Spanish Civil War

I’m organising a five day tour of some of the key sites in Aragon and Catalonia. The date for 2016 are September 5th – 8th but the tour groups assemble on Sunday September 4th.

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Republican army machine gun bunker

The trip will be based on accommodation rather than camping – I will find these but participants will have to make their own bookings.

The people camping at the HISS, which is in the week following the Civil War Tour, can come to La Pobla at least by the Saturday before, where I will put your campng gear, luggage, etc. in my secure store during the Tour.

 

We meet at Canfranc station on the afternoon/evening of Sunday (Day -1), where there is good choice of accommodation, then set off on Monday  (Day 1) to visit the George Orwell trenches site and on to Belchite – this will be a good introduction to the three main ‘themes’ of this tour, which is The Aragon Front, ‘Homage to Catalonia*’ and The Battle of the Ebro – the other ‘theatres’, i.e. ‘The Battle for Madrid’ and ‘The Roads to Guernica’ which focusses on the War in Asturias and The Basque Country. will form future tours if there is enough demand

 

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Belchite

 

Day 1 will be a hard ride from Canfranc to Gandesa in one day, allowing time for the George Orwell trenches, crossing the Monegros desert to Belchite mostly by trails – NB weather permitting, it’s a treacherous route! – a guided visit to Belchite (that’s the only way these days) and on to Gandesa accommodation, which is a long slog on bumpy roads.

After this, the rest of the tour, Days 2 – 4, will be around the Battle of the Ebro locations – around Gandesa – where we can use either a hotel or a ‘Casa Rural’ as a base; these are usually farmhouses that offer self catering as a possibility, but many can also do half board or have family restaurants erither attached or nearby. We would also have exclisive use of this accommodation.

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Fortifications in the Ebro Valley
Many of the sites around the Ebro Battle are only accessible by trails and I’ll be trying to string these together into an itinerary to makle this a feature if teh tour – this will be to an extent at the expense of historical continuity, e.g. we may start at a site half way through the battle – which lasted for over 100 days! – and later visit the site of the start, i.e. the places where the Republican Army crossed the river Ebro – we can ‘reproduce’ this event by crossing te river by ferry boat!

The tour will continue to La Pobla de Segur on the Friday (Day 4 +1) after a nice but gentle road ride from the Gandesa accommodation. La Pobla, which has plenty of accommodation as well as the HISS camp site, is a good place for a break before setting off back to the UK and getting there on Friday will allow me to recuperate a bit to greet the HISS participants over the weekend. So this ride will for a bit of a rest day for us all. Alternatively I can recommend a guided tour in Barcelona based around the city’s experiences of the War – in that case riders would be better going to Barcelona directly from Gandesa and I can suggest an excellent route.

With all these trails in Catalonia, where the legal limit to ridng without special permissions is groups of seven bikes that is a sensible way to set the numbers. More would also lead to safety issues and smaller groups would get more out of the information. But note that in Aragon the limt is five, so we will have to split into two groups to cross the Monegros – in reality we only need to pay lip service to this rule once we’re out of sight! As a result there is a limit of six rider – plus myself.

 

I’ll be writing and printing ‘teaching’ materials for the tour but will be printing these in several ‘books’ for each oparticipant to carry. Each book will be different and be based on one area, e.g. the George Orwell Trenches and the ‘politics’ of the War and we’ll work through all of this material at the site, e.g. at Belchite we focus on the strategies of the Aragon Front and the lessons learned by the Nationalists in their subsequent planning of the Battle of the Ebro. So each rider will have to carry one of these folder (size, an A4 sized folder of about 30 pages) but only have to extract it from their luggage once.
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