Spain at your feet – a hiker’s paradise by Elaine Samson
by Susannah Grant
Spain is literally at your feet …hiking is a fabulous way to get to know Spain in a more up-close-and-personal way. It is a great way to explore Madrid, discover historic towns, see lots of different scenery, get great exercise, and meet interesting new people. Living in Spain introduced me to hiking and it is now a regular part of my life.
I started my journey to get to know Spain step-by-step when I did the French Road on the Camino de Santiago in 2014. Despite being overweight and out of shape, I walked 790 kms which is nearly 500 miles! To qualify as a “pilgrim” you only have to walk 100kms and I would encourage every expat living in Spain to do it – it is an unforgettable experience. In 2015, I did a different route with 3 friends – Santiago – Finisterre – Muxia – Galicia is beautiful! By this point I was hooked on hiking and in October 2015 I went international, walking 84 miles coast to coast in northern England along Hadrian’s Wall, built by Roman Emperor Hadrian in 122 AD.
In 2018, I decided to try out Hiking Madrid, which leads hikes on the abundant trails centered on historic towns in close proximity to Madrid. The group was started by hiking aficionados Beau and Cynthia, who decided to write the first hiking book in the Community of Madrid. After exploring over 160 routes, they published “Take a Hike; the Best 50 routes in the Community of Madrid”, found in bookstores all over Madrid. The group, now led by Jonathan and Barbara, offers hikes every weekend and sometimes on Spanish holidays. The walks range from easy strolls on cleared paths to more challenging hikes on unmaintained trails through hilly terrain, ranging from 10 – 20 kms. For only 12 euros, you get a guided hike, a snack, lunch, and a post-hike drink. Bus fare from Madrid to the starting point is extra. Hikers include Americans, Europeans, Australians, Canadians and Spaniards, ranging in age from early 20s to retirees. I particularly like Hiking Madrid because nearly every hike takes me to someplace I’ve never been before – even after nearly 10 years in Spain. They also offer private hikes, customized any way you like, if you have a large enough group which could perhaps make a great INC activity.
InterNations and Meet Up also have hiking groups, and a quick internet search turned up over 100 hiking groups within 25 miles of Madrid.
Everyone in INC is familiar with Anne Pinder’s City Walks and she organises a 100km Camino group every year in May. In the past, INC has had a group that walked regularly in Casa de Campo. The Retiro and the Parque del Oeste are other beautiful destinations for walks. Or you can explore Madrid at street level, taking advantage of the new, wider sidewalks and pedestrianized areas. Walking doesn’t take any special equipment and can be done by anyone, no matter your fitness level.
Walk out your front door and take the first step! We have a beautiful city and country to explore.