Tag Archives: Natural parks in Castille y Leon

Las Batuecas-Sierra de Francia Natural Park

  • Region: Castilla y Leon
  • Province: Salamanca
  • Declared a Natural Park: 2000
  • Park surface area: 32,300 hectares
  • Towns and Villages: Monsagro, El Maíllo, Serradilla del Arroyo, La Alberca, El Cabaco, Nava de Francia, Mogarraz, Herguijuela de la Sierra, Monforte de la Sierra, Madroñal, Cepeda, Villanueva del Conde, Miranda del Castañar y Sotoserrano and​ San Martín del Castañar

Points of interest

Las Batuecas-Sierra de Francia Natural Park is part of the western foothills of the Cordillera Central. An isolated area, it is located to the south of the province of Salamanca. The highest peaks are the Hastiala at 1,735 meters and the Peña de Francia at 1,723 meters.

The whole area has a great scenic and ecological value with abundant fauna and flora along with a great cultural wealth and an important historical-artistic heritage. There are five municipalities in the area declared “Historic-Artistic Complex” due to the wealth of cave paintings, remains of Roman mines, hermitages and monasteries that are scattered throughout area.

Among prehistoric remains we find the dolmen of La Morisca in Nava de Francia, the cave shelter of the Canchal de las Cabras Pintadas de las Batuecas (declared Asset of Cultural Interest ) and six cave shelters in Linares de Riofrío “Coquilla”, “Las Viñas”, “Majada Llana”, “Las Carreteras”, “Los Vallejos” and “Relagüesa“.

The great biodiversity of this area has led to it also being designated a biosphere reserve by UNESCO as well as SCI and ZEPA within the Red Natura 2000 project.

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Flora

At higher levels the vegetation has had to adapt to the windswept harsher climate and is dominated by broom and the “hedgehog zone” (low growing prickly shrubs). As you descend, species such as holly and chestnut, oak and birch forests appear. In the lands facing south there are holm oaks, cork oaks, strawberry trees and rockrose whilst in sheltered and sunny areas there are orchards of chestnut, almonds, vineyards and olive groves.

Fauna

Fauna of the park is well represented with 213 cataloged species of vertebrates, of which 9 correspond to the fish group, 13 to amphibians, 19 to reptiles, 126 to birds and 46 to mammals.

As for birds, it is common to see vultures, both griffon and black, golden eagle, peregrine falcon, Egyptian vulture and eagle owl. The black stork, listed as endangered, is also present

Among the mammals that inhabit the Las Batuecas-Sierra de Francia Natural Park are Iberian lynx, badger, ibex, wild cat, mongoose, marten, Iberian desman and otter as well as roe deer, red deer and wild boar.

In the many streams and ponds you can find Iberian newt and Iberian midwife toad

The Peña de Francia lizard (Lagartija batueca – Iberolacerta martinezricai) is exclusive to these mountains as the name sugggests.

Information/Visitors Centers

Casa del Parque de las Batuecas-Sierra de Francia

The information centre is located in the village of La Alberca. From Salamanca, take the CL-512 road towards Necinos. After about 30 km arrive at Tamames and from there on the SA-215, follow the signs to La Peña de Francia. It can also be reached by the A62 motorway; Salamanca – Portugal. Take the Fuentes de San Esteban exit towards Cabrillas-Tamames-La Alberca.

There are excellent audio visual displays, exhibitions covering fauna, flora and the area in general plus the friendly helpful staff will help you to find the best routes and places to see in the area.

Official website for the tourist infomation centre
https://patrimonionatural.org/casas-del-parque/casas-del-parque/casa-del-parque-de-las-batuecas-sierra-de-francia


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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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Arribes del Duero Natural Park

  • Region: Castilla y Leon
  • Province: Salamanca y Zamora
  • Declared a Natural Park: 2002
  • Park surface area: 106,000 hectares
  • Towns and villages. Argañín, Almendra, Cabeza del Caballo, Villardiegua de la Ribera, Villadepera, Torregamones, Villar del Buey, Fariza, Gamones, Fermoselle, Villarino de los Aires, Pereña, Masueco, Mieza, Vilvestre, Puerto Seguro, San Felices de los Gallegos, Ahigal de los Aceiteros, Sobradillo, La Fregeneda, Hinojosa del Duero, Saucelle, Adeadávila de la Ribera, La Bouza, Bermellar, Saldeana, Barruecopardo, Fonfría, Pino del Oro, Villalcampo, Moralina, Moral de Sayago, Trabanca, Lumbrales, Cerezal de Peñahorcada, La Zarza de Pumareda, La Peña.

Points of interest

The steep gorges of the Arribes del Duero Natural Park are formed by the river Duero which is also the national boundary between Spain and Portugal. The protected area continues into the Portuguese side where it is called the International Douro Natural Park. In 2015, the two parks were declared a transboundary biosphere reserve by Unesco under the name of the Meseta Ibérica and combined, this enormous protected biosphere reserve covers over 1 million hectares in both countries.

The biosphere reserve of the Mesta Ibéricas altitudes range between 100 and 2000 meters above sea level and includes several protected areas including the natural parks of Arribes del Duero and Lago de Sanabria in Spanish territory and that of the International Duero in the Portuguese part. There are also various areas of the Natura 2000 Network such as the Duero Canyons, the Villafáfila Lagoons, the Sierra de la Culebra and the Albufera del Azibo/Romeo.


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Flora

There is a very rich plant community present which is characterized by the great abundance of typically Mediterranean species mixed in with cultivated olive, grape vine, almond and other fruit trees. In many areas the farmland has been abandoned and is now covered with naturaly regenerated thickets of junipers, holm oak, gall oak, cork oak interspersed with beautiful meadows of grasses and wild flowers.

Fauna

Over 300 species of bird have been recorded here but the black stork is one of the most emblematic in the Arribes del Duero Natural Park and they are accompanied by birds of prey such as griffon vulture, egyptian vulture, eagle owl, golden eagle, bonnellis eagle, kites (both red and black), peregrine falcon and lesser kestrel.

Mammals include both the Iberian wolf and Iberian lynx.

Traditionally, hunting of the Iberian wolf has been allowed north of the Duero river but in 2021 the Spanish goverment announced a total ban much to the dismay of the hunting fraternity and many livestock owners. Time will tell how this works. (Read the comments on the ban at the Iberia Nature Forum https://iberianatureforum.com/forums/topic/iberian-wolf-hunting-ban/ )

Video on YouTube – Arribes del Duero Natural Park (Spanish)


Information/Visitors Centers

Casa del Parque de Arribes del Duero ‘El Torreón de Sobradillo’

Located in the town of Sobradillo east of Salamanca on the border with Portugal, the best way to get there is from Salamanca via the SA-300 heading towards Ledesma or towards Vitigudino via the C-517 and from Zamora via the C-527 towards Fermoselle. From Portugal take the N-620 towards Salamanca and the N-122 towards Zamora.

This information centre has audivisual films about the park and its fauna and flora with exhibitions and models showing the geology and history of the area.

Casa del Parque de Arribes del Duero ‘Convento de San Francisco’

This information centre is located in the old Convent of San Francisco de Fermoselle, a town located in the southwest of the province of Zamora.

Staffed by knowledgable local people this centre will help you get the best out of a visit to the area and has a lot of information on local events and activities as well as exhibitions about the Arribes del Duero Natural Park, its fauna, flora and human history.

Official Tourism website here: https://patrimonionatural.org/espacios-naturales/parque-natural/parque-natural-arribes-del-duero


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Hoces del Río Riaza Natural Park

  • Region: Castilla y Leon
  • Province: Segovia
  • Declared a Natural Park: 2004
  • Park surface area: 6470 hectares
  • Towns and villages: Maderuelo, Galende, Montejo

Points of interest

The Hoces del Río Riaza Natural Park is located in the northeast of the province of Segovia near to the border with the province of Burgos.

This stunning area has been created by the Riaza river which has excavated the limestone of the Segovian plains to create one of the largest areas of gorges, canyons, cliffs and ravines in Spain.

One of the largest Griffon vulture colonies in Spain are resident here and also, due to the caves, it is a safe haven for the Greater mouse-eared bat (Myotis myotis.)

The Linares reservoir is worth a visit especially the dam which has fantastic views and is a great place for birdwatching. The village of Maderuelo was recently named as one of the most beautiful villages in Spain.

This area is characterized by the dominance of the sessile juniper mixed with other oak species woodland. There are rosaceae species such as wild rose, blackberry, hawthorn and blackthorn and various planted woodlands of pine. Depending on the time of year, the Cistus species (Cistus ladanifer and Cistus laurifolius.) can be a beautiful sight when in flower.

Mammals are represented well in this area with otter, wild boar, fox, roe deer, badger, genet, marten, weasel, wild cat, rabbit and hare

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Footpaths in the area (Ask in the visitor centre)

  • Senda entre puentes
  • Senda del Río
  • Senda de la Ermita del Casuar
  • Senda del Cerro Alto
  • Senda de las Tenadas de Valdevacas
  • Senda del Embalse de Linares del Arroyo
AUTHORIZATIONS

From January 1 to July 31 it is necessary to request an authorization at the Information Centre to be able to travel through the reserve area of ​​the natural park, this area includes the PR-SG-6 (Senda del Rio) and PRC-SG- 7 (Hermitage of Casuar).

Information/Visitors Centers

Hoces del Río Riaza Natural Park visitor centre

Address: Las Eras street in the village of Montejo de la Vega de la Serrezuela. Take the A-1 / E-5 highway, exit 146 and in Milagros, the road to Montejo de la Vega. From Aranda de Duero, continue on the N-1 road to Fuentespina and there take the C-114 road to Fuentelcesped where you take the detour to Montejo de la Vega.

At the Information centre you will find all the information you need to get the best out of a visit to the area. Guides and leaflets are available about the various trails (Including permits when needed) as well as details of other nearby areas of cultural or natural interest.

There is an audivisual film and also exhibitions on the fauna, flora, geology and culture of the area.

Castilla y Leon official tourist website for the Hoces del Río Riaza Natural Park
https://www.turismocastillayleon.com/en/countryside-nature/natural-areas/hoces-del-rio-riaza


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Cañón del río Lobos Natural Park

Region: Castilla y Leon
Province: Soria y Burgos
Declared a Natural Park: 1985
Park surface area: 10,176 hectares
Towns and Villages: Casarejos, Hontoria del Pinar, Herrera de Soria, Ucero, Nafría de Ucero, San Leonardo de Yagüe, Santa María de las Hoyas

Points of interest

The Cañón del Río Lobos Natural Park is a stunning limestone landscape with two thirds of the park located in the province of Soria and the rest in the province of Burgos.

One of the most visited areas of ​​the Natural Park is the Templar hermitage of San Bartolomé, a Romanesque construction from the first quarter of the 13th century with some Gothic influence. It was part of a monastery of which only the chapel remains.

Located behind the hermitage are the caves which contain engravings and paintings dated to the Bronze Age.

There are extensive forests of juniper and black pine, over a hundred pairs of griffon vultures and also nesting in the area golden eagle, bonellis eagle, Egyptian vulture and various hawks. Mammals include roe deer, wild boar, squirrels, otters, badgers, and wildcats.

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Video on You tube in Spanish about the Cañón del río Lobos Natural Park


Main access points to the Cañón del río Lobos Natural Park.

  • On the western side, upstream, access is from the village of Hontoria del Pinar On the N-234 road.
  • 12km from Hontoria del Pinar the Puente de los Siete Ojos is the acces most used by hikers who want to walk through the Canyon to the hermitage of San Bartolomé and to visit the caves
  • At the end (downstream) of the canyon is the Galiana entrance, on the SO-920 road between Casarejos and Ucero. This is close to the Interpretation Center which is located in an old mill converted into a fish farm. (See below)
At all entrances there are car parks and information services.

There are recreational areas at various points in the park, in the Siete Ojos area, the Galiana entrance, in Hontoria del Pinar, Los Agualinos and La Fuente del Pino near Santa María de las Hoyas.

In addition, there are five fantastic viewpoints in the natural park: Costalago, Lastrilla, Castillo, Galiana and Gullurías. The first four can be accessed by car, whilst Gullurías can only be accessed on foot.

Information/Visitors Centers

Casa del Parque del Cañón del Río Lobos interpretation centre

Carretera SO-920 del Burgo a S. Leonardo de Yagüe Km. 16. The best way to access is via the SO-920 that connects El Burgo de Osma with San Leonardo de Yagüe, accessing these two towns either by the N-122 or the N -234.

A very informative information centre with knowedgable staff. there are audio visual displays and exhibitions of the fauna, flora, gology and human history of the area. Also one of the largest exhibitions about mushrooms and funghi in Spain.

Castilla y Leon official Tourism website for the Cañón del río Lobos Natural Park

Web: https://patrimonionatural.org/espacios-naturales/parque-natural/parque-natural-canon-del-rio-lobos


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Lago de Sanabria Natural park

  • New name: Parque natural Lago de Sanabria y sierras Segundera y de Porto
  • Region: Castilla y Leon
  • Province: Zamora
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1978
  • Park surface area: 32,302 hectares
  • Nearby towns and villages: Puebla de Sanabria, Cobreros, Galende, Porto, Trefacio

Points of interest

The stunning Lago de Sanabria Natural Park has been extended into the Parque natural Lago de Sanabria y sierras Segundera y de Porto.

At almost 200 hectares and a depth of 50 odd metres the lake, that gives its name to the park, is the largest natural lake in the Iberian Peninsula of glacial origin.

The trout inhabiting both the lake and rivers in the area are highly appreciated in sport fishing and exquisite culinary tasting. In the lake they grow to a large size and the flesh usually has a salmon-pink hue. If you like trout ask for “trucha Sanabrasa” in a restaurant as it is a a staple in the zamorana kitchen.

Located in Sanabria, the northwest part of the province of Zamora close to the border with Portugal it covers the mountainous areas of the Sierra Segundera and Sierra de la Cabrer with heights ranging from 997 m at the lake banks to the 2,124 m of the peak of Peña Trevinca.

This area is one of the few areas in Western Europe having a sizeable population of Iberian wolf living in the close by Sierra de la Culebra mountain range.

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Flora

The geographic location of the Lago de Sanabria Natural park on the edges of both Atlantic and Mediterranean climates and in both humid and temperate zones creates a diverse habitat for an enormous wealth of flora with more than 1500 recorded species.

Plentiful water is also another factor of diversity with the abundance of streams, springs, lagoons, bogs and flooded areas that allow the existence of a characteristic aquatic flora adapted to the clean waters found in this natural space. Among these humid environments peat bogs stand out for the quantity of compact masses of different species of Sphagnum moss and that can reach several meters in thickness. These peat bogs are also the prefferred habitat are the preferred habitat for Sundew – a small carnivorous plant.

The dominant forest is that of Quercus pyrenaica and in the colder, damp valleys and on the banks of the Tera river these oaks are replaced by alder (Glutinosa Alnus), birch (Betula pubescens), haze (Corylus avellana), rowan (Sorbus Sorbus) and holly (Ilex aquifolium.) Junipers and yews are also present and closer to towns and villages we find tended groves of wallnut and chestnut.

Fauna

Around 40 species of mammals are present in the area and species such as the Iberian wolf, wild cat, pyrenean desman, otter , stone marten, stoat and badger stand out. Red deer, roe deer and wild boar are numerous.

From around 2012 the brown bear has been repopulating the area. It would seem that they are dispersed adults from the Western Cantabrian subpopulation that holds around 200 individuals. in 2019 and 2020, reports were made of sightings around the Sanabria lake and the Sotillo valley coupled with attacks on beehives in the area.

Raptors are present in good numbers. Golden eagle, Honey buzzard, Peregrine falcon, Kestrel and Eagle owl to name a few and around 125 species of bird species are recorded in the park.

Information/Visitors Centers

Interpretation centre for the Parque natural Lago de Sanabria y sierras Segundera y de Porto

Address: Ctra. ZA-104, Km 4,5. Rabanillo (Galende). 49360 Zamora.

Located near the town of Rabanillo at the intersection with the ZA-104 road The Park Interpretation Centre has a permanent exhibition that shows the natural, social and cultural aspects of the park using scale models, explanation panels and audiovisual presentations, etc.

Opening times

Summer: Every day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Winter: Open by appointment during the week and open only on weekends from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m

San Martín de Castañeda

The restored monastery of San Martín de Castañeda is a medieval building that housed the Cistercian monks and has been declared a Historic-Artistic Monument. There is an exhibition covering history, ethnography and a sample of recovered sacred art.

Address: Pza de la Iglesia s/n. San Martín de Castañeda (Galende). Zamora.

Opening times

Winter: From October 1 to December 9:
Friday: 16:00 – 20:00
Saturdays, Sundays and holidays: 10:00 – 14:00 and 16:00 – 20:00

Summer: From June 19 – September 30):
Every day: 10:00 – 14:00 and 16:00 – 20:00

See also the official tourist website for Castilla y Leon
Web: https://www.turismocastillayleon.com/es/rural-naturaleza/espacios-naturales/parque-natural-lago-sanabria-sierras-segundera-porto


The Grazalema Guide

The best way to see all our web projects in one place is over at the Grazalema Guide.

The Grazalema Guide – Tourist Information Portal for the Sierra de Grazalema, Wildside Holidays, The town of Ronda and the Caminito del Rey.

https://grazalemaguide.com/