Every time I go back to Extremadura I try to include a day of walking in my agenda. I tend to eat a lot while I’m there (a classic when you are at mom’s), so a good walk keeps me, if not fit, at least guilt-free.
Today I’m sharing a recent walking route I did with my dad near my hometown of Don Benito, in central Extremadura.
Our route started on the outskirts of Villanueva de la Serena. We headed towards a tiny village about 12 km away called Magacela and walked all the way back again. See the map below to have a good idea of the exact location.
We set off just after 10:00 on a cold, but bright day, after leaving the car in Calle Magacela. From here reaching the destination is easy: cross the bridge over the tracks and keep walking along the dirt road for about one hour until you reach a crossing. Then take the road on your right and keep walking until reaching the village. Simple, isn’t it?
The good thing about this route is that it doesn’t need any particular skills, as there is no climbing involved. However, once you reach Magacela you many want to walk up to the castle to enjoy some great views, as we did.
The road runs along fields planted with broad beans (a nearby village is called La Haba, ‘the broad bean’) and the odd olive tree. There is no shade whatsoever and you will be facing the sun all the way to Magacela if you leave in the morning. Remember to wear a hat if you don’t want to end up with a headache, as I did. Who would expect such a strong sun in mid-December?
I was told it takes 2 hours to arrive to Magacela, but it took us almost 3 hours. I must say we walked quite slowly and stopped once for a snack. The motivational factor to keep walking is Magacela’s castle, highly visible right from the start.
What to see in Magacela
Magacela is a tiny village, but there are two important sights I recommend you to see–the dolmen and the castle.
It’s located on the outskirts of Magacela and you will see it before reaching the village. After passing the local cemetery, you’ll reach the main road (EX-348). Cross the road and you’ll see the dolmen just a few meters away.
This Megalithic burial chamber is similar in size to the one in Lácara, and only twelve vertical granite stones remain today.
After seeing the dolmen take the main road and walk until you arrive the village. There is no pavement or hard shoulder, so walk as fast as you can and be careful with the cars!
As finding a place to eat in Magacela is really hard, we decided to pack some sandwiches. After visiting the dolmen, we walked on the main road until we arrived to the village and stopped at a little square lunch.
If you want to do the same, take the first turn to the left when you see the first houses. After a few meters, you will see some benches on the left and a fountain in the middle of the square (Plaza del Pilar). This would be a good time to refill your water bottles.
Make sure you have a nice rest and some food before heading to the castle. Continue on the main road until you see Calle Ollerías on your right. Start walking up, take the right turn at Calle Alfarerías until you reach the main road again. Cross the road and continue your way up Calle Pedro de Valdivia past the church. You will arrive at a little square with a bar (it’s probably the one bar in town and some sort of old men’s bar). From the square take the steep street on the left and make your way up to the castle through the narrow streets and stone houses. You’ll find signposts along the way.
The castle dates back to the Roman times and it’s thought to have been built as a defensive fortress. The castle itself isn’t spectacular. It’s quite run-down, and there are lots to do to restore its tower, a cemetery and a church. But you come here for the views. Walk around the ruins and approach the walls and enjoy the views. From the ruins close to the entrance you can see Magacela down below. You can even see Villanueva far in the distance. That’s the moment you realise how much you’ve walked and think ‘Goodness me. Now I have to walk all the way back!’
|ABOUT THE ROUTE|
|Starting point: Calle de Magacela, Villanueva de la Serena. GPS coordinates: 38.966140, -5.789273 (free street parking)
Destination (if one way): Magacela’s castle. GPS coordinates: 38.895539, -5.737453
Distance: 12 km (aprox.) one way only, 24 km return.
Time: 02:30-03:00 h one way only; 05:45 h return.
The route on a map
|VILLANUEVA DE LA SERENA
Distance: 59 km from Mérida; 74 km from Cáceres; 320 km from Madrid
How to get there: by busfrom Madrid, by train from Mérida. The best way to move around Extremadura is hiring a car, though.
Distance: 12 km from Villanueva de la Serena
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Do you like walking? Which other walking routes in Extremadura do you know? Share your comments below.