La Cuerda Larga is a hiking route that runs along the bristly spine of much of the Madrid slope of the Sierra de Guadarrama, starting at the port of Navacerrada and ending at that of La Morcuera.
About 21 kilometers crossing the hard and rugged profile of a demanding route marked out by eight peaks that exceed 2,000 meters and that separate the basins of the Manzanares and Lozoya rivers.
Taking advantage of the full moon on July 5, we are encouraged to do the night version of this mythical mountain route.
A perfect option to live this unique experience before it gets too cold would be to take advantage of the first full moon in October, on the 2nd.
The mecca for walkers in Madrid
PHOTO GALLERY The beauty of the 15 National Parks of Spain
As it is a linear route, the first thing to decide is its direction;
On this occasion we are inclined to do it from east to west, that is, starting from the port of La Morcuera and ending at that of Navacerrada.
And although we were prepared with a headlamp, the initial idea was to use the moon as the only source of illumination along the way, something that, we thought, would make the walk more authentic and interesting.
Depending on the pace of the march and the stops, the duration of the tour can vary between 7 and 10 hours, so we decided to start walking from 10:30 p.m.
If all went well, we would see the sunrise very close to Navacerrada.
La Najarra, beginning of the Rope
At 2,120 meters, the summit of La Najarra, from the Arabic
(place of many stones), is the first of the elevations of the route.
When the day is only a distant and timid golden memory on the horizon and a brilliant silver moon lights up the night, the first steps of your ascension are undertaken.
From La Morcuera (1,774 meters) there are two possible alternatives to start the Cuerda Larga, one following the PR-M11 path until reaching the mountain pass and the other taking a local trail marked with green-and-white signs.
The first itinerary is much more comfortable and avoids the top of La Najarra;
the second, steeper and more uncomfortable, leads to the top of this formidable natural viewpoint over the Madrid plateau.
If the objective is not to miss a single sensation of this magnificent route, the second path is preferable.
Forty-five minutes after attacking it - along this first section of the route, probably the hardest, a drop of 350 meters is overcome -, one finds oneself contemplating the great fire of lights that extends at the foot of the mountain range of Guadarrama.
An impressive spectacle.
The atmosphere was so clear in those post-confinement times that the Four Towers of Madrid were perfectly visible.
enlarge photo Night panoramic view of the Madrid plain from Loma de Pandasco, during the La Cuerda Larga route.
From top to top
We leave La Najarra behind and resume the night march towards Bailanderos (2,133 meters), the second milestone of our long tailpiece.
It is named for the unstable granite blocks around its top.
At times, among the abundant quarries that cross it, the path becomes difficult to distinguish.
Asómate de Hoyos (2,242 meters) is the next elevation to overcome.
Shortly after crowning this third peak of the road, the orographic profile of the walk flattens out and for three or four kilometers it crosses a plateau populated by broom trees and small groups of Hispanic goats.
The area is conducive to camping, and those mountaineers who prefer to do the Long Rope in two stages find here the perfect place to bivouac.
It is also a good place to stop for a late night snack.
Even if it is two or three in the morning, it is appreciated to eat and drink something;
In the mountains it is essential to regain strength and, above all, to hydrate.
Without much difficulty, we then go up to Loma de Pandasco (2,238 meters), our next summit.
There we took the opportunity to take some photos of the profile of the cliffs against the light of the lights of civilization.
The moon, like the most powerful reflector imaginable, floods the entire sierra with clarity.
Its enormous radiance leaves one speechless and the sky without stars.
The long hours of walking and silence invite you to intimate reflections and share thoughts with your fellow travelers.
The steep climb to the geodesic vertex of Cabeza de Hierro Mayor (2,381 meters) requires a greater effort, but reaching the top of the second highest peak in the entire sierra —behind Peñalara, at 2,428 meters— is worth it.
In broad daylight, from the top of this ferruginous mountain we would contemplate Peñalara and Cotos to the north, and La Maliciosa, La Pedriza and the Madrid plain to the south.
enlarge photo COVA FDEZ.
Sunrise at the Ball of the World
The third part of the journey begins descending Cabeza de Hierro Mayor and, shortly after, begins the ascent to the neighboring Cabeza de Hierro Menor (2,374 meters);
a steep climb that forces you to help yourself with your hands to overcome the large granite blocks that, like a real wall, defend its summit.
Once the small of the
heads has been
a long descent begins to the windy pass of Valdemartín, to later reach the penultimate peak: Valdemartín, at 2,280 meters.
To tread the eighth and last summit, Alto de las Guarramillas (2,265 meters), it just remains to descend to the homonymous hill, on whose southern slope is located the Ventisquero de La Condesa, the point where the Manzanares river is born.
At this height, popularly known as the Globe of the World, there is a television repeater antenna whose shape is reminiscent of the rocket that illustrated the cover of one of the Tintin comics
(Objective: the Moon),
and from here we see the first clarities of the new day.
In less than an hour of descent we will arrive at Navacerrada, where this extremely inspiring little night adventure will conclude.
Tips before you go
Distance and difficulty.
Distance and difficulty.
Without great technical complexity, the complete march of the Long Rope has a route of 21 kilometers and more than 1,000 meters of accumulated unevenness.
From 7 to 9 hours of walking and medium / high difficulty.
A car in each port.
A car in each port.
Being such a long linear route, the ideal is to leave a vehicle beforehand at the end (in La Morcuera or Navacerrada) if you do not want to undo the march or wait for the first transport in the morning.
Another option is to change the car keys during the tour with another group of acquaintances who do it in the opposite direction.
Light, water and food.
Light, water and food.
On night routes, a headlamp (and spare battery), poles and walking slowly are essential.
Also eat and drink every two hours (even if we are not thirsty) and check the weather report before leaving.
In the mountains it is preferable not to walk alone, but, if we do so, it is advisable to download the route map on the mobile (for example, from Wikiloc) and charge the battery well.
sierradelguadarrama.com and planetsport.es offer the Night Long Rope among their activities.
Find inspiration for your next trips on our Facebook and Twitter and Instragram or subscribe here to the El Viajero Newsletter.