Geoparque Mundial UNESCO

Nº09 – Cancho del Reloj

Geoparque Villuercas > Nº09 – Cancho del Reloj

LOCATION AND ACCESS

This geosite can be reached via the road that links the villages of Berzocana and Solana de Cabañas (CC-22.4). Then take the forest track that leads to the Santa Lucía gorge and a path on the right takes you to the top of the Sierra del Castillejo.

ATTRACTIONS OF THE VISIT

Observation of the relief: vertically oriented strata of the Armorican Quartzite, the Santa Lucía syncline, the Trujillo peneplain and transverse faults.

Observation of birds of prey: the quartzite cliffs offer birds of prey narrow ledges where they safely build their nests and from which they launch themselves into the void in search of a thermal current that lifts them up: griffon vultures, eagles, Egyptian vultures, kestrels and other birds of prey are counted as inhabitants of these almost inaccessible crests.

Observation of archaeological remains: the geographical circumstances of this mountain range are particular and have favoured the development of human communities since ancient times, as is attested by the abundance of remains of the ancient inhabitants of the area. On the way up to the summit, you can find the remains of the walls of the dwellings of an ancient medieval settlement and at the top of the mountain, an Arab watchtower castle built «in stone», the Solana castle.

There are also various groups of schematic cave paintings scattered throughout this mountain range, which correspond to a prehistoric period known as the Chalcolithic period. There are some representations of human figures (“ancoriformes”) and also dots and parallel lines (“tectiformes”) with ochre tones, arranged on the smooth surfaces of the west facing quartzite strata.

GEOLOGICAL INTERPRETATION

The so-called “Cancho del Reloj” of Solana de Cabañas is an impressive outcrop of almost vertical quartzite strata (“Armorican quartzite”) which correspond to the western flank of the great Santa Lucía-Río Ruecas syncline. This outcrop gives rise to the Sierra del Castillejo to the southeast of the village, the name of which refers to the remains of the Arab castle on its heights.

The strata of quartzite rocks produce these solid outcrops or projections owing to their greater competence (hardness and resistance to erosion) than the other rocks and shales and sandstones that surround them, which are also due to the rectilinear orientation and verticality of their layers in a northwest-southeast direction.

This process of flattening by differential erosion (a difference in erosion owing to the various levels of hardness of the strata) can be appreciated in the landscape that unfolds towards the northwest, which is where the shaley Trujillo-Cáceres peneplain extends.

Stratigraphically the Armorican quartzites constitute a wide layer of some 200 m that can be followed for long distances over much of the sierras of Las Villuercas, Monfragüe, Cañaveral, etc. They date from the Lower Ordovician (480 million years ago) and represent sedimentation in marine coastal environments and shallow littorals, such as a beach of fine siliceous sand beaten by the waves where trilobites have left their characteristic traces (Cruziana) on these rocks.