Alcubierre: George Orwell in Aragon

Trazado de las trincheras

George Orwell spent the freezing winter of 1937 on the Alcubierre front in Aragon. The Sierra de Alcubierre at heights of 700-800 metres dominates the plains of the Ebro Depression and who controlled the sierra would control the northern access to Zaragoza, and so the Republican spent great efforts trying to break through the front here. The trenches, refuges and other military remains have been now restored and rebuilt as part of the so-called Ruta George Orwell. Panels explain the historical context. See also Spanish Civil War tours Continue reading

Mallos de Riglos

Los Mallos de Riglos

The Mallos de Riglos are remarkable, almost sheer rock formations in Huesca, forming part of the foothills of the Pyrenees. The rocks are conglomerates and were formed during the Miocene.

Unsurprisingly, these 300-high cliffs are a Mecca for climbers from around the world, and the little village of Riglós nestled improbably below the rocks does a very nice business in accommodating them. However, some of the most demanding routes require spending a free night in a tiny tent strapped to the bare rock face.  I suffer from a degree of vertigo and the idea of waking up half way up the sheer face of Los Mallos is one of my all-time favourite nightmares, though I do get a frisson (and a stiff neck) watching those who dare to climb these looming beasts, each of which has its own name; El Puro, El Pisón, Castilla, Volaos, Cuchillo, Frenchín, Visera and Fire.

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Loarre castle

The Castillo de Loarre is a superb example of a Romanesque castle and one of the most spectacular castles in Spain. It was built in the 11th and 12th centuries, occupying a strategic point on the frontier between the Christian north and the Moslem kingdom of Zaragoza to the south. The building was begun in around 1020 by Sancho el Mayor, after conquering the land from the Moors. It is sometimes claimed to be the oldest fortified castle in Spain”
The castle offers stunning views from the craggy ramparts of Sierra de Loarre across the plains of the Hoya de Huesca. A number of films have been shot here including, Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven.

I have fond memories of Loarre, watching vultures soaring just a few metres past the turrets where I stood on a freezing November afternoon.

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Aneto

Aneto is the highest mountain in the Pyrenees at 3,404 metres is part of the Maladetta ridge. The Aneto glacier is still the largest in Spain with 163 ha. though it is melting fast due to climate change and is predicted to succumb by the mid-late 21st century. The glacier covered some 692 ha in 1894 at the close of the so-called Little Ice Age. Aneto’s French name, Pic de Néthou, is in disuse as the mountain lies entirely within Spain, specifically in the province of Huesca in Aragon. First climbed in 1842 by a Russian named Chikhachev. Continue reading