The diversity of landscapes that dot Spain is extraordinary. Any time of the year is good to plan an excursion and get into nature and get to know lush forests, mountainous areas, riverbanks, beaches, cliffs, ancestral villages ... In addition to touring these places, on foot, by bike or by car, there is another attraction that seduces thousands of hikers: picnicking.
Combining gastronomy with the panoramas, sounds and aromas offered by the environment is an extraordinary pleasure that can be enjoyed with family, friends or as a couple. But, according to the writers César-Javier Palacios and Antonio Sandoval, authors of the Picnic guide for Spain. More than 100 proposals (geoPlaneta), this activity goes beyond planting the tablecloth. It is not just about looking for a charming place, taking out the dishes from the countryside and eating out, but about choosing the landscape, soaking up the biodiversity that forms it, enjoying the sounds of nature, knowing the cultural heritage of the nearby towns, touring the surroundings along the thousands of trails and getting hold of some of the local gastronomic products. "Only then is our sense of taste ready to truly savor what we put in our mouths and only then will we be enjoying a real picnic," say Palacios and Sandoval.
From the hand of these two experts, in whose guide they have selected more than 100 destinations to eat in the countryside accompanied by local and typical products of each place, we highlight six appetizing places less than an hour and a half drive from Madrid to make a complete and unforgettable picnic.
Cofio River, in Valdemaqueda.
77 km west of the capital, near the town of Valquemada, there is a haven of peace formed by green meadows with leafy trees watered by the Cofio River. It is the area of the Puente de la Mocha, in the Sierra Oeste de Madrid, almost border with Ávila. There is a recreational area and a picnic area next to the river very well maintained. The place is perfect to regain strength while making the circular route of 8 km between the town of Valdemaqueda and the famous bridge of La Mocha, of medieval origin.
The path is suitable for all audiences and can be extended even a little further to get closer to some of the viewpoints in the area, such as those of the Risco Grande and Santa Catalina. Nor should you miss the waterfall of Arroyo de la Hoz. To eat, in the backpack you can not miss, for example, a potato salad or some artisanal goat's milk cheese from Guadarrama made in Fresnedilla de la Oliva.
Port of Canencia (Madrid)
Port of Canencia, Madrid.
One hour north of Madrid, past Miraflores de la Sierra, the port of Canencia is a natural wonder full of pines, birches, holly and yew trees at 1,500 meters of altitude that is presented as one of the best options to escape the heat these days and enjoy nature. It has a recreational area, surrounded by forests and trails to get lost before relaxing and eating something. Viewpoints, stone fountains, wide meadows and the numerous waterfalls drawn by the stream of Sestil del Maíllo in its descent between rocks through the port are some of the wonders that can be found on the way walkers in this environment within the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park.
Before starting the walk, do not forget to put in the picnic basket some chorizo or veal sausage typical of this part of the Sierra Norte de Madrid.
Las Becerras (Toledo)
Chorro de Navalucillos, Toledo.
About 140 km from Madrid, in the shadow of the Montes de Toledo, surrounded by forests and in the most abrupt area of the Cabañeros National Park, is located the picnic area of Las Becerras, about 12 km from the town of Los Navalucillos (Toledo). The environment, drawn by the Pusa River and full of leafy chestnut and walnut trees and rockrose and heather, is perfect for lovers of nature and hiking.
Next to the large parking lot begins one of the most recommended routes in the area, which leads to the Chorros de Los Navalucillos. It is a mountain path that, after an hour and a half of walking, reaches an incredible waterfall of 18 meters of fall. Once there, you can continue to the Chorrera Chica and to the peak of Rocigalgo (the highest of the Montes de Toledo), which would mean about two more hours of travel, one way.
In the backpack, to regain strength, you can not miss a hartatuno, famous potato omelette without egg (fried bread, potato, garlic and paprika), typical food of the shepherds of the area of yesteryear.
Barrancas de Burujón (Toledo)
As it passes through the municipalities of Albarreal de Tajo, Burujón and La Puebla de Montalbán, the Tagus has drawn over the centuries one of the most surprising landscapes in the province of Toledo. These are the Barrancas de Burujón and Calaña, cataloged as a natural monument, a set of clay ravines that surround the Castejón reservoir that is worth knowing.
From the Merendero del Mirador de Los Enebros, a few steps from Las Barrancas, you can easily walk to the viewpoints, with incredible views of the surroundings. It is recommended to carry in the basket a good old Manchego cheese with bregado bread and various sausages typical of the area.
Castle of Pelegrina, Sigüenza.
To the south of Sigüenza and in the Natural Park of the Barranco del Río Dulce, is the small town of Pelegrina, dominated by the ruined castle from which you get incredible views of the Rio Dulce valley. About 10 minutes walk from the castle, on the outskirts of town, is the Mirador de Pelegrina, with a picnic area and from where the trails leave to see the canyon of the Rio Dulce.
One of them is the Hoz de Pelegrina, which leads to the ravine following the course of the river. They are just over 3 km one way and pass through the refuge of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente and the viewpoint of the same name.
To regain strength, it is recommended to stop before the route at the monastery of Nuestra Señora de los Huertos, in Sigüenza, and buy the Poor Clare nuns seguntinas or doncel buds.
Valsaín Valley (Segovia)
Navalacarreta Valsaín Bridge.
On the Segovian slope of the Sierra de Guadarrama, 75 km from Madrid, is this incredible area of lush pine forests three kilometers from the Granja de San Ildefonso. The area, dominated by the Montes de Valsaín (declared a Biosphere Reserve) and the Eresma River, is one of the most visited places by the people of Madrid to enjoy nature, since it is the route of the Boca del Asno, one of the most popular and beautiful trails in the Valsaín Valley and the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park.
The route can be started from the village of Valsaín, following the course of the river (about 5 km). Halfway is the recreational area Los Asientos, with picnic areas and services. A few kilometres further on you reach the Boca del Asno, where there is also a car park, children's areas and the Valle de Valsaín-Boca del Asno Visitor Centre. From there you can access the set of pools and waterfalls that form the Eresma.
Do not forget to put in your backpack a good chorizo from Cantimpalos, a variety that began to be made in the nearby Segovian town of Cantimpalos.