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A sea of lavender: Guadalajara province's aromatic landscape and festival
21 July 2019 @ 22:25

IT'S NOT Provence. It's not even Norfolk. But the heady, uplifting and refreshing scent of lavender and the blanket of mauve across acres and acres of countryside, as far as you can see and beyond, might make everyone think that's where you are when you post your photos on social media. Tell them, instead, that it's actually deepest Castilla-La Mancha – the bit of Spain everyone escapes from in summer because it doesn't have a beach; the central plains rarely remarked upon for their natural beauty – flat, earthy fields that remind you of East Anglia during a drought but without the trees, a region too often overlooked for being anything other than the hinterland you cross to get to Madrid.

July in Castilla-La Mancha and Castilla y León, and specifically the former's province of Guadalajara and, within it, the rural Alcarria district, is a time and a place you need to experience together at least once in a lifetime. It's an area where 80% of cultivated land is used to grow lavender, a crop that has multiplied fivefold in the last decade in both regions and which, it is hoped, will help halt the rural exodus suffered by many inland regions a long way from the nearest large town or city. The village of Almadrones, just over an hour from Madrid, has a population of just 30, but is home to 300 hectares (741 acres) of lavender fields – literally a hectare, or two-and-a-half acres, for every inhabitant. In fact, between Almadrones, Cogollor and Brihuega in the Alcarria district, over 2,000 hectares (4,942 acres) of land is coated with this powerfully-aromatic purple flowering cereal.


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