View Full Version : Picos de Europa 2007 - Trip Report

23-07-07, 19:52
Our little trip to the Picos de Europa 2007

Keen to have a bit of a foreign adventure, late last year I suggested a Spanish trip to a few biking mates.

There was a little interest, but when it came to it, not much commitment!
We decided on the third week in April, being between Easter and the May Bank holiday. We booked the ferry from Plymouth to Santander, and a cottage near Potes, in the heart of the Picos de Europa.

Eventually there were three of us, Bill, John (Bear on this forum) and another mate by the name of Walter from Harrogate. Walter’s wife passed away in February, and knowing he was a ‘lapsed’ bike rider I suggested he joined us.
He didn’t take too much persuading, and he decided to join us, riding my other bike, the R80/7. We did a few ride outs in March and April, Walter actually sold his last bike (a Greves 350) in 1968, so he found the practice valuable.

The ferry left Plymouth on Sunday afternoon, so we decided to take the long route to the south west, setting off on Friday morning, I met Walter at the A1/A59 junction and we used motorways all the way to the National Motorcycle Museum near the NEC in Birmingham. After a good look at the bikes, and lunch, we continued south taking minor roads across the Cotswolds, eventually arriving at a very nice B&B about fifteen miles north of Cirencester, where we spent the night.

On Saturday we continued south across the eastern edge of the Mendips and eventually joining the A303 to Exeter, and then the A30 all the way to Truro, where we spent the second night in slightly less luxury on Pixie’s living room floor!

On Sunday we headed back to Plymouth, enjoying lunch at ‘Captain Jaspers’ on the quayside in the Barbican district. Suitably refreshed, we checked in at the ferry port and joined the queue to board the Pont Aven, bound for Santander in Spain.

With bikes firmly lashed down, we relaxed with a drink, as the Cornish coast slowly vanished in to the haze as we headed south at just over 22 knots. The journey is around 19 hours, including an overnight. There is plenty to see and do on the ship, and prices are reasonable considering that we were a captive audience! And of course we would be straight on to Spanish tarmac when we disembarked.


Monday morning was warm and hazy so we didn’t glimpse Spain until we were almost along side, disembarkation is quite quick, and we were soon on the A67 motorway heading West for Torrelavega and then we joined the A8 westbound, taking exit 272, The N621 south to Potes.
As coffee was long overdue, we stopped at the first café bar in Unquera. We enjoyed a superb meal for the princely sum of €10 each, I speak some Spanish, which was coming in very useful now, as away from the ‘Costas’ there is not too much English spoken. As we sat filling our faces a man appeared at the end of the table and asked in impeccable English were we were heading? Spotting that his English was especially good, as he was clearly from the West Midlands(!) We told him our tale, and discovered that he owned the place, along with his Spanish partner. And also had a Triumph Tiger.

We continued south to Potes, passing through the Hermida gorge, a very spectacular limestone canyon, eventually taking minor roads as we headed for our accommodation at Argüébanes, we soon found ‘La Casa El Acebo’ (Holly House) and were given a tour of the facilities by the owner, zero English spoken here!
As we unloaded the bikes, a few locals arrived to study the new residents, one approached… ‘Boxer!’ he said, pointing at the R80. ‘Si’ I replied, ‘Pero, mira, aqui estar un otra boxer tambien’ (yes, but look, here is another boxer as well). There was much studying of the two R1200GS’s that Pixie and I were riding. Clearly the locals approved of bikes! A good start!

We settled in and then headed back down to Potes to get supplies, which consisted of bread, ham and beer, and returned to the house to enjoy a feast, washed down with plenty of cerveza!
The house was very comfortable and we enjoyed a good first nights sleep in high in the Picos.

Tuesday’s weather was clear and bright, we headed off for a round trip taking the C184 and C627 from Potes climbing up to Puerto de Piedraslungas, stopping to take photos of the snow capped Picos, before descending through yet another incredible limestone gorge. We stopped at Cervera de Pisuerga for coffee, and again we were quickly approached by locals, keen to hear about our trip!

The C626 took us to Guardo where we found yet another super meal, this time for €8.50! Again, virtually no English, except… The waiter arrived with the second course, paused and then said in very pigeon English ‘owner from Littlehampton’! we had managed to find another restaurant owned by the English! From Guardo, we headed North on the C615, the landscape here is quite flat, the bulk of the Picos are always close, and its tempting to think that the sea is just a kilometre ore two away, but the GPS tells a different tale, here the plain is 3500’ above sea level, that’s higher than anywhere in England!

http://freespace.virgin.net/william.oakes/Piccies/Tres Mares.jpg

We followed the course of the Rio Carrion, past a large power station and back into the hills. At Boca de Huergano, we turned right talking the C621 towards Purto San Glorio. Another gorge, more hairpins, lovely! The rocks here look more like conglomerates, eventually we crossed the coll and began a long and twisty decent into the Liébana valley, the snow capped Picos providing an impressive backdrop to our ride. We stopped in Potes for more supplies, and then retreated to our haven in the hills, satisfied with a really super days riding on well maintained and quiet roads.

Wednesday’s weather was not so nice. Lots of mist, 100% cloud cover and drizzle.
By the time we hit the road, there were bigger spots with the drizzle!
It was a lot cooler too. We headed up the local roads to Fuente De. Here there is a cable car that takes you quickly above the snow line.
We took a trip, and enjoyed some brief and spectacular views. At 6000’ it was quite cold. We retreated to the café for coffee and Tortillas.
We took a steady trip back to Potes and toured the local shops, taking the opportunity to fill up with cheap Spanish petrol, at the time about €1 per litre, (66p), around 30p cheaper than the UK.
We returned to our house and prepared a feast fit for our last night in Spain, again washed down with cerveza.


In spite of the poor forecast, The rain was not falling as we loaded the bikes and set off for Santander, enjoying the spectacular Hermida gorge once again. We joined the motorway and as we approached Torrelavega the rain began to fall, this seemed to coincide with an increase in traffic, extra vigilance needed here! The Estacion Maritima in Santander is quite easy to find, and we were soon checked it and were the first three bikes to arrive, with a couple of hours to go before departure.

With bikes once again securely strapped down we headed for the bar. The bay of Biscay had been like a mill pond on the way out, going back would be different, the swell was doing its stuff even before we were out of Santander harbour!
The crossing was not too bad, and Friday morning saw us cruising across a calm English channel and under blue sky’s. By 10.30 we were on the left hand side of the road again, Walter has to be back so we took the A38 north from Plymouth, picked up the M5, then the M42, M1, M18, and finally the A1(M). Home was in sight by 7.45PM, a hard day in the saddle.

We hope you have enjoyed our tale, we had a brilliant trip, we felt like we had been real explorers, in reality we’d just had a few days in Spain, not much by many standards, but a real adventure for us.
Are we going again? You bet! next year! Now we are veterans, we going for a much more ambitious trip, Santander across the Pyrenees to Andorra and back by mountain roads.

Its not expensive, we paid £193 each for the ferry, and shared a four berth cabin, the house cost us about £60 each. We did just over 1200 miles in 8 days. All bikes performed faultlessly, including my R80/7 which is 29 years old this year.

Big Bill

23-07-07, 20:08
Nice one Bill - great to see you enjoyed the Picos as much as I did a few weeks ago. What a fantastic place!

24-07-07, 01:32
Thanks bill nice write up


24-07-07, 06:52
Great. :clap

Thanks for taking the time and effort to do the write-up.

bob the grizz
02-03-08, 17:28
Hi Big Bill,

Reading your diary on the Pecos trip, (nice one) doing the same trip in May 08looking forward to it!!!

flash of the gap
31-03-08, 22:31
hi bill, looks a great trip now i know where i,m goin next year :aidan

26-05-08, 18:24
Thanks Bill just found your report
Planning to do same thing in September But ride back (Anyone know what the weather does round them parts in Sept) as Cant decide to Hotel or Camp ?

29-05-08, 09:02
In September it's end-summer, so if no weather anomaly occurs, you should get fair weather on the picos.
Camping is cool, lot’s of campsites and adventure camps, but the little “estalajens” (inns) are not that expensive (even if our realities regarding what’s expensive are a bit different! )

Take care!


25-06-08, 14:47
Bill, Thanks for the write up.
I'm off there on Sunday........I'm looking forward to it even more now.