55 hives and that lots of people were complaining of low yields this year and of hives dyeing.

Inside the water mill

From here you can see the hotel straight in front of you, but to reach it you have to walk done to the church cross the river and then walk back up our farm before you can sit and enjoy a drink on the terrace. I hadn’t done this walk for almost two year and had forgotten just how enjoyable it was.

Technical Information

Profile Sevares to Hotel Posada del Valle

Map Sevares to Hotel Posada del Valle

Download GPS trail from wikiloc

Self guided walking notes and GPS trail available for guests from the hotel

 

Type of walk Circular or A to B
Starting Point Hotel / Arriondas
Finishing Point Hotel
Acces Involves walking from hotel to Arriondas
Public transport options Uses narrow gauge train from Arriondas to Sevares
Grading Medium
Total Length 14 km from Hotel,  9 ½ km from Sevares
Total Ascent 340 m
Altitude 70 – 170 m
Total Walking time 3 ½ hours from Sevares 5 hours from Hotel
Terrain Mostly country farm tracks
Navigation Easy
Refreshments Bars at Uncal, Arriondas and Sevares
Map Mapa Topográfico nacional de España; Arriondas

 

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