The 10th of August was not only the hottest day this Summer in Cercedilla – according to local records – but also the hottest day since 2005. At around 2 in the afternoon the temperature hit 35.1ºC, pretty hot especially when you consider that maximum Summer temps locally top out at about 33ºC the last five or six years.
But my family and I weren’t feeling the heat too much. Why? Were we sitting at home in our air-conditioned artificial mini-paradise of a house luxuriating at 17.8ºC, wondering whether to slip on a jumper or jacket? No, we were not; that morning we got the mountain train to Cotos where we had planned to explore one of the high valleys that channel down towards Rascafría. Even at 1800m the heat was already notable by midday, and we started into our walk with a degree of laziness. But once among the trees, partly thanks to their gracious shade, partly due to the slow build-up of cloud, the heat bothered us less and less. The descent of the glen-like valley was really beautiful, obviously a little trodden path, steep at times but never too challenging for our intrepid three-year-old. We stopped to eat at a stream-crossing, just below the confluence of two streams. This was the point where we would have to begin to work our way back up towards the head of the valley, and it was also the point where we noticed that a Summer storm was brewing over Cabezas de Hierro. Not to worry, being experienced outdoors types my wife and I always pack rain jackets even on brutal sun days, don’t we? Well.. ahm, not on this day we didn’t..
So, we headed up another unspoilt narrow valley, coming upon a magnificent spot where the stream cascaded down thru a cleft in vertical rock while an ancient yew stood guard among the pines. Wonderful, but the thunder began to rumble overhead and the sky was darkening..we pushed on up the at times barely discernible trail, even having to clamber over rock at one point. And then the rain started to fall..so we took shelter under a slightly overhanging crag and a small ground mat. Our three-year-old was fine as he had all his rain-gear and was strapped into the child-carrier complete with rain roof but mama and papa were forced to huddle together like sheep under the ridiculously small mat. Fortunately the crag afforded some protection and the rain was not as heavy as it might have been, and after twenty minutes we were able to continue on our way only a little wet. We even reached Cotos in a relatively dry state to get the train home on a fresh, grey evening. Not bad for the hottest day in many years!