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Sheep against the backdrop of Mount Txindoki in the Basque Country.
Sheep against the backdrop of Mount Txindoki in the Basque Country. Getty

Ten cool corners of Spain where you can keep your coat on

10 fotos

Desperate to escape the heat? Try the Valle del Roncal in Navarre, the highlands of Cuenca or villages in Cáceres and Huesca

  • At the top of the Oja valley, in the southwest of La Rioja, is Ezcaray, the village closest to the Valdezcaray ski station. Lying to the far west of the Sierra de la Demanda mountain range, the village has some marvelously conserved architecture which can be admired during the famous Jazz de Ezcaray festival, held in the first half of July. Temperatures here do not rise above 25ºC, making it perfect terrain for hiking.
    1Ezcaray (La Rioja) At the top of the Oja valley, in the southwest of La Rioja, is Ezcaray, the village closest to the Valdezcaray ski station. Lying to the far west of the Sierra de la Demanda mountain range, the village has some marvelously conserved architecture which can be admired during the famous Jazz de Ezcaray festival, held in the first half of July. Temperatures here do not rise above 25ºC, making it perfect terrain for hiking. DCARREÑO ALAMY
  • The Fuentes del Narcea, Degaña e Ibias natural park, which is a Unesco biosphere reserve, is liberally scattered with rural mansions and palaces dating from the 16th to the 18th century. Within the park lies the biggest oak forest in Spain and one of the best conserved in Europe, called Muniellos (above). With an average temperature of 19.3ºC, this is traditionally the summer stamping ground of the grizzly bear as well as those taking refuge from the heat.
    2Cangas del Narcea (Asturias) The Fuentes del Narcea, Degaña e Ibias natural park, which is a Unesco biosphere reserve, is liberally scattered with rural mansions and palaces dating from the 16th to the 18th century. Within the park lies the biggest oak forest in Spain and one of the best conserved in Europe, called Muniellos (above). With an average temperature of 19.3ºC, this is traditionally the summer stamping ground of the grizzly bear as well as those taking refuge from the heat. ABBPHOTO GETTY IMAGES
  • The Serranía de Cuenca natural park spans almost 74,000 hectares of protected wilderness. Within this are some spectacular viewpoints, the Enchanted City filled with capriciously shaped stones, the sources of the Cuervo and Júcar rivers, the curious depressions in the ground known as the Torcas de Los Palancares, the Hoyo, Uña and Tobar lakes, the hunting grounds of El Hosquillo and the spectacular waterfall known as the Balsa de Valdemoro-Sierra. You may sit out at night, but keep your coat within easy reach.
    3Serranía de Cuenca The Serranía de Cuenca natural park spans almost 74,000 hectares of protected wilderness. Within this are some spectacular viewpoints, the Enchanted City filled with capriciously shaped stones, the sources of the Cuervo and Júcar rivers, the curious depressions in the ground known as the Torcas de Los Palancares, the Hoyo, Uña and Tobar lakes, the hunting grounds of El Hosquillo and the spectacular waterfall known as the Balsa de Valdemoro-Sierra. You may sit out at night, but keep your coat within easy reach. AVALON GETTY IMAGES
  • Lakes, gorges, ridges, granite needles and glacier deposits – these are just some of the natural formations to be found in Sierra de Gredos, whose highest peak, the Almanzor, rises 2,592 meters above sea level. Lying in the south of Ávila province, the park has been carved by glacial erosion and its highlights are the lake, Laguna Grande de Gredos, and the glacial cirque. It is hot on the south side, but there are wells and springs to keep you cool. On the north face, you will be glad for that blanket at night.
    4Sierra de Gredos (Ávila) Lakes, gorges, ridges, granite needles and glacier deposits – these are just some of the natural formations to be found in Sierra de Gredos, whose highest peak, the Almanzor, rises 2,592 meters above sea level. Lying in the south of Ávila province, the park has been carved by glacial erosion and its highlights are the lake, Laguna Grande de Gredos, and the glacial cirque. It is hot on the south side, but there are wells and springs to keep you cool. On the north face, you will be glad for that blanket at night. ALF GETTY IMAGES
  • There is a tiny corner of Andalusia where there is no shortage of rain, mist and hazy enclaves called Los Alcornocales national park. This is where the humidity from the coast gathers to form banks of fog in the deep and narrow valleys, nurturing the growth of laurel forests which thrived here as long as 66 million years ago. There is also plenty of holly, fern and dogwood. Los Alcornocales park holds the biggest collection of cork trees in Spain, and is something of an oasis in an otherwise arid land.
    5Los Alcornocales national park (Cádiz and Málaga) There is a tiny corner of Andalusia where there is no shortage of rain, mist and hazy enclaves called Los Alcornocales national park. This is where the humidity from the coast gathers to form banks of fog in the deep and narrow valleys, nurturing the growth of laurel forests which thrived here as long as 66 million years ago. There is also plenty of holly, fern and dogwood. Los Alcornocales park holds the biggest collection of cork trees in Spain, and is something of an oasis in an otherwise arid land. ALGEFOTO GETTY IMAGES
  • The national park of Aigüestortes and Estany de Sant Maurici in Lleida is where the Catalan Pyrenees graze the sky with four mountains rising more than 3,000 meters above sea level and 10 more standing at over 2,800 meters. The park is divided into four areas – Alta Ribagorça, Pallars Sobirà, Pallars Jussà and Vall d’Arn – and boasts over 200 mountain lakes and lots of great hiking. Summer is usually warm and sunny but it can get chilly in the evening.
    6Aigüestortes and Estany de Sant Maurici (Lleida) The national park of Aigüestortes and Estany de Sant Maurici in Lleida is where the Catalan Pyrenees graze the sky with four mountains rising more than 3,000 meters above sea level and 10 more standing at over 2,800 meters. The park is divided into four areas – Alta Ribagorça, Pallars Sobirà, Pallars Jussà and Vall d’Arn – and boasts over 200 mountain lakes and lots of great hiking. Summer is usually warm and sunny but it can get chilly in the evening. NACHOSUCH GETTY IMAGES
  • Puebla de Lillo lies within the Picos de Europa regional park (above) and is close to the San Isidro mountain pass, which links the regions of Léon and Asturias. The town sprung up in medieval times and has a tower now called the Casa del Parque that affords great panoramic views. One of the rare indigenous pine groves in Spain, known as the Pinar de Lillo, grows between Puebla de Lillo and Las Señales pass close to the border with the Redes natural park. The average summer temperature is a brisk 12.5ºC.
    7Puebla de Lillo (León) Puebla de Lillo lies within the Picos de Europa regional park (above) and is close to the San Isidro mountain pass, which links the regions of Léon and Asturias. The town sprung up in medieval times and has a tower now called the Casa del Parque that affords great panoramic views. One of the rare indigenous pine groves in Spain, known as the Pinar de Lillo, grows between Puebla de Lillo and Las Señales pass close to the border with the Redes natural park. The average summer temperature is a brisk 12.5ºC.
  • Liébana is one of the cornerstones of Cantabrian tourism. Composed of several valleys surrounded by high mountains, this area is where you will find the spectacular Fuente Dé cable car in the Baró valley that lifts you through the clouds to the Cable view point 1,850 meters above sea level. From here, you can gaze out upon the splendor of the central massif of the Picos de Europa mountain range, including Peña Remoña, Padiorna, Pico San Carlos and Torre Altaiz, the Santa Ana peaks, Tesorero, Torre Horcados Rojos and Peña Olvidada – and beyond to the Cantábrica range. In these parts the temperature does not generally exceed 22ºC.
    8Comarca de Liébana (Cantabria) Liébana is one of the cornerstones of Cantabrian tourism. Composed of several valleys surrounded by high mountains, this area is where you will find the spectacular Fuente Dé cable car in the Baró valley that lifts you through the clouds to the Cable view point 1,850 meters above sea level. From here, you can gaze out upon the splendor of the central massif of the Picos de Europa mountain range, including Peña Remoña, Padiorna, Pico San Carlos and Torre Altaiz, the Santa Ana peaks, Tesorero, Torre Horcados Rojos and Peña Olvidada – and beyond to the Cantábrica range. In these parts the temperature does not generally exceed 22ºC.
  • The mountains of Aralar jut out between Navarre and Gipuzkoa, but it is only the area within the Basque Country that has been classed as natural parkland. Abaltzisketa and Ataún are two of the passes leading to one of the most important mountainous regions in the Basque Country, featuring the iconic peaks of Txindoki and Larrunarri. Temperatures are cool here all year round with highs of 17ºC and lows 7ºC. It’s weather that allows for all kinds of activity, from gastronomic tours to sample the Idiazabal cheese and local cider to hiking, pony treks and mountain biking, which are all popular in these parts.
    9Sierra de Aralar (Gipuzkoa) The mountains of Aralar jut out between Navarre and Gipuzkoa, but it is only the area within the Basque Country that has been classed as natural parkland. Abaltzisketa and Ataún are two of the passes leading to one of the most important mountainous regions in the Basque Country, featuring the iconic peaks of Txindoki and Larrunarri. Temperatures are cool here all year round with highs of 17ºC and lows 7ºC. It’s weather that allows for all kinds of activity, from gastronomic tours to sample the Idiazabal cheese and local cider to hiking, pony treks and mountain biking, which are all popular in these parts. MIMADEO GETTY IMAGES
  • In Isaba, the most northerly of the seven villages in the Navarrese valley of Roncal, the average night-time temperature is 11.6ºC and daytime sees highs of just 23ºC. It’s a good place to escape from the summer heat and it also offers other attractions such as the riverside Foz de Burgui, the towering Larra karstic massif, and the Ezka river which provides the backbone to the widely contrasting landscapes. Roncal is also home to the only glacier-made valley in Navarre – Belagua. As you climb up to the Belagua pass, forests give way to high mountain pasture and finally rock. Altogether, there is plenty of scope here for ecotourism.
    10Valle del Roncal (Navarre) In Isaba, the most northerly of the seven villages in the Navarrese valley of Roncal, the average night-time temperature is 11.6ºC and daytime sees highs of just 23ºC. It’s a good place to escape from the summer heat and it also offers other attractions such as the riverside Foz de Burgui, the towering Larra karstic massif, and the Ezka river which provides the backbone to the widely contrasting landscapes. Roncal is also home to the only glacier-made valley in Navarre – Belagua. As you climb up to the Belagua pass, forests give way to high mountain pasture and finally rock. Altogether, there is plenty of scope here for ecotourism. POBLADURAFCG GETTY IMAGES