We craved some retreat away from the cities and towns, so we headed to the mountains of Picos de Europa. Beautiful mountains, calm environment, nice places to see and great cheese. The mountains can offer that and much more.
We have chosen the town of Arenas de Cabrales as our base for a week. And believe me, one week is not enough. The town is very calm, yet has all comforts us city people might need – a few restaurants, a pasteleria, two supermarkets, some small local shops and cheesemongers. Cabrales is a matured cheese with blue mold and can be made either from cow, goat or sheep cheese, or a combination of those. All of them are delicious. We can particularly recommend the Queseria artesanal El Cabriteru. It is a direct sale from the cheesemaker, he gives you a tasting, tells you something about it, and of course, gives you some sidra to wash it down.
The Holy Cave of Covadonga is an important place in Spanish history. Allegedly, it was here that Pelagius started the Reconquista, the Christian reconquest of the Iberian peninsula from the Moors. He also established the Asturian monarchy and is believed to be the forefather of all the Iberian monarchies. The cave houses a statue of Mary with child and also the tomb of Pelagius. There is a whole holy complex, including a basilica sitting on top of a cliff, a museum and some cafés.
Further up from Covadonga, Lagos is a beautiful place for hiking. Yes, you guessed it, there are lakes, Lago Ercina and Lago Enol to be precise. There are several circular hiking trails to choose from, including breathtaking views, nice meadows, a little bit of rocky climbing and also a coal mine that can be explored. The trails are pretty easy and can be done with kids, too, or babies in carriers.
Another beautiful and easy trail is the Ruta del Cares. It is not circular, so it requires some planning, as the ride back takes 3 hours, because the road goes around the whole mountain range. It starts in Caín de Valdeón in Castillia y Leon and follows the river Cares through gorges, caves and over bridges to Poncebos in Asturias. It’s some 11 km and should take about 4h30.