The Walk behind Yuste Monastery
The historical background to this walk can be read in the 'Information' paragraph in the previous walk. That walk, and this one, can be linked to create an all-day adventure. This walk particular can be undertaken in summer provided you start early enough and walk it in reverse (unshaded part first and shaded, woody part second).
Start: Yuste Monastery, Cuacos de Yuste
Finish: Yuste Monastery, Cuacos de Yuste
Time: 3 hours (plus bird watching time)
Distance: 8.25 kilometres — but there is a short cut
Elevation: lowest 660m, highest 935m
Difficulty: low - a bit medium on steady climbs
Route: circular — map by Google
Drive in to Cuacos de Yuste on the EX-203. At the southern edge of the village is a sign post for Yuste Monastery. Drive 2km up the EX-391 and park by Yuste Monastery.
1. N40º 6' 45.96" W05º 44' 20.53"
Walk towards the monastery entrance and past it, with it on your right. The stone-built building on the left contains the toilets. Walk straight up the path ahead, between the monastery and the toilet block. There are several signposts in the area. Pass a signpost 'To Cuacos 1hr 20mins SLCC55' and on the other side of the path there's a signpost 'To Garganta de Olla 2hrs PRCC80' and 'Pantano 2.7kms PRCC86 '. Between these signs is the path we are going to follow. It goes up through the woods.
Stay on the path as it climbs up slowly but persisently around the monastery and up into the deciduous woods. The path is, by turns compacted earth, grassy and granite-paved. Ignore turnings down and right. Stay on the path as it goes up more steeply. Pass another turning on the right that drops down to two week-end houses and one on the left going to another house. Ignore these.
2. N40º 6' 56.60" W05º 44' 13.52"
Look right of wonderful views of multiples sierras stretching out into the distance. Pass a gateway on the left. The path narrows considerably with trees on boh sides. There is a path on the right to a newly built house but ignore it.
3. N40º 7' 04.13" W05º 43' 56.28"
The path continues up and up. Ahead through the trees, are glimpses of snow-topped peaks usually from October to May. Follow the path around a pronounced left-hand bend. In spring this is an area of many wild flowers. The going is flatter along this stretch and the way bends right, then left. Pass a small waterfall. The path bends left again and passes a more open area with bluebells and ashphrodels in spring. Then there is another bend left, then right and the way goes up once more. At a Y junction choose either path as they join up again within a few metres. The path narrows and is made of rough stones and climbs up but with open views. It bends decisively to the right. Pass, right, a low dry-stone walled enclosed. Years ago it was a goat corral. Continue up as the path bends around which makes the going up much easier. It follows the side of the sierra with trees high on the left and falling below on the right. The trees are almost all deciduous oaks. The path bends right, then left. Pass a stream that comes from the left on high and falls down on the right side of the sierra. Continue as the path makes a sharp right at the stream and continues up. Pass a single white and yellow waymark flash painted on a rock on the left. The first waymark we have seen. Then pass another on a tree on the right. Reach a distinct junction where the path joins a track that cuts across it.
4. N40º 7' 31.59" W05º 43' 54.67"
It looks as if our path goes ahead, but it doesn't. Here we turn left in an acute angle, almost back on the path we come up on, but the new track is higher. As a waymark there is a small white and yellow arrow which points to the way we have come 'Cuacos PLCC86 4.2km'. The woods on the right are level with us as we turn left and we are nearly at the top of the sierra. On the left the trees drop down into the valley below. Climb out from the trees as they thin. On the left the view is impressive out over the sierras and beyond the treetops. The track goes up very slightly and is a bit rough underfoot. Wind around the side of the sierra in a big sweep to the right and all the villages of La Vera can be seen. On the right the sierra goes up even higher. The trees are stunted. On the left are low-growing oaks. The track is compacted earth, almost flat and wider. The views are wonderful. The track narrows and rises towards copses of trees that line the track once more. In season, lavender, white broom, cistus, foxgloves, bluebells and asphrodels are in flower. There may be white butterflies with orange tips. Come to an inverted Y junction. On the right is a stone with a yellow and white cross. This is because the area has hundreds of bee hives where bees are busy making the famous La Vera honey. Continue on the track ahead. On the left, down the valley, Yuste Monastery can be seen. We have walked around in a huge semicircle. On the right is a low granite narural rock face. It s an area of lavender. On the left is a huge valley sweep going down to the monastery. It s very quiet. The track widens and becomes easier to walk on and goes downhill very slightly. Come to a very big, unlocked gate on the right.
5. N40º 7' 10.98" W05º 44' 38.69"
The fence to the right stops short and it is possible to go through the gate or round the fence for a view of the pantano. This body of water provides drinking water for Cuacos de Yuste and the pantano is lined in black plastic and fenced to avoid animals entering the water. It 's not very natural or very beautiful but the birdlife doesn't know any different. First, walk on the path with the pantano on your right and follow it around to the right at the bottom. At the far end of the pantano there is a grassy area with rocks beside small pools and waterfalls that feed the pantano. A good picnic and bird watching area.
Leave the pantano by going through the unlocked gate at the picnic end of the water or walk around the short fence. The gates are designed to keep vehicles, and not people, out of the area. Continue downhill on a wide compacted earth track through mixed trees with views peeping through the leaves. A few white and yellow waymarks are dotted around as the walk up from Yuste to the pantano is a signed walk. Ignore the white and yellow waymarks — they show a cross on a rock to the right and flashes on a tree trunk on the left . We are not doing that walk but a different one. However if you want to do the short cut through the woods turn left now.
A. N40º 6' 57.85" W05º 45' 00.56"
Otherwise, walk straight along on the main track through the woods. Ignore the track on the left that bends back on itself and goes into the woods. Keep on the wide track. As the track drops down, pass enormous low boulders on the left. They are quite a distinctive feature of the area. Keep going down. The track goes down steadily and alternates between concrete and compacted earth. The area is full of flowering vegetation in season interspaced with the low boulders. Look back for views of the high mountains. Cross a catte grid and continue downwards. The trees are stunted and the bushes low-growing. There is very little shade. The track makes a descicive turn to the left and becomes concrete once more.
6. N40º 6' 15.93" W05º 45' 26.93"
Cross a second cattle grid. Leave the concrete behind as the track becomes compacted earth once more. Enter a wood. On the right are views of Yuste Monastery and the vilages of La Vera. The short cut comes out on to the track at this point.
B. N40º 6' 36.02" W05º 44' 54.30"
Continue on the track as it descends and bends sharply around to the right. On the left edge of the road are three painted way marks.
7. N40º 6' 44.30" W05º 44' 41.82"
Turn left, off the track, and follow a small footpath that runs through the woods. Way marks are painted on tree trunks. The path is a bit rough, in places, but it is not confusing and runs almost straight. Come to a well made dry stone wall on the right that shadows the path to come out at Yuste Monastery, just up from the toilet block.