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.



Mainly April until November, although winter snow offers good ski traversing possibilities. Wettest in early spring, with rain returning in October.


Sena 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.


Most of the walking in high mountain terrain, requiring an appropriate level of fitness, equipment and experience.
Must See

Must See

Peace and solitude, subtle but grandiose beauty, good walking terrain and a sense of history!
1 Jun 2003
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.5cm
  • Overview

    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.

  • Contents

    When to Visit
    Using the Guide
    Route Selection
    Access from the UK
    Bases and Accommodation
    Mountain Accommodation
    Timing and Grading
    Following Paths
    Dogs, Bulls and other Inconveniences
    Mountain Rescue
    Physical Relief
    Climate and Weather
    Protected Areas
    Western León
    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
    Western Asturias
    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
    Eastern León
    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
    Eastern Asturias
    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

  • Maps

    IGN (1:25,000)
    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

    Librería Desnivel

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Walker Robin

Robin Walker

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