This is a fabulous part of the world, and one we’d definitely like to visit again. It’s easy to reach via ferry (see blog post F is for Ferry…), beautiful and not too touristy.
We loved: The campsite La Viorna, the craggy mountains reached via vertiginous cablecar and the bustling town of Potes.
Downsides: Think the weather is slightly more varied than other parts of Spain, although when we visited it was simply very hot.
These craggy limestone peaks are properly awesome — and deserved much more than our paltry efforts to get the family walking.
This was the start of a 4 week trip mainly camping and our first family stint in Sunny the new van. We opted for the low-key Camping La Viorna in the Picos de Europa because a) the Picos looked amazing and b) we thought it would be a comparatively cool way, weather-wise, to begin.
Camping La Viorna, Potes — and some musings on family camping generally
There are some things that really work for us when we camp and La Viorna had them in spades:
1. We like smaller camp sites because we find it’s just more relaxing if we know roughly where our kids are — they can roam and we can relax. La Viorna has around 100 pitches, a good sized pool, one wash block and one main cafe /shop building.
2. Although it’s nice if there are some fellow British kids to befriend we prefer a mix of nationalities — that way if the pitches are overly intimate there’s at least a chance your neighbours aren’t using your ridiculous family arguments (more of these anon I think, but for now suffice to say that our three are experts at creating a mountain out of a molehill) as a continual source of free entertainment.
It goes without saying that they are completely allowed — even expected — to have a good old nosy at your setup while you’re putting it all up/ packing it all away or even as you’re sleeping in it. It’s one of the joys of camping.
(It goes without saying that they are completely allowed — even expected — to have a good old nosy at your setup while you’re putting it all up/ packing it all away or even as you’re sleeping in it. It’s one of the joys of camping. I am particularly drawn to trailer-tents for example, and though I haven’t yet crossed the camper line of literally poking my nose in and asking lots of questions, I have come very close.)
3. A decent sized pool is essential and although slides etc are great fun our three can get days and days of fun from a basic pool if there’s enough space. La Viorna has this and lovely grassy shady areas to sit on. The less rules the better generally and here there was only one — to wear a swim cap. Fine by us as it made us feel like we were back in the fifties.
4. If we can walk to shops and stuff it helps as otherwise it is a slight faff unmaking the beds in the van, so having bustling Potes on our doorstep was a bonus. For us, a holiday hasn’t started until we’ve stocked up on inflatables, sun hats and dive-sticks (none of which Garry will ever agree to bring from home for mysterious reasons known only to himself) or eaten our collective body weight in water-melon ice lollies.
The Fuente De cable car is a must-do
I should come clean here and admit that we only spent one day in the actual Picos — partly because we only had a limited time, partly because the kids weren’t up for much walking and partly because it was very hot. However, we did manage to take the vertiginous Fuente De cable car and mooch around a bit in the craggy peaks, we did see one of the infamous mountain dogs who have to protect their sheep from bears and wolves, and we did achieve our goal of getting up above the clouds so it wasn’t a complete disaster.
The landscape was stunning. We followed see the Rio Deva all the way from the sea, pretty much, to its source at the Fuente De, and the cliffs are dramatically steep and loom over the narrow road much of the way.
We also liked Potes very much. It’s a pleasant, bustling town with a highlands feel, and we mooched around quite happily for an afternoon and evening.
This is definitely a neck of the woods we would love to revisit — and hopefully get a bit more mountain walking in!