The relatively small Hoces del río Duratón Natural Park is a jewel in the countryside in the province of Segovia.

Hoces del río Duratón Natural Park

  • Region: Castilla y Leon
  • Province: Segovia
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1989
  • Park surface area: 5,037 hectares
  • Towns and villages Carrascal del Río, Sebúlcor, Sepúlveda

Points of interest

The relatively small Hoces del río Duratón Natural Park is a jewel in the countryside in the province of Segovia. Its name refers to a 27 kilometre stretch of the Duratón River and “Las Hoces” refers to the series of gorges, some up to 100 metres high, that have been formed by the river..

The Duratón river gorges have also been classified as a Special Protection Area for Birds (ZEPA) and integrated into the Natura 2000 Network in April 1991. The whole area has also been declared as a Site of Community Importance (SCI) in January 1998 and since 2004 the management of the park has been carried out through the European Unions LIFE Project.

The cultural heritage of this area also makes it an important tourist and leisure destination. The hermitage of San Frutos and the monastery of Nuestra Señora de la Hoz are well visited monuments.

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Flora

In the protected area there are varied habitats depending on the climatic and soil differences. Three different and determined zones are distinguished, the moorland in the upper zone, the riverside forest on the river bank and the gorge cliffs.

The moorland zone, which occupies most of the surface of the park, is located in the upper zone, where the soil is dry and poor. Here we find junipers, thyme, gorse, sage, lavender and other scrubland polants that dominate the open areas.The junipers have been greatly affected by human action and clearing have been replaced by thyme and gorse that have come to form a kind of pseudo- steppeland. In some areas there are resin pine plantations although today they are practically abandoned.

The vertical walls that make up the gorges and rupicolous ecosystem descend from the height of the moors to the bottom of the canyon. They are a rocky and inaccessable with very little soil and a scarcity of water creating a unique habitat. Sedum acre, S. dasyphyllum and S. sediforme are present along with ivy, maidenhair fern and asplenium taking advantage of the nitrogen rich droppings from the bird nesting areas. Larger vegetation is made up of black hawthorn, fig tree and Terebinth or turpentine tree (Pistacia terebinthus).

At the bottom of the canyon the riparian ecosystem holds richer soils, a greater availability of water and shelter provide an excellent habitat for an exuberant riverside forest made up of alder, willow, poplar, elm, and ash trees mixed with dogwood, elderberry, blackberry, wild rose, blackthorn and hawthorn. There are also planted stands of fast-growing poplars, walnut and chestnut trees.

Fauna

Birdlife is well represented in the area especially the nesting colony of Griffon vultures with over 500 pairs and many other raptors. The river gorge is a haven for many types of warbler, kingfisher, dipper, woodpecker and finches.

Larger mammals present are otter, wild boar, roe deer and badgers accompanied by the smaller weasel, rabbit and stone marten.

Among the amphibians there are common frog and San Antonio frog, common toad, midwife toad and natterjack toad. Common reptiles seen are viperine snake, ladder snake and ocelated lizard.

Other sites of interest

El Solapo del Águila, in the Corral de Muñecas has the highest concentration of cave paintings.

The hermitage of San Frutos is located on a rocky spur over one of the gorges, and the monastery of Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles at the bottom of the canyon. Also interesting to visit are the ruins of the Visigothic hermitage of San Julián, excavated in the rock and the cave of the Seven Altars.

Not to miss viewpoints (Miradors)

  • Mirador de la Virgen de la Peña, in Sepúlveda, next to the church of the Virgen de la Peña, with information panels.
  • Mirador del Meandro, on the road to Villar de Sobrepeña .
  • Postigo de la Perejilera viewpoint, near the town of Sepúlveda.
  • Mirador del Portillo, with views of the Monastery of Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles de la Hoz.
  • Viewpoint of the Paso de la Glorieta, near Sepúlveda.

Information/Visitors Centers

The interpretation center of the Hoces del Río Duratón natural park is located in the town of Sepúlveda. It is located in the old church of Santiago, in ruins since 1930, which was restored and adapted for this purpose in 1994 . There is an audiovisual room plus an excellent exhibition covering many aspects of the fauna and flora and human habitation/history of the area.

This is also where you get any permits to visit some of the resticted areas of the park.

official website for the Hoces del río Duratón Natural Park
https://www.turismocastillayleon.com/es/rural-naturaleza/casas-parque/casa-parque-hoces-rio-duraton


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