Camping La Isla – our favourite campsite in the Picos de Europa

For our second stay in the Picos De Europa we opted to take advantage of our ACSI card; a single purchase book which has hundreds of camp sites all over Europe and offers a discount during the off-season periods.

Last time we stayed near Potes we used Camping La Viorna as a base, paying 15 euros per night. La Isla went one better and only charged 13 euros per night. This fee includes all three of us, ‘Denny’ (our camper) and the electric hook-up.

This was our last day at the site having been here for nearly a week. A family was sharing a massive paella; permanent residents who’ve taken a quiet corner of the camp site by the river for their own.

The river is a gently babbling brook until spring when the mountain snow melts.

Fall is setting in and despite the intense heat of the October sun, the wind blustered through the pitches, creating an impressively colourful tide of dried leaves and dust, a joyous cacophony against the backdrop of reds, yellows, greens and browns; an autumnal harlequin dancing in its most beautiful robes.

The Spanish tradition of a family meal, starring paella, played out perfectly at La Isla.

The blue sky, courted by eagles and vultures watches on from high above the evergreen pines which cover the northern ridge.

Positioned along the CA-185 (between Potes and Fuente De) around 4km from Potes, the site is well shaded by trees of many varieties (including a handful Walnuts which have spent the last four nights sporadically clanking their fruit on the van roof) making it feel like a hazy summer meadow.

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The rest of the site is pretty quiet although the usual invasion of Spanish families on a weekend brings a colourful and noisy atmosphere without being intrusive. A row of bungalows occupy the river side of the pitches which total around 60 and 6amp electricity furnishes the mass of camper vans, including our own, which cling to the road side fences.

One of the many cosy little bungalows at La Isla. Prices range from 60 euros per night.

The river runs at the back of the bar and makes a relaxing soundtrack to which goat bells chime from the far bank. Apart from the occasional traffic noise the ambience is almost perfect for meditation.

At night the site is locked, remaining quiet and peaceful.

The soccer field at La Isla has a terrific set of terraces.

There are some great facilities here including washing machines, washing up basins, around 80% wifi coverage, a camper toilet waste disposal room, a very inviting pool as well as the usual fare such as a shop, toilets, great showers and a football field.

The pool - very inviting, bloody cold.

Although right on the doorstep to the Picos de Europa, the mountains themselves are obscured by the trees, but looking towards la Recepcion you are given a teasing glimpse of the majestic, grey peaks towards Fuente De.

To the cheap-ass mind this place is a boon as it’s rich in wild flowers and edible fauna. A quick stroll around the grounds provides fresh mint which when combined with fresh lemon juice and ginger makes an excellent, refreshing tea.

Fresh mint growing at La Isla. I love mint tea.

Other natural bounties include Dandelions, Chicory, Stinging Nettles and Plantain along with Lamb’s Quarter and Walnuts; all of which can be used to augment an already cheap dinner.

The picnic tables beside the river are nestled amongst a wealth of wild, edible plants.

La Isla provides an excellent base for walks in the local area and attractions like the Monasterio de Santo Toribio de Liebana, a mouthful to say and a 30 minute walk away, free to enter and also has other walks to some historic sites starting next to the car park (which also serves as a great wild camp spot thanks to the nearby toilets and drinkable water fonts).

As a non-drinking posse we avoided the bar but their prices seemed pretty reasonable.

La Isla has a real homely feel to it and the staff are extremely friendly and helpful. Of all the sites we’ve used in the Picos de Europa, this one is by far our favourite.

If you found this article useful please let us know, or if you have any questions about the site or surrounding area use the comment box to ask away.

images copyright Jacob Lee Bane.

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