The Madarquillos River, the most important river in Horcajo de la Sierra, flows inside a deep gorge bounded by steep rock faces. This is the starting point for an itinerary that will take us up and up by the course of another waterway in the municipality, the del Valle creek, as it flows between stone walls, blackberry bushes (Rubus ulmifolius) and the riparian forest made of common ash (Fraxinus angustifolia) and black poplar (Populus nigra).
The great attraction of this route is water. It accompanies the hiker since the starting point at the Puente Nuevo , the new bridge over the Madarquillos River, just short of the km 4 marker of the M-136 road and very close to the mouth of the del Valle creek mouth, the point that marks the south edge of the Horcajo Trout Fishing Preserve edge o the preserve is marked by the Puente de Abillantejo, the bridge at the confluence of the La Solana creek, above the A-1 highway, between the villages of Robregordo and La Acebeda. The best fishing is found at the south section because is the site more often restocked with trout raised in fish farms. The trout (Salmo trutta) fishing season in the rivers, creeks and reservoirs found within the self-governing region of Madrid is open from mid-March to mid-July. Would be fishermen are required to have a current fishing license issued by the regional authority.
Along the walk we will also find another attraction, a swimming hole where swimming is permitted. Next to the Puente Nuevo (the new bridge) we will find the Puente Antiguo (the old bridge), spanning the Madarquillos River as it flows along the Cañada Real Segoviana . The single arch old bridge built in the traditional masonry style dates back to the XVIII century and was built as many other structures of the area to facilitate the passage of travelling sheep.
Another appeal of this route is that part of the itinerary runs on the actual layout of the sheep drover’s ways that cross the municipality, the Cañada de la Risca and the Cañada Real Segoviana or the Segovian Merino Sheep Way. Sheep drover’s ways are the rural roadways traditionally used to drive sheep or cattle to the highlands summer or the valley’s winter pastures according to the seasons. For centuries these roadways had an immense social and economic importance. To date, their priority use is to allow sheep to move from one place to another, although they are being used for other functions that are more relevant nowadays. The Cañadas have now become valuable ecological corridors, an essential element to preserve native fauna and flora as well as environmental, landscape and historical values. They are also a resource comparable to rural agro-tourism facilities.
From the Puente Nuevo, take the M-136 road towards Horcajo de la Sierra . When you reach the junction with the M-141 keep on the right towards Horcajo de la Sierra . After you have traversed about 130 meters leave the asphalted road and take the Cañada de la Risca on the left, a sheep drover’s road . Follow the signs and you will be driving upwards following the course of the Del Valle Creek deep down between stone faces, covered in blackberry bushes and the riparian forest of black poplar and ash.
When the road parts in two, keep going straight ahead on the Cañada de la Risca . During the rainy season, from here to the next bifurcation, water either flows overland flooding it or the road is to muddy to negotiate, however, it is easy to travel on the right side, on a somewhat more elevated area that is not so affected by the water. When the road opens up, continue always straight ahead without leaving the sheep drover’s road . After about 700 meters you will reach an esplanade, keep going until you find a point on the left where you will be able to ford the Del Valle Creek . During abundant rains this will not be possible. In that case it is time to turn around back to the Puente Nuevo and complete the route.
Summer droughts typical of Mediterranean climates allow passage through the ford. Once on the other side, you can begin the ascent ahead . After climbing about 190 meters you will reach a crossroads. Take the right path . It will lead you to a wide meadow where usually there is cattle grazing. Continue to the left, next to the stone wall . Approximately 310 meters later you will find the path. It follows the original layout of the Cañada Real de las Merinas. The path gradually diverges from the stone wall until it parallels the A-1 highway on its way to the M-141 .
Leaving behind a soccer field on the left and a building on the right that bears an old sign reading “Venta Mea. 1763”, you will have arrived to the M-141 road . This is the last stage of the itinerary. Because this is a linear route you will have to retrace your steps to come back. However, there is an alternative route to come back without having to traverse the same landscape. Take the M-141 road on the left and continue on it until you reach the intersection with the M-136 road towards Aoslos and you will return to the Puente Nuevo.
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