A 30.000 pies por viajeros para viajeros

Vibrant Nature, a Stone’s Throw from Santander

The Picos de Europa National Park was Spain’s first protected nature reserve. Situated in the centre of the Cordillera Cantábrica range, it is now a listed by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve and is undoubtedly one of the loveliest spots in all Spain. The area offers an endless variety of activities, notably a visit to the Virgen de la Salud sanctuary where a traditional shrine festival is held every year. It is attended by large numbers of shrine pilgrims from the Lebaniega district. Other destinations include an outing to the Cabaña Verónica, or to Las Manforas mines. We have to limit our scope, so we shall propose just two readily accessible routes to give you time to enjoy these wonderful landscapes. And, the best thing about it is that this paradise getaway is just over an hour’s journey from Santander.

The Road to Espinama – Accessing the Central Massif

The trail starts at the Hotel Áliva, some 4 km from the upper level of the Fuente Dé cableway. From there, you take the Montaña footpath which leads down on the left. On your way down, you will come to a turning on the left which leads to Sostres, followed by a turn-off to the Ermita de la Salud. The path winds down into the Nevandi river valley, which acts as a boundary between the Macizo Oriental and Macizo Central (Eastern and Central Massifs). You then come to the Invernales de Igüedri, where you catch a glimpse of the southern arête of the Pico Valdecoro (1,841 m). You will recognise the invernales because in the centre is a large concentration of stone barns dotting the southwestern slopes of Castro Cogollos.

The trail ends in the streets of Espinama. In all, the descent starts at an altitude of 1,600 metres and ends at the 900-metre level. After leaving behind the most rugged landscape, the mountain pass and meadows for summer grazing come into view. You finally reach Espinama, in the municipality and valley of Camaleño, one of the major points of access to the Central Massif of the Picos de Europa. This trail is a pleasure on the senses – you will not require a filter for any of your pictures.


This trail is very easy, although the descent is abrupt and can take its toll on one’s knees. The worst part is having to make the 3.5 kilometre stretch from Espinama to Fuente Dé, if you’ve parked your car there. A good remedy is to take one of the mountain taxis in Espinama.

Start: Hotel Áliva
Destination: Espinama
Duration: 2 hours 30 min.
Difficulty: low
All ages

Rendezvous with History in Mogrovejo

Mogrovejo is well worth the visit. The village has an intense history and is designated as a Historic Rural Complex, said to be among the best preserved in all Liébana. It is also claimed to be the birthplace of St Turibius, the relic bearer, Bishop of Astorga, Lord of Mogrovejo and Don Pelayo’s deputy. And of another St Turibius, from the 16th century, who became Bishop of Lima. A tower in the village overlooks the valley and is flanked by the Picos. The illustrious Toledan poet, Garcilaso de la Vega, a luminary of Spain’s Golden Age, also descends from the house of Laso de la Vega there.

This trail also starts at the Hotel Áliva. You take the path down to Espinama as far as the Portillas del Boquejón, where you come to the third turn-off on the left. If you follow that path, you come to Pembes, where the Virgen de la Salud is paraded in winter. If you take the other turning on the left, you come to Llaves, providing access to another trail leading to Mogrovejo.

This route affords splendid views of the Puertos de Río Cubo (Cosgaya) and the Puertos de Espinama, where the livestock that grazes on the Áliva mountain passes is led in late July.

Start: Hotel Áliva
2 hours 30 min.
All ages

Hotel Áliva

Hotel Áliva, located on the upper level of the Fuente Dé cableway, in the heart of the Picos de Europa National Park, is a family hotel surrounded by mountains, meadows and captivating scenery. It is framed by the lofty Picos de Europa mountains which will leave no one impassive. The silence, broken only by the clinking of the bells worn by livestock grazing nearby, makes for a pleasurable stay, if what you’re seeking is to switch off and relax. The location is also ideal for going on excursions into the Park.

It also has a restaurant featuring the stews so typical of Cantabrian cuisine and locally sourced meat, making for a great meal to round off a day in the wild. The menu is based on carefully prepared dishes made with local produce from the Liébana district.

The hotel is the ideal place for switching off and soaking up the peacefulness of the mountainside. Hikers have an endless choice of trails around the hotel. It has a capacity of 70 in rooms sleeping two, four and even six guests. Telephone: 942 730 999 (From 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.).

Why wait to indulge in these natural surroundings? Check out our flights to Santander here.


Text and images by Turismo de Cantabria

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