The Speedy Marmots are celebrating! We got married on July the 16th 2005, so this is 15 years ago!
We decided to do a two-day short fighter mission to celebrate and relax, spending a night out in a really nice area, at the far east side of the Guadalajara province.
This area is relatively close from our home base in Madrid, and it is full of history and beautiful villages. Magnificent castles, cathedrals, churches, and palaces from the XII to the XVII century are present by dozens in this central Spain region. All worth a visit, and some of them are restored and even hold hotels, such as the Parador Nacional de Sigüenza, a fabulous hotel in a XII century huge castle on the top of the village.
Apart the ancient historic buildings, this region offers amazing landscapes too. Close by Sigüenza, our destination for the night, you have several rivers, reservoirs and natural parcs, gathered with wildlife.
Once we chose the hotel for the night, we planned the route to it as usual, looking for isolated tiny and twisted roads and avoiding as much as possible motorways and main roads with traffic.
This was our itinerary.
First section – From home base to Patones
We leave home and take first the A-1 motorway again for 18 km, to leave on exit 23.
We repeat known short roads (M-100, M-111, M-103 and N-320) until we get to Torrelaguna. This time of the day, around 11 AM, these roads were not too busy and the drive is very pleasant.
We cross Torrelaguna and take the M-102 to Patones. Originally Patones was not intended to be the first waypoint of our route, but Patones de Arriba, which is another small village few kilometers away from Patones and considered one of the most beautiful villages of the Sierra de Ayllón.
The plan was to do a short coffee break and walk the village for half an hour. Unfortunately, the road to Patones de Arriba is now cut to traffic some hundreds of meters before the entrance to the village. And there is not too much parking space where the road is cut. When we arrived there we could see too many cars parked on the side of the road and we didn’t feel comfortable leaving the 3-Wheeler incorrectly parked on the side of a tiny road with many other cars around that have to maneuver in a narrow space to leave the place. So, we withdraw our intention to visit Patones de Arriba and drive back to Patones for the coffee break.
Second section – From Patones to Puebla de Valles
After our coffee break, we continue driving on the skirts of the Sierra de Ayllón on the M-102, and then follow the Jarama river using the CM-123 and GU-1065. These roads are the kind we like, with nice tarmac, no traffic at all, and with nice curves but not too much demanding for the pilot. Smooth and relaxed drive!
We could choose an easier road to get to our next waypoint, but we decided – as adventurers we are – to take a special very tiny and twisty road that connects the GU-1065 with the GU-195. This road has no official identification and looks more like a maintenance service path than a real open traffic road. But it’s signalized, so open to traffic, and continues along the Jarama river through beautiful small valleys. It was the greatest surprise of the day.
The first impression was a little bit scary, as the tarmac seemed to be in very poor conditions. In fact, we hit the bottom of the 3-Wheeler twice. We were driving very slowly and there was no damage at all. Despite this first unpleasant sensation of hitting the bottom of the car in a pothole, the road was really worthy to drive! We followed the beautiful narrow valleys with changing landscapes.
After adapting our driving to the road conditions, and with most of the road having a decent tarmac, driving in such abandoned isolated road was a superb experience! Instead of going along the river, it suddenly climbed to the top of a hill to come back down the other side showing a spectacular deep valley where we could see the twisted road going downhill.
While we made a short stop to take some pictures, we realized how hot the day was. Central Spain and mid-July… best combination for a 40ºC day! We fortunately were wearing technical shirts, much breathable than classic cotton ones.
We finished this beautiful road and connected with the GU-195 towards Puebla de Valles.
This GU-195 is another fantastic road, through red and green hills, no traffic and ups and downs to small valleys by the Jarama river. We finally arrive to our second waypoint of the day: Puebla de Valles, where we connect with the CM-1004.
Third section – From Puebla de Valles to Cogolludo
Once on the CM-1004, our intention was to deviate to a smaller and more interesting road: the GU-189, passing through the village of La Mierla, then the GU-185 over the dam of the Beleña reservoir, and finally through the villages of Beleña de Sorbe and Aleas to reconnect with the CM-1001 to Cogolludo.
But as you can see in the next video, the pass over the dam of the Beleña reservoir was cut to traffic, so we had to drive back to the CM-1004 and get to Cogolludo on “less fancy” roads.
So, we drive on the CM-1004 and take the CM-1001 looking for the next waypoint and a place to have lunch.
These roads are fast and really nice and easy to drive, with a smooth tarmac, allowing the S&S V-Twin to cool down properly in fourth and fifth gear with a nice airflow passing through its fins.
We finally arrive to Cogolludo. Before looking for a restaurant for lunch we do the mandatory pictures of the 3-Wheeler in front of the Palace of the Dukes Of Medinaceli, a beautiful building built in the XV century.
Apart the mentioned palace, in Cogolludo you can see the ruins of the XII century castle on the top of the hill, and a couple of beautiful Romanesque churches, being the Santa Maria De Los Remedios the biggest one, and a large monastery. The village is really worth a visit.
We decide to have lunch here and refresh. We really need to stop and hide from the afternoon summer sun!
Fourth section – From Cogolludo to Sigüenza
After a nice and relatively light lunch, and completely rehydrated, we jump back into the cockpit. Ana María will be the pilot for this section.
We continue on the CM-1001 driving towards the reservoir of Alcorlo. The road has no traffic. Very few cars indeed. And this time of the year the sunflowers’ fields are starting to bloom!
This CM1001 takes us to Atienza, which is another of the most beautiful villages of the region, crowned with its XII century famous castle. This fortress is one of the oldest in Spain. The location was first used by the Celtiberians during their fight against the Roman invaders. When the Romans finally conquered the region, they put their watchtower here. Later on, came the Arabs who built the first stone fortress, which was taken back by the Christians during the Reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula, and built in the XII century the castle which remains can still be visited today. A lot of history behind these walls!
Under the shade of the powerful Atienza’s castle, we take the CM-110 to Sigüenza, our final waypoint of the day.
What can we tell you about Sigüenza? If the previous villages we have crossed are full of history, Sigüenza is the rockstar of the region! Located on the hill of Villavieja, around the 5th century B.C. it was one of the most important cities in Celtiberia. Carthaginian penetration of the third century BC.(prior to the Second Punic War) took Hannibal and then Hasdrubal to haunt her.
Then came the Romans and during the Celtiberian wars (153-133 B.C.) submission to the Roman Republic occurred. The Roman occupation established a military zone that was separated from the residential zone. In Roman times the city maintained some importance for being located on the Henares road that was part of the road that connected Mérida (Emerita Augusta) with Zaragoza (Caesar Augusta).
Then its importance declined for few centuries until the arrival of the Muslims, that rebuilt the site because of its military importance to control the region and the important commercial routes.
It was reconquered in 1123 by the Christians, who immediately reinforced the fortress as we can see it today and started the construction of the cathedral. The city suffered during many years the wars between the Muslims and Christians. But remained under Christian domination until the total defeat of the Muslim kingdoms.
We decided to check-in at the hotel, situated in the small village of Alcuneza, just few kilometers north-east of Sigüenza. We needed to have a shower and rest for a while before visiting Sigüenza.
The place chosen by Ana María was superb: the Molino De Alcuneza. It’s an old water mill, totally restored and converted into an amazing hotel member of the Relais & Chateaux.
Visit to Sigüenza
After a well-deserved shower and short rest, we jump back into the cockpit and do the short drive to Sigüenza. This time the distance is short, and we leave the helmets at the hotel to enjoy the fresh air on our face.
We park the Morgan just by one of the back entrances through the city walls, very close to the City Hall square and the cathedral.
When we get to the main square, we’re surprised by a temporary exhibition of the Prado Museum, showing many reproductions of its most famous paintings. A peculiar scenario.
The cathedral of Santa María is a beautiful example of the Romanesque to Gothic evolution of such temples. Its construction didn’t end until the XVIII century.
We walk the main old street to reach the castle, discovering many charming corners and narrow medieval streets on the way uphill.
At the end of the street we reach the castle. What an impressive building! Today, the castle of Sigüenza is one of the best Paradores Nacionales de Turismo, the Spanish national hotels’ chain.
We walked back down through different narrow streets, discovering more beautiful hidden spots of the city.
Our walk ended in front of the cathedral’s main entrance. The late evening light over the façade was fantastic.
Before leaving town, we decided to drive the 3-Wheeler up to the castle to take a few shots.
In the parking in front of the entrance we spotted a nice vintage car: a 60’s Mercedes-Benz 190SL.
Couldn’t resist to photograph the two beauties side by side.
We finally leave Sigüenza for a nice celebration dinner at the hotel’s restaurant.
Celebration dinner at the Molino De Alcuneza
This is what this short fighter mission was really about: to celebrate sharing 15 years of marriage. The best years of our lives and getting better. Now with a new passion: being member of the Morgan 3-Wheeler family and driving and travelling together in this incredible machine!
The restaurant at the Molino De Alcuneza has one Michelin Star. And it really deserves it, if not a second one! Every dish was so nice and tasty. Impossible to choose a specific one as the best of the night!
The wine we had was an excellent choice from a close-by regional vineyard and cellar: Finca Rio Negro! If you can find a bottle, do not hesitate; it’s an excellent vine for a very reasonable price!
Fifth section – From Sigüenza to Cifuentes
Friday morning, we relax for a while at the hotel and finally leave around noon. We cross Sigüenza and take the GU-118 direction Pelegrina. This road crosses the National Parc of the Rio Dulce Ravine. It’s a spectacular road coming up and down the ravine with beautiful sights to stop and watch the nature and the vultures flying over the rock walls using the summer thermal currents.
After crossing this national park, we head to the southern side of Guadalajara’s province, where more amazing landscapes and roads are awaiting. After crossing below the big A-2 motorway, we enter another zone with perfect roads for the 3-Wheeler.
We drive on the GU-928 passing by La Torresaviñán, La Fuensaviñán, Laranueva and finally Renales. Romanesque churches, ruins of ancient castles on the top of the hills, short valleys with tall trees,… the road a pure pleasure to drive.
In Renales we take left to drive on the GU-913 towards Torrecuadrada, then we take an unidentified road towards El Sotillo. No traffic at all, beautiful landscapes, really nice road…. The Morgan driver’s dream continues!
At El Sotillo we take the GU-922 for few kilometers and before turning turning left at the first crossroads on another unidentified road. We’re looking for the reservoir of La Tejera, and this is the road that leads us to it.
This road crosses over the dam, and clearly the other side is not used as the main access to it, because the tarmac immediately degrades and starts showing some potholes. But this road on the other side of the dam takes us directly to Cifuentes, our next waypoint, so we just stop for a few nice pictures and continue on it despite its conditions.
We drive slowly so we can see in advance the potholes in the tarmac, and we need to stop from time to time to take out the grasshoppers jumping into the cockpit. We laugh as the situation is really funny; we never imagined we would have a car and drive such roads, so we need to stop to catch grasshoppers and other insects inside the cockpit!
Cifuentes is another interesting village. It has the really nice Romanesque church of El Salvador.
Also, the ruins of its big XIV century castle can be visited, and the El Remedio Hermitage and the spring of the river inside the town are very interesting points too.
Sixth section – From Cifuentes to Brihuega
We leave Cifuentes via the N-204, but the take direction to Sacedón and Cuenca. We want to drive aside the National Parc of the Alto Tajo down the valley to the beginning of the Entrepeñas reservoir, and there take the GU-927 up to Solanillos Del Extremo, passing through Gualda and Henche, as this road happens to be one of the most beautiful ones of this area.
The truth is that the detour has been worth it, because indeed the road is beautiful.
Once we arrive to Solanillos Del Extremo, we take left to Brihuega, driving on the GU-925, where we see the first lavender fields of the day.
You will surely know the fame of the blooming lavender fields of the Provence region in France. But, did you know that very close to Madrid, here in Brihuega, you can see lavender fields as beautiful as the French?
It was about 30 years ago when a farmer in the area discovered the lavender fields of Provence and saw that it was an ideal production for the fields that surrounded his town, whose agricultural activity was in full decline. Since then, a thousand hectares of lavender have been planted in the Brihuega area and a treatment and production plant for these perfumes has been established.
Thus, at present, this town of Guadalajara has become one of the World’s largest producers of the essence of lavender, with 10 percent of total production.
Precisely it’s by end of July and beginning of August that the lavender fields are in bloom. We’re here at the best possible moment! The scenery is perfect for a photoshoot: “Morgan 3-Wheeler in lavender fields”. Regardless of how cheesy it may sound, the reality is that the landscapes are wonderful and you can take some great photos with the Morgan very close to the lavender plants.
We finally take off again and drive to Brihuega continuing this nice GU-925 road. It connects with the CM-2005 just at the skirts of the village of Brihuega, where we’ll stop for lunch.
We park the Morgan just in front of the City Hall, under the shade of a magnolia tree, hoping the sun won’t hit direct on it and turn it into an oven for our come-back.
And we do a short walk in the shade, looking for a place to have lunch, and waiting for the sun to come down a bit so the heat is not so terrible. As it’s the time the lavender is in bloom, the village is dressed up for the occasion.
Seventh section – From Brihuega to friends’ house in Cifuentes
We leave Brihuega taking the CM-2005 on its upper part, as we’re told it’s where the most beautiful lavender fields are. It happens that there are different kinds of lavender, and the ones on the CM-2005 are of a deep purple colour.
And they truly are the most beautiful! Large extensions that you can’t really appreciate from the road, but there were parts of the country that looked like a huge violet sea.
We decide to stop again by the lavender fields and take some pictures. There are only a couple of cars doing a pic-nic. The place is quiet and the views are beautiful.
We hit the road again back to Cifuentes, where some good friends have a beautiful house with a nice swimming pool. The very best place for a coffee break such a hot day!
We head to their place crossing more and more lavender fields, and we find ourselves into the swimming pool with a fresh wine in our hand half an hour after leaving Brihuega.
Eighth section – From friends’ house in Cifuentes to home base
In our friends’ nice company and with the swimming pool freshness, the coffee break takes much longer than expected.
So, we decide to abort the last section of our short fighter mission that was supposed to takes us down again to the Entrepeñas reservoir on the kind of roads we like.
We decide, being late in our original schedule and tired, to drive back home using the A-2 and R-2 motorways to make sure we’ll be back home before night.