Walking in the Cordillera Cantabrica
A mountaineering guide
By Robin Walker
A guide to walking in the Cordillera Cantabrica mountain range in northern Spain. This guidebook describes 60 routes spread throughout the area from selected valley bases with easy access. All the routes are circular and can be done in a day. In difficulty they vary from straightforward, half-day outings to strenuous, full-day ascents.
SeasonsMainly April until November, although winter snow offers good ski traversing possibilities. Wettest in early spring, with rain returning in October.
CentresSena de Luna and San Eniliano in W. Leon, Pola de Somiedo in W. Asturias, La Vicella and Riano in E. Leon, Felechosa and Arriondas in E. Asturias, Cervera de Pisuerga in the Palencia and Cantabria region.
DifficultyMost of the walking in high mountain terrain, requiring an appropriate level of fitness, equipment and experience.
Must SeePeace and solitude, subtle but grandiose beauty, good walking terrain and a sense of history!
Walking in the Cordillera Cantabrica is a mountaineering guide to one of Spain’s premier ranges, and includes detailed descriptions for 60 routes spread around the whole of this magnificent mountain chain. Based on selected valley bases, the routes are readily accessed, thus minimising travel time. All of the routes can be done in a day and all are circular, whilst in difficulty they vary from straightforward, half-day outings to strenuous, full-day ascents demanding fitness, good overall mountain skills, and the ability to deal with short sections of scrambling.
This guide is complemented by articles on four specialist topics of interest to any who wish to know the range in greater depth: place-names, transhumance, the Civil War and alpine flora. The Cordillera Cantabrica is currently home to a total of nine protected areas, including three UN-designated areas.
When to Visit
Using the Guide
Access from the UK
Bases and Accommodation
Timing and Grading
Dogs, Bulls and other Inconveniences
Climate and Weather
Walk 1 Alcornón de Busmori from Degaña
Walk 2 Catoute from Colinas del Campo de Martín Moro
Walk 3 Tambarón from Salientes
Walk 4 Arcos del Agua from Fasgar
Walk 5 Peña Correa from Abelgas
Walk 6 Muxivén from Lumajo
Walk 7 Montihuero from Torre de Babia
Walk 8 Peña Orniz from La Cueta
Walk 9 Ferreirúa from Torrestío
Walk 10 Picos del Fontán from Torrebarrio
Walk 11 Cirbanal from Caldas de Luna
Walk 12 Amargones from Piedrasecha
Walk 1 Cornón from Santa María del Puerto
Walk 2 Cogollo de Cebolleo from Villar de Vildas
Walk 3 Peña Blanca from Aguino
Walk 4 Peña Chana from Valle de Lago
Walk 5 Lagos de Somiedo from Valle de Lago
Walk 6 Camino Real de la Mesa from Saliencia
Walk 7 Calduveiru from the Puertos de Marabiu
Walk 8 Cordal de la Sobia from Carrea
Walk 9 Gamonal from El Campo
Walk 10 Pico la Hoya from Proaza
Walk 11 Peña Rueda from Lindes
Walk 12 Ranchón from Bueida
Walk 13 Tapinón from Tuiza de Arriba
Walk 14 Peña Ubiña from Tuiza de Arriba
Walk 1 Estorbín Valverde from Tonín de Arbás
Walk 2 Pico Faro from Canseco
Walk 3 Fontún from Gete
Walk 4 Correcillas from Felmín
Walk 5 Peña Valdorria from Valdorria
Walk 6 Susarón from Puente de San Tirso
Walk 7 Peña Corada from Fuentes de Peñacorada
Walk 8 Pico Cerroso from Santa Olaja de la Varga
Walk 9 Pico Yordas from Liegos
Walk 10 Mampodre massif from Maraña
Walk 11 Peña Ten from La Uña
Walk 12 Coriscao from Portilla de la Reina
Walk 13 Peña Prieta from Llánaves de la Reina
Walk 1 Pico Torres from Puerto de San Isidro
Walk 2 Retriñón from Felechosa
Walk 3 Peña Mea from Les Campes
Walk 4 Desfiladero de los Arrudos from La Encrucijada
Walk 5 Cuyargayos from Agues
Walk 6 Pico Trigueiro from Condado
Walk 7 Pileñes from Ventaniella
Walk 8 Tiatordos from Taranes
Walk 9 Vízcares from Riofabar
Walk 10 Peña Salón from Puente Vidosa
Walk 11 Pienzu from Cofiño
Walk 12 Hibeo from Villanueva
Palencia and Cantabria
Walk 1 Cardaño Cirque from Cardaño de Arriba
Walk 2 Espigúete from Cardaño de Abajo
Walk 3 Curavacas from Vidrieros
Walk 4 Santa Lucía from Vidrieros
Walk 5 Peña Mayor from Colonia Sierra del Brezo
Walk 6 Valdecebollas from Santa María de Redondo
Walk 7 Pico Tres Mares from Piedrasluengas
Walk 8 Bistruey from Caloca
Walk 9 El Cornón de Peña Sagra from San Mamés ....
Appendix 1 – Useful Information
Appendix 2 – Guidebooks in Spanish
Appendix 3 – Emergency procedure in the Cordillera Cantábrica
Glossary of Common Map Terms
Place-names: the Magic of Words by David Caballero
Transhumance in the Cordillera Cantábrica by Victor Guerra
The Cordillera Cantábrica in the Spanish Civil War by Claudia Cabrero
Alpine Flora of the Cordillera Cantábrica by Teresa Farino
Index of Summits
Series: 30-II, 31-IV
52-II-III-IV, 53-IV, 54-I-II-III-V, 55-III
75-IV, 76-II-IV, 79-I-III-IV
80-I, 81-I-III-IV, 82-I-III
101-IV, 102-II-III,103-II-III, 104-II-III, 105-I-III, 106-I-II-III, 107-I
Adrados, Parque Natural de Somiedo 1:60,000
Adrados, Macizo de Pena Ubina 1:25,000
Maps: Only five years ago this was a thorny problem. There were large gaps in the IGN’s (Instituto Geográfico Nacional) 1:25,000 series, whilst the 1:50,000 series was, and still is, simply not accurate enough. Some local mountaineers spoke well of the military maps, but they were not freely available, especially to somebody arriving from outside the area, a situation which has not improved.
Today, whilst some numbers still await revision, the IGN 1:25,000 series is virtually complete, with many of the maps having been revised only recently. As a result, these maps are mostly up-to-date and accurate, with map contouring almost always spot on. Sadly, however, errors occur rather too frequently with names, some being trivial, but others less so.
In addition to the 1:25,000 series, the IGN have also published a number of tourist maps (Mapa-Guía), one of which covers the area described in the section ‘Palencia and Cantabria’. These maps are complemented by two maps published privately by Miguel Adrados: those covering the Parque Natural de Somiedo and the excellent 1:25,000 map of the Ubiña massif. Overall, it is now fair to say that acceptable mapping is available at 1:25,000 for almost all of the routes in this guide. Where mapping is inadequate, this is compensated for by greater detail in the route description.
It is not necessary to buy the full 1:25,000 IGN series in order to use this guide, nor would it be economical, as the full series would cost some £250. In each route description an indication is given of the specific map requirements and how these are best met in instances where various options are available. The introduction to each sector also provides a list of essential maps, whilst the following maps might be of help in travelling around the area:
• Cordillera Cantábrica1:200,000 IGN
• Provincia de Asturias 1:200,000 IGN
• Provincia de León 1:200,000 IGN
• Provincia de Palencia 1:200,000 IGN
• Cordillera Cantábrica 1:260,000 Adrados Ediciones.
All these maps can be obtained a number of ways (see Appendix 1 for further details):
Via map and guide specialists in the UK. Initially, this method might appear to be the easiest, but UK specialists will probably not be able to supply you with everything you want.
Buying the maps once in Spain. This is the cheapest method, but many walkers want the maps beforehand for planning purposes.
The Casa del Mapa are official outlets for the Instituto Geográfico Nacional, and as such all three offer a full display of all their publications, although obviously none of them sell maps other than those of the IGN.
Buying the maps from a Spanish mail order specialist. Two companies currently offer a reliable service for internet ordering:
Eñe-Revista de Libros Españoles
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Robin Walker began mountaineering in his native Northumberland at the age of 13, and went on to walk and climb throughout the British Isles, Norway, the Dolomites, the Alps and the USA. In 1981 he moved to northern Spain, his early experiences culminating in Walks and Climbs in the Picos de Europa (Cicerone, 1989).View Guidebooks by Robin Walker