The Álvar Fáñez RouteGuadalajara
The Álvar Fáñez Route by MTB: Álvar Fáñez’s surprise attack through the Henares basin
- Route: From Guadalajara to Castejón de Henares - Villaseca de Henares
- Provinces: Guadalajara.
- Kilometres: Approx. 71 km.
- Days recommended: 1 day
- Difficulty: Low-medium
Information you can download on this page
- MTB tracks in GPX, KMZ and TRK format.
- The MTB route guide: contains technical and practical information, a description of the route, maps, gradients, difficulty, bicycle repair shops, stamping points and relevant milestones, etc.
- List of accommodation.
- List of points for obtaining and stamping the Letter of safe conduct.
- List of tourist information offices.
- Tourist brochure (this can be obtained at any of the tourist information offices on the route).Only available in Spanish.
Remember that you can obtain more information about each route at the tourist information offices on the Way of El Cid, including brochures and the Letter of safe conduct.
The Plot: plundering the River Henares basin
This branch route commemorates the famous raid or surprise attack of Álvar Fáñez. According to the Poem, whilst El Cid was laying siege to Castejón, his loyal vassal, accompanied by two hundred knights, plundered the banks of the River Henares, passing through Hita and Guadalajara as far as the gates of Alcalá de Henares. He returned with “herds of cattle and flocks of sheep” and “great quantities of other riches” to provide provisions for El Cid’s needy troops, who immediately set off in a north-easterly direction, heading for Zaragoza via Anguita.
This small branch route takes us through small towns and villages as far as Guadalajara. It is a relatively easy route through the meadows that line the River Badiel, dotted with areas of scrubland and cereal crops. It is also scattered with modest examples of rural Romanesque architecture in Villaseca de Henares, Utande and Muduex. Halfway along the route, the walled town of Hita nestles beneath its imposing castle, evidence of its twofold nature as a monumental town (it has been declared a historic and artistic site) and its literary connections (it is mentioned in the Poem of the Cid and is the birthplace of Arcipreste de Hita).
The route continues as far as Guadalajara – an Arabic name meaning ‘river of stones’. Guadalajara was originally an Andalusian military post close to the Duero boundary. Many of the armies marching from Toledo passed through this point before continuing on their way to Atienza or Medinaceli. Although its landmark monument is the Palace of El Infantado (15th – 16th centuries), it is also home to many medieval monuments such as the bridge built during the caliphate (although few traces remain of the original 10th century construction, as it was rebuilt in the 18th century), several interesting examples of Mudejar architecture and the towers of Alamín and Álvar Fáñez (dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries).
Signposting and condition of the route
- In general, the BTT route follows the hiking route, which is why BTT users mainly follow the same signposts as hikers. However, when the hiking route becomes very difficult or technical, alternatives appear signposted specifically for BTT. These BTT-MTB alternatives run along country roads or tracks and, when that is not possible, along minor roads.
- Signposting for hikers When cycling along the hiking route, the signs are: (a) two red lines (in sections where the Way of El Cid is not certified as a GR, in other words, a long distance track); and (b) a red and white line in sections where it is certified as GR 160 Way of El Cid or coincides with another GR (long distance track). Both the maps and the route guides indicate the type of signposts you will find.
- BTT-MTB signposts: the BTT alternatives (those that are separate from the hiking route) are signposted according to international IMBA standards. At the beginning of each BTT stage, you will find a panel showing the alternatives for that day (if any) and then, at the beginning of each alternative, another information panel.
Tips and recommendations
- Travel safely and unhurriedly: take the tracks and route guide with you. The route is signposted and we do maintenance on the signs every year; however, signs can also disappear (by accident, the weather, vandalism) and, in that case, especially when you are in the mountains, the track and route guide become very important. The route guide also indicates the levels of difficulty of each section and it is a good idea to check it out before starting each stage. The main problem as far as getting lost is concerned comes in the villages: although we have placed signposts in many of them, we have not covered all of them and, even in those with signposts, you might not see the marks and not find the exit easily. Of course, it is best to ask a local and take the tracks and route guide with you, since they contain the indications you need to follow the route.
- Food and spares. One of the main advantages of the Way of El Cid is that it runs through very attractive places with few inhabitants: many of the villages are very small and they do not have food stores. Unless you have planned to eat in a bar or restaurant, it is very important to take some food with you (sandwiches, nuts, energy bars, etc.) in case you can't find anywhere to eat or buy food. Also remember to take water with you. In most of the villages, there are drinking fountains: remember to refill your water bottles before setting off again. The same applies for spare parts: remember to take a repair kit with you and the more complete it is, the greater your peace of mind will be. Welcome to the Middle Ages.
- Book your accommodation in advance. You are about to travel through one of the areas with the lowest population density in Europe. Some villages are very small and have limited infrastructures. Book your accommodation at the end of the stage in advance and if you change where you plan to finish the route, check that there is accommodation available there.
- Don't forget your helmet: it is compulsory for adults to wear helmets on roads outside cities and for under 16s it is compulsory at all times.
- Get your Letter of safe conduct. The Letter of Safe Conduct is a personalised 'passport' you can have stamped at many towns and villages on the Way of El Cid. You can use it to get discounts of at least 10% in more than 200 places of accommodation and benefit from special offers. It is free and you can apply for it at any of the more than 70 tourist information offices on the route or at the Way of El Cid Consortium.
- Your literary guide. You might think it's unnecessary weight, but for many it is essential: don't forget to take with you a copy of the Poem of The Cid; you will be able to recreate some of its passages on site.
- And, of course, respect the signs you come across: damaging, knocking down or changing a sign means that those behind you might get lost.
How to get there… and get back
For more information about the transport options in Guadalajara, click on the information about the municipality.
Rev. JGG 02.08.16