Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Asturias – Picos de Europa (The Lakes of Covadonga)

The second most popular hiking route in the Picos de Europa National Park is the Lakes of Covadonga. These are lakes that have glacier origins. Most of the time you can only see two but when the snow melts in spring, a third one appears.

The walk is said to start in Covadonga but you still have to drive for about 20 minutes to reach the car park. We had to drive up to 1000m height! On the way we passed an incredible viewpoint, the Mirador de Reina. We got a sweeping view over the Picos, a big part of Cantabria and even the Atlantic. It was very special as the clouds were sitting amongst the mountain tops.

The car park is called Buferrera and is huge. It includes a Tourist Information Center that provides lots of information about the park and it has loads of toilets (a small but important matter). There’s also an old mine that you can go through. There's also a viewpoint.

Before we actually got to the car park we had to pass the first lake, Lake Ercina at 1108m height.

The other lake is on the other side of the hill, Lake Enol.

And this is it, you’ve seen both of the lakes! It’s a bit of a reverse walk, usually you have to hike for a few kilometres to see something this lovely but here it’s all presented to you at the beginning. You can have a lovely picnic at the meadow and pack your family in the car and go home…or you can do one of the many hikes available and displayed in the car parks. They are all clearly signed so you don’t have to bring a map. The most popular one goes around in a 5km circle offering lovely views of both lakes. After we had already seen the lakes, however, it seemed a bit pointless and let’s be blunt, too short for us. 

We found another walk that promised a 14km up and down route to a shelter with a bit more challenge and this is what we decided to try. The route was signed clearly so even though we didn’t have any maps with us it wasn’t hard to follow. Again, every step presented us with a lovely view.

We found the shelter, then looked for a ridge to look down over the other side. Here’s what we found.

We really didn’t mind going back on the same route again as it was so lovely, the view was just as incredible ahead of us as it was behind us.

Even though we usually hike for the views and not for the animals on this occasion we encountered many interesting animals. The first one was a black snake that I found amongst the rocks. It was more scared of me than I was of it so by the time I opened my mouth to say ‘SNAKE’ it disappeared. I really can’t tell what kind it was as it was the first snake I’ve ever seen in the wild. It was black if this helps at all.

We saw many small lizards and we thought it’s high time we learn the word in Spanish, too. In case you’re interested: ‘lagarto’. They were small but they had amazing colours.

Paul found this colourful bug and they quickly became best friends forever.

I made friends, too, in my case it was a donkey.

Ok, I know this wildlife show wasn’t very interesting so far but we also saw these huge birds. We’ve never seen anything so big and so close up before so we got very excited. I looked it up and (assuming I’m right) it’s a Griffon Vulture. It was soaring in the sky above us for a while.

Let’s not forget about the cows. I know they are not technically wildlife but they were still an integral part of our walk, even though we were generally ignored by them. Only a few could be bothered to look up at all when we approached them.

On one occasion a calf was standing right in front of us in the middle of the path with his mummy behind. When we saw each other all four of us stopped. We were all thinking about what to do now. Suddenly the calf saw a juicy bit of grass and moved away but the cow was still standing there. It looked like it’s going to have to be a stand off. Eventually the cow moved away from the path, looking at us with complete disinterest, and we could continue our walk.   

I guess I should apologise for not writing about the walk I promised in the title however this way I believe I could show you more about this are of the Picos. I hope you enjoyed reading my blog about it.


  1. Hello! I am going here for just a couple days and am interested in the 14km hike you did. Was it easy to find the trail? Did you just get the information from the visitor center? Thanks!

  2. Hi Rachel, I'm pleased you like the sound of this walk. There was an information board in the car park with many different routes on it and that's where we chose it from. I don't think the route was particularly strenuous however it really depends on your fitness level. Good luck and let me know how it goes!