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!
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.