LOVE TO WANDER
The Posada el Corcal de Liébana nestles beneath the beautiful Picos mountains and provides guests with the warmest of welcomes and Spanish hospitality. The rooms are clean and comfortable with flower filled balconies and provide all you need for a relaxing stay in this area. Breakfast is served in a prettily decorated dining room and a wide choice of freshly baked temptations are offered alongside the usual continental breakfast choices. Every effort is made to make you feel at home, including a stack of Yorkshire tea bags and tea pots specially provided with English guests in mind. Dinner is available at the Restaurant Casa Fofi located a short walk away. If you are looking for a top quality gourmet experience, then you will not find it here, but you will certainly not leave hungry. Colletts arrange a set menu with three choices for each course and including free flowing local red and white wines. The restaurant also offers an a la carte menu if you are travelling independently. There are also spa facilities on site which I didn’t have time to try out. There are other options in Picos (a 5 - 7 euro taxi ride away - around 40 minutes walk) if you want some variety during your stay. Casa Cayo (www.casacayo.com) offers a hearty Spanish menu and also accommodation if you would rather base yourself in the centre of town.
Colletts delivered a well organised holiday giving good attention to detail whilst maintaining a relaxed approach. You can opt for all transport to be included in your package which leaves you free to concentrate on just enjoying the walks and the scenery. Great care was taken to balance the varied needs of the group and accommodate everyone’s needs - quite a challenge when you have a group whose interests range from strenuous mountain walking all the way to gently paced flower photography. Admin was efficient and guests were given ample opportunity to tailor the trip according to preference depending on weather conditions, physical fitness levels, individual areas of interest etc. “Office hour” at 7 - 8 each night provided the opportunity to discuss plans for the next day and the chance to listen to a couple of interesting presentations on the flowers you can see in the Picos and on alpine gardening when you get back home to the UK.
Our tour was led by David Charlton (who works on a voluntary basis) accompanied by two/three full-time guides - generous for a group of 14 (reduced to 8 mid way through the week). David made every day a pleasure as he shared his infectious enthusiasm for alpine flora and expertise generously, mixing it with a generous helping of a great sense of humour. You could do this trip self-guided, but you could potentially miss such a lot if you didn't know exactly what you were looking for. With Potes as our base, we visited five locations during the week and a wide variety of habitats to ensure we saw as many species of flowers as possible. We walked through meadows, natural rock gardens, woodlands, high mountains and past rock walls and river valleys.
Wish I had seen: Lady orchid, fritillaria.
What I'm bringing home: Not your usual souvenirs, but these are worth much more and will last long after the trip has ended:
Glad I left behind: A tick; my worn out Birkenstock sandals which made my feet ache - life is far too short to keep them!
For further details of the itinerary we followed during the week, read on ...
I wonder if there is any better way to spend a week of a what is a short life than wandering at a gentle pace in warm, sunny weather through acres of alpine meadows filled with spring flowers and framed by snow capped mountains? Add to that a background sound track of jays, chiff-chaffs, cuckoos and cow bells and some very good company and you have, in my view, the recipe for a perfect trip.. The Spring flower season here is short but spectacular - there are around three weeks between 20th May and 7th June when the mountains burst into life with a wide array of colourful alpine plants. You can see at least 170 different plants (the number featured in Mountain Flowers, Pyrenees and Picos by Cliff Booker and David Charlton) including some stunning orchids and a number of plants that grow only in this region, making sitings extra special. Meadows jam packed full of orchids that would be protected as a site of special interest and attract numerous visitors back home in the UK are laid out here seemingly just for you. On the majority of our walks in the Picos this week, we saw no-one on other than the group we were walking with. Click on read more to see the photos ...