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The abandoned town after Salmerón - Villaescusa de los Palositos

peregrina2000

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I am piecing together all the great forum info on the Lana. I have read two very different accounts of the finca/abandoned village with romanesque church after Salmerón and before Viana de Mondejar. (At least I think I’m reading two accounts about the same place, maybe not though).

@Bachibouzouk describes a very unpleasant experience.

@Elena peregrina describes a hassle squeezing under a fence but nothing like what @Bachibouzouk describes.

It’s a bit confusing because @elena says there is a key there for pilgrims to open the gate, and then @Bachibouzouk describes hostile dogs and an owner following him.

I am not a big fan of having menacing dogs on my heels, so maybe the best idea is to take the long route. Any clarification would be great. Buen camino, Laurie
 
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Doing a little more research, I found some good information and will say that I think @Elena peregrina was lucky to make it through without mishap!

Translating commentary on a wikiloc track:
The Ruta de la Lana has always gone through Villaescusa de Palositos, an abandondoned village, declared in 2012 as “Bien de Interés Cultural” (cultural patrimony more or less). It is now in private hands and the villagers, who still have family members buried in the cemetery, can not even go to visit their graves and bring flowers. Every year the villagers have a “Walk of the Flowers” from the town where they now are to the metallic gate. Their purpose is to continue to assert their right of passage.

This issue has apparently been tied up in court for years.

Pilgrims have tried to follow the traditional camino by jumping over the gate, but this can risk problems, both physical and legal, for anyone who tries. It’s up to you!


This article describes the yearly march. This wikiloc track has pictures of the annual procession/march from 2015, which actually made it to the church, cemetery and village. So maybe the big metallic gate is a recent addition.

In any event, I wouldn’t recommend it and I certainly won’t try it!
 
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In any event, I wouldn’t recommend it and I certainly won’t try it!

I strongly dislike rich bullies believing that their access to money and lawyers gives them the right to block public access to a right of way.

I jumped the fence at the south end of this attempt to block both a cañada real and the camino. And at the north end I crawled under the gate. It's not difficult - the fence has clearly been crossed regularly (about 5 yards to the left of a locked gate). The gap under the gate to get off the ground is very wide so not difficult to get under.

The sad crumbling remains of the romanesque church contrast vividly with the hideous modern hacienda that the new owner has built, complete with helipad.

DSC_0034.jpg

I was advised by hospitaleros Luis in Cuenca and Pepe in Villaconejos de Trabaque to ignore the attempt to block the camino. That was back in 2018 and the advice might have changed now if the landowner has got more aggressive: otherwise I will certainly do the same again if I pass that way again.

2018-10-17_12-32-02.jpg
 
I am all in favor of standing on principle, but the report from @Bachibouzouk was, well, harrowing. I paste it in so you can decide yourselves whether you are up for taking the chance.

At one point you need to make the choice between carrying on on the Ruta de la Lana or taking a detour to the Romanesque church and destroyed village of Villaescusa de Palositos on private land. To do the latter you need to climb a fence and follow the path. I got through a second gate and rolled under a third and made my way up to the little derelict church. The shutters to the hacienda were closed and there were no dogs. I'd got away with my trespass and went back down to the two gates were I'd left my pack and continued around the bottom of the hillock on which the hacienda stands. Just past the hacienda dogs started barking, my heart skipped a beat. The dogs set off a cattle stampede right across my path and in short order I heard voices and the rumble of a car engine. I was starting to rehearse my excuses and within less than a minute a 4x4 pick-up truck pulled me up short. in my worst possible Spanish (quite easy really) I explained that I knew that I was on private land (difficult to pretend otherwise after a fence and two gates) but that I had been told (b*******t) both in Cuenca and in Villaconejos del Trabaque that it would be OK to visit the church providing I was 'tranquilo' and 'sin hacer malo', that I was a pilgrim walking 'de iglesia en iglesia hasta Santiago' and please don't shoot. The guy in the car was either baffled or not amused but he did offer to drive me to the gate and unlock it for me. I, of course, had to decline, sticking to my story that I was walking all the way and couldn't accept a lift. Whereupon the f*****r followed right behind me me at walking pace in his car for the next kilometre. The concha on my backpack felt like it had become one of those red, blue and white targets. At the gate he stayed in his truck and no doubt had a good laugh as I crawled under it in the dust. I had well and truly been unceremoniously escorted off the property. Did I care? My notes tell me that the village, church and land had been bought by some rich guy who had raised the village to the ground and was using the land as a private hunting range. I shall wear my expulsion as a badge of honour. But let this be a warning for those who do not like confrontation or blagging. The other route is scarcely longer, possibly shorter. There's about 500m in it.
 
Just to clarify our experience ….. in May this year Pepe in Villaconejos told us that an agreement had been reached with the owners of the finca that pilgrims could walk through. We arrived at the entry gate and picked up the key which was hanging on a tree next to the gate. We stuck to the clear path that runs through the property and did not attempt to enter the area near the hacienda or the church as this was very clearly fenced off. We saw no-one at all and no animals. We heard no dogs. Pepe had told us that there would be a phone number hanging on the exit gate. We were supposed to call that for someone to unlock it for us. When we got there, there was no number and the fence was too high to climb so we crawled under the main gate. Apart from this minor scramble, it was an uneventful experience. We decided to take this route not as a short cut - but to show support for the local people who have done so much to keep the Camino open and in “protest” against landowners who close off public right of ways. My understanding is that the alternative route which goes around the finca is not much longer. I hope this helps.
 
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Very helpful! I was wondering about @Bachibouzouk’s description of several gates and leaving his pack at the bottom. You just walked around that second fence — @Bachibouzouk scaled it and went up to the church/hacienda. That seems to be the reason why you had no issues, but @Bachibouzouk was not so lucky.

It does sound like some agreement has been reached, though the lack of a phone number surely suggests that the owner is doing whatever he can to harass those who walk through. And as you point out, it is surely not satisfactory to those who live nearby and want to visit the cemetery.
 
Elena is quite correct. I guess I went a little further in my trespass than she did - up to the church, from which you can also look down onto the tiny walled cemetery.

I came across two sets of gates. One set onto and off the range/property and a second set (of two parallel gates) before you go up to the church and finca. The church and finca are about a kilometre or two from the entrance and exit of the property. So, you've got two concentric rings of fencing and gates, one onto the property and another one should you go up to the church (there's yet a third ring around the finca itself).

To get onto the range/property I had to step over the property fence (easy enough, it's been 'lowered' by previous walkers) and to get up to the church I had to roll under two more fences (no problem in dry conditions). I didn't notice key or phone number at either set of gates, but in truth I wasn't looking for them as I was unaware that that might be the procedure.

I hope I haven't made my little interlude sound too dramatic. Just letting walkers/peregrinos know that going through the property (and up to the church) might not be without confrontation or altercation. There's little difference in distance (500m more in fact?) by going through the private property, so going through it implies that you have:

1) an interest in Romanesque churches, this particular one is in a pretty parlous state and there are many other better examples along the way, or

2) you want to make a point about public access.

From the church, it should be a tranquil spot from which to sit and enjoy the view, but of course you can't relax too much when you are blatantly on someone else's property without their permission.

The dogs were not menacing to me - I never saw them, only heard them. They were the ones that spotted my presence and set off the alarm as I was on my way off the property (neither the dogs nor the owners had noticed me up at the church right next to the finca). The dogs came nowhere near me and were well above me (enclosed within the third perimeter around the finca?) but they did alert the owners/factotums of the owners and their barking did set off the cattle stampede.

I had spoken with the hospitaleros in Cuenca and Villaconejos del Trabaque (no mention of a key to me) and later to someone in one of the tourist offices (Cifuentes?) after I had passed through the property, at no stage did any of them say or imply that the property should be avoided but neither did they condone going through it. It is clearly a bone of some contention.

Buen camino, whichever way you choose to go.
 
If anyone is in contact with Luís and/or Pepe, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to let them know that the promised telephone number is not on the gate.

Thanks for that detailed update, @Bachibouzouk. I do love romanesque architecture, but I have seen pictures of the church and agree that it isn’t in great condition or terribly interesting.

Now… the church in Carabías, in between Sigüenza and Atienza, is quite a different story, but it looks like a 6 km detour. @alansykes has written about it. Oh so tempting….
 
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If anyone is in contact with Luís and/or Pepe, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to let them know that the promised telephone number is not on the gate.
I did message Pepe at the time to let him know but I didn’t hear back.
 
This article describes the yearly march.
I found some additional information about the yearly march when I was browsing the excellent website of the Cuenca Amigos. That first page has an agenda of activities, which include Las Marchas de las Flores. Dig a bit deeper and you can find los motivos for the walk. So far, the date for 2023 has not been posted, but based on prior years, Saturday May 20 looks likely.

@peregrina2000 - Wouldn't it be interesting to walk with the Cuenca Amigos that day?
 

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