The normal route from the Puerto de Piedrasluengas (Col of Piedrasluengas) offers quite an easy hike to the top of Peña Labra, a summit slightly over 2000 meters high and (if climbed in good weather) a good vantage point of the Cordillera Cantábrica and the Picos de Europa. Unluckily, the lack of real difficulties is compensated by a bushy terrain with plenty of junipers that make it hard to find the path in some spots, and can also constitute a little trap if you happen to get out of your way. But don't let this fact scare you if you decide to give Peña Labra a go.
Getting ThereMAIN AIRPORTS:
Unluckily, Peña Labra stands quite a long way from the main spanish airports. If coming to Spain by plane, try flying to Santander or to the Asturias Airport. As far as I know, both have regular international flights (though mainly operated by low-cost companies). The airports at Valladolid or Bilbao might also be a helpful hint. If flying a regular airline, Barcelona or Madrid should be your choices and additional transport (either a connecting flight, train or road) will have to be considered.
The mountain pass of Piedrasluengas is the trailhead for this route.ROAD ACCESS:
As I said in the "Overview" section, the main trailhead for Peña Labra is the Puerto de Piedrasluengas, 1355 meters high and placed on road CL-627 between Potes (Cantabria) and Cervera de Pisuerga (Palencia). It's a 22 km drive from Potes and 29 km away from Cervera. But the question remains: how to get to any one of these villages?
Driving to Potes:
From Santander, take the highway to Torrelavega and turn right when you get to this town, in order to enter highway A-67 towards Oviedo. Keep going for 46 additional kilometers and leave the highway at exit 272 (signposted as "Unquera/Panes/Potes/Picos de Europa"). After you have another 40 km through the beautiful canyon of La Hermida before entering the valley of Liébana and reaching Potes. Road CL-627 to Piedrasluengas starts to your left, about 1 km before the village of Potes.
Driving to Cervera de Pisuerga:
Start driving north from Burgos, following road N-623 towards Santander. This road keeps going north-northwest for 59 km, up to the village of Aguilar de Campóo (quite well known in Spain because of its biscuit factories). At Aguilar you will have to enter the village and look for the signs to road P-212 (it might also be marked as "Embalse de Aguilar" or "Cervera de Pisuerga". Once you get out of Aguilar de Campóo via road P-212, it will be an additional 23 km drive to Cervera de Pisuerga. The first sights of the mountains of Palencia shall welcome you as you approach the village, Curavacas
being one of the first.
It goes by secondary roads, but you can also reach Piedrasluengas by leaving the Santander-Oviedo highway at exit 249 ("La Virgen/Comillas/Cabezón de la Sal/Valle de Cabuérniga"). Afterwards follow the signposts to Cabezón de la Sal, Cabuérniga, Puentenansa and Piedrasluengas.
Leave your car in the open space placed west of the road at the mountain pass. There's a vantage point ready for tourists about fifty meters away. Start walking across the road and take a dirt road that begins opposite the parking area. This dirt road shall make a turn and in no longer than five to ten minutes you shall see a small quarry in front of you. That's the moment to turn left and begin going uphill by a small wooden hut.
The limestone spires stand on our right side on the first sections of the hike.
Follow the line of limestone rocks that stands to your right, there's kind of a path here, and keep going until you turn right after the first alignment of rocks. You will find yourself in view of a second alignment (to your front) and a small (quite wide, in fact)green valley leading uphill to your left (towards Peña Labra). Follow this small valley, walking between the alignment of limestone spires and a small rocky point. When you get to the altitude of the rocky point turn right and make for the col placed south of Peña Labra, where you will find a watering place. Getting here (in some 40 to 45 minutes) is the easiest part of the climb. The really bushy terrain starts at this spot, overlooked by the obvious breach in the rocky wall of Peña Labra.
Breach on the south wall of Peña Labra(zoom)
The path is quite marked from time to time, with small cairns
, but it might be quite easy to lose the trail. In such a case, keep in mind that your next step leads towards a small rocky point visible to the east (Peña del Obro) and the col placed north of it. You have to get to that col and when you get there you will see (grossly north - northeast) the obvious lowering of the rocky walls of Peña Labra. A new slope through junipers shall take you to the pass, giving access to the ridge of Peña Labra. Turn left (west) and keep walking for an additional ten minutes (or so) to reach the geodesical vertex that marks the summit. Don't be mistaken by the small iron cross placed to your left.
A possible variant:
from the first col (the one with the watering place) you can also cross all the bushy terrain to get to the breach in the south wall. It seems quite an evident possibility, but guidebooks talk about a conglomerate wall graded II+. Be careful if choosing this option, it can be wet and slippery up there.
No real needs for special gear, a good pair of mountain boots and some waterproof clothing should be enough for a climb in fair weather. Bear in mind, nevertheless, that the Cordillera Cantábrica (and therefore Peña Labra!) is very close to the sea, and weather changes can be quite sudden in this area. The area crossed by this route can turn quite tricky and give orientation problems if you get trapped by fog, for instance. Consider this and remember that you will always prefer to have too much gear in such a case. Winter climbs (of course!) call for adequate equipment and clothing. Ice axe and crampons are never useless in winter time, and this route is said to be quite prone to avalanches after heavy snowfall.
External LinksNational Reserve of Fuentes Carrionas