Picos de Europa: Counting Down

It’s less than a month now until Steffi, Hazel and I head off to Northern Spain for Exodus’ Picos de Europa walking holiday, challenging version.

The final departure info arrived over the weekend, and I’ve done EasyJet online check-in for both flights (there and back) this morning. We’ve got adjacent seats, which is nice. I’ve also worked out what time we’ll need to get the Stansted Express (09.10) to allow plenty of time for some delay and airport queues.

On the money side I’m allowing EUR 300 to cover tips, a spare day in Bilbao, spends (I want to buy the Adrados Ediciones – Picos de Europa Central and East: Massifs Los Urrieles and Andara Adrados (1:25,000) map in Arenas de Cabrales) and “treats” (you can buy wine and beer at the hotel…). There’s an ATM in Arenas de Cabrales if I do find I need any more.

I’ve checked the personal BUPA travel insurance I’ve bought through work will cover this type of trip (tick), so all I need to do is to get my euros from Thomas Exchange Global, print everything off and pack!

Where next: Picos de Europa

All of a sudden our tentative Picos de Europa plan has firmed up!

Steffi, Hazel and I had talked about doing Exodus’ “challenging” version in July *, and so – pending Brexit – I’d been keeping an eye out for offers and availability. And today I spotted they were down to three places!

Wah!

Crazy busy week at work. Hazel is on hols. So Steffi did the honours and we are booked. 

So we’re off to sunny Spain for a week’s walking in the mountains.

Just like that, as Tommy Cooper used to say.

Now all we have to hope for is that Brexit doesn’t bollix everything up … Will our airline flights fly? Will we be able to get entry visas into Spain? Will our travel insurance still be valid?


Why this trip?

One of the ladies on last year’s Walking in Northern Albania trip had been on a walking holiday in the Picos the previous year and loved it. She had some super photos on her phone.

Susa raved about the region too – you really can go from peaks to playa in a matter of hours. So perhaps we’ll manage a bit of beach and seaside on our free day.

Here’s the itinerary (‘Challenging’ version):

  • Day 1: Travel to Arenas de Cabrales: London Stansted – Bilbao (EasyJet). Transfer to Arenas de Cabrales. Settle into our base in the Picos, Hotel Torrecerredo.
  • Day 2: Classic Cares Gorge Walk.
  • Day 3: Up to the high pastures of Nava; on to the summit of Juan Robre; descend back to Arenas de Cabrales.
  • Day 4: Summit Main range; descend to the area of the Pandebano Col then to Bulnes.
  • Day 5: Free day. Optional activities include caving, self-guided canoeing, canyoning or a trip to the coast.
  • Day 6: Lakes of Covadonga; Majada de Belbin & Peak Pandescura.
  • Day 7: Twin summits of Mancondiu; on to San Carlos Peak.
  • Day 8: Arenas de Cabrales. Transfer to Bilbao. Fly to London Stansted.

We wondered if July might be too hot. But Exodus’ temperature graph suggests it won’t be too bad because we’re at altitude – relatively – and it should be dry.

We’ve gone flight inclusive – mainly for the transfers again, but even without that as a factor looking at the cost of doing our own flights suggested that the Exodus flight-inclusive option was competitively priced.

Exciting to have something in the diary between now and Nepal in November.

To do: Pay back Steffi. Purchase travel insurance (post Brexit!). Put together prep spreadsheet.


* If you want details, you’ll need to find the trip on the Exodus website. They don’t like me linking to it. It spoils their SEO. Really?