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Spain

Basque Country to Andalucia Classic - North to South

Guided Road Cycling Holiday

Grade

1
2
3
4
5

Duration

16 days

Prices from

£2,995 P.P.
Spain

Basque Country to Andalucia Classic - North to South

Guided Road Cycling Holiday

Grade

1
2
3
4
5

Duration

16 days

Prices from

£2,995 P.P.
BOOK NOW
Spain, España, doesn’t need much of an introduction. We all know something about this country which takes up the lions share of the Iberian Peninsular. Most of us know about the great weather, the best in Europe even, and you probably know something about Spanish culture, flamenco, bull fighting and the infectious fun-loving attitude of the locals. You may have tasted tapas, manchego cheese and spicy chorizo and you may have followed your heroes on the Vuelta a España. We may know that Andalucia is in the sweltering south, the north is mountainous and green and the capital, Madrid is slap bang in the centre.
But how well do we really know it?  
Did you know that Spain is the 2nd most mountainous country in Europe? Many know the north and south are mountainous and think the middle is one huge plain! Think again, this journey heads through an untold number of sierras, the most significant being the Cordillera Cantabrica the huge natural barrier that runs across the Atlantic north, the spectacular Sierras de Guadarrama and Gredos that envelope Madrid and the limestone splendour of the Nieves and Grazalema ranges in Andalucia.
The Vuelta a España has been running since 1935 and the whole country is a road cyclists’ paradise with untold amounts spent on ‘upgrading’ rural roads into smooth, flowing ribbons of asphalt. The road cycling tradition and culture is an integral part of life in Spain, with fantastic, empty roads winding their way through stunning sierras.
It’s certainly a bumpy ride but we do try to keep climbing to a minimum at the same time as taking you on a most spectacular route. This is certainly no col bagging trip, but one which links the very different provinces of Spain, giving you the chance to be seduced by the ever changing geography, flavours and culture this proud country has on offer.
This fantastic journey will take the rider through no less than 14 natural parks and many more areas of natural beauty, giving the ride a very wild, adventurous feel. Days in the saddle will be linked by planned drink stops in local bars, al fresco lunches of the best produce in the region and stays in a cherry picked hotels including monasteries, olive farms, town mansions and a number of other historical buildings which will all put the topping on this very Spanish cake!
This will be a challenging journey giving you 14 days in the saddle, but a trip that will never stop charming you on this discovery of Spain.

Holiday Highlights

  • Cycling through the varied beauty of 14 national parks
  • Delicious regional dishes which change from day to day as you traverse the entire country
  • Crossing the granite Guadarrama and Gredos mountain ranges as you move from the north to the south of the country
  • Views over the Straits of Gibraltar to Morocco
  • The beautiful towns of San Sebastian, Guadaloupe and Ronda
  • The satisfaction of arriving in to Tarifa with over 1,000 miles of Spanish roads having passed beneath your wheels

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The route is an excellent journey which takes you to parts of Spain you would never otherwise visit. The organisation and care taken with the daily arrangements were truly excellent. Service in the office and the three guides was first class throughout!

Derek, Surrey

Itinerary

Day 1
Arrival: Bilbao Airport
Non Riding Day

The departure point for our epic journey is the Basque city of San Sebastian, or Donostia to the locals, which sits on the Bay of Biscay a little over 20km from the French border.

In the evening you will have a chance to meet your guides and fellow Skedaddlers and sample some typical pinchos as you wander the narrow streets of the charming old quarter. There is no tapas here! That’s Spanish rather than Basque! Instead delicious toppings are placed on fresh bread held together by cocktail sticks.

Day 2
San Sebastian to Aizpun
68 Miles / 109 Km Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 2,200 Metres Approx.

The first day in the saddle is a big day with plenty of climbing, however the gradients are generally gentle and by the time we arrive in the lovely town of Estella we will have made a significant start to our journey south. A chain of mountains forms a frontier right across northern Spain and starts to rise up just a few km inland from the coast, so for the early part of the day the only way is up.

We sneak out of central San Sebastian on an asphalt cycleway by the river before taking on a busier section through the suburbs of Astigarraga and Hernani. After leaving the coast we leave any heavy traffic behind and head out on quiet lanes with little other company than local cyclists and the occasional car as the route winds upwards alongside the Rio Umrumea on one of Europe’s most southerly salmon rivers.

The route passes over a series of small cols during the day, the highest being the Alto de Guembe (920m). The lanes around this area are surprisingly tranquil and the views fantastic. Already the coastline feels a world away. We will spend the evening in small resting place of Aizpun. It may only be the start of our journey but you will have earned your rest this evening on an undulating first day.

Day 3
Aizpun to San Millan de la Cogolla
87 Miles / 140 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,750 Metres Approx.

The terrain is more forgiving on today’s ride as the route heads into La Rioja, Spain’s most famous wine producing region. Under 10km into the ride at Bodegas Irache there is a Fuente del Vino as well as a wine museum. Free wine pours out of a tap at the vineyards and is a fitting way to continue our journey, though we would advise not filling you water bottle with wine this early in the day!

Riding past the limestone ridges of the Sierra Santiago de Loquiz to the north we enjoy a welcome flat morning along the River Ega valley into La Rioja region where wine has been a way of life for centuries. The route climbs a little on minor roads affording a great view of vineyards and the Sierra de la Demanda in the distance where we will arrive in a few days. We picnic in the hilltop town of Laguardia which sits commandingly on a rocky outcrop keeping watch over the surrounding vineyard covered plains. Take a few minutes to wander the narrow streets as the town is a celebration of wine, but its olive oil is just as delicious. The road climbs slightly towards the end of the ride to reach the village of San Millan de la Cogolla which is home to 3 monasteries – and this evening, to us!

Day 4
San Milan de la Cogolla to El Burgo de Osma
85 Miles / 136 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,600 Metres Approx.

Today begins with a long but steady climb to Puerto el Collado at 1,400m in the Sierra de la Nela. There’s a big wolf population in this area and it is frequently the coldest area in Spain in winter so we won’t hang around! The route passes a couple of smaller cols before reaching the town of El Burgo de Osma where we will spend the night.

Day 5
El Burgo de Osma to Valverde de Los Arroyos
63 Miles / 101 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,650 Metres Approx.

The morning ride starts by descending into the Parque Natural Cannon del Rio Lobos. A series of dramatic switchbacks plunges us into the bottom of the limestone canyon created by the River Ucero. The first major settlement of the morning is the small cathedral city of El Burgo with perfectly preserved ancient medieval streets and half timbered houses.

Leaving El Burgo on the Senda del Duero a cycle path around the region which, for the section we ride is quality asphalt, we shortly reach a minor road where we cruise past arable farmland in the direction of Gormaz. The route rises affording great views of the Moorish fortress of Gormaz sitting prominent and proud, guarding the Rio Duero valley and its valuable farming plains. Our evening is spent in the restored village of Valverde de los Arroyas.

Day 6
Valverde de los Arroyas to Miraflores
69 Miles / 111 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,900 Metres Approx.

This morning’s ride takes us on a roller-coaster through the Reserva Nacional de Caza De Sonsaz as the road plunges then climbs in and out of many river valleys.

The route clings to the hillside above the Atazar reservoir before descending and following the contours of the foothills of Sierra de Guadarrama, before ending the day in the small town of Miraflores del a Sierra.

Unless you catch a glimpse below it’s hard to know you are so close to the capital of Madrid just 30km away!

Day 7
Miraflores to Navaluenga
81 Miles / 130 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,700 Metres Approx.

The area squeezed between the high peaks of the Sierra de Guadarrama and Madrid is incredibly popular with local road clubs and leisure cyclists heading for the hills, so we might have company for some of today’s ride! The route is slightly busier than we have seen so far but it is more than compensated for by the great pedalling as the road is squeezed between the Santillana reservoir and the granite outcrops of the Guadarrama. We stop for a morning coffee stop near the monastery of El Escorial. Commissioned by King Fillipe II in the 15th century, this spectacular building dominates the town on San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Filipe had steps carved out of rocks on a nearby hilltop so he could watch his commission being built. We approach El Escorial on a back road that offers a great perspective of the monastic site and attached royal residence.

Shortly after El Escorial we turn away from the Madridista and head up into the stone pine forests and rolling roads tucked into the hillsides. We dart between the trees and along the valley that straddles the gap between the mountain chains of the Sierra de Guadarrama and the Sierra de Gredos. We spend the night on the plain on the northern side of the range as we reflect on the journey so far and look forward to the halfway point of the trip tomorrow night.

  • Note June 2020 departure will be 68 Miles / 110 Kms / 1,500 Metres Approx.
Day 8
Navaluenga to Talayuela
62 Miles / 99 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,600 Metres Approx.

Today we tackle the Collado de Serranillos, the highest point of the trip at 1,580m. Though the climb is long is is fairly gentle and easily manageable with a steady approach. The rewards are well worth it though, with breathtaking views and an amazing descent sweeping downwards, clinging onto the hillside and losing nearly 1,000m in height. This col is a significant moment on the journey as we break through the physical barrier of the Sierra de Gredos which divides north and south Spain, with the air usually becoming instantly warmer as you descend.

We spend the night in the small region of La Vera famed for the paprika produced from its peppers. The first palm trees and orange trees of the trip also start to pop up in this fertile region sandwiched between the plains and the Sierra de Gredos.

  • Note June 2020 departure will be 75 Miles / 120 Kms / 1,800 Metres Approx.
Day 9
Talayuela to Guadalupe
71 Miles / 115 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,450 Metres Approx.

Staying tucked into the foothills of the Sierra de Gredos for as long as possible allows us to avoid the heat of the plain but alas eventually we must turn due south. The route takes us onto the first significant stretch of flatland (relatively!) of the trip, passing irrigated farmland producing the sought after La Vera peppers. Before the town of Navalmoral de la Mata we pass holm oaks, a hardy drought resistant species.

After the town the route crosses Rio Tajo before winding past sheep and lambs (the warm climate means there are two lambing seasons here) and the landscape becomes wilder here and much less tamed by agriculture as we wind our way towards the town of Guadalupe. It is a popular tourist town nestled in the Sierras of the same name which attract village pilgrims who come to visit its churches, monastery and famed black virgin.

Day 10
Guadalupe to Almaden
88 Miles / 141 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,700 Metres Approx.

Quiet backroads lead us to the Garcia de Sola reservoir and across its dam. Many rivers in this dry area are dammed so that water supplies last through the summer. After the reservoir the road undulates through the Siera de Siruela on a stunning minor road which sees little traffic. We rest up in the town of Almaden with a rich mining and bullfighting history including a well preserved Plaza del Torros which is still in use.

Day 11
Almaden to Montoro
86 Miles / 138 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,750 Metres Approx.

Another long stage but not too much climbing as the route rolls through holm oak and wild olive clad hillsides. After the village of San Benito we pass into Andalucia and our final province of the trip. This far north, Andalucia is carpeted in rolling dehesa, Mediterranean scrub and abundant agarvi cactus, and it feels a world away from the Basque country. We are now closer to Africa than our start point! This rural route is occasionally interrupted by immaculate whitewashed villages such as Conquista, a maze of narrow streets with a church at the centre. The route descends to Montoro and a twisting, flowing road which dances and winds round corners will take us to the Guadalquivir River. Montoro town is tucked inside a meander bend tumbling down the river cliff in spectacular fashion.

Day 12
Montoro to Priego de Cordoba
53 Miles / 86 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,450 Metres Approx.

Today is a more gentle day after two longer stages with olive groves lining the road virtually all day. After 40km the route passes through Baena where the pungent aroma of olive pressing fills the air. The town is at the centre of the high grade olive oil industry and we see some hand pickers at work amongst the modern pneumatic shakers. The route then takes us to Zuheras for lunch. This pueblo blanco, with its 9th century castle built by the Arabs, is perched on a limestone crag to peer down on the rolling hills and olive groves. We spend the late afternoon and evening relaxing in an old olive farm which is now a hotel in the Parque Natural de la Sierra Subbetica.

Day 13
Priego de Cordoba to Alora
75 Miles / 121 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,600 Metres Approx.

The Sierra Subetica, where we start the day is classic Andaluz; a heady cocktail of parched dry land, olive groves and white washed villages. The riding is quiet and rural before climbing away from the Iznajar reservoir where the road becomes a little busier towards Antquera. After passing through this old town with the obligatory cobbled street the route skirts the northern edge of the Sierra de Chimena before arriving to Alora.

Day 14
Alora to Ronda
37 Miles / 60 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,350 Metres Approx.

Today is by far the shortest day of this epic ride giving us chance to take stock and rest our legs to enjoy the ultimate finale and the charms of Ronda, our destination for the day. However, this is still a fantastic ride and well worth your time in the saddle.

As we set off on our penultimate day we climb steadily out of El Chorro past the reservoir at the end of the gorge. The gorge is up to 400m deep and as little as 10m wide in places, where the Rio Guadalhorce has carved its way through towering limestone. Huge, awesome, cliffs surround the area that is a popular destination for climbers. It all makes for a dramatic scene as we pass Bobastro, where there are remains of a remarkable Mozarabic church, which is dramatically carved out of the surrounding rock.

After reaching Puerto del Viento (1,190m) we can contemplate the awesome beauty of the Sierra de las Nievas (Range of the Snows) we are about to ride over. The range is rugged and complex with twisting barrancos, deep ravines, caves and hidden valleys. In the distance we are now able to see the historical mountain town of Ronda and the Sierra de Grazalema rising beyond. The descent takes a wide, smooth, curving road that will rush us at speed to the centre of stunning Ronda.

We’ll have time to take a wander through the ancient Moorish quarter and marvel at the views of the Tajo gorge, which dramatically splits the town in two, giving a relaxing afternoon before a local feast to fuel us for the final challenge.

Day 15
Ronda to Tarifa
81 Miles / 130 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch
  • Ascent: 1,700 Metres Approx.

Riding out with excitement on our last day of this fantastic route we cross the majestic Puente Nuevo and roll along the mountain ridge road before it drops dramatically down through the Serrania passing impressive limestone crags and picture postcard perfect white villages hillsides.

The road is magnificent as it drops, climbs and weaves in front of us. Some exhilarating kilometres later we’ll arrive at the stunning white mountain village of Gaucin. Set on a natural vantage point looking out across the sierras and down to the Mediterranean and the imposing rock of Gibraltar, Gaucin is a beautiful place. On a clear day it’s possible to see deep into the Rif mountains of north Africa!

On reaching Puerto del Negro our vista is dramatically changed as it’s the first view we have of the Los Alcornocales NP, a huge wilderness of forested rolling sierras comprising the largest cork oak forest in the world.

The descent to come is a just reward for the work we’ve put in over the last two weeks as it curves and glides down the mountainside before the road drops and then undulates on a twisting curve all the way to the white hilltown of Jimena de la Frontera.

A few km of well received flat terrain take us around the town of Algeciras, before we head into the Straits of Gibraltar Natural Park. This is a beautiful stretch of wild, mountainous coastline that has fantastic views across to the majestic Rif Mountains in Morocco. We’ll soon be able to spot our final destination, Tarifa and also the Moroccan port of Tangiers.

The descent is speedy until it meets the eastern old town wall of the ancient port of Tarifa. From here we head to Isla de Las Palomas – the most southerly point of mainland Europe as well as the natural divide between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, a fitting point to end our magnificent journey. We’ve made it. Congratulations!

A revitalizing dip and a couple of celebratory drinks whilst we watch the sun set over the Atlantic is a memorable way to finish this tour. Back for a shower at the hotel in the heart of the old town and then out to celebrate with some tasty tapas and drinks in downtown Tarifa!

Day 16
Departure: Gibraltar Airport
Non Riding Day
  • Meals: Breakfast

Flight times permitting, there’ll be time to take a stroll along the beach and a dip before we head off to Gibraltar Airport for your flights home.

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The Cycling

Terrain

When crossing such a mountainous country we will inevitably take in some climbs as we cross several mountain ranges along the way. The focus of the trip however is on the journey rather than col-bagging, so all of the climbs will be manageable for a regular road cyclist, without the severity of the climbing dished up in our mountain challenge road trips.

The asphalt is generally in good condition but given the distance we are covering it is best to go for a harder compound tyre to minimise wear and punctures.

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Road Cycling Grade

1
2
3
4
5
Grade 4 : Challenging

45-80 miles / 80-130 kms per day

For cyclists with stamina & a good level of fitness

Long & challenging days with multiple tough or high altitude ascents, with steep sections over extended distances

Long & often technically demanding descents

Road riding for experienced riders

Our grading guidelines have been carefully created based on our many years of cycling experience, as well as customer feedback from our trips. Of course, if you're still struggling to figure out where you fit on the scale, do feel free to give us a quick call and we'll be more than happy to help!

For more information about our grading system click here.

Is this suitable for you?

You‘re an enthusiast. It’s probably your main hobby and possibly the only sport you take seriously. You‘re in pretty good shape and you ride as often as you possibly can. You might participate in the occasional cyclo-sportive and when you do, you probably opt for the longest distances. You love bikes and fantasise about the latest model or the joy of a new set of wheels. You love challenges and you‘re looking for a tour with plenty of climbing, preferably with an opportunity to tick off some famous Tour de France cols or the like. You‘re a competent descender, and you‘re not afraid of speed, but you ride safely and within your limits at all times. You understand road etiquette and you‘re comfortable riding in a bunch. You‘re happy to do your stint at the front of the pack if the need arises. You know you can ride a century and probably have done a few. It sounds like you are a Grade 4.

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Our tour leader was outstanding. He made the trip awesome and I had great faith in him. Our guide was charming, empathetic and a real asset to Saddle Skedaddle. Again nothing was too much trouble!

Richard, New Zealand

Dates & Prices

Private Departures

Private Departures

Are you keen to only travel with your family or friends? Struggling to find the right date? Well, we can organise a private departure for this tour and tailor aspects to suit your group's specific needs. Contact our friendly team and we'll help you turn your dream into reality.

Start Date
End Date
Duration
Price p.p.
Start Date
01/05/2021
Return Date
16/05/2021
Duration
16 days
Price
£2,995.00
Start Date
05/06/2021
Return Date
20/06/2021
Duration
16 days
Price
£2,995.00
Start Date
11/09/2021
Guaranteed
Return Date
26/09/2021
Duration
16 days
Price
£2,995.00

Whats Included Tick

A) Accommodation (shared twin / double en suite rooms)

B) Meals as per the itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)

C) Full support service including a Skedaddle support driver and Skedaddle riding guide

D) Unless stated, at least one leader qualified in first aid

E) Support vehicle and luggage transfers

F) GPS device with pre-loaded daily routes

G) Airport transfer on scheduled arrival day from Bilbao airport (BIO)

H) Airport transfer on scheduled departure day to Gibraltar airport (GIB)

What's not Included Cross

A) Bike hire (available if required)

B) Flights and charges for travelling with your bike (if applicable)

C) Meals not stated in the itinerary

D) Single room (available if required)

E) Travel insurance

F) Personal clothing and equipment

G) Personal expenditure (souvenirs, bar bills, hotel facilities etc)

H) Entrance fees to museums and other attractions en route

I) Airport transfers on days other than the scheduled arrival / departure days

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The Essentials

Travel Options

Group airport transfers are included in the cost of your holiday. To join the airport transfer on arrival, you’ll need to arrive into Bilbao airport (BIO) by 12:00, for a 12:30 transfer.

At the end of the tour we will transfer the group to Gibraltar airport (GIB), with an estimated arrival time of 09:30 – please consider this when booking your return travel and allow enough time to check in for your chosen flight.

Please contact us for more detailed information on the specific flight schedules available for your holiday. Please check with us before booking any flights, to make sure we have reached the minimum number required to guarantee your holiday and to ensure your flights fit with our scheduled transfers. Please note – If you make travel arrangements that fall outside of the above time windows there may be an additional charge for individual transfers.

Accommodation

Accommodation (shared twin or double rooms) will usually be en suite in 2/3 star hotels or guesthouses. Family run, personable, charming, comfortable and homely are boxes we tick when looking for places to stay. A million miles away from chain style hotels all with unique touches.

Bike Hire

If you have opted to hire then your bike will typically be a Giant Contend with Giant/Liv Avails (alu frames) available for those preferring a women’s specific frame. They are great bikes with good quality components and generally come equipped with at least one bottle cage, a saddle bag and a small pump. We can also include a helmet which should be requested at time of booking. Please note that your bike will come with flat pedals as standard, so please do bring your own if you use clip-in pedals.

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