I’m going to describe a short route that’s both difficult and beautiful.
I will be going up to the Calvario on a mountain bike. You need to be a highly skilled mountain biker to do this, because the terrain is very challenging. If you want to enjoy the views, it’s better to walk the route, so you can relax and look at the flora, fauna and the path itself, with its magnificent crosses, which believers often visit in Lent, stopping to pray by them as they ascend to the top.
And without further ado, we head upwards.
We start the route in the Plaza de la Corredera, which is nicer and bigger than the main square.
We take the street where the old slaughterhouse was (Ruiz de Luna), go straight ahead and, once out of the village, we turn a 90° angle to see the first cross, some twenty metres before we get to the sports centre. Up to this point the ride is gentle, comfortable and it’s easy to move. We pass the sports centre and come to the second cross,
and then turn right into the track that immediately after leads to the third cross. We carry straight on, and the fourth cross comes into view. This is, without a doubt, the most beautiful Calvarios in the area, and the most difficult to access on a mountain bike.
Between this cross and the fifth, which can be seen from here, there’s a small path to the left which in Lagartera we call the Calle de la Amargura, or the Street of Bitterness. Take a look at it because later we’re going to go down it, on our bikes, of course.
As we leave this cross behind us we realise what’s coming, a narrowing, stony path, and we have to jump from stone to stone in order to go forward. It’s only suitable for horseback riders, walkers or, for the more daring, mountain bikers.
When the path seems to get easier and smoother, the sixth stone appears with a cross on the left and we’re jolted back to reality after the deceptively gentle terrain we’ve just been through. Now it really gets steep. In addition to the effort that we have to put in, we also need skill to manage this climb. Come on, a little more, yes, it’s hard, the hardest part of all the route, but already, the terrain starts to become a little easier and the seventh cross appears like a blessing, we’re on a flattish, well-marked path and can see the eighth cross, and then the terrain gets steeper again with added difficulty of having to jump over obstacles. And so we continue to suffer, ninth, tenth … how many crosses are there?
And finally we get to the little plateau with its stone base supporting the three crosses, and the Sierra de Gredos in the background.
We’ve got to the finish line with fantastic views from the top of the Calvario.
If you want to enjoy the views it’s better to walk, as I said, because the walk is well worth it. The Calvario has always been here and younger people may not have discovered it. Now is the time, to do so, now is always the time to try something new.
No, we haven’t finished the journey, but we’ve finished pedalling. We leave behind us another cross and the little grotto, we put our bums far back in the saddle and we start to descend, easy at the beginning though we find difficulties as we go on. The descent becomes steeper, steeper, steeper, more and more rocks appear, rock ruts, loose boulders, more slope, more stones, you jump, you jam on the brakes, you skid and you continue down, do you remember where we are? Yes, we’re going down the Street of Bitterness!
We reach the path we started from, between the fourth and fifth cross. From here onward, it isn’t difficult and we can relax our forearms, which have been strained to the max.
Turning left we find the first crosses and the sports centre, and we end the route going along the street where the slaughterhouse was, and end up in the Corredera Square where we started from.
Here is a link to a detailed view of the route
Guzmán Lozano, Lagartera, October 2021
*The Calvario in Lagartera usually refers to a small plateau on the top of a hill where there are three crosses, representing the Crucifixion, and a little white painted grotto called the Caseta del Santo. You reach the Calvario by following stone crosses, representing the Stations of the Cross. ‘Calvario’ may also refer to the whole of the route. Most pueblos in these parts have Calvarios, but Lagartera’s is, as Guzmán says, especially beautiful and hard to access on a bike. In fact, it is not a good idea to try travelling this route on a bike unless you are fit, skilled and into extreme cycling!