Stage 4 – Cercedilla to La Granja de San Ildefonso, 28 km

We rendezvoused at 07:00 and took ourselves across the road to the train station cafeteria for hot drinks and pastries as there are no opportunities for refreshment along the way.

Once again I thoroughly annoyed myself by forgetting to turn on my gps (for those interested I am using Wikiloc). I remembered after a couple of kms and then did something soon after to interrupt it. So we had gone some way before realised and turned it on proper – around 7km – just before our huge climb up the roman road.

My grandson Mikey facetimed me at the beginning of the walk, still in his pyjamas, probably before his parents were awake. I introduced him to my fellow travellers and took a screen shot of us all saying hello.

Other than the initial few kms along the road out of town, it was a stunning walk, albeit with a steady climb of varying degrees.

There were a few selfie opportunities along the way and lots of wild horses to admire. We crossed a Roman bridge at the start of the long climb on the ancient stones that the Romans had laid down all those years ago. As you might imagine, they were no longer flat and smooth and the going was quite tough, but the surroundings were beautiful, through natural pine forrest.

We all joined together at the summit at Fuenfria, and I snapped Marylin and Eli taking the last few steps of the climb

I had anticipated that it would be cold and had put on my arm warmers and jacket and wore my runner’s tights for the first time. It was still cold, even with gloves my hands were frozen, but my body warmed up with the effort of the climb.

There was a bank of cloud sitting on top of the mountains, just as I am used to seeing over mount Maroma at home. When we reached the summit at 1,790 metres, it really was cold. We quickly posed for a selfie with Carsten and Ralf who had now joined us and then strode out along a beautiful flat green track through the trees. But soon, as we started our descent, we were walking through the clouds and I became very chilled. My hands were so cold that I couldn’t feel them and eventually had to put first one and then the other under my armpits to try to regain some feeling and movement.

We stopped for a quick picnic and I put on some extra layers – my fleece and walking skirt, but was still freezing. I pulled my neck buff up over my head covering my ears, mouth and nose and put my raincoat hood up, which all helped a bit. It was a shame the cloud was so low as the views were very restricted. And I was tense with the cold, rather than relaxed. In clear weather this walk would have been absolutely amazing, rather than amazingly cold.

Around ten kms from Segovia there was a parting of the ways. Eli, Carsten and Ralf continued on the ‘official’ Camino route directly to the city, whereas Marylin, Paul and I took a right turn and headed towards the village of Valsaín and onwards to La Granja de San Ildefonso.

This compilation shows four shots of the same view, each progressively zoomed in. This cow has an attitude of a mountain goat!

The walk was largely on quiet country roads with no passing traffic. Valsaín is a charming small village and we stopped for a warm drink. I opened the door of the only bar in town and felt as if I had stepped into heaven. It was so warm and cosy, and the hot chocolate that I ordered went down a treat. Refreshed and thawed, we continued on our way to the fabulous town of La Granja which has obviously been a playground for the wealthy in the past and is tourist attraction now. And during the last few kms of our walk the sun came out and I needed to strip off some of my extra layers. La Granja boasts an impressive palace with beautiful manicured gardens and a series of intricate fountains. We were treated to a fountain show at 17:30 and it was quite spectacular.

I had chosen this diversion from the camino because I didn’t want to arrive in Segovia tired after a long day. I wanted to stroll in mid-morning and have the time and energy to enjoy the sights. By staying in La Granja we have only around 10 km to walk in the morning, plus we had the treat of discovering this picture postcard town.

We are staying in the Albergue Hostel Camino de Lis. It is a lovely place with 32 beds sufficient facilities, and an excellent kitchen and dining room and costs 10 euros for pilgrims. They don’t open until 17:00, but when I phoned the hospitslera and appealed to her good nature, she agreed to open up half an hour earlier. When we arrived, we found Dave waiting and he joined us for our tour of the palace. Afterwards Paul offered to cook us a meal of lentils and veg and I made a salad to compliment it (and supplied a bottle of cava to aid digestion).

We hope to meet up with Eli tomorrow, and perhaps Carsten and Ralf along the way.

Today’s distance 28 km
Total distance 104 km
Average per day 26 km

About magwood

Trepidatious Traveller - camino blog is about preparing for and walking the Camino de Santiago. Many future pilgrims have found the blog useful and inspiring, and many who have no plans to walk the camino have simply enjoyed the dialogue
This entry was posted in Camino de Madrid, Camino de Santiago de Compostela and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Stage 4 – Cercedilla to La Granja de San Ildefonso, 28 km

  1. Lisa says:

    I really enjoy your writing and how you insert the photos along the page. Nice formatting! Hate to be so dense, but which route are you on? I followed your posts last year along Del Norte, which I, too, had planned for 2016 but was unable to make due to a bulging disc hitting my Sciatic nerve. Assuming you did the CF in the not too distant past,c how does the current route compare?


    • magwood says:

      Hi Lisa. I think the Camino Frances is good for a first camino experience. It allows you to make a judgment on what sort of experience you want next.


  2. Sally says:

    Sounds like a wonderful day Maggie, albeit cold and hard going. Your blog is so interesting to read and love the pics. Enjoy Segovia tomorrow x


  3. It looks like a lovely walk without all that cold! So glad you decided to stay in the sweet town of La Granja. Looks like a good choice to be more rested when arriving in Segovia. Have a great walk tomorrow…


  4. sixwheeler says:

    Sounds like a typical day’s walking in North Wales! Great pictures as usual, are you still using the Lumix?


  5. lynharrison4wind says:

    Runner’s tights and stretchy skirt a very elegant look!


  6. Ron Preuss says:

    Love reading your blog! It really reminds me of our very humble camino from Porto to Santiago in 2016 (our only one to-date). I am really burning to relive the experience in the near future but am unsure which one I should choose next. Would appreciate any suggestions. The one you are on sounds amazing! Thank you for sharing! Buon Camino! Ron Bundaberg/Australia.


    • magwood says:

      To be honest, I think it depends on the amount of company you want. I recommend joining a camino Internet forum and reading as much as possible. But it can be very addictive!


  7. Yes, you always do look very elegant. I hope that chilly fog goes away.


  8. ingridfolkers says:

    Wow, what a beautiful scenery and of course I love the flowers. I was looking forward to them, since you make it a habit to show them off. Less then a month for me, and the packing up of the house is coming along well. Light and Love Ingrid


  9. Was that the coldest time of all your Caminos?


    • magwood says:

      Paul said it was the coldest he had been on camino. I have been that cold, but previously not for so long – the sun always came through to warm me up after an hour or so.


  10. Mary Lynch says:

    Another wonderful day Maggie albeit cold. I think you are getting the same cold Arthic winds that
    Ireland is suffering at the moment. Wonderful pictures though. Loved the cow. You are looking very fit and elegant. Enjoy Segovia today. Buen Camino xx


  11. Carel says:

    Good to see you are walking the Spanish heartlands.


  12. Saw your photo of the snow no wonder you felt so cold! What happened to the noon photos?


  13. Alvaro Cadavid says:

    I had decided that having done Porto-Santiago last year, I could “check” Camino and research my bucket list for new adventures. Your pictures and narrative make me think that perhaps I have space for just one more. Thank you!


  14. It’s rainy foggy and cold here at home Maggie. Am enjoying your blog and photos yet again. Enjoy Segovia tomorrow, we were there last October.


  15. Lisa says:

    Yes, I have done CF back in 2013. Was thinking about the French portion of LePuy next spring. Thoughts?


  16. Jim Larocco says:

    My wife and love your blog, photos and ideas. We’ve been doing less walked caminos for the past five years, and next week we fly to Bilbao, then bus to Loiola, walking from there to Logrono, to complete the Ignaciano (our favorite camino…not just Loiola and Logrono, but also Tudela, Alfaro, Zaragoza, Lerida, Igualada, Montserrat and Manresa…it’s a feast of lovely walks and fascinating cities). We then train to Madrid.

    We are no longer “purists,” as we were years ago. We train, bus, whatever. We plan to train up to Tres Cantos and walk from there. You mention Mataelpino, but we have heard that Ray and Rosa’s place in Manzanares Real is one of the best. Do you know anything about that?

    We were intrigued by your diversion to La Granja. Like you, I suspect, we’ve been to many palaces in Europe. This one seems second or even third tier, so we decided to skip it. We’ve been to Segovia before, but even so, it is so special we plan to spend two nights there. Please be perfectly honest: Is La Granja worth it?

    Keep on blogging…please. Jim and Janet


    • magwood says:

      Hola Jim and Janet. Firstly I am very sorry for the delay in responding and hope that this is not too late. I don’t know anything about the Camino Ignaciano, but you have spiked my interest and I will do some research.
      I didn’t know anything about Ray and Rosa when I walked the camino de Madrid although I have read much about them in the meantime. I can only say that I understand they have an encyclopaedic knowledge of all things camino and extend a warm welcome to passing pilgrims.
      Regarding the La Granja diversion, there were a few reasons. I had read that the albergue was lovely, which it was, and that the palace and the town itself are worth a visit, which they were. I don’t visit many palaces, so am easily impressed. But gardens are beautiful and there is a spectacular fountain show at certain times of the day. But the main reason for diverting to La Granja was to have a short stage into Segovia the following day enabling us to spend s good chunk of time to explore a city I had not previously visited. The walk between La Granja was entirely alongside the road if I remember correctly, with adequate pavement. Not entirely pleasant but only 12 km to Segovia. If you’re not fussed about seeing the palace and are in any case staying in Segovia for a couple of nights, then this diversion probably wouldn’t be worth your while.
      Buen camino


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