La Puebla de Roda, P6 and P4
loads of km
So what’s all this off-roading about, you may ask. And that is the question I asked myself about six month ago, after this trip was decided upon.
Apart from driving a few gravel roads over the hills behind the house (which are emphatically called mountains, but really aren’t) we have never done anything like that.
There were a few things to address. First being the car. Although it is a Defender, which is the best 4×4 by far and thus never breaks down, by the very same magic that never lets it rust, it is not the youngest any more. All important components were thoroughly checked and all fluids changed. A false floor was installed in the boot and the space underneath filled with tools, trolley jack, axle stands and spare parts for stuff most likely to break.
Accommodation was sorted much cheaper. An old family tent courtesy of ALDI’s delicatessen, a few even older folding chairs and a few plastic boxes for clothing and stuff will have to do the trick. We will stay at campsites all along the trip and we are absolutely positive that the southern climate will not test the tent’s water tightness.
That left us with the question where to go, once we are actually there. What does off-roading in Spain exactly mean. What is legal, which tracks can be driven, which can’t, and how to find either of them? A lot of digging through the web brought up the website http://www.mdmot.com/ These guys offer roadbooks for the Pyrenees.
We purchased two of these roadbooks:
– Offroadstrecken Roda Isabena
– Offroadstrecken Andorra Espot
These are written in German, but they also issue an English book, that contains some of the tracks we were doing: Pyrenees Offroad Routes.
All their tracks are numbered and I will mention these numbers in case you want to check them out on their website, or even want to follow in our foot steps.
So without further ado: The P6, a round trip from Roda to Cajigar and back on a different track is advertised as a beginners route. To get familiar with the area and the typical road conditions. And not difficult at all. Just what we need then.
The track starts right at La Puebla de Roda and immediately gains height, but all through very gentle bends on a wide gravel track. The scenery gets immediately very scenic.
In the distance the historic hilltop town of Roda de Isábena that we are going to visit later.
Loads of stops have to be made, as there is so much to see. Scenery, animals, hills to climb, water to mess with…
Soon we reach a bridge over a small river. Would be a nice place for a bit of bathing, but the rain of the last few days has made the water extremely muddy. And the orange sediment is extremely sticky and almost impossible to get rid of.
We keep climbing, past derelict farms…
… derelict castles…
… and ancient road signs.
What will keep fascinating us, is the fact how green everything is.
We are still in the foot hills. But the real mountains draw closer.
We eventually arrive at Cajigar. A small but seemingly intact village in the middle of nowhere. The main attractions are an old church with an octagonal tower that so typical for the Aragon…
A balmy church yard…
… and a weighbridge. We will notice loads of weighbridges over the next days. Every village has one, sometimes even two or three. I have no idea where this obsession is coming from. If you do, please leave note. This being the first one we encounter, we use opportunity to weigh in the Landy and the Lada.
Further on into the mountains:
The going gets a bit more technical now.
We reach a small mountain lake. More a puddle.
The pond is full of small frogs.
And at the waters edge there are foot prints of a vulture. The prints are the size of a human hand. So time to find the animal to it.
The scenery changes at every corner and seems to get better and better.
Having climbed 500 meters since our starting point, we need to get back down. A serpentine track will lock after that.
While the Lada has no problems getting around the hair pins…
… the Landy has to reverse in some of the bends. That’s the first time the adrenalin really kicks in. Scary stuff.
We get back to base safely. Paddy and the lads have had enough for today. But the IO and my self are totally wired and want more of this.
While they retire to the pool, the IO and myself set off the climb the El Turbón (Route P4).
The road book says: “A demanding cul-de-sac that only should be tackled on the second off-road day. Before you should drive the beginners route P6”
We got the P4 done and dusted in the morning and are really curious to find out what awaits us at the other end of the spectrum.
The El Turbón route is only 7,6 kilometres long, but the altitude difference is a 1000 meters. Thus the track is an endless succession of hairpin turns.
Again the scenery is absolutely stunning.
The whole mountainside really only consists of loose gravel, overgrown by an abundance of bushes and flowering plants.
Transhumance still is very much a thing in the Pyrenees. Just before we reach the pass leading to the Plano, we meet a shepherd with a huge herd of sheep. We don’t want to interfere with his work and decide to turn round and back down the mountain.
As the moon rises, we retire to base.
Here meanwhile Paddy has sussed out, that the Bodega in the village does beautiful food. We decide to do some research on that claim. And indeed the rumours were rather an understatement.
And things got even better. Over the last 12 month I have been on a quest to get hold of some veal. But for some reason nobody (even my butcher of trust) could explain to me, why there is no veal available in Ireland…
So when the Bodega offered half a calf, slightly charred with all the trimmings, I couldn’t resist. The wine was not bad either.