We started the day with a trip to El Paular. The monastery was under construction, so we skipped the tour and went straight to the mass. It was very peaceful, listening to the ancient words and music, and we left feeling very calm.
We then went to the nearby Presillas Recreation Area, which could be a trip in itself! A beautiful expanse of flat land along the beautiful River Lozoya, a bar (obviously - it´s Spain, after all!), some shade trees, and even cows wandering around, it´s a great place to let kids run around and enjoy being outside. We hung around long enough to go over the map and directions, and to change Baby´s diaper, promising to spend some time on our way back.
The first part of the hike passes through a summer camp complex. Again, lots of people, and this time the crowds didn´t thin out. It was still very pleasant, and once we entered a more forested area, it was easy to find a quiet area for our picnic lunch. We took advantage of a smooth, flat rock, threw down a blanket, and let Baby kick and stretch while we ate. Our picnic was, for me, the highlight of the hike, and not just because the main dish was Tall Guy´s excellent tortilla española. It was just so nice to spend time as a family in nature, enjoying each other´s company.
|baby is not impressed|
After walking through both oak and pine forests, we came to a lovely treed valley, where, on our return, a cow would join our merienda (afternoon tea)! The valley was idyllic, and the light was amazing. I kept expecting a fairy or a sprite to pop out and say hello. The most difficult part of the walk was after the valley. There was a bit of a scramble over a wet boulder, and a rocky climb up a narrow path. I was considering staying behind with Baby, but Tall Guy and a kind stranger made sure I felt secure and kept my balance, and in the end we arrived at the foot of Purgatory Falls as a family. The hike continued to a lookout from the top of the falls, but we left that for a future visit, when Baby is not a Baby and can do the climb himself!
|our picnic crasher|