Picos de Europa tips

Summer family holiday this year includes a few days staying in Potes on the Eastern side of the Picos de Europa. EA1/CT-063 La Viorna looks a good option. We’ll be in the campervan, so can drive places. Family time means not that much SOTA time - maybe half a day or a day at a push when in Potes. Could swing a not too strenuous family walk that includes a SOTA activation too.

(Will also be in Bilbao for a few days and planning EA2/BI-064 Malmasin for an early morning jog. And EA1/CT-101 Picota is readily doable from where we are staying near Santander.)

Recommendations please Sotari!


I was there last year, and would go again in a heartbeat. Fabulous views. Unfortunately they are typically not too easy, at least the ones I did,and would take a while to do. Torbina was quite close to our accomodation, but was a tough climb, 2-3 hours climbing. Coriscao was maybe the easiest, but was still a 2 hr climb. Porra de Enol was pretty straight forward too. Get the bus up from Covadonga.

We drove past Pica de Ten but didn’t activate it. It looks pretty straight forward.

A camper van is a good way to get around, lots of free parking in car parks etc. No need to pay for campsites if you’re happy to rough it a bit. And note that the cafe’s / restaurants don’t open til 7 or 8. Not great if you’ve been out all day. We went in October and the temp was in the 20’s. It’s a dry heat, so was pretty comfortable.

Addendum: And the missus reminded me, once outside of the main cities food is local cuisine. No takeaways etc. Restaurants are a gamble - no dishes are standard “meat and two veg”. It’s not that the food is bad, but you may not get what you expect. Best to arrive and have a look at what people are eating and order it if you like the look of it. You may need to go through several courses to complete a meal. Also, some dishes are meant for two, so they will only bring out one dish and wait til this is gone to bring the other. We got caught a few times with this, waiting for the other dish before starting to eat. This isn’t a problem, but just be prepared. And also note that on the mountains there are lots of cows roaming freely. They are chill and can be ignored. A lot of them wear bells, so the mountains are not exactly quiet :wink:


Hopefully you will get replies from EA activators with local knowledge. :slight_smile: I have visited the Picos (in September) but it was covered in cloud and didn’t see anything!

You will have spotted there are a lot of unactivated summits in the region. I’m coming to the end of my Spanish trip, we get the ferry from Santander next week, and from my observations many of the unactivated summits remain so for a reason - they are not easy! Either very steep or no paths and the vegetation in Spain has a black belt in self-defence.

If you want to try for one of the unactivated 10 pointers in the Picos and doing it on your own you might want to consider getting one of the Garmin satellite tracking/message gadgets - they can be rented. I did think about doing this myself for this trip but came to my senses when I acknowledged this septuagenarian wasn’t going to be doing any difficult summits. :slight_smile:


I’ve climbed and walked in the Picos a couple of times. ( a long time ago).

Fantastic alpine scenery, steep long approaches in many cases, some of which might be technical. Its limestone country and in some places you are walking over limestone pavements with razor sharp rocks. I do recall some of the roads into the mountains were rather narrow.

I’d go back tomorrow…

Just go and do it!!!


Hello, La Viorna from Potes looks simple, but it is deceptive. There are more than 800 metres of height difference, and it is not an easy route. It is necessary to see, above all, the difference in altitude to be saved. Potes is below 400 metres above sea level.

However, this summit is easy from Maredes.

La Viorna from Maredes: Wikiloc | Ruta La Viorna

La Viorna & plus from Potes: Wikiloc | Ruta La Viorna - Pico Jano

Spanish topografic maps: Iberpix

Now it is too late. Tomorrow I will look for other options.


You have received good advice from other experienced English colleagues. I am the AM of EA1, but I have hardly visited that area. They are mountain roads, sometimes very narrow and twisty, it takes a long time to reach some destinations. It is always good to study the terrain, the maps, see the experience of other mountaineers. Being the first is always a risk. The ideal is to have the GPS track and the comments of someone who has done that summit.

In that area I have only climbed Peña Bricia, EA1/CT-047. Fantastic landscapes, the final stretch can be a bit complicated. You should see my track. It is in sotamaps. But, from Potes you have an hour’s drive to the beginning of the route.

For the conditions you propose, I advise you to look for simpler summits, lower, with less points, but apparently simple. I say apparently, because, without more information, you never know what you might find. I suggest:
Pico del Valle, EA1/CT-133, never activated.
Pica de las Puertas, EA1/CT-115, activated once.

There are some more summits of that style in that area.

In the area of León, my territory, I strongly recommend Pica de Ten, recommended by Colm. It’s a fantastic one-hour hike, suitable for anyone who doesn’t have vertigo. Fantastic viewpoint over the Sajambre valley, but maybe a bit far from your destination.

Near Santander, indeed, the Picota, EA1/CT-101, must be easy because it has been activated so many times. You also have Peña Cabarga, EA1/CT-089 in the same situation.

The Bilbao area is out of my territory :slight_smile:

Don’t hesitate to ask more if you need it. And enjoy. 73



Thanks everyone for the great information.

@EA1AER the 800M elevation for La Viorna from Potes means it is not one for the whole family, rather just me. When you say it is not an easy route, is that due to the elevation or are there other challenges you are aware of like climbing / scrambling or navigation difficulties?

Pica de Ten does look amazing from the photos and like it would be perfect for the family given the relatively high starting point. I will keep it in mind, but not sure if we will be heading that far West.

@EI9KY Coriscao looks a good option if I do go for one where I drag the family along, with a few potential places to stop and explore on the way to and from Potes.

There do look to be a lot of options, and plenty of unactivated summits. But being new to the area and with only limited time available I will be keeping it simple in terms of navigation and technicality this time. I’m already thinking I need to go back for a bit longer, and I haven’t even been the first time yet!

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Hello again Tony.
The difficulty of the Viorna peak from Potes doesn’t seem to be only because of the difference in altitude. According to the wikiloc references that I have passed, the slope is very steep and somewhat uncomfortable. However, the ascent from Maredes is described as easy. Of course, there is a path and much less slope.

Don’t hesitate, in Picos de Europa there is a lot to explore and an impressive landscape. It is worth coming back. Take the opportunity to do some summits. You are just in time to be the first activator of an easy one.


Had a great time!

03 August I took the Metro out from central Bilbao to Basauri station, then a short and pleasant 25 minute Google Maps routed walk had me at the summit of Malmasin EA2/BI-064. Only got 5 in the log (20M CW) before I rather rudely shut down due to a heavy rain shower. Apologies to anyone I missed. I’d not bought anything to keep the rig dry and didn’t have time to hang around and wait for the rain to pass. Back to the hotel in time for check out with the family order of pastries, coffees and hot chocolate :slight_smile:



We moved to the La Viorna campsite near Potes in the Picos De Europa (recommended, facilities are great, you’re a bit packed in but the terracing makes it feel less so and means you can enjoy the amazing views). On the 5 August I’d set my alarm to get up and head up La Viorna summit EA1/CT-063. Lying in bed in the morning, I thought about the advice above in the thread about the route from this side. And also about the fact that I’d planned a route from the campsite that didn’t seem to be a path on the maps I’d looked at, but was a route used by quite a few people on Strava. Whilst I generally find Strava routes to be a good way to plan, I was lying there thinking this was going to be a bush wack through brambles, fences and angry farmers and I should probably stay in my comfy bed. But in the end I got up, reasoning I’ll just turn back if it’s not working. Boy was I glad I did! 100 metres up the road I was treated to a view that made the whole effort worthwhile, never mind what was to come!

The Strava route bit turned out to be fire road and easy going all the way until it met up with the path up from Potes, which was quite steep in places as pointed out by @EA1AER . I had no issues, but if it had rained it would have been steep and muddy enough to likely require a bit of ungainly sliding on your heels / bum / hands on the way down. Not so for me though as it was a glorious sunny day! The actual summit is a bit further on from the cross and a bit quieter. Lots of space on the summit, a convenient tree combo to provide some shade and prop my antenna up and lovely views! Trying an end fed random wire with @k6ark matching unit for the first time (I’ve used his matching units with a trapped EFHW before) to enable easy band hopping on the KX2. Seemed to work well. Hung around for a while and got quite a few on 20M CW, an S2S on 30M plus a couple on 10M. Tried 40M and didn’t even get spotted on the RBN - wondered if maybe the timer had expired on my alert or perhaps 40M really was just dead! Glorious view filled amble back down that was otherwise uneventful, followed by a dip in the camp site pool to cool off. Perfect!


We moved again to Liencres near Santander. Having been in a campsite that was named after a SOTA summit you could see from the site, we were then in a villa that had another summit walkable from the front door. What are the chances?
This time Picota EA1/CT-101 on 08 August. A nice 4km ish walk from where we were staying, with good views over the sea as you walk along the ridge to get to the summit. Again 20M CW with a few in the log and a couple on 17M, this time with the AX1 antenna. Went back for another go on 10 August, this time couldn’t get the AX1 to tune for some reason, despite being in the same spot. So got the EFRW out again, but just laid it on the wall of the small fortification and across the bushes and ground. Quite a few people around early in the morning and not an easy way to set up without potentially being in other people’s way / getting all tangled up in some very tangly looking bushes. Fewer in the log this time across 40M, 30M and 10M.


All summits worth a visit, and Malmasin is notable for being easily reachable in not much time on the excellent metro if you happen to be in Bilbao. We were kind of only in the foot hills of the Picos de Europa and it was stunning - highly worth a visit and I hope to get back some day for more hiking, biking and SOTA!