My Epic Journey – Jonathan Halstead

Malaga to Santiago – 

Back in 2013 I cycled around Spain’s spectacular mountain ranges and coastal trails, covering 2,800km, mostly off-road, on a mountain bike pulling a trailer with my kit inside. I started in Malaga in spring, and I worked my way north east through the Sierras de Tejeda and Nevada, turning north at a little used pass at Laroles. From there I cycled to the remote Sierras de Carzorla and Segura – a lovely area of limestone ridges and valleys. Then I headed north to the Pyrenees, picking up a well established biking trail west to the Atlantic. Finally I headed to Santiago de Compostela using the northern pilgrim route along the beautiful coastline.


Much of my route was through very remote areas with no sign-posting and little information on what route to take. So all along the way a satmap and small laptop were crucial to me, allowing me to both plan draft routes and record actual routes. Sometimes I could find an existing route and use parts of it. For example and offer satnav files for southern Spain and the Pyrenees. I could download their files, cut out the part I needed and load it up into the Active 10 the night before each day’s ride. So good wifi and a .gpx editor are also crucial, but connectivity in Spain is so good this was rarely an issue.


Where I could not find any existing information on a route I’d just make one up on each evening and put that in my Active 10. Then the next day I’d follow the draft route; but the great thing about an Active 10 is that I could simultaneously record my actual route, so if my draft didn’t work out any detours I made would be recorded. Also the large map on the screen really helped in deciding on a detour as I could scan the area around me for alternatives.

If you want to find out more you can read the blog at, where you’ll also find advice on equipment (including the Satmap Active 10) and .gpx software: View it in “Book Format” and look for Chapter “Planning/What worked well”.  Knowing a bit about satnav files is very important for two reasons. Sometimes you can only get files in proprietary format (e.g. Google’s .KMZ) and sometimes files have corrupt elements. I found knowing how to open them up and either change the format or spot and correct errors was crucial.


After finishing the ride I was struck how hard it had been to find routes over such long distances, and have now set up a new portal to collect together some really epic off-road routes around Europe. See If anyone out there has some good routes mapped out, please get in touch.

Jonathan Halstead

[email protected]


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