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Walkinginspirit is a seven-day mindfulness training, walking, and nature immersion retreat among the stunning forests and mountains of Somiedo Natural Park, Asturias, Spain, home of the Iberian grizzly bear and wolf. You should be fit enough to manage long, (gentle pace), walks on uneven terrain.
Couples will have an apartment with a double bed and singles share an apartment with one other person (same-sex), usually with one using the bedroom and one using the sofa-bed in the lounge although one of the apartments has a bedroom with two single beds for friends, etc who don’t mind or want to share a room.
The former option means that those sharing an apartment can have separate rooms if they prefer. The apartments are rustic yet comfortable and have their own kitchen, lounge, and bathroom. Towels and bedding are provided. WIS provides breakfast items and tea and coffee in your apartments and there is a washing machine, stove, fridge, crockery and cutlery, pots and pans and everything you need for self-catering.
Walkinginspirit is a seven day, walking holiday and mindfulness training in Spain. It’s an opportunity to take time out of daily life and completely immerse in the tranquility of Western Europe’s most pristine natural ecosystem. Relax, learn and thoroughly embed a mindful meditation practice as you walk paths still used by bears and wolves in the breathtaking forests and mountains of Somiedo Natural Park, Asturias Spain.
The mindfulness retreat includes accommodation, transfers within Asturias, breakfast, a packed lunch on the days of the walks as well as guidance in all retreat activities.
This walk lasts about four hours and takes us up through the village of Castro and on to the ancient herding path to Pola. This is one of the most atmospheric routes in Somiedo as it goes in and out of many folds in the mountain, alternating from damp leafy interiors to dry rocky outcrops with stunning views. In early summer, bears come into orchards on the edge of the village to eat cherries.
It’s common to see signs of their nocturnal visits as we pass by. Wolves also use the upper parts of the track and we often see their scat, especially at crossroads where they like to mark their territory. The path soon leaves the cultivated land and enters the holm oaks as it hugs the side of the mountain and snakes through the forest. Wild boar rooting can be seen along the way and a glimpse of a chamois or an adder is not unusual. This is a fabulous walk and the view of the valley gorge, (pictured), is just awesome! In late September the red deer stags roar and the throaty sound echoes through the gorge.
The path eventually takes you past La Malvas and gently down to the end of our walk by the Rio Somiedo close to Pola.
The retreat consists of four guided, silent walks in the stunning forests and mountains of Somiedo Natural Park with an informal workshop about mindfulness in nature in the morning before we head off. Monday is the arrival and settling in. The first two walks will be on Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday is the day off and I offer an optional excursion to the medieval Capital of Oviedo for those who would like to see it. We then walk Friday and Saturday and Sunday are for departure.
Walking: you will be walking mindfully and at a slow and gentle pace so an average level of fitness is required but we will be going up and downhill, walking in uneven terrain and staying out for several hours at a time. If you have a problem with heights, walking in the mountains is probably not for you. The walks are done as mindful meditation and for obvious reasons, it is very important that you stay together as a group. Please talk to Frankie if you are unsure or have any questions.
Spirit of the retreat: Group cohesion is vital for safety and comfort when walking in remote and wild places. This point is of particular importance. Walkinginspirit is a group retreat and participants need to be able to manage their own needs within the needs of a group without drama, particularly during the walks.
Phones and cameras: The mindful walks are the part of the retreat that has some dos and don’ts attached to them. Phones and cameras must be switched off during the four walks. Frankie or another photographer will take pictures during the walks and share it with everyone afterward. There is a good signal for mobiles at our base, La Pińietsa and Wi-Fi is available in local bars and restaurants.
Valuables: Please look after your valuables. Somiedo is a very safe place but Walkinginspirit cannot accept any responsibility for things going missing.
There will be an optional outing to Oviedo on Thursday for those that would like to visit the Asturian capital. If you go early you can catch the markets and buy some provisions in the spotless covered Mercado. The old part of the city is very attractive and has many squares, winding streets and a spectacular Gothic cathedral. No doubt you will eat some delicious food and maybe sample a, “poured from a great height”, cider at one of Oviedo’s famous sidrerias.
Frankie works as a therapist, consultant, and trainer in the UK and is the owner/guide of the Walkinginspirit mindful walking retreat which is now in its 9th year. He is also a journalist and has a smallholding in Asturias called “Pomar”. He is a member of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers, (MINT), a qualified hypnotherapist and has worked in Health & Social care settings for 20 years. Frankie has a great love of the natural world and enjoys guiding mindful walking groups in the wilderness, traveling and pursuing his interests in natural spirituality and shamanism.
The Walkinginspirit, mindful walking and nature immersion retreat takes place in the heart of Somiedo Natural Park, Asturias, Spain, Western Europe's most intact natural ecosystem and home to the Cantabrian brown bear and wolf.
Asturias is one of the least well known Spanish provinces and is certainly one of the most beautiful. It’s an ideal place to make a rejuvenating and peaceful retreat in wild nature. There are many natural parks and biospheres in Asturias and, among them, Parque Natural de Somiedo stands out as one of the most pristine and preserved areas, not just in Spain, but in all western Europe. It is a lush, green and fertile landscape of ancient beech, chestnut and oak forests, interspersed with rivers, rushing streams and wildflower meadows
The culture of Asturias continues the livestock grazing tradition of the bronze age Celts and has a very familiar feel for people from the northern and mountainous regions of Europe.
The region is mountainous and this stretch of the Cantabrian Mountains has the largest population of brown bears in western Europe. The bear has become emblematic of Somiedo Natural Park but wolves, red deer, chamois, wild boar, wild cats, the common genet, lizards, salamanders, red squirrels and many exotic birds including vultures and eagles are equally of interest. The presence of large carnivores brings vitality to Somiedo that you have to experience to know.
Although it is extremely rare to see a bear or a wolf, many of the other animals and birds mentioned can be seen daily in the park. In early summer the abundant wildflowers bloom and the air fills with the buzzing sounds of insects. In the Autumn the stags roar and the forest turns incredible shades of red, orange and purple. Prints and droppings of bears and wolves are all over the park and one of the great pleasures of walking in Somiedo is finding the signs of the animals that live here. Frankie will be happy to share what he knows about how to recognize them.
Somiedo is a nourishing feast for all the senses and is the perfect place for establishing a mindfulness practice whilst walking. Ground your awareness in the living sensation and bathe your senses in the tranquility and beauty of nature. Sensory perception is the gateway to awareness beyond thought and this awareness is the font of our creativity.
Breakfast items for self-catering and lunch packs will be provided on the days that you walk. In the evenings you will have the choice of going out to local restaurants, cooking in your apartment or group barbecue as you choose. Eating out is a very good value for money in Asturias. There are two small supermarkets that we will pass most days and will be stopping to pick up provisions as and when needed.
Alcohol: Walkinginspirit is not a retreat with restrictions on what you can eat and drink. Frankie himself enjoys a cold beer or cider at the end of a long walk and a glass of wine with my meal. He would just ask that, if you do drink, you do so in moderation and that you give anyone who chooses not to, due consideration, and vice versa.
Vegetarians and vegans are welcome but be aware that rural Spain is not used to catering for alternative diets so it’s a good idea to bring some things with you if your diet is specialized and adjust expectations accordingly.
On Thursday, there will be an optional excursion to the Asturian capital Oviedo. Oviedo has a very relaxed vibe and a large, pedestrianized medieval center and spectacular gothic cathedral.
You will arrive in time to visit the market and have lunch. There will be time for you to go off and explore the city for a couple of hours on your own if you wish to. You will be returning to Somiedo in time for dinner.
You could also book a one to one guidance and help.
Please book your flight to arrive at Santander Airport (SDR). The transfer from and to this airport is included in the price. Ryanair fly once a day from London Stansted STN to Santander SDR. It takes about one hour and a half and most guests will be on this flight. The transfers from and back to Santander are timed to coincide with the Monday in and Sunday out flights.
If you are using another airline or traveling to Asturias from somewhere other than the UK, you will need to arrange with me a time and place to meet on the first day. Flight times vary from season to season but Frankie will confirm the exact times with you when you book. Walkinginspirit provides all transport within Asturias from this point and will return you to the airport at the end of the week.
Going home: You will be taken to the airport in plenty of time to catch your return flight. Sometimes, this may mean an early start on the last day depending on flight times.
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