The crag known as the Risco de La Villuerca is located between the municipal districts of Navezuelas, Cañamero, Villar del Pedroso, and Guadalupe in the central area of the Sierras de Guadalupe, also referred to as the Sierra de las Villuercas. Its summit can be reached by a surfaced track that leaves the mountain pass of the Humilladero Chapel at kilometre 4 of the EX-118 road, and also by a cement road that rises from near the town of Navezuelas, to be exact from kilometre mark 3’6 of the CC-121 road. The track that rises from the Humilladero has a poor surface and numerous bends and should be negotiated with care, while the road from Navezuelas is very steep. The Risco can however be reached in any type of vehicle and naturally on foot.
With an altitude of 1601 metres this is the highest point of the mountain range of the Geopark, which takes the form of an orographical core surrounded by ancient peneplains and consists of a series of parallel sierras and valleys running from northwest to southeast. They were folded during the Hercynian Orogeny (between 370 and 230 million years ago) and levelled by erosion during the Mesozoic (between 230 and 65 m.y.) and Cenozoic eras (from 65 m.y. to date), during which period they were also rejuvenated by fracturing throughout the Alpine mountain-building movement. Finally, the current river network of this district has shaped its geomorphology, which is generally referred to as Appalachian relief owing to its similarity to the Appalachians of North America in that they both stand on an ancient Hercynian range. It is characterised by sandstones and quartzite (Armorican Quartzite) which owing to their resistance to erosion produce the rugged relief of these sierras and a large amount of block slopes known as “pedreras“. In these series of Armorican quartzites trilobite trails (Cruziana) are frequently found together with tunnels formed by organisms such as Skolithos and Daedalus, ichnofossils that date these rocks as being from the Lower Ordovician (488 to 471 m.y.).
The Risco de La Villuerca is a superb vantage point from which to view the Geopark as a whole, as from its height we can contemplate the Guadalupejo Valley and the Valdegracia Ravine, the Viejas-Torneros syncline, the Ibor-Guadalupe anticline with the Guadarranque syncline in the background, the Almonte anticline, the Santa Lucía syncline, the Sierra de la Madrila, the Risco Gordo, the Rañas de Cañamero, and the Cancho del Fresno reservoir; together with pedreras, outcrops, the surrounding peneplain… and towards the north as a backdrop the imposing mass of the Sierra de Gredos.
Its ascent constitutes a major itinerary and begins at the Humilladero Chapel, a Mudejar treasure where several pilgrim routes to Guadalupe meet. At this point a dirt road on the left leads to the Arca del Agua, a 14th-century device that is an important part of our heritage that supplied water to the Monastery of Guadalupe. Here also we come to the 17th-century Snow Well or Pozo de la Nieve that can be visited on the mountain pass of the same name.
The area is also outstanding for its fauna and flora, with its extensive stands of deciduous woodland (oak and chestnut trees) and numerous protected bird species such as the golden eagle, peregrine falcon, griffon vulture, Egyptian vulture, eagle owl, rock thrush, alpine accentor, black stork, etc.
Didactic proposal: in the stratigraphical column on the left the periods when the sediments were deposited in this geosite have been marked in orange. The Geopark management also suggests you investigate further the phrases marked in blue in the text.
Views of the Ruecas Valley from the top of the Risco de La Villuerca.
The Risco de La Villuerca from the Ibor Valley.0