December 6, 2016
We set off on our journey from Valencia to Aranjuez at 7am on Sunday. The train route takes you west through massive fields of grapes dotted by the occasional and equally massive wine storage units jutting some 25 meters toward the clouds, stopping in a seemingly endless number of small towns along the way. Progress is slow and the it gets much slower as then we enter the National Park known as Torcas de Palancares, leaving the farms behind.
The ravines (barrancos) along the train route from Valencia to Aranjuez dig deeply into the rocky orange soil. Because it has been raining, itself a bit of a refreshing oddity, rivulets flow beneath the train as it slows to 20 kph as we inched across trestles, looking straight over the side at the rocky bottom far below. You don’t feel confident out there in the middle. They are going that slowly for good reason.
There are more people on the train – so vacant we practically got on a first name basis with the conductor- than live in the protected zone portion of the journey, judging by the total lack of dwellings and just the occasional dirt road. A large bird, a hawk or perhaps even an owl, swoops across the tracks, looking for an unwary rabbit. The boars are too big to lift so they are safe from his talons.
The pale green and the brighter of the yellow green coniferous contrast with the red soil and grey stone of the park.
There are two main geological attractions in the area, las torcas and Las Lagunas de Cañada. Las toras are sink holes formed by geological process that cause depressions, some as large as 500 meters in diameter and as deep as 100 meters. They date from some 80 million years ago. Water made acidic from carbonation slowly eats away at the rock. When the water dissolves enough of the rock a sink hole ensued. There are some 50 torcas. These include the large Blonde Torca, Water Torcazo, the gorgeous Torca Wolf, the Torca of Hives that has a 100 meter of slope, and the largest, the Torca Long You find these 20 kilometers outside of Cuenca, itself a worthwhile visit. See my entry on Cuenca at http://www.garyjkirkpatrick.com/cuenca-spain-city-on-a-cliff/
To see the torcas and lakes you need to go by car.