Outdoor Living – what can I do?

What can I do in Spain – Active Outdoor Living

Building a lifestyle that suits you is very important when moving to Spain.  It is much easier to settle in, to meet new friends and to feel content if you are enjoying life.  Part of that might be to have more time to pursue outdoor living in an active way.   

One of the really really good things about Spain is the weather.  You walk or run hardly ever gets called off due to mud or rain.  It is more likely that you will invest in a chest light and go night running/riding in the Summer due to the heat than get caught out in a shower.  So no excuses.

Where can I go?

There are oodles of trails from dry river beds, ramblas, country trails and Via Verdes to town paseo’s there is something for everyone.  All you need is a pair of sturdy shoes, some water and you are off.  Ramblas are very similar to dry river beds but are technically channels where the rain flows if there is too much for it to sink into the ground.   Via verdes are often old train lines, since lifted and surfaced for pedestrians and cyclists. I even met a miniature shetland pony grazing along the Subbetico in Cordoba province back along.  They are such a good way to see the countryside and appreciate the wildlife.  In general you can go anywhere providing it isn’t fence, you close gates and do no harm to things that are already there and leave nothing behind but your footprints.

What about the snakes and animals?

Most wildlife will mind it’s own business and keep out of your way.  Sure you may see some rabbits lolloping along the path but Ibex (mountain goats) are much shyer and will tend to bound up cliffs to get away from you – so look up when you are in the mountains and you may see some.  Bird song, especially in Spring will surround you.  Butterflies and bees will fly past on their way to their next gourmet dinner on wildflowers or olive blossom.

From time to time you will encounter snakes, either when you are out or in your garden.   In Spain there are no seriously poisonous snakes so you don’t need to worry too much.  Snakes generally want to stay out of your way but may not notice you or be able to move if they are cold or sunbathing.  Go slowly and make some noise if you wish or just give them a metre or two as you pass..  Try to avoid driving over or stepping on them.  They deserve to live too.  

What do I do if I hear a dog barking or running toward me?

Dogs are territorial – all they want is for you to get off their patch.  However, if you are running I strongly suggest that you slow to a walk.  For some reason dogs often think runners are playthings and can either run between your legs and trip you up or risk a little nip.  If you slow to a walk and even put a hand out to show that you are friendly most dogs will be fine with you.  Stay confident.  If you are in any doubt, shout No at it.  Strongly, you must seem like its pack leader.  If you have a water bottle you can squirt water at the dogs face.  This is much more effective and humane than trying to hit or kick it.   I talk to them all.  In a soft, reassuring voice, unless I need to become pack leader.

Is it safe?

When I tell people that I often run 20 kilometres without seeing another soul they often ask me “don’t you get scared?”.  My usual reply is “ of what?”  People are friendly, even the ocassional hunter. It is hunting season August to February on weekends and bank holidays.  So during these times it is best to stay on known paths and to wear some bright clothing.  Generally hunters will stay at least 250 metres from paths and roads.  They just want to hunt as you want to walk/run/cycle etc.  It may not be your thing but your thing isn’t theirs either.  As for axe murderers and the like, the statistics are in my favour.  If 1 in 500,000 people has intentions of causing harm to another I am going to have to run a lot to see 500,000 people.

Seriously though, staying safe is much more about personal responsibility than worrying about other people or animals/snakes etc.   Ensure that you have appropriate footwear.  Know your limits and check the weather forecast before you set out.   If it is going to be 30 degrees plus (centigrade) take water and a hat and go steady.  If it is going to rain (look upstream if your route will take you up a rambla or dry river bed) plan your timings carefully or you may get wet feet.

It is a good idea to tell someone where you intend to go and when you expect to be back if going solo.  You can share your location with them on Google, as I do with my partner.  Set up parameters, for example if I don’t move for more than 10 minutes without ringing you please ring me.  If you are going into the mountains it is worth investing in a personal locator beacon or satellite messenger.  These will give you the ability to summon rescue or assistance from friends when you are out of phone signal range.

How do I choose a route?

Looking for inspiration for your next route?  Try Wikiloc.  It is an App, I recommend that you pay for the upgraded version which is £10 or less per year as then you get to filter by location, length, type of trail e.g. walking, running, even skiing.   There are loads and loads of trails on there and not just Spain either.   Once you have chosen the trail that you are interested in you can see the exact route, amount of up, how steep, where it passes and more.  When you want to follow the trail, press navigate and follow the map.  If you go off course by more than 3 metres or so it will beep and tell you that you are going off route.  Once you are back on the path a different beep will sound.

Competitive Event Opportunities

If competitive events – even if only to test yourself on whether you can do it, are your thing, there are lots and lots of organised events in Spain.  Both trail and road running are well represented as is mountain biking.  The entry fees are normally pretty low, routes are published in advance and the organisation is excellent.

I have just completed the 52k Maraton Subbetico Mozarabe in Cordoba province.  The entry fee was €40 and for that I got a well marshalled route with food and drink afterwards, a t-shirt, a buff/neckwarmer, soft flask and reuseable shoe bag.. 

Events can be found on websites like Cruzandolameta.es or Ahotu.com. Facebook is also great at showing events.  

There are lots of sports clubs too, from road cycling to triathlon, trail running to track.   All are welcoming and have a lot of fun.

Active Outdoor Living Summary

Spain is a great place for active outdoor living.  We have a range of terrain, weather and events to suit all tastes and abilities.  There really is something for everyone and thrat is before we start looking at Tennis, Football and other team sports which are also prevalent here. 

For me it is lovely to be able to run without worrying about getting stuck in the mud or will I get wet.  Enjoy life and all the nature that surrounds us

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