Around Castilla with a Gespeta
This is one of the many routes that can be enjoyed around Castilla, a region that will not leave indifferent people who love history, nature and gastronomy.
The itinerary is circular, visiting natural parks, villages and a few key cities, leaving Madrid aside. However, it would be easy to include the big city depending on your interests and the number of days available.
In the table below you will find some of the most relevant facts about the route we did, where the low mileage due to the short distance between the points of interest, and the low budget because it is easy to find good spots where to sleep with a camper van, stand out.
With your friends, your family or your partner, go and explore this beautiful area of Spain in a camper van from chilicampers!
|Total distance||1800 km approximately|
|Accommodation||Campsites and free parking spots|
|Activities||Sightseeing, gastronomy, rock climbing, mountaineering|
|Best season||Spring, autumn, winter|
|Vehicle||ChiliCamper VW T4 Multivan|
Includes diesel, food and accommodation. Does not include rental of camper (see rates)
A land with cities and villages full of history, ancient castles and windmills, and where Don Quijote lived many adventures. Castilla is also a paradise for those who like to taste local food and also to explore beautiful natural parks.
Bearing all this in mind, and thinking about a few days off we were going to have for Easter, we designed the route you can see below including the places we wanted to visit. We got a couple of rock climbing guides of the area, and loaded our stuff on a Volkswagen T4 Multivan we hired from chilicampers.
Gespeta, grass in Catalan, is how we ended up calling this camper van due to its beautiful dark green colour.
Click on More options in the map below to see the route we followed.
Our first destination was Cuenca, with its Casas Colgadas (hanging houses) challenging gravity. Almost touching the city, we visited a rock climbing area called La Hoz del Júcar, in particular the Alfar sector, and the next day, near a village called Valeria, we spent a very enjoyable time at La Hoz del Río Gritos, another fine climbing area very close to an extremely quiet road and with routes for all levels.
On our way to Toledo the road offers beautiful views, with a few groups of nicely restored ancient windmills that well deserve a visit. We spent a night together with a few motorhomes next to the impressive windmills of Mota del Cuervo.
From the monumental Toledo, the visit of which we rounded up having a cheap menu at a restaurant where the cook invests her time in rescuing delicious recipes from her ancestors, our Gespeta took us to Ávila, a city surrounded by magnificent walls since medieval times. The historic centres of both cities, Toledo and Ávila, were declared Human Heritage by UNESCO back in the 80s. We were lucky to coincide, while wandering around the streets of Ávila, with one of the processions that take place during the Easter week.
After spending the night at a parking area for campers and motorhomes right next to Ávila’s walls, we headed off to the Sierra de Gredos.
Gredos is a mountain range that belongs to the Sistema Central and where one can practise all sorts of outdoor sports, including hiking, mountain biking, horse riding, rock climbing, ice climbing and cross-country skiing.
We were very keen to experiement smearing, a rock climbing technique that consists in climbing on slabs, basically because in some areas of Gredos the rock is similar to what we would find in La Pedriza, a world reference for smearing climbing we were planning to visit towards the end of our trip. With this idea in mind, we went to a small village called Villaviciosa, from where we reached the Lancha de Garganta Honda. Here we climbed a five-pitch route. The sensations were very good and the place was simply awesome. After the climb we went to the bar Los Jimenez in Villaviciosa, as we saw it recommended in some climbing forums and even mentioned in the guide. Don’t miss it!
Still in the Gredos mountain range, our original plan was to attempt Almanzor, which is the highest peak of central Spain with 2592m, however when we got to Hoyos del Espino we found out that the snow and ice conditions of the last section, a bit technical, were not the best ones, so we changed plans, put our snowshoes on and climbed Morezón.
The Morezón peak, with its 2393m and a privileged location right in front of Almanzor at the opposite side of the valley, offers spectacular views of the Circo de Gredos.
But Gredos is not only rocks and peaks. The mountain goat is the symbol of the Sierra de Gredos, and it is easy to understand why. Even after a short walk from the car park, you rise your head, and there they are, awesome mountain goats in their element.
Leaving Gredos behind, our route took us through beautiful countryside with little villages up to Manzanares el Real, to the North of Madrid. Manzanares, with a fine ancient castle, supermarkets, campsite and a large offer of bars and restaurants, is at the door of La Pedriza, one of the largest granitic ranges in Europe.
We spent three fantastic days in this labirynth full of whimsical rock formations. The Indian, the Turtle, the Bread, the Bird, the Camel, the Bone…
The first day was invested in getting a bit more familiar with smearing on the granitic slabs. This technique requires your full attention, balance, always positioning your feet in an optimal position to maximise friction with the rock and making use of even the smallest bulge with your hands. Hence, in the sports climbing sector called El Cancho de los Brezos we attempted a few routes rising the level of difficulty progressively, to finish the day on a fine 6a called Editorial aguado.
Given that we were getting the hang of smearing, the next day we woke up very early to avoid the hours of high insolation, which makes climbing on slabs even more difficult, and we climbed a beautiful four-pitch route called Ignatius on Yelmo. Although the maximum degree of difficulty is V+, climbing on this route’s awesome slabs makes you feel like you are Spiderman!
Yelmo stands out from the rest of peaks because, with 1717m, it is the highest of La Pedriza Anterior. We combined this climb with a circular circuit and thus were able to see and enjoy other rock formations and valleys.
The third day we took it easy. After climbing some sport climbing lines at the Colina Hueca sector, we had a picnic at the meadows next to the Canto Cochino river, and rounded up the day strolling along the streets of Manzanares el Real, having a drink in one of its numerous terraces.
A bit sad because our trip was getting to an end, but well happy to have explored a wonderful area, the following day we headed back home.
As usual, the trip back included a debate about what would be our next expedition, obviously on a camper van from chilicampers. These guys, with more than fifteen years of experience renting and looking after their campers, have their fleet always ready so you can make your dreams come true.
If you wish to know more about this route, do not hesitate to get in touch.
Don Quijote on Wikipedia
Mesón-Restaurante Luis. Bajada de Castilla-La Mancha 9, 45003 Toledo. +34 925 227878.
El Refugio, in Manzanares el Real, is the only shop along the entire route where we saw rock climbing guides for sale.
Gredos Tormes. Rental of sports equipment in the Sierra de Gredos.
Escaladas en el Sistema Central by Ediciones Desnivel.
Guía de escalada La Pedriza by Barrabés editorial.
La Pedriza. Escalada deportiva by Ediciones Desnivel.
Motorhome service areas