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Alcalá del Júcar

peregrina2000

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Alcalá del Júcar, on the Lana, is frequently mentioned as one of Spain’s prettiest pueblos. It’s right on top of a gorge, with castle, caves, stunning views, river running through, etc.


My question for Lana veterans is how much time you have spent there and whether you thought it was the right amount of time. I will not have as much flexibility with my stages as I have had in past years because of the homefront. Normally I would just wait to see when I got there, but any opinions from those who have been there would be helpful.

The two obvious choices are to either take a short day and spend a half day there, or to walk right through after a quick stroll around. @Magwood’s blog describes the latter, and I have seen many comments from others who didn’t stop there. Just looking for opinions, thanks!
 
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Loved this stage - fabulous landscape as far as Alcalá. We were quite content to enjoy the spectacular view of the gorge and to rest for a while by the castle before exiting on a narrow track clinging to the side of the gorge.
 
I have spent the day there and walked through. When I stayed the night I didn't really make an effort to go exploring. But I was told that the caves are worth a visit: Cueva del Diablo and so on... I guess there are cultural thingies to see if you look for them. But I am such a boring person: I very much prefer to push on to Casas Ibáñez which is a larger and more modern town... 💤
 
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We had planned to take a rest day there and spend 2 nights. After one night we changed plan and walked out early the next day. The beauty is in the walk up to, down into ( knee killer alert!) and then out of the gorge…. With amazing views. The town itself was full of tourist buses and not particularly interesting. If I did it again, I’d rest there a while and walk on the next day.
 
Alcalá del Júcar, on the Lana, is frequently mentioned as one of Spain’s prettiest pueblos. It’s right on top of a gorge, with castle, caves, stunning views, river running through, etc.


My question for Lana veterans is how much time you have spent there and whether you thought it was the right amount of time. I will not have as much flexibility with my stages as I have had in past years because of the homefront. Normally I would just wait to see when I got there, but any opinions from those who have been there would be helpful.

The two obvious choices are to either take a short day and spend a half day there, or to walk right through after a quick stroll around. @Magwood’s blog describes the latter, and I have seen many comments from others who didn’t stop there. Just looking for opinions, thanks!
The site is quite spectacular but the village is nothing much to look at - mainly geared up for day trips which, thanks to Covid, weren't happening. There are caves with spooky-themed tours if that is your thing (I suspect it isn't) but not a lot to see or do. We got there around lunch time and decided to walk on next day. That would be my advice, then you can decide whether it is worth a day off.
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I remember zig zagging back and forth for what seemed like hours before getting down into the town. I dont remember what day it was, but there was a market, lots of busses and tourists around. I loaded up with olives and cheese and fancy bread, wondered around for an hour, then climbed up past the castle, out the other side of the town to enjoy them in peace. Had it been quiet, I would have spent more time exploring or stayed the night.
 
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As others have mentioned the view from a distance is more spectacular than the town itself which I didn't find so interesting (it was March so was pretty dead). I decided to walk through.

Just a heads-up, somehow I lost the Camino signs before I even got to town and ended up following white/yellow signs per a local's advice. Getting out of town I also lost the arrows but ended up finding my way up and out eventually. Oh the fun walking by yourself on a Camino which is even unknown to locals 😂
 
Thanks everyone, the opinions are very consistent. @dick bird and @Elena peregrina stopped early and spent the afternoon there, and didn’t find any real additional allure. Magwood, Flog, and LT walked on through. BP has done both but prefers moving on. I will plan to keep on walking to Casas Ibañez, but having the flexibility to stop and spend the afternoon there if it appeals. You’re right, @dick bird that I don’t think the caves would be high on my list. Not that there’s anything wrong with spooky-themed cave tours. :)

I loaded up with olives and cheese and fancy bread, wondered around for an hour, then climbed up past the castle, out the other side of the town to enjoy them in peace.
Sounds like a good approach!
What time of year were you there, @Flog? I was hoping to avoid the tour buses.

And for those who have walked through, would you mind telling me your start and end point that day? The most obvious, if you’re not going to sleep in Alcalá, seems to be Alatoz to Casa Ibañez, at least that’s what @Magwood did, I think. And I almost always find myself thinking that @magwood‘s stages are spot on for me.

Just a heads-up, somehow I lost the Camino signs before I even got to town and ended up following white/yellow signs per a local's advice. Getting out of town I also lost the arrows but ended up finding my way up and out eventually.
I know you’re not a fan of GPS, but I have wikiloc on my phone and my phone in my waist pack. And then it beeps at me when I go off course. No need to walk with face in phone.
 
Sounds like a good approach!
What time of year were you there, @Flog? I was hoping to avoid the tour buses.
It was 2019.. I set out from Alicante on 2nd April, so it would have been around 9th or 10th, it was still cold in the early mornings! Would have to look back over guide to try and rekindle memory, but I'm pretty sure I did those same stages: Alatoz to Casa Ibañez.
 
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And for those who have walked through, would you mind telling me your start and end point that day? The most obvious, if you’re not going to sleep in Alcalá, seems to be Alatoz to Casa Ibañez, at least that’s what @Magwood did, I think. And I almost always find myself thinking that @magwood‘s stages are spot on for me.
My memory is failing me at the moment. I'll need to check my notes to see where I stayed that night.
I know you’re not a fan of GPS, but I have wikiloc on my phone and my phone in my waist pack. And then it beeps at me when I go off course. No need to walk with face in phone.
I actually have a Garmin watch with GPS now:) but I can't download maps on it. How do you get your watch to beep when you go off course?
 
I actually have a Garmin watch with GPS now:) but I can't download maps on it. How do you get your watch to beep when you go off course?
It’s my phone, not my watch that beeps. I don’t have any idea abou Garmin watches. Years ago, when I started using GPS for the Olvidado, I actually had a Garmin GPS hand held device. It did not beep at me, so my guess is that unless Garmin has changed, you can’t get beeps.

I use wikiloc exclusively (app on my phone) and it’s the app that beeps at me. I save the trail for off-line usage and then when I follow it while walking it will beep when I get off course.
 
We set out from Alicante at the end of February. We had gone to Alicante to visit a relative and planned to head north to San Sebastian and walk the northern coast. As we sat with our relative in Alicante and watched weather reports describing winter storms up north, we changed our minds and decided to start our walk in Alicante. We found there was a Pilgrim’s office in Alicante so we stopped in for advice and some rather rudimentary directions. The information did provide phone numbers of a few key people who would help pilgrims along the way. So we headed out, with absolutely no idea of what we would encounter on the Ruta de la Lana.
We phoned a gentleman whose name was on the list of pilgrim resources and he surprised us by driving out to find us as we trudged along through the countryside just before Alcalá del Jucar. He was super excited about our next stop, took out packs in his car, and we agreed to meet in the town. We had NO IDEA of the spectacular view at the beginning of the descent into town. What an incredible surprise this was for us, such a treat! There are places along the many Caminos where the landscape just suddenly opens up to a truly breathtaking vista— this one was the best ever!
We arrived just before lunch, checked into a pension halfway up the far end of the valley then enjoyed the afternoon, wandering around the mostly empty town—no tourist buses in sight at the end of February. We spent one night then met our new friend at the top of the gorge the following day for lunch before continuing on.
Staying or not staying— the view notwithstanding, I doubt I would have liked the place nearly so much had it been teeming with tourists. When we were there many shops were closed so we just strolled along the River and enjoyed the tranquility and beauty of this unique place.
Re our new acquaintance, he lamented that much of the upcoming route was not very well marked— apparently volunteers from the local pilgrim association would paint yellow arrows on stones at the edge of farmers’ fields, only to find later the farmers had overturned the stones in order to make the most of their fields.. and thus obliterating the yellow arrows. We did find, over the next few days, fresh arrows painted on stones at the edges of fields, and it was our theory that same fellow had gone out ahead of us painting arrows so we could find our way. I guess that gives an idea of how few pilgrims there were at that time!
 
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Thanks so much for this post. It fits with what others have said, and I think that for me, the question will be when I get there whether I want to just spend some hours strolling around and enjoying the views or whether I feel more like carrying on to the next town.

Any other info you care to share would be received with gratitude! Did you walk Alicante to Burgos?
 
Getting out of Alcala was not easy. Head for the castle as best you can then follow the track around the edge of the gorge. In the village at the top (I’ll check the name), head off Camino to the water tower. An excellent little cafe is next door and opens early.
 
Does anyone know if Alcala del Jucar is served by any regular bus service from other towns? I found references to buses twice a week from Madrid and other cities but not at the moment. Is it maybe seasonal?
 
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Does anyone know if Alcala del Jucar is served by any regular bus service from other towns? I found references to buses twice a week from Madrid and other cities but not at the moment. Is it maybe seasonal?
There are villages either side of the gorge, Las Eras and Casas de Cerros, they are on main roads so probably have daily buses.
 
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I also walked right through this town, as part of my stage Alatoz to Casa Ibanez. It was a gorgeous gorge but I didn't regret not spending the night in Alcala de Jucar. I had a picnic lunch in the park by the river just near the bridge. I'm more of a walk-on-through kind of pilgrim. Maybe I'm afraid if I stop to enjoy a town more fully I won't continue walking....

But I got to enjoy Alcala de Jucar that night as the hospitalero of Alatoz drove the two of us pilgrims staying in Casa Ibanez back to dinner at a gourmet restaurant overlooking Alcala del Jucar (?El Mirador), treating us to the best meal I have ever had in Spain. It was at night, the lights of Alcala del Jucar were twinkling below and I'll remember the company, the views, and the incredible food as one of my more amazing experiences in Spain. It might be worth spending a night in Alcala de Juzar just to enjoy that restaurant!
 
Just a quick follow up, now that I am in the Lana weeds. Based on what everyone has said, I think that I will go with two possible options.

Walk Alatoz - Casas Ibañez (30), which takes you through Alcalá but no stop.

Walk Alatoz - Alcalá del Júcar (17-18) plus pack-free afternoon walk along the river and then returning on the top. No need to do this whole circle, of course, but going east further through the gorge would be nice. (the wikiloc route shows some pictures). Next day would be very short day to Casas Ibañez (14) or longer day to Villamalea (29) or longer still to Herrumblar (34).


No decisions needed now, but thanks to everyone for helping me figure things out. Though this camino may be solitary, there seem to be lots of ways to splice out the stages, no need to go with everything set ahead of time.

Would love to hear comments from all those Lana devotees out there!
 
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