La Charca Verde, Madrid

Saturday, June 15, 2013

OK, I feel like it's safe to write this without fear of jinxing it now...

...summer has finally arrived in Madrid!

And we're already complaining about the heat. Of course. Madrid has some of the most extreme weather in Spain due to its landlocked position and landscape, meaning it gets down to freezing temperatures in the winter and scorching desert like temperatures in the summer. If you ever hear of anyone talking about Madrid in August, it will probably be to warn you to keep away and do the sensible thing: hit the coast.

But this is our last weekend in Madrid and we had faith that it would provide, and provide it did in the form of La Charca Verde.

Source: sabernatura.com
Looks pretty magical, doesn't it? So we set off yesterday in search of this agua fría idyll.

Leaving from Madrid, we caught the 724 bus to Manzanares el Real at Plaza de Castilla. The bus comes every half an hour on a week day, on the hour and at half past. The bus ride is around an hour and you need to get off either just after the castle, if you want to stop for a photo opportunity, or at the stop after to cut the hike slightly shorter.



Manzanares el Real is a beautiful little town set high in the mountains, famous for its castle but otherwise quite a sleepy place. Walking around, the lack of tourists was conspicuous and (many) friendly locals willingly stopped to help us find our way. One old lady we asked looked aghast when we said we planned to walk up the hill to the charcas, "Pero, está muy lejo chicos, y en este calor?! Llevais bocadillos?!" ("But, it's really far...and in this heat?! Have you brought sandwiches?!") which made us a little nervous.

To get to the charcas from the town you need to walk straight ahead, keeping the castle behind you until you reach a bridge. Before the bridge, turn right onto the road and follow it for around 3km (there's a pavement).  The walk, although  along a main road, is actually quite interesting as you spiral up through the expensive houses which scatter La Pedriza. Many potential retirement homes bought later, you'll reach a car park and a small café which marks the start of the dirt trail to the charcas.




Along the way, the scenery is absolutely stunning as you walk past smaller pools and water rapids. Hot from the climb, we didn't make it to the big pool but instead chose a smaller secluded area which we had to ourselves.


The others quickly jumped in and started bothering a river snake.


I stayed by the side, toes being slowly frozen in the cold rushing water that comes down from the snowy mountains.




We spent two hours here, sunbathing and using the rocks like natural slides...some times intentionally, other times not. There's lots more to explore if you have the time, and there's even a nudist area if you want to risk lying naked in the scorching sun on a rock hot enough to fry an egg on. I didn't, but whatever floats your boat...

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