Riding with a view in Spain
Riding in the clouds
Lunch stop en route
Riding with a view in Asturias Spain
Cider Trail Horseriding Big Smile
Cider Trail Horse  Rearing
Happy riders on the beach in Asturias, Spain
Cider Trail Group on the beach
Spanish village
Mountain village
Ancient bridges
Cider Trail beach horseriding group
Lunch time on our riding tour in Spain
Cider Trail Horse ride Posing for the Camera
Villages in the mountains of Asturias
Cider Trail Horseride Wave!!

Enjoy horseback riding through the Asturias region in far northern Spain, famous for its apples, cider and regional food. Winding through Picos de Europa National Park, this 8 day/7-night equestrian trail brings together the best mountain scenery, beaches and food.

Explore the Cordillera Cantabrica which, unlike many other parts of Spain, retain their snowy peaks throughout the year and offer spectacular scenic views. The horses are sure-footed and trustworthy and riders travel to areas inaccessible by vehicle.  Forests, rivers and natural lakes all contribute to Austurias' natural beauty, making it a haven for horseback riding. Finish on the shores of the Atlantic and enjoy the scenery of the cliffs and bays of the costa verde, or green coast. Accommodation is provided by small hotels and guesthouses along the route.

As well as horseback riding, this holiday includes a visits to see how local Spanish cider is produced (complete with tasting!), and a tour to a 9th-century monastery. Finish the trail with a day in Oviedo, the historic capital of the Asturias. This is the ideal destination for intermediate riders who want to explore the high mountain ranges as well as enjoy beach riding and gourmet culture in this hidden corner of Spain, untainted by mass tourism.

Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.

Review received from HR of Rye on 29/09/2023

Ride Summary
Riding through this amazing mountain range on surefooted horses, with a knowledgeable & personable guide is priceless.
What was your overall impression of the holiday
Overall impression
Unicorn Trails sales staff

Riding tour leader

Additional Comments
Horses and Tack

Additional Comments
Meals

Accommodation

Miscellaneous

Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
This was an absolutely amazing trip. Riding from village to village, soaking in the views, touring cheese & cider factories, riding trust worthy horses, enjoying the company of others with the same love of horses and knowing we were in the safe hands of Ula our guide and Paco our groomsman & all around help: PRICELESS.
Was there anything you should have known and were not told? NO
Please give more details to explain your response:
What could we do to improve this ride?
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced?
7
Please explain why you scored it as you did:
The tour is best suited for confident riders. While there's a good deal of walking, the tour also includes trotting, cantering and galloping. The terrain varies from roads, dirt/gravel paths, deep woods, jagged rocks and slippery slopes (we got off and walked the horses downhill, with the horses remaining sure footed).
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?
YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?
YES
Any other comments:
Unicorn comments: Thank you for your feedback. Glad you had a great time! :)

Day 1
Arrive and transfer from Bilbao Airport (3hr) to Cangas de Onis, an 8th century village that defended Christianity in times of Moorish invasion on the Iberian peninsula. Dinner and overnight at the Hotel Los Lagos Nature or similar.

Day 2 - Lagos de Covadonga - Saint Cave and Basilica de Covadonga
After breakfast, visit the Gamoneo cheese factory then ride to the beautiful Lagos de Covadonga glacial lakes (4hr ride). Lunch in the restaurant and then drive down to visit the Basilica de Covadonga . Later, transfer to Oseja de Sajambre for dinner and accommodation.

Day 3 - Soto de Sajambre - Posada de Valdeon (6hr ride)
Ride in the morning through the limestone mountains of the Cantabrian Massif and the Beech and Oak forests with a climb of 1450m to Panderruedda.  After lunch, ride through a  green and quiet forest on the descent to Posada de Valdeon (960m) where the group will stay for the night. It is advisable to wear trekking boots today. Dinner and overnight at the Casa Begońa or similar.

Day 4 - Posada de Valdeon - Espinama (6h ride)
In the morning we only ride11km of comfortable and picturesque ascent to Pandetrave mountain pass. That will be 2,5 hours,  setting off from the height of 926m we will stop on the alpine meadow to have a lovely hot picnic lunch.  After lunch, we will ride 3h, 15 km of most scenic route leading over the villages and forests to the village of Espinama (1000m), where we will stay for the night. Dinner and overnight at the Hostal Remoña or similar.

Day 5 - Espinama - Sotres (3,5hr ride)
After breakfast ride through the glacial scenery top of the central moraine, formed by the forces of two glaciers pressing against each other in the late Pleistocene period and at the top we stop for a restaurant lunch. In the afternoon we ride down to the village of Sotres and visit the Cabrales cheese factory and the cave where this strong blue cheese matures. Dinner and overnight at the Hotel Peña Castil or similar.

Day 6 - Sotres - Tielve (3hr ride)
Say goodbye to the mountains and the National Park Picos de Europa, with a short 9km ride to the village of Tielve where the horses will be loaded into a truck for the 50 minute drive to Póo de Llanes to enjoy the beach and let the horses have a little rest before the beach canters. If lucky, there may be a Bufones, a specatcle where the water shoots up in the air at the high tide (a natural water fountain reminiscent of the water geysers). Dinner and overnight at Hotel Villa Miramar or similar.

Day 7 - Póo - playa de Llanes (4hr ride)
Spend time on a relaxed wandering along the Atlantic coastal paths, passing through villages and visiting small picturesque beaches. After a 4hr ride, bid farewell to horses at the beach Cuevas del Mar, and if the weather allows have a swim in the ocean. There is also chance to visit "Llagar" a place where delicious cider is produced.
After the tasting, a 30min transfer to Oviedo, the capital of Asturias, to visit the UNESCO monuments and sample the night life. Dinner and overnight in Oviedo, in the Hotel Astures or similar.

Day 8 - Farewell and transfer to Bilbao airport.
Transfer back to the airport after breakfast. If flying back from Bilbao please book flights after 1pm.

There is a minimum number of 4 riders for this trail, although it will still operate for 2-3 riders for a small group supplement, payable per person. Should more riders join the trail then the small group supplement will be refunded. In 2023 no small groups supplements were incurred.

 

Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.

Horses & Riding

There are 16 horses available to choose from on this ride, mainly PRE (pure Spanish) Spanish mix, Arabian mix or Appaloosa. All the horses are fit, strong and extremely surefooted in the rocky terrain. 



Riding hats are compulsory on this trail and can be borrowed if you do not want to bring your own. Light English saddles are used with saddle bags and there are attachments on the saddle to secure raincoats (provided), other clothes, and a small water bottle. The rest of the luggage will be transferred between accommodations by the trail driver. 



The riding for the first five days is in mountainous terrain and there are ascents to altitudes of 1780m above sea level. This means that the pace will be mainly walk and trot with some gentle canters. The horses are surefooted, trustworthy and well-schooled. The ride involves some high mountain passes. Riding is between 4-6 hours daily.The final days riding is on the beach where there is the opportunity for some faster beach canters.


Rider requirements

Riders should be confident in walk, trot and canter for this trail. Lots of the riding is on mountainous terrain, so riders should be comfortable with riding some steep inclines. Occasionally the horses might have to lead down hills so be sure to pack boots with grip. The minimum riding age for this holiday is 18 years old. One must be able to ride unaided in open countryside and be in control the horse when riding in a group. A mounting aid is offered, but ideally riders should be able to mount and dismount unaided.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 220 lb/100 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

Accommodation is in 2 and 3 star small, family-run hotels en route. Rooms are double or twin rooms, all with en-suite bathrooms, comfortable beds and excellent quality food.



The regional cuisine features plenty of high-quality fish and seafood, thanks to the miles of coastline on the Cantabric sea.

Continental breakfasts of cheeses, meats, yogurt, fruits and bread are served at the hotel.

Lunch is a generous picnic on the trail, which may include a starter followed by a main course and desert and coffee.

Dinners will showcase well-known and regional dishes  -  Vegetarians can be catered for with advance notice. Beer, wine and cider is also included with dinner, cider in the region has been produced in the area since ancient times and should definitely be sampled.


Vegetarian or other dietary requirements within reason can be accommodated with advance notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests before booking.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip.

NB: Be sure to check the COVID status of the country you plan to visit including entry procedures

Passport and Visa requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country.

Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate should you need a visa.

In the UK the British Foreign Office gives advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/spain

In the US: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Spain.html

In Canada: https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/spain

Climate Summary

This trail is available from June to September when the rainy season is over. Early June and September are most picturesque months in the mountains when temperatures vary from 14 at night to 28 during the day. The climate of Asturias is heavily marked by the gulf stream. Falling within the Cantabrian belt known as Green Spain it has high precipitations all year round. Summers are mild and, on the coast, winters also have relatively benign temperatures, rarely including frost. The cold is especially felt in the mountains, where snow is present from October till May. Both rain and snow are regular weather features of Asturian winters. In coastal or near-coastal areas, daytime high temperatures generally average around 12 °C (54 °F) – 13 °C (55 °F) during winter and 22 °C (72 °F) – 23 °C (73 °F) in summer.

Climate Chart

Climate chart for Asturias

Health

COVID: Be sure to check the latest COVID regulations for travelling in any country you visit.

You should always bring any regular prescription drugs you may need with you.

Please refer to your country’s latest health guideline for travel in Spain and contact your own GP for up to date advice on vaccinations and prophylaxis prior to travel.

Electricity



In Spain the supply voltage is 230V. If the appliance is a single voltage rated appliance, it will need to operate at the same voltage as the supply voltage of the country i.e. 230V. If this is not the case it should be used alongside a voltage transformer or converter to allow the appliance to work safely and properly

Mobile, WiFi and charging

There is electricity available for charging batteries at the accommodation each evening. Wifi is available in some of the hotels. If you want to bring a GoPro please be advised that you will have to have permission from all other guests and guides that they are willing to be filmed.

Packing List

Waterproof jacket
Riding trousers or jodhpurs
Sunglasses
Riding boots, best with a good grip sole, or mountain trekking boots
Sun block
Riding hat with brim
Lip-balm with sunscreen
Hard hat (it is recommended to bring your own if you have one as this is always the best fit, a selection is available on-site)
Personal toiletries
Insect repellent spray/cream
Riding gloves
Half chaps (optional)
Camera and batteries
T-shirts and shorts
Lightweight long-sleeved shirts
Heavy sweater or sweatshirt
Informal/casual wear for evenings
Lightweight rainwear

Please note that your host provides saddle bags and raincoats.
Riding hats are compulsory.

Programmes

This is an 8 day/7 night /6 riding days programme available on set dates. Other dates may be available on request, please enquire.

Departure Dates

2024: 9 - 16 June; 30 Aug - 6 Sept(FULL); 6 - 13 Sept, 15 - 22 Sept.
Other dates available on request.

Pricing
No single supplement is charged if the rider is willing to share with someone of the same sex, and a sharer can be found.
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
2024 - 7 nights8d/7n6double pp1,969
2024 - 7 nights8d/7n6single supplement219
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2024 - 7 nights8d/7n6double pp2,249
2024 - 7 nights8d/7n6single supplement249
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description US $
2024 - 7 nights8d/7n6double pp2,585
2024 - 7 nights8d/7n6single supplement289
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2024 - 7 nights8d/7n6double pp26,379
2024 - 7 nights8d/7n6single supplement2,929
Recommended Reading


Other Activities

If you want to add days on to either the beginning or end of your trip, your guide will be happy to give recommendations for sights and activities in this area of Northern Spain. For example archeological sites, the painted caves known as Tito Bustillo, Altamira. This is one of the most amazing regions in the world when it comes to prehistoric cave paintings , please visit www. theculturetrip.com/europe/spain/articles/the-most-magnificent-cave-art-to-view-in-northern-spain for further information. Other things worth seeing are pearls of Pre-Romanesque architectonic style churches in Oviedo, local monasteries, as well as tiny romantic, seaside villages to stay over the weekend if you want to fly home a few days later. You can read more about this area here: www.lonelyplanet.com/spain/asturias/cudillero.

Wildlife

You'll be spending five days riding in the Picos de Europa National Park which is home to a wealth of animal-life, due to the range of habitats, from river-valleys at almost sea-level, to alpine habitat in the high mountains. One common sighting in the park is the "rebeco", or chamois, a small deer-like animal that is almost always seen when venturing into high altitudes. They are graceful and agile, putting even the best mountaineer to shame. Somehow they find enough to eat in the high mountain landscape, moving down to lower altitudes over winter.

Probably the most famous animal in the area is the Cantabrian brown bear. The small eastern population of three family groups roams an area that debatably includes the southernmost reaches of the Picos de Europa. Sightings of the bears, and even of their footprints, are extremely rare however. Also extremely rare is the wolf, of which 15 to 20 are reported to live in the national park. More numerous, though well hidden, are small carnivores such as the genet, marten, wild cat, stoat, otter, fox, badger, polecat, and weasel. Wild boars are not often seen, but patches of earth they have turned over whilst foraging for roots in pastures are a common sight. Several species of bat live in the Picos de Europa, some of them roosting in the limestone caves, and are often to be seen on the wing at dusk. Roe deer can be seen in the woodlands, where there are also occasional sightings of red squirrel, their red so dark they appear almost black.

One of the rarest birds in the mountains is the capercaillie, and its numbers are declining - it is estimated that about 100 breeding males survive (males are easier to reckon because of their mating behavior). Another rare bird is the golden eagle, of which there are only a few breeding pairs within the Picos de Europa. There are also two species of vulture, the Egyptian and the griffon, often seen circling overhead. One species of particular interest is the wallcreeper, which lives on steep rock-faces in inaccessible places, and is therefore difficult to see despite its red wings. More likely to be seen are the alpine choughs, cheeky energetic birds who often loiter outside the mountain refuges. Mention should also be made of the black woodpecker, middle spotted woodpecker, treecreeper, snow finch, alpine accentor, eagle owl, peregrine, and there are even sporadic sightings of lammergeier.

Lizards are not everyone's cup of tea, but the fire salamander is a stunning little chap, small and slow-moving, with a bright gold or orange design burnt onto a black background. There are fifteen* species of reptile in all, the most obvious being the multitudes of small fast brown lizards that dart for cover on sunny days. Despite the lack of water there are amphibians too, such as the newts occasionally seen paddling around the bottoms of cattle-troughs. In spring and summer, butterflies abound, particularly in the traditional wild-flower meadows of lower altitudes. 124 species have been identified in the Picos de Europa to date. Some of these are listed as being endangered, such as the marsh fritillary, and the apollo.

Other Country Information

Spain is a beautiful and diverse country, the second largest in Europe. The official language is Castilian Spanish but Catalan, Galician and Basque are also spoken. Territory includes two island archipelagos – the Balearics and the Canaries – and two enclaves on the North African coast, bordering Morocco – Ceuta and Melilla. The African influence can be found throughout Spain but especially in the south, for example the guitar was invented by the Spanish when they added a sixth string to the Arab lute. Music and art permeates Spanish culture, most obviously displayed in the fire and passion of the Flamenco and the stunning modern architecture found in the cities.

The famous siesta is still enjoyed by the majority of Spaniards, most shops close at lunchtime for two or three hours so everyone can escape the often scorching afternoon sun. Evening meals are served late into the evening with plenty of wine or sangria. Often meals can last two or three hours, especially if your host is serving Tapas, small and varied dishes of meats, bread, vegetables. Paella is also a delight and very popular across the country.

Spain is one hour ahead of GMT and they use the metric weights and measures system, so kilometres and kilograms instead of miles and pounds. There is approximately 1.6 kilometres in a mile and 2.2 pounds in a kilogram. The international dialling code for Spain is +34.

Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
Bilbao Airport (BIO)
Transfer:
Return transfer included from Bilbao airports at set times.
Flight Guide:
London to Bilbao (BIO) from £75pp return
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