Pyrenees snow shoeing
Date: 
Wednesday 28th Feb - Sunday 4th March 2018

Please join Vicky on the first ever Bristol Nordic Walking snowshoeing trip to the Pyrenees.  It promises to be a fabulous experience and will be led by Miguel Ibáñez, an expert mountain guide who loves the quieter trails and the authentic Catalan Pyrenees.

The holiday starts in Barcelona where Miguel will meet us at the airport and drive us to Pallars Sobirà high in the Catalan Pyrenees, far away from the more frequented routes.  It is a dramatic setting for snowshoeing and we will be walking through ancient forests, across valleys and through tiny forgotten villages surrounded by soaring peaks and extraordinary views.  A visit to a local cheese producer and opportunities to sample local produce have also been built into this 5 day/4 night trip.  Here are the details and prices:

Accommodation
We will be staying in Lo Paller in Valencia d’Àneu, a small village perched high in the mountains. It is an unpretentious, small and friendly hotel which Miguel says has a growing reputation for good quality Pyrenean cuisine.  WiFi is available throughout.

Itinerary
Day 1 (Wednesday):
We will be met by Miguel at Barcelona airport around 11am and transfer via minibus to our hotel, stopping for lunch (not included in the price) along the way.  We will also stop at Sort to collect our snow shoes and trekking poles.  We should arrive at the hotel around 3pm. Once we’ve unpacked we will walk (not snowshoe) the short distance to Esterri d’Àneu, a small village with local shops and the only ones we’ll come across during our trip!  It means we get to stretch our legs and familiarise ourselves with the area we are staying in.  Dinner in the hotel.

Day 2 (Thursday):  We will aim to leave the hotel around 9am and drive to Farrera (35 mins) to snowshoe through La Coma Valley.  We will be walking through deep forests and two small villages, both of which have fewer than 100 inhabitants. It should be a memorable insight into a traditional way of life in the remote countryside.  Distance approx 7.6km. 

After the walk we will drive to the village of Surp in the Assua Valley and visit cheese producer Clara Ferrando, who left her home near Barcelona to set up this sustainable and traditional cheese production in 2007. We will be able to try some of her award‐winning produce, accompanied with traditional wines of Catalonia.  Picnic lunch out snowshoeing.  Dinner in the hotel.

Day 3 (Friday):  We will drive to the Aiguestortes National Park, known as much for its crystal clear lakes as for its snow-clad forests and mountains. This snowshoe walk takes us past some of the most idyllic of these lakes as we make our way to the Sant Maurici lake. The route depends on the amount of snow and road closures.  It will be somewhere between 12 – 14.5km.  Picnic lunch out snowshoeing.  Dinner in the hotel.

Day 4 (Saturday):  Son, a nearby village at 1390m famous for its Romanesque bell tower provides the backdrop to our starting point today. We will snowshoe through the Fogueruix Pass which lies between the Son Valley and the Aiguestortes National Park. The views are breathtaking.  Distance approx. 11.4km.  The day finishes at Valencia d’Àneu, where we will have the chance to try some of the local produce, including cheese and sausages from the Pallars Sobirà region, all washed down with wine from the south of Catalonia.  Picnic lunch out snowshoeing.  Dinner in the hotel.

Day 5 (Sunday): Our final snowshoeing trip is in La Mata de Valencia, the most important silver birch forest in the Catalan Pyrenees.  This hike will be shorter than the others because of time constraints. We will picnic lunch before returning to the hotel for a quick turnaround (time for a shower though!) aiming to leave the hotel by 3pm in order to arrive at Barcelona airport around 7pm.  There is an EasyJet return flight from Barcelona to Bristol leaving at 21:25.

Cost
560 Eur per person plus an initial deposit of £65.  The price includes:

  • 4 nights accommodation (twin room).
  • dinner bed and breakfast plus house wine with the evening meal.
  • Four picnic lunches (Thur, Fri, Sat, Sun)
  • All transfers in Spain.
  • Personal mountain guide (Miguel)
  • Snowshoe and pole hire. 
  • National Park admission fees. 

Flights are not included (see below)
There is a single room supplement available for 150Eur.
Please make sure you have your own travel insurance which covers you for snowshoeing.

What is snowshoeing?
Snowshoes are a bit like tennis rackets worn on your feet.  They work by distributing your weight over a larger area so that your feet don’t sink completely into the snow. Most snowshoes are made of light metal or plastic and the heel is left ‘free’ to make walking easier. You also use walking poles to help with rhythm and balance.  Both the hire of snowshoes and walking poles are included in our trip.
The other kit for snowshoeing is much the same as for Nordic walking.  Waterproof walking boots are particularly important.
Snowshoeing is not a technical sport and you should be able to master it very quickly.  The main difference from ordinary walking is that you have to walk with a slightly wider stance than normal so that you don't tread on the snowshoes! 

What level of fitness is required?
This trip is not an endurance test.  It is a walking holiday to enjoy a beuatiful area of the Pyrenees.  However, as we are walking in the mountains you will need a moderately good level of fitness.  If you can comfortably manage our moderate graded regular walks (Blaise and Ashton Court) your base fitness should be good enough.  You will need to build on your stamina and be able to walk 14.5km (9 miles) and 11.4km (7 miles) on back to back days .  I will provide a fitness programme to prepare those going.

How to book

  1. To reserve your place you will need to book online.  Click here to follow the link or book direct online as you would for a regular walk.
  2. Once you have booked online, we will ask you to pay a deposit of £65.  This will be non-refundable unless we have insufficient numbers to run the trip, in which case we will refund you the full amount.  We will make a decision on numbers by the end of June. The minimum number required to run the trip is 11.  The maximum number for this trip is 16.
  3. Once you have booked your place, provided we have enough numbers a payment of 300 Eur will be due at the end of July (375 Eur if booking a single room).  This sum is non-refundable unless you can find someone else to fill your place.
  4. The balance of 260 Eur (335 Eur for a single room) is due at the end of November.  Again, once paid this is non-refundable unless you can find someone to fill your place.

Flights
Flights are not included in the price of this trip so you will need to organise this yourself. The trip has been put together around the following flight schedule but there is no reason why you can’t fly out earlier or back later so long as you are able to meet us at the airport.  The flights are:
Wed 28th Feb 2018:    Dep Bristol 07:20, Arr Barcelona 10:20 (EZY6025)
Sun 4th March 2018:   Dep Barcelona 21:25, Arr Bristol 22:45 (EZY6030)

Finally, if you want to experience complete silence, broken only by the sound of snow crunching underfoot as you walk, plus an insight into the traditional Catalan Pyrenees, then this is the trip for you.   

Vicky