Posted by: travelrat | February 12, 2010

Valdelavilla

I had planned to do another Vaughantown programme this spring, but, with one thing and another, it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to do one until September this year.

This year, they have a different location. Not a new one; they’ve been here before but not for many years. In fact, the very first programme was held there, back in the days when it was called ‘Englishtown’. The place is Valdelavilla, and since the search engines have directed many people to this blog seeking information on it, and I have been there before, in the ‘early days’ I’ll amplify what little there is here with a few words and pictures.

Valdelavilla is a little village in the hills near Soria. It’s miles from anywhere, and was abandoned by its original inhabitants in the 1960s, it was difficult to get a car down the narrow streets and the place was so remote that television reception was almost non-existent. That is, if there was any electricity to power said television, and it was just too expensive to wire it in. And, there was no running water.

But, in the 1990s, some of the houses were refurbished as a complejo rurale; water was piped in, and electricity came from wind turbines on a nearby hill. But, the fountain from which the villagers drew their water still flows among that part of the village that is still in ruins.

There’s only really two places to walk; up the hill or down the hill. Most of the Spanish participants preferred downhill, because there, their mobile telephones worked! And, the highlight of the trip was a hike to the nearby village of El Vallejo … this one, completely in ruins. However, you will probably see Griffon Vultures. There’s a feeding station nearby, and participants from other programmes have told me that visits to it were arranged for them.

And, one lady told me she was awakened by birdsong every morning at 5 am … ‘Its call sounds exactly like my alarm clock!’Now, probably such isolation isn’t to everyone’s taste. But, the accommodation in the refurbished and tastefully modernised houses is excellent, the food is good … one evening, the chef made a huge paella for us … and, of course, the company companionable. And, the isolation and lack of distractions make it excellent for the programme’s primary purpose … to give experience in speaking English.

But, it’s not all work. The place is a sun-trap, there’s a good view down the valley, and an even better one if you walk down it a little way; the pointed mountain which came into view reminded me a lot of Scheihallion, in Scotland.

The early morning sun on the mellow stone and tiles is a photographer’s delight. But, I don’t blame the villagers for relocating. As my grandmother used to say … you can’t eat the view!

 

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Responses

  1. It really does sound excellent. I would love to see the vultures and of course, would enjoy being wakened by birdsong. Sounds like there’s something to keep everyone happy!

    • You’ll almost invariably see the vultures. One evening, I saw FIVE, flying in what looked spookily like the USAF’s ‘missing man’ formation.

      You heard the one about the vulture?
      ‘Patience, schmatience! I’m going down there to kill something!


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