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In a no-man’s land between Spanish Navarre and the Basque Country lie the ‘hobbit-like’ farmlands of the Basque Pyrenees. These tourist-free lands, often known as the ‘Basque Bermuda Triangle’, offer magical walking terrain.
Our Pyrenean farmhouse lies at the heart of these landscapes, surrounded by white villages with medieval church spires and terraced fields; you will think you have stumbled onto a Tolkien screen set!
Cooking lessons, wine tastings, music recitals and history talks enter the plot - perhaps the odd Basque pagan festival too. So join us back-stage to experience a fairytale landscape that you probably never knew was here!
Two hundred kilometres of idyllic walks step out straight from our farmhouse door thanks to a maze of dry-stone walls and bridges built by generations of shepherds, millers, peddlers and smugglers.
Like a lace doily extending out over the hills and dales from the farmhouse our guests find virtually unlimited walks from the door and ever-changing landscapes. Consequently this means that there is virtually no need for a car all week!
Our home is a walker's paradise where 200 km of circular walks step out from the farmhouse door. They wind their way through chestnut groves and over medieval bridges; they pass hand-made bracken stacks and climb grassy ridges on their way to the 10 different Basque villages that nestle in the river valleys circling our house.
These 'Basque Mountain Experience' walking holidays in Spain couple with a cultural 'house-party' programme to offer a unique and personal introduction to Basque village and mountain life.
For two decades we have run total immersion Spanish language courses combining relaxed country walks, great food, wine, Spanish lessons and round-the-clock Spanish tuition.
We are a highly-trained team of professionals integrating our teaching into every walk, lunch, lesson and activity. Together with the help of friends, neighbours and local experts we focus on friendly and authentic dialogue with native speakers - perfect for discerning adult students of Spanish wanting to avoid impersonal city language schools.
Have you ever yearned for a bit of head room? Or an inspiring - yet friendly - setting far away from the madding crowd where you can hide away, read, write, paint or just think for a while?
If so then steal yourself away for one of our informal, unpretentious creative retreats in the Pyrenees with winter walks, log fires, great food and - of course - these amazing views from every window in the house!
The Comet Line was a famous resistance network which operated between 1941 and 1944 during World War II. It was the brain child of a 24 year-old Belgium woman, André de Jong (known as Dédée) who ended up nursing Allied soldiers and pilots who had fallen – or been stranded – behind enemy lines.
A total of about 800 pilots were saved by the Comet Line. Approximately 1200 people were involved in guiding, lodging, feeding and clothing the pilots along the way and some 280 people died because of their actions. Many of the resistance workers were women and children.
If you are interested in walking stretches of the final Comet crossing, of hearing the stories, of talking to the local Basque farmers and smugglers’ families please do get in touch. I can sometimes organise small, private organised tours.
This one-day immersion programme offers a unique back-stage introduction to the hidden Basque mountain villages of the Pyrenees.
Through a series of gentle village and mountain walks we explore the culture, history, traditions and identity of these mysterious people and sample their world-famous Basque foods and wines.
At the end of the day, a private Basque concert offers us the opportunity to relax and immerse ourselves in the Basque music and language. Hosted by a guide with over 20 years of international reviews.
This programme can be tailor-made to include walks of varying levels depending on our guests interests and abilities.
This is ABSOLUTELY NOT a Lego-like ‘holiday’ package of walks + food + accommodation, but rather a totally integrated ‘experience’ of this amazing area where every walk has its story and more than an anecdote or two!
An amazing, local team of cooks, wine experts, historians, musicians, shepherds, teachers and guides bring life, humour and integrity to every day! NONE of these experiences are available to the general public!
Here we travel both in distance AND in depth.
We love our work and are acutely aware that these cultural exchanges with our guests vastly enrich our lives.
Our ethos is relaxed and informal, the international house-party spirit is dynamic and fun and every meal and glass of wine is on the house (which seems the only civilised way to run a holiday!).
But do not be deceived, we are also a team of highly-focused professionals, passionately dedicated to all we do. Is there any reason why the two should not go hand in hand?
The farmhouse is situated in a tiny hamlet near Ituren and has just 5 en-suite guest rooms with awe-inspiring views.
It is a relaxed and friendly place set amid landscaped gardens with comfy sofas, libraries of books and a fully-stocked kitchen, and our guests are invited to feel at home as soon as they arrive.
Lazy conversations on the terrace or over dinner are a constant source of inspiration and bonhomie.
Despite the Basques’ umbilical attachment to their land this patchwork of neatly-tended fields and chestnut groves is slowly changing as younger generations look for more modern occupations.
We are lucky in Ameztia, (Ituren), that my neighbour’s son, Iñaki, has taken over the sheep farm and our lands remain in competent hands for the time-being.
However, there is no better time than now to experience these immaculately beautiful – Tolkienesque – landscapes of the Basque Pyrenees.
A language lover, teacher and small-scale writer, I first discovered the Basque Country with the help of an old Ford Escort called Fred, a Spanish - English dictionary, a pair of walking boots and a bag of English tea bags.
I was born in Solihull but spent many years in Copenhagen where finally my passion for languages and mountains rebelled and drove me south!
Just before I left Denmark I published my first book, 'Freedom to Choose', and - in many respects - the Pyrenean Experience put theory into practice.
We host our house parties together with an amazing team of Spanish / Basque family and friends.
Our lives here in the mountain villages of the Basque Pyrenees are closely entwined with farmers, shepherds, cooks, historians, teachers, artists and musicians, all of whom are proud to share their language and culture with our guests.
These walking holidays in the Pyrenees are always vaguely idiosyncratic, no day is ever the same, and the intercultural exchanges we experience every summer greatly enrich all of our lives.
Articles on the culture, languages, traditions and values of the Basque Pyrenees as well as stories taken from over two decades of our own, personal Pyrenean Experience.