Walking Holidays

Europe’s majestic mountains ~ with a genuine specialist
Organised & Self-guided Walking

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Tel. 01799 513331 - - Open Today - 9am to 5.30pmCollett's Ltd. is ABTA bonded W6883 - Travel with confidence
Organised & Self-guided Walking with a Genuine Specialist

Collett’s is pleased to announce a new destination for our Classic Summer Walking Holidays.
Slightly off the beaten track, this is iconic Switzerland and we know it will be another centre-based paradise for Collett’s walkers for years to come.

Introducing the Engadine in the Swiss Alps
Where the Swiss go hiking

“We’ve had an eye on the Swiss Alps for a while…
in the Engadine we found just what we were looking for.”

The Zugspitze in the Austrian Alps The Zugspitze in the Austrian Alps
High level walking holidays in Austria High level walking holidays in Austria
Walking Holidays - Engadine, Swiss Alps Walking Holidays - Engadine, Swiss Alps
Hotel Maria - Engadine, Swiss Alps Hotel Maria - Engadine, Swiss Alps
Hotel Maria - Engadine, Swiss Alps Hotel Maria - Engadine, Swiss Alps
Walking Holidays - Engadine, Swiss Alps Walking Holidays - Engadine, Swiss Alps
Hotel Maria - Engadine, Swiss Alps Hotel Maria - Engadine, Swiss Alps
Hotel Maria - Engadine, Swiss Alps Hotel Maria - Engadine, Swiss Alps
Hotel Maria - Engadine, Swiss Alps Hotel Maria - Engadine, Swiss Alps
Walking Holidays - Engadine, Swiss Alps Walking Holidays - Engadine, Swiss Alps
Hotel Maria - Engadine, Swiss Alps Hotel Maria - Engadine, Swiss Alps
Hotel Maria - Engadine, Swiss Alps Hotel Maria - Engadine, Swiss Alps
Walking Holidays - Engadine, Swiss Alps Walking Holidays - Engadine, Swiss Alps
Walking Holidays - Engadine, Swiss Alps Walking Holidays - Engadine, Swiss Alps
Hotel Maria - Engadine, Swiss Alps Hotel Maria - Engadine, Swiss Alps
Walking Holidays - Engadine, Swiss Alps Walking Holidays - Engadine, Swiss Alps
Walking Holidays - Engadine, Swiss Alps Walking Holidays - Engadine, Swiss Alps
Walking Holidays - Engadine, Swiss Alps Walking Holidays - Engadine, Swiss Alps
Walking Holidays - Engadine, Swiss Alps Walking Holidays - Engadine, Swiss Alps
Walking Holidays - Engadine, Swiss Alps Walking Holidays - Engadine, Swiss Alps
Walking Holidays - Engadine, Swiss Alps Walking Holidays - Engadine, Swiss Alps
Walking Holidays - Engadine, Swiss Alps Walking Holidays - Engadine, Swiss Alps

Walk in breathtaking scenery amidst 4000m peaks

Join walks of your chosen grade, or self-guide – or do a mix of both. We have everything you need. Let the Collett’s Walks Team help you get the very best of your time in the Swiss Alps.

Free Mountain Pass – Invaluable!

A Collett’s holiday here comes with a fantastic perk – free local cable cars, mountain trains and buses.

A brilliant springboard near St Moritz

Our base is picturesque Sils near St Moritz. Its unique location between two large mountain lakes offers superb access to a host of unforgettable walks.

The perfect hotel for a Collett’s Holiday

The Hotel Maria is endlessly welcoming and hospitable with fabulous cuisine & lovely rooms. Enjoy stunning views and a charming location just 300m from the pretty village centre.

For more photos dates and information – Click here

£1175 per person – Half-board
(£1275pp Superior Room)

includes

7 nights half board – at the delightful Hotel Maria in Sils near St. Moritz
(Breakfast 7 days, 3 course dinner 6 evenings a week, not Wednesdays)
Mountain Pass – free local cable cars, mountain trains & buses
A programme of beautiful walks – free, optional, 6 days a week – not Wednesdays
The Collett’s Walks Team and our Ideas & Info files – everything you need to self-guide

Choose any date of arrival & stay as long as you wish.
Calculate stays of more or less than 7 nights on a pro rata basis.

How to get there?

Arrive in the Engadine on a UNESCO World Heritage Train Journey?
Travel to us by train from Zurich Airport. Change at Chur and join a stunning mountain train ride that ends at St Moritz, where a 15 minute bus ride links you to Sils.

Or book an airport transfer from Milan Bergamo
Every Thursday or Sunday you can join a Collett’s transfer to and from Milan Bergamo Airport – £80 return.

Fly-drive or Self-drive
Fly-drive via Milan, Zurich or Innsbruck. Self-drive: Calais – 10hrs

For more photos dates and information – Click here

Europe is the number one overseas destination for UK travellers – with over 58 million trips abroad each year. The UK Government and the European Union (EU) have both said that people will still be able to travel to and from the EU after Brexit.

Naturally, holidaymakers and business travellers have questions about what Brexit means for travelling to EU countries.  While the situation is evolving rapidly, ABTA has put together the following advice, answering common questions and explaining any steps travellers may need to take to avoid any unnecessary disruption due to a no-deal exit.

Travel before 31 January 2020

The UK is still a member of the EU, which means that all existing travel arrangements still apply.

For example, you still have access to state medical care in any EU country as long as you have an up to date European Health Insurance Card and you can continue to use the EU/EEA passport gates.

If your travel to an EU country sees you depart the UK before 31 January 2020, but you don’t return until afterwards, please read our advice about travel after 31 January 2020 as there may be some steps you need to take to avoid any unnecessary disruption in the event of a no-deal.

Travel after 31 January 2020

If the Government agrees a deal before 31 January 2020, the UK will enter a transition period, meaning everything will continue to remain the same during that period and you can continue to travel as you do now.
With a no-deal, UK holidaymakers and business travellers have had reassurances from the UK Government and European Commission that they will still be able to travel, as there is either contingency legislation in place or the travel services are covered by international law.
If the UK does leave the EU without a deal, there will be some changes and there are some actions you may need to take in advance so that you can continue with your holiday or business trip as planned.

Common questions about travel after 31 January 2020

Will flights still operate?

If a deal is agreed then we will be in a transition period, meaning everything will stay the same until the end of December 2020 and flights will continue as normal. Under existing contingency arrangements in a no-deal scenario the European Commission has said that UK airlines will still be able to operate flights between the UK and the EU under contingency legislation. The UK Government has offered similar assurances for EU airlines.

Will ferries and cruise ships still sail?

Ferry services and cruises will still sail as the majority of the rules under which they operate are not based on EU rules, but are international.

Will trains from the UK to the EU still operate?

It is expected that trains from the UK to the EU will continue to operate. Ahead of your journey, check with your travel company to see if there is any additional information you need to be aware of.
Will I need a visa to travel to the EU after Brexit?

The European Parliament has confirmed that UK travellers won’t need a visa to travel to the EU after Brexit for short-term business or leisure trips, even if the UK leaves without a deal. UK citizens will be able to visit the EU for up to 90 days within a 180-day period without a visa.

hould I take out travel insurance to cover Brexit?

The best way to protect your holiday is to book a package – it is then the travel provider’s responsibility to make sure your holiday is provided and to offer an alternative or refund if it cannot be delivered.

It is important that whenever and wherever you travel that you have adequate travel insurance which covers your specific needs, including any known medical conditions or activities you plan to do. It is also worth checking the detail of the policy around travel disruption including delays or cancellations as policies do vary. You can also speak to your travel insurance provider about whether they provide any specific cover for Brexit.

Advice for travellers

This information only covers areas where you can take reasonable action or put plans into place now. Areas where the situation is still unclear are not included, but the information will be updated once clarified. The Government also has information for travellers available at gov.uk/EUexit

Passports

Check the date your passport expires. If we leave the EU without a deal, the UK Government recommends that you have six months left on your passport on the date of your arrival in an EU country. Note that the six months on your passport is only required if you are travelling after the date the UK leaves the EU.

You should also check when your passport was renewed. If you renewed a 10-year adult passport before it expired, extra months may have been added to your passport’s expiry date. These extra months over 10 years will not count towards the 6 months that must be remaining. The UK Government has published a website tool to check the validity of your passport under these rules.

You can renew your passport online or by going to a Post Office with a Check and Send service.

You may wish to renew your passport sooner rather than later, in order to make sure you have it in time for your holiday or travel plans.

Full details on renewing your passport can be found here.

European Health Insurance Card and travel insurance

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) allows any EU citizen to access state medical care when they are travelling in another EU country. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, UK registered EHICs will no longer be valid.
ABTA has always advised holidaymakers and business travellers to make sure they have appropriate travel insurance, whether they have an EHIC card or not, as there are limitations to EHIC.
When travelling in the EU and beyond, it is important you take out travel insurance and check that it covers your current circumstances, including any medical conditions. If you have an annual policy, make sure you check the Terms and Conditions and contact your insurance provider if you’re not sure.
Advice on travel insurance can be found here.

Driving licences

As long as you have a full UK driving licence, you don’t currently need an additional licence to drive in the EU. This will change in a no-deal scenario for certain countries. Depending on your destination, and the length of your stay, UK licence holders looking to drive in the EU after 31 January 2020 may need to apply for an International Driving Permit.

Full details about International Driving Permits, including what permit you need for each country can be found at gov.uk

There are a number of different permits available for different countries within the EU, so you should check carefully which permit is required for each country you intend to drive within, as you may need more than one permit to comply with the law.

If required, International Driving Permits cost £5.50 and are available directly from the Post Office, you can find your nearest branch here.

The Government is also advising that you will need a GB sticker for your car when driving in the EU after Brexit.

Green cards for car insurance

If the UK leaves without a deal, UK citizens driving their vehicle within the EU would be required to obtain and carry a physical Green Card in order for your UK car insurance to be applicable in the EU. These cards would be issued by insurers and you may be charged a small fee to cover administration costs.

Speak with your insurer for more information on obtaining a Green Card for any trip on or after 31 January 2020.
The ABI – the trade body for the insurance industry – recommends you contact your car insurance company at least one month in advance of travelling.

Taking pets abroad

In the event of a no-deal, pets would continue to be able to travel from the UK to the EU, but the requirements for documents and health checks would change. If you wish to take your pet to the EU on or after 31 January 2020 pet owners would need to discuss preparations for their pet’s travel with an Official Veterinarian at least four months in advance of the date they wish to travel. Pet owners should keep an eye out for any further instructions issued by the UK Government.

More information is available here.

Data roaming

Under EU rules, the cost of making calls, sending messages or using the internet on your phone in the EU is the same in the UK. If the UK leaves without a deal these rules will no longer apply – however, some UK companies have said they may continue to offer this benefit to their customers. Before you travel, check with your mobile phone provider about the costs of using your phone in the EU.

Escape from Brexit to the mountains

We hope the above provides some peace of mind and helpful guidance. As ever, we look forward to seeing you in the mountains in the near future. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if ever we can help – either via email or call 01799 513331

Upon arriving in the Val d’Orcia you will sure to want to have your camera at hand. The landscapes here have fast become the face of Tuscany in no small part due to the photogenic nature of the rolling hills dotted with Cypress trees and farmhouses. This is just one reason why this area is so special. The Val D’Orcia is steeped in history, from ancient pilgrimage routes to Etruscan hill top towns, this area has it all and the best way to see it, is undoubtedly on foot.

Predominantly on easy gravel and clay farm tracks the walking on offer here makes for a perfect Spring or Autumn getaway. With temperatures typically in the high teens/low twenties during both seasons, the rolling hills here offer a wonderful kick start to the walking season or one last sunny weeks walking before the winter arrives.

Fantastic food and drink have always been synonymous with Tuscany and the Val d’Orcia is no different. The Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wines both originate from here and were 2 of the first 3 wines in Italy to achieve the highest status a wine can achieve, the DOCG. Under Italian wine law DOCG is the highest designation of quality among Italian wines. DOCG stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin, DOCG).

Walk in the Tuscan Hills

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Walking Holidays in Tuscany with Collett's Walking Holidays in Tuscany with Collett's
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Our base in the Val d’Orcia is run by our friends Luisa and Matthias who also farm the surrounding 60 hectares of land. Luisa and her mother Lorenza are highly regarded both locally and worldwide as producers of fantastic Tuscan food. Luisa winning local pasta making competitions year upon year and Lorenza has been running cookery schools both from her home in San Quirico d’Orcia and over in the United States.

At Il Rigo the food is of the highest quality, with traditional dishes on the menu throughout the week all sourced from local supplies if not their own farm.

Contact us on 01799 513331 or see Our Walking Holidays in Tuscany for more information and to book.

Walk in sunny Spain this Autumn on a Collett’s Walking Break in glorious Andalucia – Mediterranean, Moorish & Mountainous!

It’s time to book your Autumn walking holiday and we have the perfect break for you.

Start Dates: 12 October, 26 October & 2 November
£715 per person

Includes bed, breakfast, three course dinner with wine (6 nights) often eaten al fresco,
airport transfers to and from Malaga airport (1hr) – and 5 stunning days venturing out on foot in the spectacular Sierra de Tejeda on either an easier/moderate walk or a harder hike.

Based at Posada La Plaza in picturesque Canillas de Albaida in the Sierra de Tejeda Natural Park, we provide a charming 7 night Saturday to Saturday break, ideal for ending the walking season, whilst escaping the autumnal British weather. You can expect warm hospitality, good food and wine – and the good company of other like-minded walkers. Also, your midweek rest day gives you the opportunity to visit the Alhambra in Granada or the renowned coastal caves of nearby Nerja.

Walk in sub-tropical Andalucia

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Walking Holidays in Andalucia with Collett's Walking Holidays in Andalucia with Collett's

It’s too hot to walk in sub-tropical Andalucia during summer, so we organise our holidays here in the spring and autumn when the temperatures are perfect. Day to day, guests elect whether to join an easier moderate walk or a harder higher level one. We are based 576m above sea level in picturesque and traditional Canillas de Albaida. You will walk in the beautiful hills and mountains of the Sierra Tejeda, where pretty whitewashed villages of Moorish origin are interspersed on hillsides of olive, almond and vine. On a clear day you will see across the Mediterranean to the Atlas Mountains of North Africa.

Our base at the Posada La Plaza was previously a 14th century convent. It opens on to the village’s traditional square, where we often eat exquisite three course dinners ‘al fresco.’ Some of our walks finish in the mid/early afternoon so that you have time to explore the village or relax by the pool, which is located at the nearby ‘Villa La Posada,’ which is owned by Posada La Plaza.

£715 per person – Prices are for half-board accommodation and per person per week based on 2 people sharing an en suite bedroom. Half-board accommodation includes bed, breakfast (7 days) & 3 course dinner with wine included (6 days). All prices include participation in our various daily organised walks (not available on Wednesdays, our day off). Transfers to and from Malaga airport – 1 hour away.
Deposit – £100 per person – Balance due 8 weeks prior to departure.

Contact us on 01799 513331 or see Our Walking Holidays in Andalucia for more information and to book.

Located in the East Tyrol, on the doorstep of the Grossglockner, Austria’s highest peak, Matrei is a pretty mountain town at the heart of the Hohe Tauern mountain range, an undiscovered gem for UK walkers.

At Collett’s Mountain Holidays, we are naturally passionate about the quality of the walking, but the region itself is passionate about its cuisine and local produce. So, if you like BOTH your food and your mountain walks, then read on, because our base at the Hotel Hinteregger in Matrei is big on both.

The hotel is run by our friend, Katherina, who also farms land nearby – just as her father, grandfather and great-grandfather did. Using this land, she brings organic food from ‘Field to Fork’ – a process known locally as ‘Landwirtschaft.’

Beef Carpaccio in the East Tyrol - Austrian Alps Beef Carpaccio in the East Tyrol - Austrian Alps
Home made bread in the East Tyrol - Austrian Alps Home made bread in the East Tyrol - Austrian Alps
Pretzel in the East Tyrol - Austrian Alps Pretzel in the East Tyrol - Austrian Alps
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Strudel in the East Tyrol - Austrian Alps Strudel in the East Tyrol - Austrian Alps
Goulash in the East Tyrol - Austrian Alps Goulash in the East Tyrol - Austrian Alps
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Meat production is looked after by Katherina’s husband, Bernd, a local vet, who has animal welfare high on his list of priorities. Herbs and veg are taken care of by Katherina’s mother, whose traditional farm garden is full of organic herbs and vegetables, all of which compliment Bernd’s carnal labour!

Imagine it – beef carpaccio with rocket salad! Pork filet with cranberries and red cabbage! Dumplings in a sage butter! All produced locally by the family.

As for breakfast, expect herbal teas, prepared locally; apple juice from the family orchard and hand-pressed; plus a variety of breads baked by Katherina’s mother each morning to a traditional family recipe.

At the Hotel Hinteregger, the ingredients speak for themselves. The focus is on honest, traditional Tyrolean cuisine made from home-grown and local produce. Nothing travels too far and nothing is out of place. Even the wine is local.

If you like being close to nature, a Collett’s walking holiday at the Hotel Hinteregger in Matrei is as good as it gets.

An enthralling twin-centre itinerary for the moderate walker exploring some of the gems of the Pyrenees.Includes both the UNESCO Ordesa & Anisclo Canyons and one night in a high mountain refugio.

23 – 30 June • 7 – 14 July • 11 – 18 August
£875 per person

A sublime week exploring the dramatic and extensive Ordesa & Monte Perdido National Park offering you a unique twin-centre holiday either side of a night in a remote mountain refugio. This itinerary showcases this UNESCO World Heritage Site in all its glory – and includes the lesser-visited but just as stunning Anisclo Canyon.

On our Ordesa National Park Explorer Walking Holiday you will venture into the rugged, high mountain wilderness of both canyons where you will find a stunning landscape dotted with mountain lakes and spectacular views. Your luggage will be transferred between the two hotels leaving you free to immerse yourself in your sensational surroundings. This really is hiking in the Pyrenees at its most dramatic! The holiday price includes accommodation, breakfast, three course dinner with wine (7 nights), packed lunches (6 days), return transfers to and from Zaragoza – and all transport to and from the walks.

Explore the UNESCO Ordesa & Anisclo Canyons

The Ordesa Canyon, Pyrenees - Walking Holidays in the mountains The Ordesa Canyon, Pyrenees - Walking Holidays in the mountains
hike the GR11 in the Pyrenees with Collett's Mountain Holidays hike the GR11 in the Pyrenees with Collett's Mountain Holidays
Ordesa & Anisclo National Park Explorer Walking and Hiking Weeks Ordesa & Anisclo National Park Explorer Walking and Hiking Weeks
Ordesa & Anisclo National Park Explorer Walking and Hiking Weeks Ordesa & Anisclo National Park Explorer Walking and Hiking Weeks
Ordesa & Anisclo National Park Explorer Walking and Hiking Weeks Ordesa & Anisclo National Park Explorer Walking and Hiking Weeks
The Ordesa Canyon, Pyrenees - Walking Holidays in the mountains The Ordesa Canyon, Pyrenees - Walking Holidays in the mountains
The Ordesa Canyon, Pyrenees - Walking Holidays in the mountains The Ordesa Canyon, Pyrenees - Walking Holidays in the mountains
hike the GR11 in the Pyrenees with Collett's Mountain Holidays hike the GR11 in the Pyrenees with Collett's Mountain Holidays
Peaks & Passes Walking and Hiking in the Pyrenees Peaks & Passes Walking and Hiking in the Pyrenees
Peaks & Passes Walking and Hiking in the Pyrenees Peaks & Passes Walking and Hiking in the Pyrenees
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Ordesa & Anisclo National Park Explorer Walking and Hiking Weeks Ordesa & Anisclo National Park Explorer Walking and Hiking Weeks
Ordesa & Anisclo National Park Explorer Walking and Hiking Weeks Ordesa & Anisclo National Park Explorer Walking and Hiking Weeks
  • Includes airport transfers to and from Zaragoza and daily transport to trailheads
  • 3 nights in the Hotel Palazio, Nerin
  • 1 night in Refugio Goriz, located at 2200m
  • 3 nights in Hotel Bujaruelo, Torla, gateway to the Ordesa Canyon
  • Breakfast each day (buffet breakfast in the hotels; basic breakfast in Refugio Goriz)
  • Packed lunch each walking day (6 days)
  • 3 course evening meal, wine included (7 nights)
  • Detailed route notes & transport to/from the trailheads each walking day

See Pyrenees – Ordesa National Park Explorer for more information and to download our factsheet.

In Summer 2018, I hosted walks for walkers on flower holidays in the Picos de Europa with Collett’s Mountain Holidays. When I got there in mid-May there was snow up high and the valleys were warm and arid with an unusual scarcity of flora. This was a problem, as May in the Picos is usually a festival of flora. What was I going to do? Well, I was let off the hook by the rain, which precipitated a quick and wonderful explosion of floral development and snowmelt. But it remained a unique May from the flower lover’s perspective. The daffodils were not as abundant as usual – and the same applied to the wetland orchids. But the Mediterranean orchids that thrive in warm and dry conditions blew my socks off and I had never seen such an abundance! That said, the Pink Butterfly orchids (Orchis papillonaceae) in their thousands took the biscuit.

Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Scarce swallowtail Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Scarce swallowtail
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Sawfly orchid Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Sawfly orchid
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Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Rebecco Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Rebecco
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Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Fuente dé Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Fuente dé
Walking Holiday Ideas and Information - Office Hour Walking Holiday Ideas and Information - Office Hour
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Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Man Orchid Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Man Orchid
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Meadows near Fuente dé Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Meadows near Fuente dé
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Bartons orchid Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Bartons orchid
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Angels Tear's Narcissus Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Angels Tear's Narcissus
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Grass Snake Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Grass Snake
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Schriebers Green Lizard Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Schriebers Green Lizard
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Lebana Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Lebana
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Flower rich meadow Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Flower rich meadow
Walking Holiday Ideas and Information - Office Hour Walking Holiday Ideas and Information - Office Hour
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Spiny Toad Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Spiny Toad
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Pink butterfly orchid Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Pink butterfly orchid
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - White Storks at Vanes Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - White Storks at Vanes
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Daffodils Peurto San Glorio Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Daffodils Peurto San Glorio
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Spring Gentian Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Spring Gentian
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa
Walking Holiday Ideas and Information - Office Hour Walking Holiday Ideas and Information - Office Hour
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Peony Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Peony
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Asturias Daffodil Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Asturias Daffodil
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Bug orchid Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Bug orchid

Any flower walking holiday in the Picos de Europa with Collett’s is likely to feature Lebena in the Hermida Gorge and in 2018 it was a real winner. In exquisite low-lying woodland we were overwhelmed by Mediterranean flower species, thriving in the gorgeous weather. Further up, another wood accommodated deep pink Peonies (Paeonia mascula), which I had never seen in flower previously. Another first for me was the yellow Pyrenean lilies (Lilium pyrenaicum) that typically flower In July. The pastures were unbeatable in their offerings and we stood in awe in front of a backdrop of impressive rock formations. Experiences like these gel a group of like-minded, flower-appreciating strangers very quickly and we were soon a close-knit bunch, bonded by the heartwarming power of a flower holiday.

Fuente Dé is a ‘must-visit’ location for alpine flower lovers – superlative in almost every way. Here the trumpet daffodil Narcissus asturiensis took our breath away because it was so abundant. The Pasque flowers were impressive too. The first to bloom are the Spring Pasque flowers (Pulsatilla vernalis) with pretty white petals tinted with purple outside and golden stamens within. After these, we saw the Common Pasque flowers (Pulsatilla vulgaris, a rare British native) with flowers of deep purple. We also saw Pulsatilla hispanica subspecies rubra, endemic to the Picos with maroon flowers that seem black in sunlight.

I left the Picos at the end of May and made my way to the carpet of Gentians, Saxifrage and Primulas in and around Panticosa, where I was to host flower holidays in the Pyrenees for Collett’s. Nevertheless, my visit to the Picos had confirmed to me that they represent one of the best places in Europe to enjoy high alpine flora simultaneously with profuse meadow flowers, woodland species and an unrivalled display of orchids.

For upcoming dates and holidays – see Flower Holidays in the Picos de Europa for more information.

“…there is a lot for the naturalist to discover and enjoy in the Picos, and we look forward to finding more interesting species next year” – John & Jo Morris

We were delighted to be invited by Collett’s to lead ten wild flower walks in May 2016. We stayed in the very comfortable Posada El Corcal in Tama run by the Soberon family, with meals in their friendly restaurant just nearby. It was our second visit to the Picos, having been shown a number of good flower sites by David Charlton during our stay the year before. However this year we started a couple of weeks earlier in mid May. It had been a cold winter with quite a bit of snow, so some flowers were later to appear than we had expected.

Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Scarce swallowtail Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Scarce swallowtail
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Sawfly orchid Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Sawfly orchid
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Knapweed fritillary Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Knapweed fritillary
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Saxifraga Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Saxifraga
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Rebecco Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Rebecco
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Dogs tooth violet Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Dogs tooth violet
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Fuente dé Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Fuente dé
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Fuente dé Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Fuente dé
Walking Holiday Ideas and Information - Office Hour Walking Holiday Ideas and Information - Office Hour
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Daffodils Peurto de San Glorio Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Daffodils Peurto de San Glorio
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Peurto de San Glorio Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Peurto de San Glorio
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Man Orchid Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Man Orchid
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Meadows near Fuente dé Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Meadows near Fuente dé
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Bartons orchid Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Bartons orchid
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Angels Tear's Narcissus Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Angels Tear's Narcissus
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Grass Snake Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Grass Snake
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Schriebers Green Lizard Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Schriebers Green Lizard
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Lebana Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Lebana
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Flower rich meadow Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Flower rich meadow
Walking Holiday Ideas and Information - Office Hour Walking Holiday Ideas and Information - Office Hour
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Spiny Toad Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Spiny Toad
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Pink butterfly orchid Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Pink butterfly orchid
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - White Storks at Vanes Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - White Storks at Vanes
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Daffodils Peurto San Glorio Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Daffodils Peurto San Glorio
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Spring Gentian Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Spring Gentian
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa
Walking Holiday Ideas and Information - Office Hour Walking Holiday Ideas and Information - Office Hour
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Peony Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Peony
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Asturias Daffodil Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Asturias Daffodil
Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Bug orchid Wildflower walks in the Picos de Europa - Bug orchid

David suggested we visit Lebena early on to see the wild peonies. We found them in full flower during our first walk, along with lots of sword-leaved white helleborines and tall violet limodores in the woodland. All had finished flowering when we went back just a week later, but we were then treated to flower rich meadows with pink butterfly orchids, robust marsh orchids, so many serapias, and my first ever bug orchid.

A similar story of rapid flowering was seen elsewhere. We went up by cable car to the heights of Fuente Dé twice during our stay and the first time there was still lots of snow so few species of flowers to be seen. But we did see numerous tiny Asturias daffodils flowering in the melt areas and we had great views of rebecco, a local form of the chamois, and of choughs and griffon vultures. When we went back to Fuente Dé for our last flower walk at the end of May, the bright blue spring gentians and various pasque flowers all opened during the day. We also found the yellow Saxifraga fellineri , Saxifraga conifera and a tiny Daphne shrub Thymelaea dioica.

There are some spectacular mountain views from the high passes, making the windy drive up to Puerto de San Glorio with its impressive bear statue worthwhile. Here a pine plantation, thinned since our visit the year before, had a carpet of dogs tooth violets Erythronium dens-canis in full flower, along with Hepatica nobilis, to be almost completely replaced by wood anemones by our second visit. Other highlights of this area were the delicate forms of numerous white angel’s tears daffodils Narcisuss triandrus and of the beautiful sand crocus Romulea bulbocodium. There were also good numbers of Pyrenean fritillary and elder-flowered orchids in both pale yellow and purple forms. During our lunch break on this walk we enjoyed a thrilling view of a hovering short toed eagle and later saw red backed shrikes in the scrub.

In the beech woods below Fuente Dé were many plants that I am familiar with from the Chilterns where I work, but with plenty of extra species. These included large pale blue Scilla and other plants which are rare back home but growing in good numbers here, such as red helleborine, herb Paris and Solomon’s seal. In the lower meadows we found a good mix of showy orchids including sawfly and very fresh dull orchids, only to find on a second visit that cattle had been allowed in to one flower rich area, including a sizeable bull, so our exploration was more limited than expected! Nearby, Bartons and Man orchids were in full flower. In wet flushes were colourful masses of purple insectivorous large flowered butterwort, golden marsh marigolds and the tight yellow heads of globe flowers.

In the fields around the fascinating old town of Potes just up the valley from the Posada, where Collett’s is based, there were many other species to see, including lizard, green winged, bee and woodcock orchids. Birds such as swifts, redstarts and black redstarts can be seen flying around the old buildings from the cafes in the centre of town.

In this part of Spain as well as an amazing range of alpine and lowland flowers, birds, butterflies, and amphibians can all be seen in good numbers. We found reptiles such as the spectacular blue headed Shreiber’s green lizard, grass snake and slow worm. Walking the mountain paths we were lucky to come across a rare fire salamander and a spiny toad sitting in a perfectly clear mountain stream. We enjoyed a drive to Vanes to see white storks on their nests on the roof tops of the village by the lake, their comical displays of clacking bills contrasting with their beautiful soaring grace in flight. At a mirador viewpoint overlooking the spectacular Hermida gorge we shared our packed lunch with an abundance of swallowtail, scarce swallowtail and other butterflies, with close views of Griffon and Egyptian vultures.
So there is lots for the naturalist to discover and enjoy in the Picos, and we look forward to finding more interesting species next year.

John & Jo Morris

For next year’s dates – see Flower Walks in the Picos de Europa for more information.

Early snow started to fall heavily at the beginning of November which enabled Dolomiti Superski to open their pistes early this year. Snow continued to fall throughout November and early December.

Overnight we have had another 20cm in Badia & Corvara and nearly 30cm in Arabba – with our winter season starting tomorrow, we are, of course, delighted! There is a further 30cm of snow forecast for Monday – this really is turning into a bumper spell of snow for the winter season and those arriving next week dreaming of a white Christmas will find the reality of a magical winter wonderland!

Current temperatures are between -3° to -14°c which are optimum for piste preparation. The Sella Ronda is open in both directions and there are already 1000 kilometers of piste open throughout Dolomiti Superski. For the last two weeks, our team of ski hosts, snowshoe organisers and chalet hosts have been preparing everything for our first guests imminent arrival. Routes have been studied and checked, snowshoeing itineraries have been enjoyed and glühwein sampled! You can see from our photos and webcams below, just how spectacular the conditions are for this winter in the Dolomites.

We still have some availability for the first two weeks of January on our winter skiing and snowshoeing holidaysClick here for availability.

Photos from the 10th – 15th December 2017

Winter Skiing in the Dolomites Winter Skiing in the Dolomites
Winter Skiing in the Dolomites Winter Skiing in the Dolomites
Winter Skiing in the Dolomites Winter Skiing in the Dolomites
Winter Skiing in the Dolomites Winter Skiing in the Dolomites
Winter Snowshoeing in the Dolomites Winter Snowshoeing in the Dolomites
Winter Snowshoeing in the Dolomites Winter Snowshoeing in the Dolomites
Winter Snowshoeing in the Dolomites Winter Snowshoeing in the Dolomites
Sassongher above Corvara in the Italian Dolomites - South Tyrol Sassongher above Corvara in the Italian Dolomites - South Tyrol
Winter Skiing in the Dolomites Winter Skiing in the Dolomites
Winter Snowshoeing in the Dolomites Winter Snowshoeing in the Dolomites
Snowshoeing in Italy Snowshoeing in Italy
Winter Snowshoeing in the Dolomites Winter Snowshoeing in the Dolomites
Snowshoeing in Italy Snowshoeing in Italy
Winter Snowshoeing in the DolomitesWinter Snowshoeing in the Dolomites Winter Snowshoeing in the DolomitesWinter Snowshoeing in the Dolomites
Winter Snowshoeing in the Dolomites Winter Snowshoeing in the Dolomites

Live webcams from the Dolomites

Santa Croce

Santa Croce - Badia

Badia

Badia

Corvara

Corvara

Passo Gardena - Looking towards Corvara

Passo Gardena - Looking towards Corvara

Santa Croce

Corvara

Bioch - Pralongiá Plateau

Rifugio Bioch - Pralongiá Plateau - Looking towards Badia

Bioch - Pralongiá Plateau

Piz La Ila - Between Corvara & Badia

Arabba

Arabba

Piz Sorega

Piz Sorega

Santa Croce

Santa Croce - Above Badia

Col Alt & Sassongher - Above Corvara

Col Alt & Sassongher - Above Corvara

Piz la Ila & the Pralongià  Plateau - Marmolada in the distance

Piz la Ila & the Pralongià Plateau - Marmolada in the distance

By Cliff Booker and David Charlton

We are delighted to announce the publication of a new pocket field guide to the beautiful flowers of the Pyrenees and Picos de Europa, written by two of our experienced and well-known Flower Walk Organisers, who will be organising wildflower walks for us in the Pyrenees in June this year.

A sequel to their successful book Mountain Flowers – The Dolomites, also published in association with Collett’s Mountain Holidays, Mountain Flowers – Pyrenees & Picos will contain more than 170 species, beautifully illustrated and arranged by flower colour and habitat, avoiding technical language where possible. It will appeal to those with little botanical knowledge but will be sufficiently detailed to be enjoyed and used by the more experienced.

Mountain Flowers - Pyrenees & Picos - Wildflower Book
Mountain Flowers - Pyrenees & Picos - Wildflower Book
Mountain Flowers - Pyrenees & Picos - Wildflower Book
Mountain Flowers - Pyrenees & Picos - Wildflower Book
Mountain Flowers - Pyrenees & Picos - Wildflower Book
Mountain Flowers - Pyrenees & Picos - Wildflower Book
Mountain Flowers - Pyrenees & Picos - Wildflower Book
Mountain Flowers - Pyrenees & Picos - Wildflower Book
Mountain Flowers - Pyrenees & Picos - Wildflower Book
Mountain Flowers - Pyrenees & Picos - Wildflower Book
Mountain Flowers - Pyrenees & Picos - Wildflower Book

David and then Cliff will be leading Flower Walks for us in the Pyrenees from 4 – 23 June and will visit many of the locations in which the images in their book were taken by David last year. Spring arrives earlier in the Picos de Europa and John and Jo Morris will once more lead flower walks there from 21 May – 9 June, also to places in which photos in the new book were taken by David and Cliff.

These mountains hold a wonderful mixture of flowers from northern Europe and the Mediterranean region. We are proud to be able to offer unique flower guides and walks, not offered by any other publisher or holiday company, that will enable you to enjoy and appreciate these lovely places.

Order your copy today

For a wildflower walking holiday with Collett’s in the Pyrenees, Picos de Europa and Dolomites – see Wildflower & Botanical Walks with Collett’s for more information.