de Canchos de Ramiro and Portaje Reservoir
Location and access
Towns of reference for this route are Torrejoncillo, Portaje, and Cachorrilla, all within the region of Coria. To access the route we recommend you take the A-66 (N-630), taking the turning off to Torrejoncillo-Coria (EX-371) at Puerto de los Castaños (Cañaveral). Then once you reach Torrejoncillo go towards Coria (EX-109) and after just over 4 km turn left onto a local road which will take you to the towns of Portaje (5 km) and Cachorrilla (15 km; after turning off towards Pescueza). Pages 1:50,000 numbers 621 and 622 of the IGN.
Description of the route
1) Canchos de Ramiro: Los Canchos de Ramiro (large rocky outcrops), together with the riverbanks and mountain ranges in the area (Sierras de la Garrapata, Solana, etc.) have been declared SCI and SPA for their exceptionally rich flora and fauna, forming part of the Network of Protected Natural Areas of Extremadura. Los Canchos, in particular, form a spectacular quartzite pass over the River Alagón, now dammed for the Alcántara Reservoir. The suggested route is 10 km long (there and back), so is perfect to be done in half a day, either on foot (recommended) or by car. Access to Los Canchos (or to Boquerón) is very simple: you just have to take a sign-posted path that starts in Cachorrilla. To be precise, take the road to Ceclavín and 200 m along, when you reach the Ermita del Cristo (chapel) and a small pool (29S-699309-442090), the path leads off to the right (called Camino del Chorrillo), passing through beautiful countryside of dehesa and riverbanks and leading to the rocky outcrops of Los Canchos.
2) Portaje Reservoir: This small man-made reservoir of great ornithological importance is very close to the towns of Portaje (4.5 km) and Torrejoncillo (3 km) and is reachable from them along asphalted roads. Altogether the suggested route is 17 km long, designed to be done by car in half a day. From the first town take the reservoir service track southwards for 2.5 km (next to the chapel Ermita del Cristo). At this point you will reach a crossroads (29S-70852-441903); turn left and, after going 800 m and crossing the Ribera de Fresnedosa riverbank, you will reach the reservoir (where you will see the Chapel of La Virgen del Casar). At the reservoir turn right, following the path that goes all the way around the left bank of the reservoir, and after crossing a bridge at one of its ends you will reach the town of Torrejoncillo. Before this, at one of the crossroads (29S-714624-441808), very close to the water, you can take another track that goes round part of the reservoir’s right bank.
1) Canchos de Ramiro: Large concentrations of large birds of prey nest in the steep quartzite crags of the pass. This includes a colony of Griffon Vulture (over 100 pairs) as well as several pairs of Golden Eagle, Bonelli’s Eagle, Egyptian Vulture, Eagle Owl, Common Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon and Black Stork. Walking along the riverbanks there are typical dehesa species (Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Azure-winged Magpie, as well as many other passerine species associated with this Mediterranean habitat). TheSpanish Imperial Eagle, Red and Black Kite and Eurasian Black Vulture also nest in the dehesa and mountain ranges in the area. In the reservoir it’s possible to see numerous species of water birds, including Great Cormorant, Grey Heron and different species of duck.
2) Portaje Reservoir: This reservoir is one of the most important wetland areas for water birds (in terms of number and diversity) in the Extremaduran basin of the River Tajo, following habitat management activities (diversion dams at the ends, man-made islands, hides, etc.). During winter it supports, on average, more than 2500 birds of a great diversity of species (duck, grebes, coot, etc.). In the breeding season Red-crested Pochard are noteworthy, this being one of only a few breeding sites for this species in Extremadura, as well as the colony of Grey Heron and White Stork at the end of the reservoir.
Best time to visit
This route can be done at any time of the year, particularly in the spring breeding period and in winter.
Other environmental and cultural interest
Environmental values. Magnificent thick forests of Holm and cork oak cover the whole region, especially the dehesa and plains around the Ribera de Fresnedosa. This and other watercourses have wonderful ash tree forests along their banks.
Ethnographic values, examples of traditional architecture in the small towns and villages (Cachorrilla, Pescueza, Portaje, etc.), and in the typical agricultural constructions in the area (stone walls, huts, wells, etc.).
Traditional festivals. These include festivals that have been declared of Interest for Tourists: Las Carantoñas (Acehuche, 19-20 January), Los Sanjuanes (Coria, 24 June) and Encamisá (Torrejoncillo, 7 December).
Monuments. Declared a site of interest for tourists, the historical-artistic centre of the city of Coria has one of the most outstanding collection of fine buildings in Extremadura (Roman walls and bridge, castle, cathedral, palaces, convents, etc.). The Monastery-convent of Palancar (Pedroso de Acim), defined as the “smallest monastery in the world”, is a wonderful example of religious architecture.