The wind looked good, the temperatures anyway. It was time for another trip to the Sierra de Gredos, hurriedly organised with two days to go! I had last visited ten years ago to fly in Piedrahita and nearby sites, but never explored the other side of that magnificent mountain range.
A few hairpins away from the main road in the Tietar valley (and a two hours drive from Madrid), Pedro Bernardo hugs the side of a SW-facing ridge and affords great views over the Teitar valley to one side, and into the Sierra to the other. The village is alive and well, with mums hurrying their kids to the local primary school, and on the Plaza de Toros, where once bulls were slain, a colourful market offers all sorts of local produce. For me it's a lazy first morning in one of the bars.
Easing into the day.
The gravel road to the take-off hasn't seen much maintenance recently, but who minds that in a rental car. Just make sure you get the full insurance cover and have the emergency number handy.
View West towards the highest peaks of the Sierra, snow-capped at above 2,300m.
Barely noon and the place is already brimming with French, Portuguese and Spanish pilots, their extended families and a variety of pets, including a tropical parrot. I seize the opportunity to practice my Spanish without the risk of being laughed upon, but sadly the bird is not even at my level and I soon give up.
My new Epilson 8 flies beautifully and after two hours of messing about in broken thermals, gets me down safely at take-off. Top landing isn't without risks here as the wind gets strong and turbulent during the afternoon, and the site is littered with boulders and flanked by trees. But it saves you a hell of a ride, because the only other place anywhere close to Pedro Bernardo is the official landing site all the way in the valley.
View back towards take-off. The slopes are dotted with yellow broom genista shrubs which add an intense fragrance to every thermal.
Conditions turned out to be less favourable after all, and no-one made any great distance. The next day was blown out. Still, I could get an idea of the site's potential on good days. I can't wait to explore other places further East, including Cebreros near El Tiemblo and Arcones in the Sierra de Guadarrama.