Sierra Castril Natural Park

Sierra Castril Natural Park
 

Overview
The Sierra Castril Natural Park is a mountainous region in the north of the Granda province. This 12,000 hectare park shares its north western border with the Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park. The Castril River which runs through the park is responsible for the appearance and distinctiveness of the environment and it is possible to follow the course of the river from its source in the heart of the park to the El Portillo dam and reservoir.
The landscape is mainly limestone mountains with gorges, cliffs, waterfalls and underground caves. There are large number of diverse habitats which support a large variety of flora and fauna.

The park is contiguous with the Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park which forms its north western border.

Walking
There is a visitor centre near the village of Castril. This is also the starting point for 6 signposted walks. The visitor centre will provide information regarding the walks. The Sendero Río Castril is one of the walks. It is a linear route and is 12km long. It follows the Castril river from its source taking the visitor through lush vegetation and providing fantastic views down the river valley once reaching its source.

 

Sightseeing
The village of Castril is worth visiting. It is a ‘white village’ with whitewashed houses and lots of steep steps. The village can trace its origin back to the Carthaginians, although it was the Romans who first used the place as a base for a military camp. During the Moorish occupation the village was fortified and given the name of "Qastalla" (Castle). In 1319 it was beseiged by the Christians and changed hands on several occasions until, in 1489, it was finally conquered by the forces of Ferdinand and Isabella.

The most outstanding feature of the village is the Peña del Sagrado Corazón (Rock of the Sacred Heart), the top of which can be reached by a footpath. From here there are wonderful views of the surrounding countryside. The parish church of Nuestra Señora de Los Angeles dates back to the 16th century.

The caves of Cueva del Muerto have impressive stalagmites and stalaties as well as the cave Cueva de Don Fernando. These are based in the Sierra Seca area of the park. The Cueva de Don Fernando is a huge two-and-a-half kilometres long and is 241m below sea level at its deepest point.

Geology
It is a limestone landscape carved by canyons, waterfalls, with numerous peaks, grottos and galleries. It rises to an altitude of over 2000 metres.

 

Animals/Birds
The Sierra Castril Natural Park is home to Egyptian vultures, Griffon vultures and peregrine falcons which nest on the cliff faces. Other birds of prey found in the park are golden and booted eagles. The trees along the river banks are inhabited by kingfishers, dipper and grey herons. Mammals found the park include mountain goats, muflon, wild boar, fallow deer, otters and martens.

There are many butterflies endemic to the Iberian peninsula. Many reptiles and amphibians are found here, these include the Valverde's lizard, painted frogs, southern midwife toads, Lataste's vipers, salamanders and grass snakes. There are also unique insects and the rivers and streams are teeming with trout, carp, barbell and black perch.

Plants
The Sierra Castril Natural Park is one of the few places in Andalucia where Austrian pines can be found. These trees grow over 120 feet high and can withstand very low temperatures. Maples and gall oaks grow on the Barranco de Magdalena and the Barranco de Túnez. On the lower slopes are junipers and Holm oaks, although much of the original Holm oak woodland has cut down to make way for Aleppo, Austrian and Scotch pine plantations.

On the river banks are many poplars, used locally for making furniture, and ash trees and willows. Along the Castril River there is a rich diversity of plants. Paper used to be made from the esparto grass that grows in the Sierra. Aromatic plants include lavender, rosemary and thyme. A locally produced honey, miel de la Sierra, is made from bee pollen derived from these plants.

 

 
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