Trek Notes - Spain

Extremadura Walk

Extremadura Walk


Day 1 You will be met at Madrid airport by Adam and, on occasion, Gaby and driven for about 4 hours (refreshment stop en route) to Finca El Vaqueril, the home of Javier Ruano, who runs it as a country guesthouse. This beautiful 19th century farmhouse is 5 miles from the road, set in 2000 acres of classic Extremadura landscape with granite outcrops and dehesa – a countryside dotted with evergreen oak trees which give it a parklike appearance. The rooms have great character and are most comfortable, all with their own bathrooms. The first two nights are spent here.


Day 2 An easy morning’s walk on the estate amongst cork and holm oaks, Visigothic tombs, black-leg pigs and circling red kites, ending with lunch back at the farm. In the afternoon, 45 minutes by vehicle to Cáceres for a walking tour of this fine Arabic/Christian city (World Heritage Site). Dinner and the night at Finca El Vaqueril.

Walk: 6½ miles, in Cáceres 3 or so.


Day 3 You leave the Finca by vehicle for a one hour drive via the Roman bridge at Alcántara and across the border into Portugal. Here you pick up the walk along the border river Erjas (Erges – Portuguese) starting at the gorge of Segura with its colony of griffon vultures. We walk northwards through remote riverine country. Cistus scrub and rough pasture with holm oaks rise steeply on the Spanish side. Those not walking in the afternoon will go straight to the hotel. Post-picnic walkers will climb to the exceedingly beautiful Portuguese village of Salvaterra do Extremo. The group spends the first of two nights in the Hotel Astoria in the spa village of Termas de Monfortinho. The hotel has swimming pool and sports facilities – tennis & billiards – and the opportunity for a massage.

Walk: 8 miles with several vehicle options, or longer depending on route chosen in the afternoon.


Day 4 Light walking/rest day in Portugal, with visits to Monsanto, mountain-top settlement where the houses back into huge granite boulders, and Idanha-a-Velha, a Roman town much larger than the medieval village now within its walls. An optional two-hour walk links the two. Return to hotel for second night’s stay. For anyone not wishing to walk there is the alternative of relaxing in the hotel, swimming in the pool and using the sports facilities.

Optional walk: 5 miles.


Day 5 A short vehicle lift takes us to the start of the early morning walk back across the frontier into Spain, with pack animals on the Spanish side. The route passes through open country and rolling farmland with mountain views ahead. After a picnic lunch, we arrive at the enchanting stone farmhouse of El Cabezo, the farm and family estate of Miguel Muriel.Miguel has 100 head of cattle, cork oaks and excellent olive oil. He has done up seven bedrooms to a very high standard of comfort, all with their own bathrooms. For larger groups we may take additional rooms in another attractive ‘casa rural’ or country guesthouse, also at the foot of the Sierra de Gata.

Walk: 9 miles to lunch and just over 4 miles afterwards with several vehicle options.


Day 6 A leisurely start for a higher walk in the Sierra de Gata. There will be a picnic lunch en route with a vehicle option for return to home base.

Walk: 8 miles with vehicle option.

Day 7 There are two possibilities, to be decided according to weather conditions. The first is over the pass of Santa Clara in the Sierra de Gata and on into Old Castile. The second option is a walk in the sierra at lower level closer to Adam and Gaby’s home village of Hoyos. After a picnic lunch, we drive to the historic walled city of Ciudad Rodrigo, crossing an area where Spanish, French, British and Portuguese armies were a constant presence during the Peninsular War. The tiny city endured two sieges, the second giving the future Duke of Wellington a (controversially) costly but important victory. In the afternoon there will be time to walk round the city with Adam explaining the history (especially the Peninsular war) and enjoying the architecture and the atmosphere of a well-preserved historic town, unchanged by any economic success. The cathedral still bears marks of cannon shot.Your last night is spent in the Parador Nacional Enrique 11, a restored 14th century castle. Dinner is taken in the parador.

Walk: both options about two hours.


Day 8 Early morning departure for the transfer back to Madrid airport.



NOTE: Itinerary subject to change according to local conditions. Swimming pools can be closed by hotels without notice. The Spanish in particular, and the Portuguese to some degree, take a more restrictive view than the British on what constitutes swimming weather. All mileages given are approximate; distances often feel longer than the stated mileage because of the nature of the terrain.

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