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In a unique walking and cultural
experience 33 West Essex
Ramblers slipped away to northern
Spain and enjoyed a week in the
Sierra de las Mamblas – mamblas
means breasts in Spanish! This
remote area of high hills offered a
landscape of great variety. Craggy
peaks stood proudly over rolling
uplands and impressive gorges.

Fertile valleys opened up to reveal isolated villages, the
inhabitants still engaged in the older methods of farming and
charcoal burning. Vineyards for local wine were also a regular
site on our walks. We followed pilgrimage routes and other
ancient trails and it was quite common to see, high above us,
large flocks of vultures. It was a good incentive not to drop too
far behind!

Our hotel, in the delightful village
atmosphere of Santo Domingo -
de Silos, was a welcoming base
after our rambling endeavours.
For most of us the food was a
delight, someone called it “nicely rustic”.
Evening meals were varied and
included cabrito asado (roast kid),
a delicious bread and garlic soup
and a desert of local cheese, lavender
honey and walnuts called 'Grand Father'.
The complimentary local wine flowed
freely and one night after dinner there
was the inevitable anarchic quiz. As usual the wrong team won!

A two minute stroll from the hotel was the splendid 13th century
Monastery of San Domingo. The tolling of its bells through the hours
added to the special atmosphere. Here, if we wished, we could
attend Vespers in the early evening, or visit the cloisters and
museums. Perhaps, to the wider world at least, the monastery's
major claim to fame was when the Benedictine monks made best selling
recordings of Gregorian chant.

On our mid-week 'day off' we travelled north to Burgos, where we visited the magnificent
gothic cathedral, the final resting place of El Cid.
As Friday arrived, with everyone enjoying their last
walk, we reflected on an excellent week of walking in
a Spain far away from the bustling Costas. Thanks
went to our leaders, Chris and Andy of Waymark
Holidays, for making the walks so varied and
enjoyable and 'muchas gracias' to everybody for
being such a great group.

John Juchau,
September 2006


Jan & Ray Latham