Hemingway in the Guadarramas

Sábado, 22 / Domingo, 23, Septiembre, 2018
An easy excursion for beginners (9 a.m.)

This excursion takes place only on the 22nd of September.
Following the footsteps of Robert Jordan.

Datos técnicos

Departure: 9 a.m. from Plaza de España.
9,15 a.m. at Plaza de Castilla.
Return: At 6 p.m. bus leaves Valsain back to Madrid.
Price: 21€ (Members: 19€)
Breakfast: At Venta Arias (Puerto de Navacerrada).
Distance: 10 km
Ascent: 230 m.
Descent: 360 m.
Tour guide: Ramón Buckley, Ph.D.
Language: English


For Whom the Bell Tolls is Hemingway´s novel based on the Spanish Civil War. Although the novel was written after the war when Hemingway was back in the US, the novel reflects the events which took place in Spain in the Spring of 1937- a short-lived Government offensive against the city of Segovia- and describes accurately the scenario of this offensive, the Guadarrama mountains. Between the Navacerrada Mountain Pass- controlled by the Government of the Republic- and the towns of La Granja and Segovia- in the hands of the Franco´s troops- there was an extensive “no man´s land”, where Hemingway sets the action of his novel. A group of guerrilla fighters- loyal to the Republic- have set their camp in a mountain cave and are preparing to aid American volunteer Robert Jordan blow a nearby bridge to aid the Republican attack and stop the enemy´s counter-offensive.
Ernest Hemingway was a war correspondent for the NANA (a syndicate of American newspapers) and a friend and colleague of my father, Henry Buckley, war-time correspondent for the London “Daily Telegraph”. Many years after the war, Hemingway returned to Spain and he re-visited with my father the scenarios of the war. I have a picture of him next to the Eresma bridge, where the action of the novel takes place, to acknowledge the place which inspired his novel.
Our route over the Guadarrama mountains begins at the Navacerrada mountain pass which marked, during the war, the frontier between Republican Spain and Nationalist Spain under Franco´s leadership. The bus will take us all the way down to the bridge on the Eresma river, where Hemingway sets the main action of his story. We will then trek down the beautiful Eresma river and finally ascend to the cave where the guerrilla fighters lived in preparation for their assault on the bridge. Finally, we will reach the end of this “no man´s land” where the action of the novel is set and we will visit the first “bunker” defenses which mark the beginning of the Franco-controlled territory. I will do a presentation on each one of these four locations, followed by readings from Hem´s novel. The bus will pick us up at Valsaín to take us back to Madrid.

*9 a.m.: Bus leaves plaza de España.
*9:15 a.m.: Bus leaves plaza de Castilla.
*10:30 a.m.: Bus stops at Puerto de Navacerrada.
PRESENTATION 1 at Venta Arias: “Hemingway, war correspondent in the Spanish War”.
*11:00 a.m.: Bus stops at Puente de la Cantina, over Eresma river.
PRESENTATION 2 at bridge: Robert Jordan as hero: the blowing of the bridge.
*11:30 a.m.: Bus to Boca del Asno. Trek following Rio Eresma and up to Cueva del Monje (Pilar´s Cave).
*13:30 a.m.: Sandwich lunch, followed by PRESENTATION 3. “Politics and Passion: the art of living (and loving) in war”.
*15:00 a.m.: Trek to Cerro del Puerco.
*15,30 a.m.: PRESENTATION 4: “Franco´s bunker and his defense of Segovia”.
*17:00 a.m.: Arrival at Valsaín. Free time to have a drink.
*18:00 a.m.: Bus departs for return to Madrid.
*20:00 a.m.: Arrival in Madrid.

Suggested items to carry:
Backpack with food and drink (min.1.5 liter), cap, personal first-aid kit, ski poles for hiking etc..., sun screen protection, waterproof raincoat, sweatshirt to change into after hike, etc.... All these items may be carried on a handbag to be left behind in the bus. Please leave mountain boots in the trunk of the bus to change into when the trek begins.