It happened so fast.
I was crunching through deep snow, the top few inches of which had turned to slush in a rare morning of sunshine, carefully placing my feet in the footsteps of those who had gone before me, as instructed by our guide, Juan.
Chest heaving with the effort of climbing, I planted my right foot firmly into the snow. Suddenly my boot broke through, overbalancing me and sending me sliding down the steep slope to my right. I closed my eyes in preparation for the long fall which must surely come, but instinct took over and I ploughed my arms and legs into the wet snow, icy particles showering me like cold diamonds.
I opened my eyes to see a couple of trekking poles thrusting towards me, and, grabbing hold of them, was hauled back onto the path by two strong armed members of our trekking group. I was wet through and shivering, but I was alive, and it felt good.
It was the last day of a week’s walking holiday in the Picos de Europa mountains in Northern Spain. Although they are often overlooked by walkers heading for the more popular Pyrenees, the Picos Mountains offer well marked mountain trails, dramatic views and a bit of adventure for trekkers of all abilities.
The Picos Mountains National Park was one of Spain’s first National Parks, and spreads over the communities of Asturias, Cantabria, Leon and Castile. The name literally means ‘Peaks of Europe’ and the mountain range was the first sight of the continent for sailors arriving from the Americas.