Castilla province near Madrid is in the heart of Spain. This trail rides along the nature reserve of high peaks of the Sierra de la Demanda while not neglecting to visit the many historic and cultural highlights en-route. There is much wildlife to be seen on this horse riding holiday in Spain: Wolves, deers, otters, royal eagle, falcon and a lot more.
The horses are beautiful Pure Spanish, very responsive and a pleasure to ride. Overnight accommodation is in a variety of characterful small hotels and guest houses with shared bathroom on one or two nights. Two nights are spent in an ancient monastery where you will dine with the monks.
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 LW of on 21/07/2017
QUINTANAR DE LA SIERRA
Arrival in Madrid and transfer to first nights hotel in Quintanar de la Sierra . Dinner and lodging in Posada las Mayas or Casa Ramón or similar.
QUINTANAR DE LA SIERRA – NEILA
From Quintanar de la Sierra we climb a hill, winding through dense pinewoods to Neila. Depending on the weather we may be able to visit the spectacular string of glacial lagoons called – Laguna Negra. These are 10,000 years old and are excellent examples of the power of glaciers and their ability to erode and modify the landscape. In Neila, the most important logging centre of the region, there are fine noble houses to admire. Dinner and lodging in Hotel Villa de Neila or similar.
NEILA – MONTERRUBIO DE LA DEMANDA
Riding through the immense woods of pines, beeches and oaks we descend to Monterrubio de la Demanda and make our way along the Green Mountain Trail, an old mining railroad. This is particularly impressive in autumn when the trees turn various shades of gold. Between the trees we can see (if we are lucky!) the wolf, wild boar, otter, royal eagle, goshawk and falcon that thrive in this area. In Monterrubio de la Demanda we can see the local church that represents one of the oldest works of the Romanesque Burgales. Dinner and lodging in Centro de Turismo Rural Virgen de la Vega or similar.
MONTERRUBIO DE LA DEMANDA – PINEDA DE LA SIERRA
Moving along the Green Mountain Trail and across the valleys and trenches we go towards Barbadillo de Herreras, across the túnel Ferrerias and then on to Pineda, en route descending the pass of El Manquillo. This trail is built on the remnants of the railway that carried minerals from the mines of the Sierra de la Demanda to Pais Vasco’s Blust Furnace. The railroad was dismantled in the Civil War. Dinner and lodging in Casa Rural el Hayedo or similar.
PINEDA DE LA SIERRA – ARLANZON
We leave Pineda, the town of beautiful country houses, and immediately ride along the border of Arlanzon’s dam to get to Arlanzón. Depending on the time of year of the year, we may be able to visit the Sierra de Atapuerca’s prehistoric sites, designated as a UNESCO world heritage site in November 2000. The Atapuerca’s archaeological site was found by accident when the railroad was constructed in 1902. This site has allowed us to improve our understanding of human evolution and determine a new human species, the Homo Antecessor. Tonight we lodge in a working monastery and dine with the monks - the Monasterio Cisterciense de San Pedro de Cardeña
ARLANZON – BURGOS (SAN PEDRO DE CARDEÑA’S MONASTERY)
Today we go to Burgos and then to San Pedro Cardeña’s Monastery where El Cid, the famous Spanish hero, left his wife and daughter to walk into exile and fight the Moors. Today we may have the chance to visit Burgos, the programme is open according season of the year and clients’ preferences. Dinner and lodging in hospederia del Monasterio Cisterciense de San Pedro de Cárdena as above.
SAN PEDRO CARDEÑA’S MONASTERY – COVARRUBIAS
We leave the Monastery by a Royal Road that El Cid used in his exile, and ride across the Castilian land towards Sierra de las Mamblas, crossing the Sierra and finishing in Covarrubias, the birthplace of Fernan Gonzalez’s, Castillas’s founder and home to your horses! At the end of the route we visit Covarrubias and finish with a marvellous dinner in a famous Covarrubias’s restaurant, a wonderful end to your horse riding holiday. Dinner and lodging in Hotel Rural Chindasvinto or similar.
Departure and transfer to Madrid after breakfast.
Please follow this link for a map of this itinerary: The Green Mountain Trail
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.
The owner breeds and competes Pure Spanish horses (PRE). The horses are Spanish, Arab X and some Andalusian X, there are 35 excellent ridnig horses to choose from. They range in height from 15hh-16.2hh with some ponies available. They are all in well rounded condition and beautifully polished on a daily basis with traditional flowing manes, mainly kept stabled, shod all round and very well mannered. They are ridden in traditional deep seated Spanish saddles with soft sheepskin covers and traditional big stirrups. The bridles are mainly curb bits and the horses are ridden loose reined and respond easily to weight shifts and subtle signals. This is a very easy and relaxing style of riding similar to Western, some instruction will be given if wanted. The horses are all experienced and sure footed trail horses with temperaments that vary from quiet and reliable through responsive to fiery and showy. With 35 horses to choose from you are sure to find your ideal partner for the week. The riding is mainly at a walk due to varying terrain, but there are plenty (4-6) of opportunities for long and fast canters every day. Jose Manuel, your guide, is not too keen on trotting although this is possible if requested! The riding starts late morning, after 2-3 hours a break is made for lunch followed by a siesta and a similar length afternoon session to arrive late afternoon at your destination. All saddling and grooming is done for you although you are welcome to assist with your own horse.
Riders need to be able to walk, trot and canter.These horses are trained in the Spanish style and are used to being ridden with a loose rein when at walk and a light contact at canter. There are some large and strong horses, so there is a higher than usual weight limit of 105kg. Due to the long riders this ride is not suitable for children under 12 and all children should be competent riders. There is no need to saddle or clean your own horse on this ride unless you wish to. Assistance is available for mounting and dismounting and minimal walking next to your horses is required.
The weight limit for this ride is 231 lb/105 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
Accommodation is in small guesthouses and hotels. On most nights you will have a very comfortable twin or double room with en suite bathroom, but on a few nights in the smaller villages surrounded by nature it may be necessaary to share your bathroom with one other room. The meals are carefully selected to show you the best variety of local specialities: red wines, sausages, lamb, cheeses, vegetables are all fresh and locally produced. The standard of food on this ride is above average.
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org www.ukinspain.com.
The Spanish Embassy in the U.K can be found at 39 Chesham Place, London SW1X 8SB. Tel: (020) 7235 5555.
The climate in this rea is dependent on the altitude. In the valleys it can get very hot in July and August while the Sierras (mountains) are at their best then, spring and autumn are ideal for riding at while the valleys start to be pleasant in March already and are still fine in November.
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
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
There is electricity in the hotel rooms and camera equipemnt can be recharged each night. Most towns and villages will sell some batteries and film.
It is recommended to take a riding helmet or broad rimmed hat which must stay on firmly and sunglasses with string. There is a good range of riding helmets on site if you wish to borrow one. 2 pairs of riding trousers, half chaps are recommended, riding gloves, jersey/fleece, warm jacket (depending on time of year), shorts, long trousers (evenings) long sleeve shirts, T-shirts, sarong or wrap, swimsuit, 8 pairs of socks, waterproofs (that work), sun block, camera, binoculars, a pair of short riding/ walking boots and trainers. On a practical level a bottle of water for refilling and the all essential loo paper (for outdoor emergencies only!) are handy.
This is an 8 day/7 night programme with 6 days riding available on set dates. Other dates can be arranged for groups of 6 or more in June, July or September.
2020: 13 June
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`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 and ‘Don Quijote de la Mancha’ – Miguel de Cervantes. For the equestrian traveller who would like to see what is possible on horseback visit www.thelongridersguild.com also a fantastic place to acquire your equestrian travel books is www.horsetravelbooks.com
Non riders are welcome to accompany the ride in the luggage transfer vehicle. Each night is spent in interesting local villges and hotels with one night in a monastery, there is plenty to do and see. The main cultural items are visited with your guide en route and non riders can join in here.
Jose Manuel leads most rides. He speaks limited English so a basic understanding of Spanish is helpful. There is usually a back up guide who speaks English or other guests who can translate.
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.