I have spent hundreds of days in my life looking down the Rascafría valley..also known as the Lozoya valley due to the river that flows thru it. It’s a high valley in the Sierra de Guadarrama between the mountains of Peñalara and los Montes Carpetanos on one side and Cabezas de Hierro and Cuerda Larga on the other. Since these mountains are usually accessed from Puerto de Cotos – and i come from “the other side” – i rarely go down the valley..always up towards the peaks!
Rascafría and its valley are very different from “the near side” of the Sierra, Cercedilla and the Fuenfría valley for example. Rascafría is much less accessible from the capital, almost 100km whichever route you take, and the most direct routes to get there oblige you to go up to almost 1800m – crossing high mountain passes – for Rascafría is literally surrounded by mountains. Historically this has meant that this valley has been relatively isolated..and, some would say, has protected Rascafría from the excesses of development all too clearly visible on the Madrid side of the Sierra.
This is not to say that Rascafría has not seen touristic development in recent decades. On a recent visit i was surprised to find hundreds of people crowding the scenic spot known as Las Presillas, a popular area for bathing and picnicking in Summer.
In the photo you don’t see too many people apart from my son and his aunt and a few shy bathers..but trust me, there were hundreds, maybe up to a thousand bodies all around and about. Most of them in swimsuits but very few in the water..not too surprising as it was still extremely cold, and i doubt that it gets much warmer even at the height of summer.
We soon moved on – the beach ambience was a little too much for me – to sample the more tranquil rustic delights of one of the many trails that the lower valley offers.
Walking in this area many years ago, it reminded me quite a bit of Ireland..somewhat drier perhaps, but there are moments when you feel you really could be strolling along a country path in the Emerald Isle.
The town of Rascafría itself while not spectacular certainly has some very pretty spots and, as i said before, does not suffer from the often horrible consequences of development so commonly seen elsewhere.
So Rascafría, perhaps not the remote location it once was..but still very much worth a visit!