Adventures / Summit Fever

The 'Ring of Picos' Challenge in Spain

A frenzied circular scramble in the Picos de Europa, summit bagging your way through Europe's hidden humdinger of a mountain range

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Trip Ref #10530

Adventures / Summit Fever

The 'Ring of Picos' Challenge in Spain

A frenzied circular scramble in the Picos de Europa, summit bagging your way through Europe's hidden humdinger of a mountain range

DURATION

5 nights

LOCATION

Spain

ANNUAL LEAVE

4 days off work

SEASON

Jul-Oct

GROUP SIZE

Up to 14 people

MEETING POINT

Asturias Airport, Oviedo

ACCOMMODATION

Hotel · Mountain hut · Hostel

DIFFICULTY

Tough

A real barnstormer. 4500m of elevation in 5 days, hiking & scrambling on & off trails - bring strong fitness levels & a head for heights.

Scramble to the summits of Cotalba (2026m), Jario (1913m), Jultayu (1940m) and to the Mirador de Ordiales (1750m) for epic lookouts over the Picos range

Finish gruelling days on tough terrain at remote mountain refuges, where cold beers are served with a side of incredible views and unforgettable sunsets

Complete one of the toughest hiking challenges in Spain - circumnavigating the western massif of the Picos via rocky summits, gorges, valleys, glacial lakes and dense forest

Looking for a trek in the Picos that’s a little less full-on? Check out our Hiking Adventure in the Picos de Europa

This trip is brand new

We’re still waiting to collect any reviews from other travellers on this trip. However, all our hosts go through an extensive vetting process to ensure that your adventure is awesome.

Included

Guides

Expert, English-speaking mountain guides

Accommodation

3 nights in remote mountain refuges, 1 night in a hostel, 1 night in a hotel

Meals

5 breakfasts and 5 dinners

Transfers

Airport transfers and everything in between

Equipment

Hiking poles, if you need them

Not Included

Travel insurance

Flights to and from the meeting point

Personal expenses

Some meals as described

Tips for your guides

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

Asturias Airport, Oviedo (OVD)

16:00 on Day 1

Ends

Asturias Airport, Oviedo (OVD)

17:00 on Day 6

Transfers

Your host will meet you at Asturias Airport and transfer you to Cangas de Onis for your first night. On the final day, your host will transfer you from Llanes back to Asturias Airport. Airport transfers are included in the trip cost as long as you arrive on Day 1 and depart on Day 6. Your host is able to arrange private airport transfers from Asturias Airport or from Santander Airport if you are arriving before Day 1 or departing after Day 6, please see Optional Extras for more details.

Travel options

Asturias Airport is accessible via various direct flights from the UK and mainland Europe. Flights from the US generally connect through Madrid, Paris or Amsterdam. If you're looking to make your own way to Cangas de Onis and not use the group transfer at Asturias Airport, you may wish to look into combining flight options into/out of Asturias, Santander and Bilbao airports, all of which are only an hour or two's drive away from Cangas de Onis and have public transport options between them.

UK travellers with a bit more time (and possibly a vehicle) on their hands can travel to Asturias using the popular Portsmouth-Santander ferry route. Rail travellers can get to the start of this trip via Bilbao's main railway station - Bilbao Abando - which is well connected to various major cities in Spain and France if you are travelling by train from the UK. From Bilbao you can get as far as Arriondas by train, and from there it's a short bus ride to Cangas de Onis.

Day 1

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2

Mountain hut · Same sex dorm

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 3

Mountain hut · Mixed dorm

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 4

Hostel · Mixed dorm

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 5

Mountain hut · Mixed dorm

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 6

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

In Cangas de Onis and Caín your evening meals will be local specialities at the restaurant of the hotel and hostel. You'll enjoy a variety of tapas and 'pinchos' (small traditional snacks popular across northern Spain), a main course usually with fish or meat, dessert and local wines or a glass of the famous Asturian sidre (cider). In the mountain huts, you'll fuel up with various dinners of pasta, lentils, chickpeas, soups and meat-based dishes. Lunches are not included, you will buy your own each morning before the day's trekking (from local bakeries and shops in Cangas de Onis, and then on from the mountain refuges and the hostel in Caín). You should budget around €10-15 per day for your lunches and any snacks.

Vegetarians, vegans and other dietary requirements and allergies can be catered for - please just request this on your passenger info form.

What is the accommodation like?

Cangas de Onis

Your first night of the trip is spent at Hotel Los Lagos Nature in the centre of the picturesque town of Cangas de Onis, which sits at the foot of the Picos and on the banks of the Sella River. Housed in a historic building with a characterful bar and restaurant, you'll stay in twin-share rooms with en-suite bathrooms.

Mountain Refuges

You'll spend three nights at different refuges within the western massif of the Picos de Europa National Park: namely Refugio de Vegarredonda, Refugio Vegabaño and Refugio Vega de Ario. You'll stay in mixed dorm-style bunk rooms. Since Covid, the refuges have stopped providing bedding and pillows, so you'll need to bring a lightweight sleeping bag and travel pillow. The refuges will serve your evening meal and breakfast, and you'll also be able to buy your lunch for each day from the refuges before setting off. There are shared toilet facilities and showers available to use.

Cain

Breaking up your stays in the remote mountain huts during the challenge, you'll stay in the small village of Caín, gateway to the famous Cares Gorge. Bunk down at Albergue el Diablo de la Peña, a small hostel in a stunning setting with a great little comedor serving up traditional dishes such as fabada (bean and chorizo stew).

Upgrades

Due to the nature of the refuges and hostels used on this trip, it is not possible to have a private room.

Day 1

Arrival and transfer to Cangas de Onis

Your host will meet you on arrival at Asturias Airport in Oviedo and drive you to the picturesque town of Cangas de Onis. Meet up with your guides for a chat about the challenge ahead and tuck into a traditional meal - go easy on the sidre and rioja tonight!

Day 2

Covadonga Lakes to Vegarredonda Hut

Trekking

6-7hrs · 13km · 950m up · 350m down

The challenge begins. Following a short drive to the Covadonga Lakes, start out with a trail that forms a classic day hike in this part of the Picos. Two hours in, the high peaks of the western massif will come into view and the terrain will get rockier. Curious chamois will watch as you pass along the track to Ordiales refuge, then you'll tackle your first summit to reach Cotalba peak (2026m). The founder of the Picos de Europa National Park is buried here - it's quite the final resting place, with stunning views of jagged mountains and a sheer 1000m drop below into the Angon Valley. Day 1 is completed as you head to Vegarredonda hut for dinner and to bunk down.

Day 3

Vegarredonda to Vegabaño

Hiking

8-10hrs · 16km · 1000m up · 1100m down

Today is the toughest day without a doubt. Leave the shelter and ascend to Collado Les Merines at 2100m, entering a huge limestone area through the Pozas Jou. Take a rest at the Prieta spring before continuing past the enormous peak of Vega Huerta and heading south down the Canal del Perro. Descend among the beech trees that surround the Vegabaño shelter, a welcome refuge after a killer day. Soak up this beautiful spot - next to the source of the Dobra River and by the thousand-year-old oak tree of Vegabaño - with sundowners, dinner and an overnight stay at the refuge.

Day 4

Vegabaño to Caín, via Jario Peak

Trekking

12km · 5-6hrs · 600m up · 1000m down

Bid farewell to the Vegabaño shelter and enter the beech grove, going up a gentle slope and passing the habitat of capercaillie birds. Time for another summit: hike steadily up to Jario peak at 1913m. Separated from the rest of the massif by large meadows, you'll find an extraordinary viewpoint from which you'll see the summits of the Picos de Europa and the mountains of Ponga and Redes. Continue through the virgin woodland up to Dobres Rock, before starting your descent into the Valdeon Valley all the way to the village of Caldevilla. Follow the course of the Cares River to the village of Posada de Valdeón for a late lunch back in civilisation and a short taxi ride to the small village of Caín.

Day 5

Tackle the bruising Canal de Trea

Trekking

7hrs · 7km · 1300m up · 0m down

The only way is up! Another challenging day is ahead, with the most elevation to get through, but on an incredible route. Start hiking into the famous Cares Gorge, crossing tunnels and bridges through the spectacular canyon with steep drops towards the river below. Just before the bridge at Bolin, a sign indicates the start of the Canal de Trea, a steep ravine that offers no respite - there is a constant ascent until you reach the meadows of Vega de Ario, where you'll take a well-earned rest. Well done, you've completed one of the toughest stages of the Ring of Picos! The impressive views of the central massif are an excellent reward for today's push, accompanied by more sundowners and a hearty refuge dinner to refuel. Hopefully, you'll also be treated to an amazing Picos sunset.

Day 6

The final stretch

Hiking

5-6hrs · 10km · 350m up · 900m down

One last push today, fuelling up on breakfast at the refuge before climbing to the summit of Jultayu (1940m) for unobstructed vistas of the entire central massif - home to the highest points in the Picos de Europa. Descend back to the plain of Ario and enjoy a steady downhill trail to the Collado del Jito (and yet more magnificent views), and then cross the Jou Llaguiellu to reach Lake Ercina - the end of the challenge. The Ring of Picos has been overcome! You'll be driven back to Cangas de Onis for a celebratory lunch, where you can toast an epic adventure and the completion of a memorable challenge, before your host transfers you back to the airport in time for evening flights.

15% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 15% discount on us to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

What's included?

  • Hiking poles (optional)

What do I need to bring?

BAGS
Soft overnight duffel bag or rucksack for left luggage in Cangas de Onis
Hiking pack (40-50 litres)
Waterproof liner for kitbag or rucksack/drybags

CLOTHES
Lightweight down or synthetic jacket
Lightweight waterproof and windproof jacket
Breathable wicking layers
Fleece jacket or similar
Buff or neck scarf
Lightweight trousers/shorts/skirts for hiking
T-shirts
Underwear and socks
Swimwear for hotel
Sunglasses
Sunhat
Gloves
Something to sleep in
Hiking boots (worn-in)
Lightweight shoes for refuges

SLEEPING
Sleeping bag (2/3 season)
Lightweight inflatable pillow
Pillowcase

OTHER
Universal travel plug adapter
Power bank or solar charger
Passports (and visas)
Travel insurance documents
Suncream
Personal first-aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
Toilet kit (toilet paper, biodegradable bags to carry paper out to dispose of)
Quick-dry towel
Alcohol hand-gel
Face mask
Headtorch or torch
Two reusable water bottles x1 litre

OPTIONAL
Earplugs
Energy bars and snacks
Trekking poles (your host can provide these if desired)

Single room

Payable Before Departure

Single room

Twin/Double room

Payable Before Departure

Twin/Double room

Private transfer Asturias Airport or Santander Airport to Cangas de Onis (1-4 people)

Payable Before Departure

Private transfer Asturias Airport or Santander Airport to Cangas de Onis (1-4 people)

We've crunched the numbers to work out the total carbon footprint of this trip, and plant enough trees to suck 2x as much back out the atmosphere.

What's the number?
It works out on average at 78kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal for 2022 to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

But what does the number mean?
Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

  • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
  • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
  • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

What are we doing about it?
Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. For every person booked with us since 2016 we’re planting enough trees to suck at least 2x more carbon out the atmosphere than is emitted by their trips. All native trees, as part of amazing projects that are re-foresting degraded land, tackling the biodiversity crisis and supporting local communities at the same time. We go further than that too, also funding re-wilding projects worldwide to help protect important keystone species from extinction. See the reforestation and re-wilding schemes we support. See our carbon action plan.

Want to know more?
Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

This trek is a serious challenge. You're covering 60km in 5 days, with 4500m of elevation gain. The descents are also tough going, with steep rocky sections and some exposed ridges. The terrain in the Picos can be tricky at times, with loose rocky limestone scree to navigate as you scramble to each of the four summits. Day 3 is a doozy: 8-10 hours with 1000m up and 1100m down, you'll certainly earn your sundowner at the Vegabaño hut that day. There are some technical sections using fixed ropes to help make your way along, but you don't need technical mountaineering experience as your expert guide is there to help on these sections if you feel you need a hand. A strong level of fitness and resilience to keep spirits up on long days of hiking is key for this trip!

Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

Tips are not included in the trip cost. These are entirely at your discretion and are non-compulsory on this trip. Of course, if you feel that your guides provided an exceptional experience then you are welcome to tip as much as you feel is appropriate. You should factor in tipping 10% on top of the bill in any bars and restaurants during the trip.

The water in the Picos is safe to drink and you are able to fill up freely at each of the refuges and guesthouses that you stay at. Make sure to bring a couple of 1-litre reusable drinking bottles or a bladder.

The weather in the Picos can be very changeable, so be sure to pack for all weathers. Mainly it tends to be dry and sunny on the south face of the Picos and at high altitudes over 1500m. Lower altitudes and on the north face of the Picos is more humid and sometimes rainy. The maximum temperature is around 20 degrees Celcius and the minimum around 8-12 degrees Celcius. Perfect trekking temperatures!

Yes, you can leave your luggage in Cangas de Onis as you'll be returning there before heading on to the airport on Day 6.

For current advice about travelling in Spain, have a read of the UK Foreign Office pages here.

Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our adventures. Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure.

Your insurance policy should also include specific Covid-19 cover, including cancellation and curtailment cover if you, your travel companion or a close relative are diagnosed with Covid-19.

We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

You're in good company. Our adventures are typically made up of a mix of solo travellers and small groups of two or three friends who simply love adventure, pushing themselves and meeting awesome like-minded people. See here for more info about our lovely bunch of Much Better Adventurers.

Want to book a private trip? Just tap ‘Private Group’ in the dates and prices tab.

Your trip is led by carefully curated local hosts and expert guides. See here for more info about the guides we work with.

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