THE ROUTE IN SPAIN

For much of its trajectory in Spain, the 0 Meridian follows recognised tracks and walking routes; this makes it possible to physically follow this imaginary line with remarkable precision. In other words, whether travelling on foot or by bicycle, any deviations from the path of the line itself tend to be almost negligible. Travelling by road, on the other hand, will lead us somewhat further from the line and require us to cross the meridian again and again as we attempt to follow the straightest possible line.

The route begins in Torla, at the entrance to the Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park. Those coming from France will have to come down through the Puerto de Bujaruelo before arriving at Torla where they will be given the Carta Magna by the Compañía de Guías de Torla (Torla Guide Company). Those following the Greenwich Meridian Route in an easterly direction on all-terrain (ATB or MTB) bicycles will then start the steep ascent to the Pista de las Cutas track, which offers spectacular views of Ordesa and Monte Perdido. Meanwhile, those travelling on foot will follow the trail directly to the Ermita de San Martín (Hermitage of St Martin). In fact, it is along this track that we make contact with the 0 Meridian itself for the first time. From this point on, we head southwards and continue in this direction until the end.

Technical file:

–                                 Length: 490 kilometres following the normal route.

–                                 Variation in altitude: 10,500 m accumulated net climb.

–                                 70% forest track; 25% tarmacked surfaces; 5% footpath (MTB)

–                                 70% forest track; 20% tarmacked surfaces; 10% footpath (trekking)

A map showing the main route and possible alternatives can be obtained from the publisher Prames.

Stretches in which the trekking and mountain bike routes do not completely coincide:

  1. Torla: trail of the Ermita de San Martín (St Martin’s Shrine): after crossing the river Ara, trekkers should continue along the tarmacked track until – after some 200 m – there is a path that climbs sharply to the left. The footpath now criss-crosses the cycle track until it reaches the second Mirador (lookout point), where we will continue along the Pista de las Cutas.
  2. Once we have reached the highest point on the Pista de las Cutas, we will continue on for some 3 km until we come to a PR detour to the right (Spain has a number of PR footpaths. The PR stands for Pequeno Recorrido, which means short-distance) which descends into a gully before climbing, once again, to the small village of Fanlo. This path is very technical and demanding for MTB.
  3. At the 2 km mark, just after El Pueyo de Morcat, there is an easy-to-miss PR to our left which will take us to Paúles. This track crosses the river Vero various times. The source of this river is just a few hundred metres away and you should be warned that, at times, the water level can even rise above people’s knees. Very technical for MTB. It is important to have a good sense of direction as the signposting here is very deficient.
  4. Before reaching Fórnoles, about 1 km after crossing the gully, we come across a steeply rising path off to our left which takes us directly to the village via its cemetery.
  5. On leaving Fórnoles, the PR continues to descend off to our left (but ask if it is clear), while the track for bikers continues straight ahead before reaching a local tarmacked road which we will then follow for a few metres before taking a track that branches off to our left. After passing various crossroads and fields, this track will lead us onto the road which runs down to Ráfales. The PR will also lead us to the outskirts of Ráfales, but it is important to check its condition before deciding whether to use it.
  6. There is a track which leads out from the upper part of Ráfales and first runs through a pretty, narrow pass before turning into a footpath that goes as far as the peak of La Molinera, where there is a vantage point. About 80% of this alternative route can be done by MTB, though there are some more difficult sections along which your bike will have to be carried.

Road bicycles and motorbikes:

As you can imagine, there are far more dirt tracks, walks and footpaths than tarmacked surfaces that can be used to follow our imaginary line as closely as possible. In any case, the difference in terms of distance is not significant and it is often shorter when following the trials and criss-crossing the Ø Meridian.

Following the tarmacked surfaces is perhaps a little less demanding, but the route still runs through some extremely difficult mountain passes. One of the main characteristics of the route is that it repeatedly makes use of short passes and ramps, some of which have very steep slopes.

We will pass through narrow roads of exceptional beauty, some of which are largely unknown to the general public.

The total distance involved is about 510 kilometres.

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