DISTANCE: 15,2 km (a return journey)
DEPARTURE AND ARRIVAL POINT: Polo Stadium main entrance in La Granja of San Ildefonso (Paseo Duque).
HOW TO ARRIVE:
Option A: take Colmenar Road (M-607) and M-601 up to Navacerrada Port. Continue by CL-601 road La Granja y Segovia. Turn left at km 8, to get Paseo Duque, where is Polo Stadium.
Option B: AP-6 road to La Coruña. Exit AP-61 road to Segovia (both toll roads). Exit SG-20 to La Granja, then follow CL-601 to La Granja. Follow the CL-601 up to km-8, then turn right to get Paseo Duque, where is Polo Stadium main entrance.
Madrid-La Granja: Linecar (www.linecar.es) Exits from Madrid: South bus station - C/ Méndez Álvaro
CL-601 to La Granja. Follow the CL-601 up to km-8, then turn right to get Paseo Duque, where is Polo Stadium main entrance.
Segovia-La Granja: La Sepulvedana (www.lasepulvedana.es)
APPROXIMATE DURATION: 1h 15’- 1h 45’, plus the time spent enjoying the spots you go through.
ALTITUDE DEPARTURE AND ARRIVAL: 1155 m
ALTITUDE: MINIMUM AND MAXIMUM: 1123-1265 m
SLOPE: MAXIMUM: 13%
DESCRIPTION OF THE ROUTE: La Granja (Polo Stadium)-Vereda de Valparaíso-Pradera de Valsaín-Camino de Pesquerías Reales as far as Boca del Asno and back.
A nice ride fit for everyone
The route starts at the Polo Stadium in La Granja; we go down and ride across the bridge over the Niño Bridge. We cross the gate and go as far as Pasaderas Bridge, where we first see the Camino de Pesquerías Reales. It is not until we get to the Prairie of Valsain that we will take it.
So, we cross the Bridge and take the track Valparaíso that goes up in front of us towards Valsaín. We leave the road from Robledo to Valsaín and get to Valsaín; we then turn right close to the bullring as far as a gate, leaving the ruins of Palace of Valsaín on our right. We go through the large prairie of Valsaín along a path that takes us to a stone wall and a metal fence until the path ends.
Then, we turn left; there is a stone wall of about 100-150 m on our right until we reach a metal fence. After crossing it we get to Puente de los Canales, where we take the Camino de Pesquerías Reales. We first reach the recreational area Los Asientos and after cycling downhill we arrive at the other recreational area Boca del Asno. We can tie the bicycle and take a swim in the clean waters of the river, or alternatively walk up the slope (there are also some stone steps) and down to the bridge that takes us to the recreational area with a children’s playground, a bar (only in summer and weekends in spring) and a Visitor Centre. From here we start our way back to the Polo Stadium in La Granja, where our route ends.
In the first part of the route, as we leave La Granja, we find areas of melojo oak (between 1100 and 1350 m), until we get to the road from Vereda de Valparaíso.The prairie of Valsaín is an area of abundant pasture for livestock grazing there (horses and cows above all). Along the Pesquerías Reales (between 1200 and 1900 m) there appears a forest of Scot pines, the typical pine tree of the mountains of Valsaín. Also in the first part of the journey we find several specimens of ivy climbing up the pines.
A very interesting phenomenon happens to this type of oak in the mountains of Valsaín, known as marcescencia, through which we can observe the melojo oaks start losing their leaves late in October, though it is common to see how dry leaves remain in the branches for a long time during the winter. The new leaves begin to sprout quite late (mid-May); this proves how well they adapt themselves to the late snowfalls, so common in the area.
CAMPO DE POLO (POLO STADIUM): Built by order of Alphonse XIII, who was very fond of this sport; it was inaugurated in 1910. He actually played polo very few times since the Palace of La Granja caught fire in 1918 and the King decided to spend summers in another place. The last game was played in 1934, when it fell into disuse until it reopened in October 2011, after the rehabilitation work carried out by the High Sports Council and National Heritage.
Puente de las Pasaderas: Located at the crossroads of Camino de las Pesquerías Reales.
Palace of Valsaín (ruins): Built in 1552, it belonged to the Sitios Reales de la Casa de los Austrias until it burned down in 1686. After being abandoned in the 18th century, the palace got deteriorated with the passage of time. You can see a model showing its original state in the CENEAM (National Environmental Education Centre). http://www.magrama.gob.es/es/ceneam/ Phone 921 471711)
Prairie of Valsaín: Close to Valsaín bridge. Remember to stop and enjoy the extraordinary views of the prairie and the Guadarrama mountains and the Peñalara, whose 2,430 metre-high peak makes it the highest mountain range in the province.
Camino de Pesquerías Reales: It starts next to Puente de los Canales. Carlos III had his trail built (1767-1769) in order to enjoy one of his favorite sports: the trout fishing. The evenly cut stones on the banks of the river –actually stone steps or sort of balconies - facilitated not only the fishing sport but also made it easy for fishermen to cross the river. The construction is 9 km long on the river banks from Puente de Segovia (over the Pontón Alto reservoir) to the source of River Valsaín, close to two streams: Minguete and Telégrafo, about a hundred meters before Puente de la Cantina over the CL-601 road.
Puente de los Canales: Built in the 16th century with a single arch. On top of it there are columns and a wooden canal used for taking water to Palacio de Valsaín. Downstream we can see nowadays the coat of arms of the house of Habsburg with the Spanish imperial eagle carved into the keystone of the bridge.
Puente de Navalacarreta: It is a three-spanned bridge, and also the old way from Madrid to La Granja.
Center of Interpretation for Boca del Asno: The aim of this Center is to show the richness of nature in the area, the beauty of landscape and the wide diversity of flora that serves as a hábitat for numerous animal species, its crystalline waters, the extraordinary quality of the centennial pinewood, and its positive management (http://www.magrama.gob.es/es/organismo-autonomo-parques-nacionales-oapn/centros-fincas/centros/valsain_up_cin.aspx). Phone 921120013.
A few suggestions will help you enjoy your ride: Bring along some water and food (dried fruit, chocolate, cereal bars). Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. And don´t forget your sunscreen lotion, above all at the central hours of the day.
It is advisable to cycle carefully, above all in busy areas such as the Prairie of Valsaín and along the trail from Pesquerías Reales to Boca del Asno. Respect the walkers and cyclists during the journey and enjoy the landscape.
It is up to you where to stop and enjoy the magnificent views of the mountains, where to drink some fresh water from the fountains, or to study the typical flora and fauna of the area in the Center of Interpretation, or to take a swim in the clean waters of River Eresma
Finally, you can give the children two tasks: 1) finding a big stone with a painted face on it; 2) finding another stone with Carlos III´s royal seal carved in it. Both stones are on the way from Los Asientos and Boca del Asno