The Picos de Europa mountains to the sea
They occupy a total area of 64,660 hectares with heights exceeding 2,500 meters and their northernmost point hardly 15 kilometres from the sea. The Picos de Europa, the most widely visited national park in Spain after the Teide National Park, are true giants just a step away from the coast.
When one considers visiting these high rocky mountains covered with snow that lasts almost into the summer, people usually think of their popular cable car, climbing or mountaineering, but not of enjoying the sand, sun and the crystal clear water of the sea.
However, this area of the Bay of Biscay governed by the great peaks offers travellers the chance to explore the coast on foot or by bike to enjoy the beaches where vegetation grows almost to the water’s edge without giving up the mountains. It is hardly surprising that the name was given to them by the sailors as they were the first thing the sailors saw in Europe as they approached the Cantabrian coast.
Asturias, León and Cantabria form this nature park, which offers a variety of routes, but is managed jointly by the three regions.
In Asturias we have the path that goes from Bustio to Llanes, 36 kilometres of prepared paths to do both on foot and by bicycle. It can be done in one day, but for those who prefer to take it easy and enjoy the scenery, the route is divided into different sections that allow it to be done in a number of excursions.
In Cantabria there is a more accessible route for those who are not so used to hiking. It is a coastal walk in la Pedreña, just 7 kilometres long and noted for the spectacular sunset view of the bay and the city of Santander.
All the villages have pedestrian access to allow tourists to reach the shore. From Buelna to Llanes, there are trails that lead from the mountains to the water. This is the case of Vidiago beach where flowers, grass and trees reach the shore, or of la Franca, in which a small path leads to the summit of a hill giving breath-taking views of the sea.
But it is not only the beaches and hidden coves that surround this coastal area: the dramatic cliffs that surround them will put off even the most intrepid. Simply leave la Franca beach behind and continue to Llanes to find these natural phenomena that will not disappoint anyone who goes there.
Photos: Ayuntamiento de Llanes
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