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Shopping for outdoor activities :

La Tienda Verde 
If you are keen to explore the mountains of Spain, you must visit this small bookshop. It sells large scale maps of all the most popular walking areas together with a wide range of books and guides on all aspects of walking in Spain.
Calle Maudes 23 - Mº Cuatro Caminos
Tel.: 91 535 38 10
www.tiendaverde.es 

+ Montaña 
This shop in 2 floors has a very good selection of mountain gear and fans of skiing, climbing and trekking will find whatever they are looking for. The assistants are very helpful and will do everything they can to help. If by chance you cannot find what you are looking for you can always look at the other shops in the road that have the same type of equipment.
Calle Ribera de Curtidores 21 
Tel. 91 528 49 46
www.masmontaña.es

 

 

Do not miss the lavender festival

You may not know it but Spain is also well known for for the quality of its lavender ... Every year in July, at a mere 45 minutes from Madrid, the fields of Brihuega (Guadalajara) are covered in a purple hue and delight us with their fragrance... the lavender is finally ready for harvest ... This is a very nice opportunity to celebrate and pay tribute to this emblematic aromatic plant...
The harvest is marked by an exclusive concert, a well kept secret! ... This year, a must, the beautiful classical voice of Raquel Andueza accompanied by her musicians of the Galanía, will greet this wonderful spectacle! Quietly installed in the lavender fields, as the sun gently sets, you will enjoy a fabulous concert that will awake all your senses... To complete the whole experience, you will be able to enjoy a stylish picnic in the countryside ... Attention, places are limited...

 

Go antique-hunting to ColladoVillalba this week-end

 

Collado Villalba is a small village 40km west of Madrid, it will take you about 40 minutes to get there. The town hall is organizing a rastro (something between a garage sale and a flea market) every first Saturday of the month. 120 stalls feature all kind of furniture, vintage items, handicraft, organic food products on the plaza Mayor and surrounding streets.
Activities for children are also organized.
If you are a bargain hunter, do not miss it: it’s next Saturday.

 

Puerto de la Fuenfría via the roman road

 

It is said that "la calzada romana" (roman road) in the beautiful Fuenfría valley between Segovia and Collado Mediano dates from the time of emperor Vespasian who ruled between AD 69 to AD 79. Other sources indicate that it is in fact the calzada borbónica!
Nevertheless, you can still take this road from Cercedilla towards Puerto de la Fuenfría. A beautiful one-and-a-half-hour climb among pine trees.  You will find many clearings on the way to take a break and enjoy the magnificent views on the valley. Impossible to get lost : just follow the white dots on the trees all the way.
Once you get to the pass, you may turn around or chose the loop (longer) via the carretera de la República, a road that slowly goes down to the point of departure.

 

Las Cárcavas, a one-of-a-kind place 30 miles away from Madrid

They remind of Bardenas Reales or Bryce canyon, although slightly less extended. Las Càrcavas are spectacular geological formations composed of colored and cone-shaped rocks, only 30 miles away from Madrid.
It is possible to climb and admire them from the top (watch your kids as the site is not secured), or walk into the canyon (provided it’s not raining!).
It takes about an hour to take the steep climb to the top, starting on a path lined with beautiful olive trees before reaching the hill (see photo #3, the poorly marked path straight up the hill). If you chose the bottom of the canyon, it’s an easy walk with very ups and downs.

 

La Peña de Aguilar, a magnificent loop in the Fuenfría valley

A magnificent loop in the Fuenfría valley departing from Cercedilla : a must-see ! The path climbs regularly among pine trees until the Peña de Aguilar peak where you will enjoy a breath-taking 360 degree view on the surrounding mountains and on the village of San Rafael, in the Segovia province.
Impossible to get lost provided you follow the red dots on the trees carefully. If you do not see any dots after a few minutes walk, turn around and try to find them ! The walk starts with an hour of climbing through the forest until a passable path called Calle Alta. Make it left on Calle Alta and continue carefully following the red dots. After a good half-hour walk, make a slight left turn (still following the dots !) and start descending. After a few minutes, you will come across the perfect picnic spot.

 

A walk in the Angostura Valley

A beautiful path will take you from the Valley of Lozoya (starting point at El Paular) to Puerto de Cotos. It is a 4 and a half hour walk with a 700 meter difference in height if you start at Cotos and finish at el Paular (descending).
We have tried a small bit the other way around (staring at el Paular) and we can easily recommend it to families, even with children. The path is well beaconed (although you need to be alert at the junctions), not too steep and full of lovely ponds to take a swim.
The route is shaded all along and therefore ideal when it is very hot. It is possible to follow it by foot, bike or even horseback. From the very start, you will enjoy a beautiful view on the former dam, which used to provide electricity to Rascafría. Then you will walk along a very nice mountain stream.

 

La Cabrera, a nice walk near Madrid

La Cabrera is the jagged mountain range that you see on the way to the Somosierra mountain pass. The mountains are wild and windy, and extremely hot in the summer. It's therefore better to go there on a non-windy day in autumn or winter. Its vegetation and rock formation are similar to those of La Pedriza. The site is magnificent; within no time you are surrounded by mountains with no sign of civilisation around you. The path starts at the cemetery and is well marked (yellow and white signs). If you go to the Pico de le Miel it takes 31/2 hours there and back and is relatively easy. If you go with children you'll find a nice spot to picnic within 20 minutes or so.

Craving for Raclette

Those who haven't been skiing yet may want to find this genuine mountain atmosphere only 40km away from Madrid, at the village of Navacerrada. True to its name, the restaurant La Raclet offers the real deal:  cheese, pickles and charcuterie. And if you're rather fond of fondue, you may order the Bourguignonne (meat fondue) or the Savoyarde (cheese). As you will be in heavy need of digestion thereafter, we suggest a walk through Cuenca Alta de Manzanares along the Barranca or an adventure at Pino a Pino park where you swing from tree to tree on well-secured cables strung high up between trees (find both options across the M607 road, opposite the village). 

Cross country skiing near Madrid

At the foot of the Pico del Nevero (Puerto de Navafria) between the pines and at an altitude of 1773 metres, you will find the Nordic Ski Centre of Navafria. There you can hire cross country skiis and follow the 14 kilometres of pistes in the middle of the pines. The setting is magnificent and wild. It is difficult to imagine you are only one hour away from the capital! And as we know that after such effort you will need to recuperate, its possible to ask for them to open a shelter and to bring wood to make a roaring fire in the chimney while you have lunch. A fantastic day to look forward to. For those who don't want to cross country ski can hire snow shoes.


An invigorating ride through the Fuenfría Valley to Pico Majalasna

This magnificent ride takes you through an enchanting pine forest on the way to your destination at the neck of Majalasana. The well marked trail takes you alongside the Calzada Romana, at which point markers will guide you to follow the course of the stream, turning back along the path to the Col de Collado Ventoso and finally reaching your destination at Pico de Majalasna (1900 meters). Along the 12.3KM ride you have the opportunity to take a break amongst the many scenic beauty spots. This is a lovely idea throughout the year although it can get a little windy and cold during the winter months. 

An alternative circuit proposed by the Tourist Information Centre and to avoid the last unattractive kilometer of the above route, is once you have passed the Pradera Majalasna continue following the yellow markers until Pradera Navarrulaque, crossing a major road the Carretera de la Republica, turn right and follow the round orange signs which will take you to Puente del Descalzo, close to the parking area. 

A shorter ride for families. 
Start at the same point as above and follow the yellow markers for 25 minutes until you will see a large clearing, perfect for a family picnic.


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