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Picos de Europa Mountains

Overview

Discover the wonders of northern Spain and the stunning Picos de Europa National Park. These peaks of Europe span 3 fabulous regions on the northern coast of Spain; Cantabria, Asturias and Leon. This area is arguably one of the most diverse in Europe for landscapes, wildlife and culinary experience…

Highlights

  • Ride through stunning mountain landscapes
  • Discover a remote and little known part of Europe
  • Enjoy the history and nature of this unique area
  • Each day you'll enjoy tasty local dishes
  • Long days of riding in some truly breathtaking scenery

Essential Facts

  • 2 itineraries available
  • Max 8 riders per group
  • Average of 5 hours riding per day
  • Weight limit: 100kg / 220lbs / 15st 10lbs

Description

Discover the wonders of northern Spain and the stunning Picos de Europa National Park. These peaks of Europe span 3 fabulous regions on the northern coast of Spain; Cantabria, Asturias and Leon. This area is arguably one of the most diverse in Europe for landscapes, wildlife and culinary experiences too.

The Picos de Europa National park is one of the oldest in Spain, being first recognised in 1918. It was granted UNESCO heritage status in 2003 and has always remained a popular destination for hikers and thrill seekers. The park is comprised of megalithic limestone peaks (most formed by glacial erosion at the end of the ice age), as well as dramatic deep river valleys, and picturesque alpine lakes. The highest peak in the park is Torres de Cerredo at c.2650 M above sea level and the lowest point is the Deva River basin, which is just 75 m above sea level.

The national park is home to a host of interesting wildlife, including deer, chamois, Iberian wolves and even rare Cantabrian brown bears, as well as grouse, bearded vultures and a wide range of birdlife.

These rides are run and organised by Andrea, who has called this area home her whole life. She is a passionate horsewoman and adventurer who founded her equestrian centre on the outskirts of the Picos, used as a base to help others explore the amazing national park and develop a bond with horses. Over the years she has designed unique trails to allow her guests to venture deeper and further into the park - something that is seldom possible by car or on foot. You will gain a unique perspective as you travel to places that few will ever get to experience in their lifetime.

Horses & Riding

Tack

The saddles are English style, equipped with personal saddle bags and a rainproof poncho for each guest.

Horses

The horses are predominantly of Spanish decent, with some crosses. They are well adapted to traversing through high mountain country and surefooted over very difficult terrain. They are calm, well-trained and a pleasure to ride.

Riding

There are 2 itineraries:

  • Mountain Trail is a trail ride
  • Discover Cantabria is a based ride

Ages

Riders should be aged 14+ for the trail. Those under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

Health

Guests for this trail should be physically fit and active, with a good head for heights. Although you will not be riding at dangerous altitudes, which may cause sickness, you will be heading high into the Picos National park. You should be comfortable spending long hours in the saddle and able to walk alongside your horse for short distances.

Weight

100kg / 220lbs / 15st 10lbs

Food & Accommodation

Food

During the rides, you will have the chance to sample plenty of local delicacies. All three of the regions you pass through on the trails are well known for their amazing culinary treasures, with plenty of farm-fresh ingredients and seasonal options to delight you. Such a rich and diverse region means that you will find dishes that are influenced by the farming and agriculture of these parts, as well as ample ingredients from the Atlantic coast, but may also feature seasonal game meats as well.

Meals in restaurants will be from a set menu with alternatives provided for vegetarians or those with specific dietary requirements (please let us know at the time of booking).

All meals are included during the ride and dinners will be served together with ample local red wine. Spring water is provided throughout the ride as well.

Accommodation

During this trail, you will stay in a variety of quaint and charming rural mountain and village centre hotels. However, one night will be spent in a Parador hotel with stunning mountain views!

For the base stay you will be accommodated in a rural hotel for all nights - the location of this will depend on availability.

Rooms are generally offered on a twin or double basis, however, triple rooms can also be offered and singles on payment of a supplement. All the rooms have private bathrooms and most of the hotels have their own restaurants too or you will be able to walk a short distance to the nearest restaurant in the evening.

Itineraries

Mountain Trail Standard accommodation.

Discover Cantabria Standard accommodation.

Other Activities

During the trail ride, there are some non-ridden visits and activities included in the programme. These will include visits to historical sites, artisan cheese producers, mineral mines and ample open-air geological museum experiences too! Sadly, there is no possibility for non-riders to join this route and all guests should be comfortable spending long hours in the saddle each day.

Travel

The meeting point for the trail is in Potes, and for the base ride, you will stay in one of the surrounding villages on the edge of the Picos de Europa National Park. We can confirm the exact location for you.

The nearest airport is Santander in northern Spain, which is roughly a 1.5 hour drive. We can organise transfers from and back to Santander airport for you at an additional cost (please see the itineraries for prices) but generally recommend having your own car for the base programme.

Testimonials

Remke V., Sept. 27, 2023

Beautiful countryside, great ride, excellent organisation, wonderful food. The food and the accommodation were excellent. The food was nothing short of a gastronomical exploration of typical, local dishes. That's without counting the home-cooked lunches. The hotels were comfortable, clean, all had wi-fi. My horse was a wonderful sure-footed, fit and steady anglo-arab. Well trained and responsive. Very easy to ride. The tack was good and the horses were looked after well throughout the ride.


Sarah B., July 3, 2023

The area is magnificent, craggy peaks with gorgeous green valleys between them, each day´s ride was very different as we journeyed from place to place. My horse was a beautiful Anglo Arab, a perfect excursion horse, comfortable and a joy to ride, the accommodation was always comfortable and varied from the luxury of the Parador to some characterful small hotels. We had the chance to try lots of different local cuisine, and the lunches were a highlight, delicious home cooked dishes in stunning surroundings. Andre and Javier are friendly and caring hosts, and have everything extremely well organised.
I have done many riding holidays and this was one of the best, very highly recommended.


Itinerary & Pricing

Day 1 - Arrival

Riding: No riding.

Your meeting point will be at the El Corcal de Liébana Hotel where you will be staying for the next 2 nights.

This day is reserved solely for travel and is an opportunity to get to know your fellow guests and hosts as well. You will receive a ride briefing with the details of the horse trip over dinner at the hotel.

The dinner will be served at a c. 9 pm this evening and may include a traditional lamb stew.

Overnight at El Corcal de Liébana Hotel.

Day 2 - Picos de Europa National Park

Riding: 5 hours

Breakfast will be served at around 9 am and will include plenty of dishes typical of this area.

You will be met at the hotel at around 10 am by a driver who will transfer you the short 3 km distance to the stables where you will have your first meeting with the horses. Each horse will be tacked up and assigned to its rider before you will have a short test ride in the arena (a chance to ask any questions and settle any tack issues and adjustments before you set off).

Once everyone is happy with their horses, you will head out from the stables, at 370 m above sea level and cross villages like Armaño, Viñon and Colio. These are beautiful little mountain villages, steeped in history and folklore tales that your guides will explain to you gladly. In Colio you will see a XVIII century gate that was the entrance for the Cavalry school during the Spanish Independence war. You will stop for a picnic lunch at a shepherd's cabin - even this will feature plenty of homemade and typical foods of the area. In the afternoon, it's a short journey to Cabañes; one of the natural entrances to the enchanting Picos de Europa National Park.

Horses will stay in Cabañes tonight, but riders will be transferred back to the El Corcal de Liébana Hotel for dinner and overnight.

Day 3 - Cabañes - Sotres

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

Breakfast at 9 am again this morning before you are met by the support driver at 10 am to rejoin your horses in Cabañes.

Today's ride will begin with an ascent to Collado de Pelea and then down to Bejes; a typical village in the Picos. The principal activities of the people living in these villages are raising livestock and producing Picon cheese (a marvellous blue cheese cured in natural caves). In this region, a specific holiday is observed: San Carlos or Sagrado Corazon, which is only celebrated on years finishing on 0 or 5. It takes place on the first Sunday in August and the main event includes a pilgrimage to Pico San Carlos, situated on an oriental massif of the Picos de Europa.

In the afternoon you will ride through the Wolf Valley; awash with beech trees and, as the name suggests, a prime place to spot Iberian wolfs, as well as Cantabria capercaillies (similar to grouse). Passing through the Jito de Escarandi which marks the border between Cantabria and Asturias you will finish the day in Sotres. (c. 1050 m above sea level, in Asturias).

You will spend this night in a wonderful rural hotel owned by local people who will serve you plenty of delicious local products.

Dinner at 9 pm again today and overnight at the hotel in Sotres.

Day 4 - Sotres - Fuente De

Riding: 5 hours

After breakfast (served at 9 am) you will be met by the team again at 10 am this morning. Depending on availability, it might be possible to organise a quick visit to a local artisan cheese factory and ripening cave before riding this morning.

Today you will enjoy an astonishing ride through the valley which separates the oriental and the central massifs of Picos de Europa. Following the route of Puertos de Áliva - a scenic hiking route stretching between Sortes and Aliva - you will enjoy the majesty of the Picos. Keep your eye out for Alpine birds such as rock thrush and water pipits, as well as raptors such as bearded and Egyptian vultures, and kites too. Arriving at La Raya - another division point between Cantabria and Asturias - you will hear a marvellous legend about how this border came into being. Don´t forget to ask the guides to explain the tale to you!

You will ride past the entrance to the Manforas Mines, which until the last century were used to excavate minerals which were carried slowly to the coast. Thanks to this mining activity there still exist today the famous Fuente De cable car. This famous route is part of the longer Ruta de Reconquista, which has its roots in the year 722 when then-king Don Pelayo defeated the moors at the battle of Covadonga.

You will stop for a picnic lunch today in this very special place. Everything will be set up and ready for you to enjoy a wonderful Paella when you arrive.

The afternoon journey will see you heading downwards through beech forests before arriving at the Parador Nacional de Fuente De where you will sleep tonight.

Day 5 - Fuente De - Posada de Valdeón

Riding: 6 - 7 hours

Breakfast will be served a little earlier this morning, at around 8.30 am. This will give anyone who wishes the opportunity to go up the Fuente De´s cable car (Deva´s river sprint) to experience the wonderful views from the top station at 1.800 m above sea level (cable car ticket costs payable locally).

Once you have rejoined your horses, you will begin today with another ascent to Alto de Valcabao; to your right is the Peña Remoña peak and again you will cross into another province today, this time entering León. Eventually, you will reach Puerto de Pandetrave (c. 1562 m above sea level) where you will stop for a barbeque lunch. From here you can enjoy expansive views across the central and oriental massifs of the Picos.

After a good rest, you will continue the route to Valle de Valdeón, following the Cares gorge, through which the river of the same name, divides the central and occidental massifs of the Picos.

Dinner at c. 9 pm this evening and overnight at hotel Cumbres de Valdeón.

Day 6 - Posada de Valdeón - Llánaves de La Reina

Riding: 6 hours

Breakfast will be served at the normal time of 9 am this morning before rejoining your team and horses at 10 am. Mounting up, you will start today by returning to Puerto de Pandetrave. This route will see you pass through countryside inhabited by Cantabrian brown bears, roe and red deer. You will carry a light picnic lunch in your saddlebags today because the support car is not able to join you along these trails. This incredible terrain - oftentimes only walked by shepherds with their flocks - is full of natural springs, green prairies and possibly even a little snow! You will cross the Valle del Luriana and pass close to the Pico Coriscao (c. 2235 m above sea level) before you start the descent to the queen´s lands - Llánaves de La Reina.

You will stay tonight at hotel San Glorio - an old hunting-style lodge which serves typical game meat of the area.

Day 7 - Llánaves de La Reina - Cosgaya

Riding: 4 hours

After breakfast this morning, you will take a short walk to the paddocks where the horses have spent the night (arrive at c. 10 am).

Today is your last ride, and you will begin by heading up to Puerto de San Glorio, an area designated as protected for the indigenous bear population. Arriving at Collado Llesba you will cross back into Cantabria one more time, and here you will have the chance to stop for some wonderful pictures at the bear´s monument. The astonishing views that unfold in front of you of Picos de Europa will be sure to take your breath away.

You will continue your ride through Prao Cubo to end the trip at Cosgaya village. Lunch today will be Cocido Lebaniego - a traditional stew typical of this region - served in the well-known Hotel Restaurante El Oso. A super way to end the week. After lunch, riders will be transferred to Potes where they will stay the night. A hearty farewell dinner will be taken together with your hosts and guides this evening.

Overnight at Posada la Antigua.

Day 8 - Departure

Riding: No riding.

Breakfast is served any time between 8-10 am this morning and marks the end of your host's services. You may leave your rooms in Posada La Antigua at any time before 12.00 noon.

As there is no rush you may like to take some time to explore Potes on foot. Here you will find buildings like Torre del Infantado c.XV, Barrio del Sol, LA Solana and the old town are well worth a visit. Just 2 kilometres away is the Monasterio de Santo Toribio - a place where it's said the biggest remaining piece of Christ´s Cross is kept, converting this area into a Christian holy land similar to Jerusalem. You will also find easy access to the Camino de Santiago or a visit to Santiago de Compostela, Roma and Caravaca de la Cruz. This region offers so much to see and do and is worth taking a little longer to explore!

Experience Intermediate / Experienced

Riders should be experienced, balanced and comfortable riding at a walk, trot and canter in open landscapes. Although the speed of riding is not fast, the days will be long. There is one section when you will need to dismount and lead your horse over some more challenging terrain for around 30 minutes.

Minimum group size 1
Maximum group size 8
Departure windows

June 8, 2024 - June 15, 2024

June 23, 2024 - June 30, 2024

Sept. 15, 2024 - Sept. 22, 2024

Oct. 20, 2024 - Oct. 27, 2024

Pricing

2024
Rider; Sharing
£1315 $1675 €1550
Included 7 nights accommodation in twin/double rooms, all meals from dinner on arrival day to breakfast on departure day, red wine with evening meals, drinking water, 6 days of riding with an experienced guide, personal saddle bag and rainproof poncho.
Not included Flights, transfers, travel insurance, other drinks, alternative meals in restaurants, some entrance fees and tickets for optional visits and activities, tips and other personal expenses.

Extras

2024 - Santander Airport Transfer £111 $141 €130
Paid to Far and Ride
Transfers costs are per way, for a car of up to 4 passengers.
2024 - Single Supplement £128 $162 €150
Paid to Far and Ride
* Payable by anyone requiring a single room during the trail.
Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding. All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.

Day 1 - Arrival

Riding: No riding.

Your meeting point for this ride will be at your rural hotel in Liébana, between 5 pm - 8:30 pm, where you will be staying for all nights of the trip.

We can organise a transfer from Santander at an extra cost for those who wish, but encourage groups and families to come by car as this will offer much more flexibility with the choice of activities during your free time each afternoon. Of course, there are plenty of beautiful walking trails in the area to explore on foot for those who don't wish to drive.

Your hosts and guide will come to meet you at the hotel before dinner to discuss the programme and give a pre-ride briefing.

Day 2

Riding: 3 hours

After breakfast today, you will be met at your hotel at 9:30 a.m., and transferred to the riding stables. Those with their own vehicles and meet directly at the stables at 09:45 a.m. You will meet the horses and be allocated your partner for the next few days of riding.

This morning you will enjoy your first taste of the Liebana valley; passing through villages such as Viñón, Armaño or Colio, at eh centre of which is a preserved 18th-century portal that, during the Spanish War of Independence, was the entrance to the cavalry school.

At the end of the morning, return to the hotel around 1:30 p.m. where you can enjoy a leisurely lunch and the afternoon free to explore further.

Day 3

Riding: 4 hours

After breakfast today you will return to the stables to meet your horses.

Today you may ride out in the direction of Cabañes, arriving at Collado Pelea from where you will have a magnificent panoramic view of the valleys and peaks of the area, perhaps even seeing as far as the Mar Cantábrico (the Cantabrian sea). From here, you will descend to Lebeña, a small village surrounded by holm oak forests and located at the exit of the Desfiladero de la Hermida. Arriving at Pendes you will encounter “El Habario”, a place of great beauty and ecological value. Here you can see more than 200 ancient chestnut trees, the remains of ancient Cantabrian villages and another stunning viewpoint toward the Eastern massif of the Picos de Europa. You will ride back to the stables, among beech and oak forests, arriving back at around 2 pm.

Lunch to your own account and an afternoon free to explore further or rest.

Day 4

Riding: 4 hours

Another tasty breakfast served at your hotel, before heading back to the stables for around 09:30 am.

On today's ride, you may head out through the Colio huts and the cattle sleeve - an area traditionally used to drive flocks of sheep and herds of cattle out onto the mountains for their summer grazing. You will ride through more ancient oak groves, situated at about 800 meters above sea level, from here you can enjoy more of those spectacular views of the Eastern Massif of the Picos de Europa.

Return to the stables at around 2 p.m. for lunch (to your own account) and a free afternoon.

Day 5

Riding: 4 hours

A filling breakfast in preparation for your final ride today!

From the stables, you will ride on Mount Casillas, where you will find the “Narezona”, one of the oldest ancient chestnut trees in Cantabria, with a circumference of some 14 meters. You will cross through a pine forest before ascending to San Tirso´s braña, where you will come across a 17th-century hermitage and another beautiful panoramic view of the eastern massif of the Picos de Europa.

A final lunch and free afternoon to see anywhere you haven't managed to get to yet!

Day 6 - Departure

Riding: No riding.

Departure after breakfast this morning.

We can organise a return transfer to Santander (at extra cost) or perhaps you wish to stay on in the area to discover more.

Accommodation

Comfortable twin or double rooms at rural guesthouses in Liebana. The exact location will depend on availability, but most will have a restaurant and all will provide an included breakfast for guests.

Experience Intermediate / Experienced

Riders should be balanced and comfortable riding at a walk, trot and canter in open landscapes. Although the speed of riding is not fast, the terrain can be challenging in places.

Minimum group size 1
Maximum group size 8
Departure windows

March 21, 2024 - March 26, 2024

April 11, 2024 - April 16, 2024

May 2, 2024 - May 7, 2024

July 9, 2024 - July 14, 2024

July 23, 2024 - July 28, 2024

Aug. 6, 2024 - Aug. 11, 2024

Aug. 20, 2024 - Aug. 25, 2024

Nov. 7, 2024 - Nov. 12, 2024

Pricing

2024
Rider; Sharing
£765 $970 €900
Included 5 nights accommodation in twin/double rooms, breakfast each morning, drinks on the trails (water and red wine), 4 days of riding with an experienced guide, personal saddle bag and rainproof poncho.
Not included Flights, transfers, travel insurance, other drinks, lunches and dinners in restaurants, entrance fees and tickets for afternoon visits and activities, tips and other personal expenses.

Extras

2024 - Santander Airport Transfer £119 $152 €140
Paid to Far and Ride
Transfers costs are per way, for a car of up to 4 passengers.
2024 - Single Supplement £102 $130 €120
Paid to Far and Ride
2024 - Non-rider; 40% discount Non-riding guests are very welcome and receive a 40% discount on the programme price.
Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding. All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.