Sunday, 16 May 2010

The Picos de Europa (A New Guide)

Snow covered peaks in the Central Massiff

We’ve just finished a new guide about the Picos de Europa so we thought we would give you an insight in to the Picos and the guide.
The Picos de Europa are a range of mountains in northern Spain. They form part of the Cordillera Cantabrica, a long chain of mountains running between the Pyrenees to the east and Galicia to the west.

Lake Ercina in the Western Massiff ; superb walking and wild flowers.

The Picos de Europa are a wonderful setting for hiking and mountain-climbing, wildflower-spotting and bird-watching, scenic drives through the valleys and villages, or even pot-holing and rock-climbing for the more adventurous.

The Picos de Europa are sliced into three distinct areas by deep gorges running south-north:- the Western Massif, the Central Massif, and the Eastern Massif. Each of the three massifs has its own subtle character.

Lunar landscapes in the Western Massiff

The western massif covers the greatest area of the three, climbing relatively gently from the hills of the Covadonga area, becoming an almost lunar landscape across its high rocky plateau, centred on the wide depression of Hou Santu, and peaking at the 2596m of Torre Santa de Castilla, before plunging 1500m into the narrow Cares Gorge.

Looking towards Bulnes

The central massif is the most abrupt of the three, being surrounded by deep gorges to the north, west and east; it is home to the highest peak in the whole Cordillera Cantabrica – Torre Cerredo, at 2648m The little-visited eastern massif is the smallest and lowest of the three.

On the summit of Peña Santa de Enol

Last summer I started to do a lot more walking in the Picos climbing a range of the more “easy to moderate” peaks and thoroughly enjoyed it. Most of the tracks and pathways within the Picos de Europa today, though, are due to the pastoral livelihoods of the local people – a way of life that still exists but is in decline.

The people of the Picos de Europa co-evolved with the landscape during millennia, grazing their livestock, cutting wood for building and burning, coppicing chestnuts and hazels, harnessing the power of water to grind their grain, and leaving their mark on the landscape in many ways, as it left its mark on them. It is this symbiosis of people and landscape that lends the area its inspirational quality.

Traditional farming still practised in the Picos de Europa

I am pleased to say we have just finished a complete new guide to the Picos de Europa which is now on our web. It covers the following topics: climate, culture, fauna, flora, geography, geology, walking, tourist attractions, driving itineries, access, and further information.

The guide has been written by Hugh Taylor and Nigel Burch and has been designed and published on the web by Sebastian Burch who has also translated the original version into Spanish. Much of this blog entrance comes from the guide. So if you want to learn more about the Picos and get a taste for this very special area do have a look at our new guide: The Picos de Europa

Sunset over the Western Massif with a sea of cloud over the Carres Gorge

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