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Follow the beautiful upper section of the Ebro River as it carves its way through the plains of Castile. The path weaves through vineyards, gorges and forest on its way to the Mediterranean. With remote villages, expert guided bird watching and Romanesque architectural gems, this is an inn to inn walk with a Pura Aventura touch.
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Make your way to the train station in Madrid today where you board the high-speed train to the vibrant city of Burgos – capital of Old Castile (two and a half hours). Your local Pura Aventura guide will be waiting for you to go over the walking route for the week ahead before showing you around Burgos. Uncover the rich history and culture of the Kingdom of Castile as you explore, before heading out to eat in one of the city’s celebrated bars and restaurants.
Transfer one hour out of Burgos this morning to the spectacular viewpoint at Valcabao - admire the views down the Valderedible valley where you will be walking in the days ahead. Set off walking across the high plateau before dropping down into forest. This afternoon, the path opens out along a wide track through vast empty plains and pretty villages. There are very few tourists in these parts, but there’s always a friendly nod from a villager as you pass through. On the final section of today’s walk you will see the Ebro river for the first time as you follow it towards your comfortable hotel just outside the village of Polientes.
Collect your picnic lunch and set off walking along the river to the village of San Martín de Elines, home to the beautifully preserved Romanesque church of San Martín. The tiny village square is a perfect spot in which to sit and admire the church. This afternoon, walk through the ever-narrowing Ebro river canyon as it cuts through dramatic cliffs on the way to the medieval village of Orbaneja del Castillo. This is a truly beautiful section of the walk as you follow a rocky path lined by huge vertical walls of limestone on either side of the river – which is just a few meters away – before arriving in Orbaneja, your base for the next two nights.
Wake to a sunrise peeking over the top of the cliffs as it then floods the gorge. Today’s circular walk offers some of the finest views of the whole week as you climb right up to the top of the canyon to walk across the Páramo, the flat top of the limestone plateau carved out by the Ebro. Sit and take in the views before you head back down the other side. You can decide if you have the legs to extend your walk by 3km to the pretty village of Quintanilla de Escalada before picking up the gentle trail along the river back to Orbaneja.
After breakfast it’s time to move on from Orbaneja. Ascend high as you zigzag up the vast plains dotted with shepherd huts and scant shrubs, before descending to continue walking at the foot of craggy cliffs to enter the charming village of Pesquera del Ebro – a good time to pause in a local tapas bar. After lunch, continue along the river trail as it opens out to a wide expansive plain. A converted water mill is your home for the next two nights, and your host Javier and his family will be there to greet you - prepare for some delicious home cooking.
After a delightful homemade breakfast, Javier will join you for the morning as you explore the local area to learn more about its history, culture and wildlife. Javier is an expert birder and he will help you spot the many colonies of griffin vultures nesting in nearby cliffs. Enjoy an unguided walk around the edge of the canyon – one of the most famous walks in Spain with probably the most iconic view of the entire canyon - before meeting up with Javier once again. End your day with another fantastic 3-course dinner and regional wines.
It’s a short drive to the start of your final day of walking. After reaching the quaint little village of Cidad de Ebro, you pick up the grassy trail through farmlands to end your route. End the walk at the ruin of the thirteenth century monastery of Santa Maria de Rio Seco. When you make your way back down the hill from the monastery, your guide will be waiting at the bottom to take you around an hour to your final hotel in Oña. End your week with a special meal at a local restaurant where the Spanish owner and her Senegalese husband have created an innovative and exciting tasting menu combining local and African cuisine.
It's around a 1.5 hour transfer to Bilbao. If you have a late afternoon or evening flight you can spend more time in Oña or visit the nearby medieval town of Frias sitting on a hilltop above the Ebro – a fitting way to end the week. Alternatively, you may wish to stay another couple of nights to enjoy Bilbao itself.
This is a walking holiday, so in that sense active, though it should not be terribly challenging for regular hikers. You will be walking six out of the eight days, so will need to be ‘walking fit’ to enjoy it.
Distances on your walking days average around the 16km mark, though elevation gains/losses are not dramatic. Some days you will leave on foot from your hotel, but mostly you will be transferred by road to be dropped off at the start of the walk. As with all our inn to inn holidays, your luggage is always taken on ahead for you so you only walk with your day pack.
The itinerary on an Inn to Inn trip is carefully planned to unlock the peaceful beauty of the region through which you pass. We cannot alter the structure of the trip too much, without compromising it. In terms of tailoring options, we can certainly discuss adding in an extra day should you want to slow the pace down or adding time in Bilbao and the Basque Country post-walk.
Departs on a date to suit you from March to June and September to November. Ideally, the holiday starts on a Wednesday. Please note: services on this trip are always private. Because this walk is through remote areas and is exclusive to Pura Aventura, we feel that overlapping departures risk detracting from your experience. We limit departures to a maximum of one per day.
The price is per person based on two sharing and includes:
First-class accommodation with breakfast and most lunches and dinners
Guided transfers to trail heads
Luggage transfers between hotels
Detailed walking notes, OS maps and GPS device
Welcome briefing with Pura Aventura guide and phone support throughout
Train tickets from Madrid to Burgos
Private transfer to Bilbao
Castile Holiday Guide with personal recommendations
Pura’s expertise, local contacts, support and advice throughout
International flights are quoted separately for this holiday. Best routing is into Madrid (MAD) and out of Bilbao (BIO).
The accommodation on this journey is very comfortable, always en-suite. Although star ratings are not particularly helpful when it comes to small hotels in more rustic environments, you should expect 3+ to 4 standard.
For the first night you stay in a very good 4* hotel in the heart of Burgos. Your next hotel is just outside the village of Polientes where you stay in a very nice converted mill by the river. Moving on to the village of Orbaneja you stay in a 3 star posada. It is fairly simple but the best accommodation in the village. The terrace is lovely. Your next stop is Molino del Canto where you stay two nights with Javier and his family in their converted water mill. It is rustic, but very nicely done with loads of personality, and Javier is an excellent host. Your last stop is Oña where you stay in a very nice small posada.
For more details, please get in touch to request a detailed PDF itinerary.
Pura co-founder Diego Martín was brought up in and still lives in the mountains of Northern Spain. His first-hand knowledge and understanding of the history and culture of the north has been instrumental in designing a tour which not only showcases and protects its natural beauty, but also financially benefits the hoteliers, drivers, guides and restaurateurs that make their home here. Working directly with them ensures they receive maximum benefit.
One advantage of the slow pace of an Inn to Inn walk is that it allows you to enjoy not only nature, but also the rich rural culture of the area. The holiday has two days of guiding which will help you understand and appreciate this rich history. One at the start in the city of Burgos and later on, a day with Javier, who although an expert birding guide, is also a fount of knowledge on the area in general.
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