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Posted on January 10, 2023
Lois recently returned from the Mediterranean Trail in Catalonia and tells us about her week.
There were a few flight options to Barcelona from my local airport, but only one which would see me arrive in time for the collection at 17:30. This was an early flight, so I was up at the airport enjoying a Gregg’s breakfast at 06:30 (can’t go wrong with a bacon roll and a coffee).
On arrival to Barcelona airport, I took a trip to the Sagrada Familia, a very famous and beautiful church in the city. I had a take-away lunch from one of the local bakeries and ate in the park grounds opposite.
I caught the metro back to the airport and found the collection point easily. I had arrived about 30 minutes before the scheduled collection and slowly all the other members of our group gathered and we started introducing ourselves.
The journey to our first guesthouse was about one and a half hours and it was dark by the time we arrived. The owner met us on arrival, and we were all shown to our rooms and the layout of the house. There was a bar and a games room as well as two reception rooms for us to relax in. Dinner was at 20:30 and we were all happy to tuck in to the three course meal.
The riding was a good mix of paces. Plenty of trotting and cantering. The terrain could be rough in places, but the horses were well accustomed to it and so sure footed. I cannot recall either of my horses tripping or slipping once – which is pretty amazing!
There were a few river crossings and before each one our guide would gather us round and explain exactly how we would cross. Some of the rivers the horses could drink from, others they could not and this was made clear before heading into the water.
The Wednesday and the Thursday were the longest and fastest days. There was clearly a good distance to be covered to get to that night’s guesthouse. There was a lot of trotting and I found it easier to just hover and stand in the stirrups for a good period to stay comfortable and stretch muscles.
The canters were a good pace, not collected, but not fast. A nice speed to go along at for a good few minutes at a time. We did kick on a few times and sometimes on narrow, rocky and bendy paths, which was all good fun.
The scenery varied loads and there was always something interesting to see as we rode. Huge Mediterranean forests, miles of olive groves, rice fields, farmland, villages, small towns, beaches, coastline, mountains. It was all superb.
The horses were just what I like and I got exactly what I asked for (a horse that I could could take loads of pics from, but who knew and loved their job). The first was called Dinamico, meaning Dynamic in English. The guide joked that he was the slowest in the herd… he was not. I spent the last two days on a little bay called Chicharrero. He was light mouthed, very intelligent and happy anywhere in the string.
A lot of attention went into ensuring the horses were as comfortable as possible. After the beach rides we would meet the back-up driver at a location, dismount, untack, thoroughly groomed the horses and cleaned the tack; then we all had some food (including the horses), packed our saddlebags and carried on to the lunch stop.
Our guide for the week was the lovely Corina, a very experienced trail guide who has been guiding in this area for nearly five years. She knew all the horses so well and was heavily involved with their day to day care and the organisation of the trails. She spoke at least five languages (I think, could be more!) and was very good at making sure we listened. One thing I loved, was that throughout all the demonstrations she gave she made sure we understood why we did it that way rather than just any old way.
We stayed at four different guesthouses during the six night trip. All were small, family run guesthouses and hotels which were traditionally furnished. It was lovely that all the accommodations added to the cultural experience and were not big modern hotels.
The evening meals were all homemade; tasty, traditional and filling. There was wine provided, but always the option to have other drinks if preferred. I wondered how the honesty bar system would work, but it was really simple (take what you want, write it on the list and pay the next morning after breakfast).
Lunchtimes were mostly packed lunches of salads, sandwiches, fruits, biscuits, soup, wine and juice. On one of the days we ate in a beautiful restaurant in the village of Pals. Breakfasts were all continental style with breads, toast, cheese, ham, yoghurts, fruit; along with tea, coffee and juice.
All of the rooms were spacious, clean and a comfortable temperature. All the bathrooms were of a lovely standard and size with strong powered hot showers. Towels were also provided in each room.
Having now ridden this trail, I believe it is best suited to experienced horse people, who are riding fit as well as generally fit. The days are long. You care for your own horse, you will need to dismount and remount a few times each day, help each other out, and carry your own bags to and from your rooms each day.
Rides which are more forgiving but still within this beautiful part of Spain include the Dali Beach Trail, and the Coast Trail.
I had a wonderful week on the Mediterranean Trail and made new found friends from around the world. I would not hesitate to go back and do one of the of the other trails on offer: Pyrenean Adventures, and the Andorra Trail.
If you would like some help comparing the different itineraries on offer, call +44 1299 272 240, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.