Picos De Europa / Santander rides

by William Black   November 8, 2013  

Thinking of taking the camper van over the felly to Northern Spain.

We're going to keep it fairly short drives from the ferry port, lots of camping on the coast but, in principal she's given me the pass to pack one of my bikes so I can go over for the day and get a long ride in.

Just having a look on the google maps the Picos De Europa area looks pretty cool and we could park the van up there for a couple of night exploring too.

Anyone ridden out there?

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Had a couple of trips out there in the late 90s. Very very scenic.

Not in the Picos is Santillana del Mar near Santander is worth a look see, as is the Cares gorge walk.

In the Picos itself. The road from Panes up to Potes is a stunning run though a deep gorge.

Park up at Cangas de Onis, and ride up to the Covadonga lakes. Ace climb & a Vuelta climb too.

To be honest all the roads are great, but most circular runs will be long and hard due to the mountainous area.

posted by gazza_d [340 posts]
9th November 2013 - 14:30

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Thanks for the info and the tips to visit, Will deifinately look up the Panes to Potes route.

I guess I could even do a point to point ride, and meet the family at the other end.

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posted by William Black [196 posts]
9th November 2013 - 17:54

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I first rode my mountain bike up the Cares Gorge over 20 years ago and I've since been back twice with my wife and kids in more recent times. That area is fantastic for cycling. You could do worse than to park up at the campsite in Arenas de Cabrales and do some day rides from there.

The Panes to Potes route is a good one, but look at some maps as there are plenty of excellent roads. Some climbs can be tough, so be warned.

The scenery is incredible and the roads are really good, while the Spanish drivers are used to cyclists and generally give you enough room. Mountain bikes and road bikes are popular with the locals so a lot of them are cyclists themselves. The food is good and so is the wine as well.

There is a village up in the mountains that has no direct route by road and is accessed now by a funicular railway, as well as the old steep path, if you want to take the family somewhere really unusual and it is billed as Europe's most remote village.

There is one climb I remember making where you can cycle a switchback road from an altitude of about 200m to 2,200m over a length of 14km. It is pretty challenging and you'll need those low gears.

On one descent I remember freewheeling for over 20km. It got boring after a while, especially as my heavily loaded mountain bike would start to fishtail if I let the speed build up.


posted by OldRidgeback [2428 posts]
10th November 2013 - 10:35


Oooh, now we're talking I do like the idea of taking my mountain bike...but then road bikes much easier to get loads of miles in without having to worry about tricky descents and getting lost badly on trails Smile

The idea is to take one bike and ride one day the rest being taken up with family stuff, exploring moving the camper van from place to place every couple of days.

We are definitely a family of explorer types so that village by railway is an excellent Idea thanks!

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posted by William Black [196 posts]
10th November 2013 - 21:35


If you take the road bike and then find you want to do some off-roading, you can probably hire a mountain bike. I seem to remember various places renting bikes out last time we were there. Arenas de Cabrales is popular with walkers and mountain bikers so I imagine there will be a place there, but you could probably check online first.

Some interesting history in that area as there was a major battle between Charlemagne and the Moors. There are also cave paintings that are 1000s of years old and those are definitely worth a visit. And the dinosaur museum is a good place to take the kids if the weather isn't good. You can find all this on the Internet.


posted by OldRidgeback [2428 posts]
11th November 2013 - 11:26


I've never biked in the Picos but I've spent time there walking & climbing. The scenery is spectacular and it is and area well worth a visit. In high summer it's very popular with Spaniards from the south who are trying to avoid the heat and I have been caught out in a snow storm in the high mountains in June so don't forget a jacket.
There are often some very good paths at height as the area was heavily mined back to Roman times and the miners needed half decent tracks to get the ore/metal out and I imagine this would make mountain biking easier than you might think.
There is a cable car at Fuente De which gets you a long way up into the centre of the mountains - not sure if they allow bikes though!

posted by gmac101 [51 posts]
12th November 2013 - 7:55


Thanks for all the pointers.

After researching the area I think we've definitely decided on going there next year...now I shall just have to start the long process of getting myself another ride pass whilst we are out there Smile

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posted by William Black [196 posts]
12th November 2013 - 10:08


Covadonga climb is amazing, just don't go on a festival/saints day.
Weather can be very changeable, rain one minute sun the next!

The further you go along the coast the less tourists.

posted by SuperG [73 posts]
12th November 2013 - 18:03

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