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I did the Pirate trail part of the Catalan Coastal trails in November 2016. I was lucky to get a direct flight from London Stansted to Barcelona and was then collected from the airport; the transfer from the airport to the first hotel of the trail taking around 2 hours. You can read my blog here.
The operator has around 60 horses, a mixture of Andalusian, Spanish arabs and crossbreds, all very fit and sure-footed. They are trained to follow single file which also suits the terrain as you often follow narrow tracks. Children aged 12 and over who are experienced riders are welcome on these trails but they must be happy on horses that are 15hh+, forward going and riding in open spaces.
The Pirate trail is one of the more challenging Catalan trails due to the amount of hours in the saddle (up to 7 hours in the saddle) and the amount of leading on foot which is required every day for up to 30 minutes. We recommend to wear riding boots that are suitable for walking over tough terrain, with ankle support and non-slip soles.
The pace is quite fast with lots of trots and canters where possible and the highlight is a 6 km beach canter on the last riding day. But please remember that between June and September (inclusive) you do not ride close to the ocean’s edge due to the number of people on the beach. Instead you may ride in the sand dunes and paths beside the beach in sight of the water.
You stay in simple guesthouses and small hotels that are off the tourist track. Single rooms are subject to availability due to the size of the guesthouses but you spend so little time in your room, it’s fine to share. The food is typically Spanish, lots of meat, fish, tapas and red wine and most dietary requirements can be catered for with advanced notice. Lunch is usually a lovely spread at a table, but on some occasions you have a saddlebag picnic. Evening meals are in restaurants or provided by your accommodation.
Overall this ride is perfect for outdoor, sporty people who love riding as much as possible and don’t mind leading their horse on foot on the steeper sections. As well as rides along the coast, there are also challenging mountainous rides available called the Pyrenean Adventures plus more relaxing riding on the Costa Brava.