Picos de Europa Attractions
The Picos de Europa are a wild and majestic range of mountains, with steeply scarped peaks and deeply slashed valleys, lying between the rivers Deva and Sella near the north coast of Spain. The whole range is now a nature reserve. The massif (Spanish macizo) is divided into three parts by torrential mountain streams well stocked with fish. To the west, between the Río Sella and the Río Cares, is the Macizo de las Peñas Santas (Macizo de Occidente), with the Peñas Santas de Castilla (2,596m/8,517ft) as its highest peak; in this area is the Parque Nacional de Covadonga. Between the Río Cares and the Río Duje lies the Macizo de Urrieles (Macizo Central), the wildest section of the Picos de Europa, rising to 2,645m/8,678ft in the Torre de Cerredo. To the east, between the Río Duje and the Río Deva, is the Macizo de Andarra (Macizo de Oriente), the highest peak of which is the Pico Cortés (2,470m/8,104ft). This mountain barrier, extending parallel to the coast for a distance of almost 40km/25mi, is separated from the sea by the lower Sierra de Cuera, reaching to within 20km/12.5mi of the Bay of Biscay at its nearest point.The inhabitants of this mountain region are mainly engaged in agriculture and stock-farming. They produce a well-known blue cheese, Cabrales, made from cow's, ewe's and goat's milk, which is somewhat similar to Roquefort. In the sheltered Liébana area around the little town of Potes cherries and walnuts are grown.
Walking and Climbing
The Picos de Europa are splendid walking and climbing country, offering endless scope for everything from hill-walks to Alpine climbs. As in any mountain area, walkers and climbers should take sensible precautions: in particular they should be properly equipped and should not over-estimate their own capabilities. For difficult climbs a guide is essential. The mountain huts run by the Spanish Climbing Federation (Federación Española de Montañismo) and the communes (local authorities) are open to all, and provide good bases for further exploration. Information about the availability of accommodation in huts and about walks and climbs can be obtained from the local tourist office or town hall, which will also be able to provide guides.Starting from Cangas de Onis there are many places which are good bases for walks and climbs, or for drives in cross-country vehicles, which can be hired locally. The roads are sometimes testing, but are asphalted and in good condition. The tour suggested here can be done in a single day, but this would leave no time for detours; if two days are allowed for the trip this will give the opportunity not only of enjoying the mountain scenery but also of exploring it on foot.