One of the horses
Northern Spanish coast
On top of the mountains
Horses by the lake
Beach riding
Ancient bridges
Beer next to the lake
Mountain villages
Snowcapped mountains
Sunrise in the clouds
Donkeys en route
Mountain valleys
Santa Maria church in Oviedo
Sheep on the mountains
A double room
Seafood paella

Ride 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 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 you'll travel to areas inaccessible by vehicle.  Forests, rivers and natural lakes all contribute to Austurias' natural beauty making it a haven for horse-riding. Finish on the shores of the Atlantic and enjoy canters along the sandy beaches of this costa verde, or green coast. Accommodation is provided by small hotels and guesthouses along the route.

As well as riding this holiday includes a visit to see how local Spanish cider is produced (complete with tasting!) and a 9th century monastery. You'll finish the trail with a day in Oviedo, the characterful and 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.

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Day 1
You'll be picked up from either Oviedo (1 hour transfer), Bilbao (2.5 hour transfer) or Madrid Airport (5 hour transfer) and will transfer to Cangas de Onis , a hisoric village that in the 8th Century was the site of the first major victory by a Christian military force in Iberia after the Islamic conquest, marking the starting-point of the Reconquista. Dinner and overnight at the Hospedaje de Torreon or similar hotel.

Day 2
Viego - Soto de Sajambre
Morning transfer from picturesque Cangas de Onis to Viego where you will meet the horses and start the trail. In the morning you'll will ride 20km starting from 730m above sea level and climbing up to 1500m for a filling picnic lunch. After lunch and a rest, you will ride another 11km, descending to 920m and reaching the picturesque village of Soto de Sajambre. This is the heart of the Picos de Europa Park where you'll stay for the night. Dinner and overnight at the Hotel Penia Santa or similar.

Day 3 
Soto de Sajambre - Posada de Valdeon
Today's ride is a bit shorter; you will cover 24km from 920m up to 1760m. After a comfortable and picturesque ascent to the Pandetrave pass you will stop on the alpine meadow to have a hot picnic lunch. After dinner, you will descent to the village of Posada de Valdeon (960m) where you'll stay for the night. Dinner and overnight at the Hotel Begońa or similar.

Day 4
Posada de Valdeon - Espinama
You will set off from a height of 926m and for 11km will follow the trail through the limestone mountains of the Cantabrian Massif. Riding through the beech and oak forests you will ascend to 1763m. After reaching this summit you'll have a stop to water the horses and enjoy lunch. After the meal, you'll ride another 12km to the village of Espinama, where you will stay for the night. Dinner and overnight at the Hotel Remońa or similar.

Day 5
Espinama - Sotres
Today, you will ride 28 km in total through the glacial scenery right on top of the central moraine, which has been formed by the forces of two glaciers pressing against each other in the late Pleistocene era. You will start from a height of 900m to reach 1668m, and after lunch, you'll ride to the village of Sotres. Dinner and overnight at the Penia Castil Sotres hotel or similar.

Day 6
Sotres - Tielve
You'll 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 onto the truck and the group will be transferred for a 50 minute drive to Póo de Llanes where you can enjoy the beach and let the horses have a little rest before the beach gallops. You'll have the option of visiting the 9th century Monastery of San Salvador de Valdedios or perhaps pay a visit to "Lagar" (Cabañon, Cortina, Gaitero or Mayador) to taste and see how delicious cider is produced. Dinner and overnight at Villa Miramar or similar.

Day 7
Póo - playa de Llanes
Today you'll spend time relaxing and wandering the Atlantic coast, passing small picturesque beaches, riding cliff paths and discovering unique spots where you can admire natural water fountains reminiscent of geysers. After saying goodbye to the horses, you'll travel to Oviedo, the capital of Asturias to visit the UNESCO monuments and try out the night life.Dinner and overnight in Oviedo, in the City Express Hotel Covadonga or similar.

Day 8
Farewell and transfer to either Oviedo/ Bilbao or Madrid airport.
After breakfast, you'll be transferred back to the airport of your choice. If flying back from Oviedo or Bilbao please book flights after 1pm. For Madrid the transfer takes about 5 hours, so afternoon flights should be booked for after 4 pm.

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.

 

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 and they are mainly PRE (pure Spanish) Spanish mix, Arabian mix or Appaloosa. All the horses are fit, strong and extremely sure footed in the rocky terrain. Vaquera saddles are used, this is the everyday saddle used for centuries by the Spanish Vaquero, probably the original cowboy, working in the fields and mountains of Spain. These traditional saddles are comfortable for the rider and the horse and are designed for many hours use every day. The saddle has a noticeably large comfortable contact area over the horse’s back - a much greater contact area than the modern English saddle. Vaquera saddles are easy to get used to but if you would prefer to ride in an English saddle this can be arranged just let your travel advisor know.



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



The riding for the first five days of the trail is in mountainous terrain and you'll be ascending 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 sure-footed, trustworthy and well-schooled and the ride involves some high mountain passes. Each day you'll be riding for between 4-6 hours.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 you should be comfortable with riding some steep inclines. The minimum riding age for this holiday is 18 years old. You must be able to ride unaided in open countryside and be in control your horse when riding in a group. A mounting aid is offered but ideally you should be able to mount and dismount unaided.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 16 st/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 along the way. Rooms are double or twin rooms, all with en-suite bathrooms, comfortable beds and excellent quality food.



You'll certainly eat well on this trail, the regional cuisine features plenty of high-quality fish and seafood, thanks to the miles of coastline on the Cantabric sea.

Breakfasts will be served at the hotel and will be a typical continental breakfast of cheese, meat, yogurt, fruits and bread.

Lunch is a generous picnic on the trail, which could be soup/ vegetable cream/ macaroni/ salad followed by a second course of hot meat stew/ local beans - fabada/ fired, cooked seafood/ variety of cheese and ham to share/ meatballs/ meat stew/ fried fish and finally a dessert of yogurt, flan, fruit salad/ fresh fruit/ ice cream, coffee and liquor. The driver will be meeting the group each day and bringing the picnic.

For dinners, some of the more well-known dishes that are likely to be served are bean and sausage casserole 'Fabada Asturiana', or 'Caldereta', a fish stew which can also contain lobster and crab. 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 can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. If Visa’s are required the 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 on request.

General information:

Visa are not required for U.K. or other European nationals. In the UK the British Foreign Office gives travel advice on travel insurance, passport and visas, health and vaccinations, legal issues and emergency issues. They can be reached on 0207 008 0232/0233 or at www.fco.gov.uk

The British Consulate in Madrid is at the Calle de Fernando el Santo 16, 28010 Madrid. Tel: +34 91 7008200. Email: commerce@ukinspain.com www.ukinspain.com.

The Spanish Embassy in the U.K can be found at 39 Chesham Place, London SW1X 8SB. Tel: (020) 7235 5555.

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

No special health precautions are required for visits to Spain, for further details please see your local doctor. We do advise taking plenty of sunscreen!

For up to date information on specific health concerns please contact the Medical Advisors For Travellers Abroad. Their website can be found at www.masta.org

Electricity

Voltage is the same as in the UK and most appliances such as battery chargers for videos, hair dryers etc. can be plugged in with appropriate adapters. These are available for purchase at most airports and travel shops.

230V 50HZ with a two pronged round pin plug

Film and Camera Equipment

There is electricity available for charging batteries at the accommodation each evening. Wifi is available in some of the hotels.

Packing List

Waterproof jacket
Riding trousers or jodhpurs
Sunglasses
Riding boots, paddock boots or riding trainers (with heel).
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

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

2019: 21 September. 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 £
2019 - 7 nights8d/7n6double pp1,325
2019 - 7 nights8d/7n6single supplement185
2019 - 7 nights8d/7n6Small group supplement pp 2 people289
2019 - 7 nights8d/7n6Small group supplement pp 3 people195
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2019 - 7 nights8d/7n6double pp1,439
2019 - 7 nights8d/7n6single supplement199
2019 - 7 nights8d/7n6Small group supplement pp 2 people315
2019 - 7 nights8d/7n6Small group supplement pp 3 people215
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
2019 - 7 nights8d/7n6double pp1,709
2019 - 7 nights8d/7n6single supplement239
2019 - 7 nights8d/7n6Small group supplement pp 2 people375
2019 - 7 nights8d/7n6Small group supplement pp 3 people255
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2019 - 7 nights8d/7n6double pp15,445
2019 - 7 nights8d/7n6single supplement2,149
2019 - 7 nights8d/7n6Small group supplement pp 2 people3,359
2019 - 7 nights8d/7n6Small group supplement pp 3 people2,285
Recommended Reading

‘The New Spaniards’ –John Hooper,

‘Driving over Lemons’- Chris Stewart,

‘The Story of Spain’- Mark Williams, ‘South of Granada’ – Gerald Brenan,

‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’ – Ernest Hemmingway,

‘As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning’- Laurie Lee  

‘Don Quijote de la Mancha’ – Miguel de Cervantes.

 


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):
Oviedo Airport (OVD) Bilbao Airport (BIO) or Madrid Airport (MAD)
Transfer:
Return transfer included from either Oviedo, Bilbao or Madrid airports at set times.
Flight Guide:
London - Madrid return from £50 with Ryanair.
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