The ‘Cañada Real de la Plata’ is one of the nine main drovers roads found on the Iberian Peninsula. Its journey begins near the city of Trujillo, a convergence point of drovers roads attesting to the importance of cattle-rearing in this region. This road goes north, crossing the Almonte river on the La Barquilla bridge and passing through Torrejón el Rubio, after which it enters the hills of Monfragüe National Park.
It then crosses the Tajo river via the El Cardenal bridge and, after passing a resting point for transhumant flocks beside the village of Villareal de San Carlos, it climbs the slopes of La Serrana’s mountain pass (named after a highway woman of local legend).
It runs alongside the Palazuelo Empalme train station, once called “de las cañadas” (“of the drovers roads”) due to the huge amount of transhumant flocks that would be transported on its trains to reach the mountains up north.
After skirting Malpartida de Plasencia, this drovers road continues on its way until it reaches the Jerte river, which used to require transhumant herds to make a diversion through the city of Plasencia due to occasional flooding, but can now be crossed using the reservoir’s dam.
At the La Doncella bridge, having crossed Aldeanueva del Camino, one would have been able to find the royal pass of this drovers road, which later crosses Baños de Montemayor, climbing the Béjar mountain pass and crossing the Cuerpo de Hombre river on the back of the La Malena bridge.
Arriving at Valdefuentes de Sangusín the road runs alongside another drovers road, the ´Cañada Real Leonesa Occidental’, for one league. It then directs itself towards the north via Los Santos, crossing the Tormes river in the city of Salamanca and the Duero river in the city of Zamora.
Here starts the ‘Cordel de Sanabria’, a minor drovers road used by the livestock that graze the Sanabria mountains, and heads West. Hugging the riverbanks of the Esla river, the ‘Cañada Real de la Plata’ reaches the formidable ruins of the Moreruela monastery. This impressive monument sits close to the Villafáfila lagoons, known for some of the highest population density in the world of great bustard, as well as being an important refuge for overwintering birds.
After crossing the Esla river in Benavente and the Orbigo river via the Vizana bridge, the road arrives at La Bañeza where it splits in two. The eastern path cuts through Santa María del Páramo and Carrizo de la Ribera, while the western path heads through Palacios de la Valduerna and Astorga. The two come together once more in Los Chanos for the climb up into the Alto de la Garandilla, where the road moves into the Pandorado mountains.
From here, the minor drovers roads of Babia de Abajo, Babia de Arriba and Laciana allow the transhumant shepherds access to the most well-known passes of The Western Cantabrian Mountains.
Photo gallery of the ‘Cañada Real de la Plata'
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