Gran Laguna 1
I had found mention of an old tramway which now formed a special line of Renfe's Madrid
Cercanias routes, going from Cercedilla
to Los Cotos. There is also, of course, a Cercanias line from Madrid's main stations to Cercedilla, which is on the way to Segovia. Oddly I never meet anybody in England who has been there. Surely I cannot be the only person who can't stand big cities non-stop and if you are looking for a really different day out from Madrid, this is one of the few that gets right away from buildings.
The route to Cercedilla is itself very attractive. I happen to find the whole idea of the Val de los Caidos politically repulsive but for those who don't share my views there is a view of it on the way. It is the increasingly mountainous scenery that I like. Then the trains are timed so that there is time for a drink and a toilet visit on Cercedilla station - both ways.
Gran Laguna 2
If you wan to get off at one of the little stations on the way to Los Cotos, notify the driver in advance. This line is pretty spectacular, rising ever higher through the mountains of Guadarrama. At Los Cotos station there is another buffet. I had three possibilities in my mind.
1. Go straight back -with a quick snack in the 25 minutes before the train returned.
2. have a more leisurely lunch and get the next train - or
3. appraise the situation and see if there might be a walk sitable for an old gimmer with a dicky ticker.
The place and the weather were sufficient to dispel the first option from my mind very quickly. A very short walk brought me to the entrance to te Peñ
Natural Park. There was a Park Office near the entrance. That left
option 2 open after inquiries but the very helpful woman at the office
easily tempted me into having a go at the walk to the Gran Laguna de Peñ
alara. For much of its length this is a contour walk but there is a steep bit at each end.
Descending - note conservation work
I'm not sure I should have done it - I kept to my permanent policy of not going out of eyeshot of others but it would not have been an easy situation if my icd had played up (an opposite to a pacemaker that stops the heart over-working. When its pacing function fails, it gives a double electric shock to stop and restart the heart - sometimes causing loss of consciousness). It's probably the biggest outdoor walk I've undertaken since 1995 and I loved it.
The Gran Laguna surprised me a bit. It was what in Scotland would be caled a coire or corrie loch, a very picturesque one but not very big - as the 'gran' bit of its name had led me to expect. The relief of just being ale to sit a few minutes and gaze a it was wonderful but it was either the 1545 or the 1745 train and I had a distinct preference for the former. I made it with just time for a much needed savoury and drink.
A really enjoyable day out.