While doing research on retiring to Spain, as avid hikers my parents have been looking at Spanish walking clubs. With walking clubs all over Spain, and English-speaking ones in the expatriate area, how do you go about joining a walking club? And, after you’ve joined, what kinds of walks and hikes will the club take? Easy ones? Difficult? Climbing the Pyrenees? Spanish walking clubs in fact cover all types of walking from gentle strolls to challenging mountain hikes, but here’s what you can expect if you join one.
Where to Find a Walking Club – Just about all of Spain’s main expat areas have walking clubs, with more starting up every year. Spain is a country that loves the outdoor lifestyle and with so many incredibly beautiful places to walk to or hike around, Spaniards and expats are getting out even more and taking their friends with them.
Ask at your local Hagor de Pensionistas (pensioners club), most towns have them and any walking clubs, particularly those for seniors, will be known by them. Your town hall, the ayuntamiento, also knows about all the area clubs and societies and will be able to give you details on who to contact and how often they meet.
Also don’t neglect the town’s tourist office. While primarily for tourists, you’d be surprised how much information they know about local activities. Finally, many of the walking clubs in Spain put up notices in the free newspapers in town asking more people to join.
Are There Dues and When Do They Meet? – Many of the walking clubs charge a joining fee plus a small annual due, which covers their administrative costs.
Most of the clubs tend to walk in the cooler months (October to April or May) as, in the summer in Spain, the temperatures are just too high to make walking enjoyable or safe, particularly if you’re of retirement age.
Depending on which type of walking group you join, they may only meet once a week, a couple of times a month or, in some cases with the clubs for retirees, two or three times a week for walks of varying lengths. Each club is different, with different rules and regulations and requirements, so make sure you check them out thoroughly before signing up. Most of them will allow you to join them on one of their walks before making a decision.
What Types of Walks and Hikes Do They Do? – From the people we’ve spoken to at several clubs, we learned the walks and hikes cover the gamut, and that’s quite common for Spain. With walkers of all ages and all fitness levels, they try to cover every possible type so everyone can be included.
From short walks of an hour or two just around the foothills outside town, to longer walks a couple of times a month that may start out early in the morning, be quite strenuous, and not wind down until evening in time for a cold beer and a good dinner, you’ll find something you can enjoy.
Some clubs have even been known to organize small groups to hike for several days across the Pyrenees, in the Sierra de Gredos, a mountain range close to Madrid, or to walk and camp around one of Spain’s many national parks. There are footpaths and long-distance paths all over Spain and the country’s walking clubs take advantage of them.