April 11th and 12th Cortes de Pallas to Requena

Having a rest day in Requena, about 8 kilometres away from the GR7 for reasons which will become apparent, so a double day blog.

The two big news items, firstly an equipment failure and secondly an accommodation failure.

Walking is not exactly a technical sport so a bit of kit actually failing is very unusual and I suspect some will find it interesting. My water reservoir sprung a leak. The alternative name for a reservoir is a bladder but the idea of a leaking bladder is particularly unpleasant so I'm going to stick with reservoir. I know exactly how the leak came about and it's a clear design fault, really exciting, so I will have probably write a separate blog on it.

Anyway as I was leaving Cortes de Pallas the bottom of my back felt a bit damp. This has happened before, usually when the bag has been left on it's side, so I didn't worry. After about 10 minutes I decided to investigate and sure enough there was a leak.

What to do. It's a relatively busy road walk out of Cortes de Pallas, I didn't have anything I could put the water in and I reasoned it was slow enough not to matter. After about 35 minutes the do nothing option was becoming untenable,it was starting to look like I had a leaking bladder as well as a leaking reservoir, an impression reinforced by the underpants which were drying on the back of my backpack.

Leaking Bladder

Nothing to do but find an old bottle, put a chlorine tablet in it, drain the reservoir and change my clothes. Down to less than a litre of water but a half way stop on the route where I might be able to get more. I thought that was all the excitement I was going to have for the day.

My original schedule had involved walking all the way through to El Rebollar and then somehow getting to Requena which is where the nearest accommodation is. Christine Durrant thought she had found an auberge in Milares and had booked and paid for it in advance. They were going to refund me her costs when I got there.

Apart from the wet clothes the walk, despite being along a road for the first 5/6 kilometres, was interesting. This area has a lot of infrastructure, a nuclear power station, a reservoir at the bottom of the gorge and another one at the top, power cables everywhere.

Cooling Towers

After a while you leave the road and start the first climb up the side a very impressive gorge. Climbs are a feature of the walk and heading north I'm definitely crossing the grain of the landscape and will complete five climbs before I finish. The other feature is a lot of overgrown forest paths, difficult to follow despite good marking, the GPS is really useful. Just before I get to the top I see my first snake sunning itself on a rock. A light yellow or olive colour with black markings all along it's back - about a metre long.

Gorge to the north west of Cortes de Pallas

Ancient Cave Hose

It's a flat top for 2 or 3 kilometres and then down into the next valley. The restaurant at Venta Caeta is open so I stop for lunch at about 12.45. It was Sunday yesterday, I was on the road at 7.45 and have very little food on board.

Leaving the village the second climb goes to the top of the Col Rodona, again through a really thick forest trail, down the other side and then up again on the third climb. It's then a long and meandering descent on a much better trail down to what looks like a campsite but not yet open and with access to a road. It's now about five o'clock and I'm starting to look for Milares. Slightly worrying is a table of services at the campsite for the GR7 which doesn't mention Milares accommodation.

Worry not, after about 30 minutes a GR sign saying 45 minutes to Milares and an auberge. The GR route takes you on a complex route (ignoring the direct one along the road) and eventually I'm in Milares. It's about six houses, non have mains electricity and there is absolutely no one there. Having wandered around a bit I ring the number Christine Durrant gave me for the accommodation but no answer. I wander through the village and eventually find a sign to an auberge, find the auberge but it's long closed. It does however have a different name to the one Christine has booked so the evidence is not conclusive, although the chances of two auberges seem a bit remote.

Decide to go back to small village on the other side of Milares to see if the auberge is there. This place at least has mains electricity and dogs start to bark at me - life at least. At the end of the village there is some activity. As I get closer I see it's a man spraying the back of his small lorry with a high pressure hose. The lorry, would you believe it, has something to do with bees and the man is dressed in gear you associate with a nuclear disaster, I decide to leave him to it.

On the way back I see some elderly people with some sheep, they tell me where Milares is and tell me the auberge is closed. One final brain wave, I ring up Christine and John Durrant. Encouragingly they are confident that the auberge does exist, they had spoken to them yesterday, and they will SMS me the details. The connection is very bad.

I march back to Milares awaiting the SMS and determined to turn over every stone to find the auberge. My confidence starts to slip, no SMS and no auberge. I get back through to Christine by which time she had worked out the problem, the auberge is in Milanes, or somewhere with a slightly different spelling.

What to do?

I could either go back and throw myself on the mercy of the sheep people (who had not offered to help despite my predicament) or press on. I pressed on.

Climbing out of Milares

This is about 7.30. I didn't really know how far El Rebollar was but knew I would have to get there in good time to organise transport to Requena. Dusk is now arriving and it takes me just under 90 minutes to climb to the top of the pass. It's now dark, half moon, but the sign is clear enough, El Rebollar 3 hours. It's a small place and arriving there at midnight seemed a pretty desperate plan.

As it happens the walk was OK, the path was fairly clear, and it's amazing how much you can see with even a half moon. After another hour I arrived at a old cottage, which had a flat grassy area in front of it. I decided to put all my gear on and see if I could sleep. Flat, smooth surfaces by the way are very unusual around here, the standard surface is rock, or packed soil, covered with rocks.

I did nearly go to sleep but the forest is a noisy place at night what with the owls, larger things crashing through the trees and my stomach. At one point I was convinced that my stomach was sneaking up on me.

Eventually I was just too cold and had to walk just to warm up. This didn't take that long and I wanted to go to sleep again but no flat, remotely comfortable surface presented itself. I did sit on a rock for a bit and some animals came rushing past, had to be deer or possibly even boar.

Had to decide whether I wanted to hang around on the mountain or head into town. Didn't really know what the final approach to town was going to be like or indeed the reception I might get at this time of night from the Spanish dogs. Stayed on the mountain until 3 (found another flat place) and then headed down. Only one dog in El Rebollar and two on the outskirts of Requena. Not counting the roaming around the Milares conurbation, I had walked 50 kilometres.

Was in the centre by 5.30 and watched the town wake up. Two very heavy smokers with terrible coughs ejected from somewhere at 5.45, hospital workers changing shift at 6, the first bar open at 6.30 with the first drinkers in there almost immediately. I kill time with a couple of coffees and manage to get into Hotel Avenida by 7.45.

I had originally planned to do the whole thing in a day but always knew it would be a mega challenge and was pleased when Christine found an alternative. Christine's mistake was an easy one to make and I'm sure I will make similar ones before I'm finished. The particular issue with this stretch of the walk is that there just isn't any accommodation.


  1. Amazing! You've become a hobo.

  2. Down and out in London and Requena. Y

  3. John. Similar problems like yours I have had on that trail. Do not desperate, things will improve a lot and you will have fantastic places to see and enjoy.

  4. Hi John. I've been enjoying your blog as a lurker for a while. Same happened to me walking on the Via de la Plata from Sevilla last October.I had a 3l Source bladder and it leaked where the hose joins the bag. Embarrassing as I was in a town and the wet patch was obvious.Couldn't stop the water running for ages as it had soaked into the pack. Always the odd problem on long trips like these. Lost in the dark in the middle of nowhere was not uncommon for me. All the best.

  5. Hi Andrew, nice to hear from you. Have had a great rest day today but not something I plan to do to often.

  6. should i bring out a sleeping bag so you have emergency cover? Am worried about you - what the hell's gonna happen next?

  7. A sleeping bag would be a must. With a winter cover you would have more asurances that in an emergency you could get to spend the night confortably. I know that getting more weight in your backpack would be harder to your back and shoulders, but......

  8. John, thanks for the sign. While you have been racing bees and wetting yourself on a nice stroll, I've spent weeks trying to figure out how to post a comment - a serious mental equipment malfunction. Am beginning to find your blog worryingly addictive. Enjoy and take care. Martin

  9. John, how important is a bladder - especially if they leak after a while? Drink a mineral and keep the bottle, fill it every morning with water. Cheaper than glue, and safer as well.

    Hope you find a bed every day from now on!


  10. hello,
    accomodation, or the lack if it, is spoiling the fun of walking the gr7 around here. I walked out of Vallada and spent two nights out doors, with heavy winds and rain. I still wonder, why no refugios (even unmanned, but accessible) exist on the route - GR7 doesn't strike me as a nice wheather only path...
    After that, Cortes de Pallas was a real revelation. I almost forgot how it feels to get up and to put on _dry_ clothes.
    The walk to El Rebollar via Venta Gaenta was nice surprise: two good camping opportunities (Campamento de Tabarla where I slept and Moratillas which even had running water - both are not camping sites but recreational areas: flat and rather soft ground).
    Still no accomodation until el Rebollar (the gas station with restaurant/motel just north of the village).
    It dawns on me, that walking GR7 that late in the year was not a very good decision. At least I've got some spartan camping gear with me - that makes the nights outdoors not exactly enjoyable but it's not a hazard for life nor health - if I can find a patch of dry, flat and not rocky ground...

  11. Hi Michael

    You've definitely done the worse stretch, everything gets better from here on in. Thanks for the comment and let me know how you get on with the rest of your trip


  12. Hi John,
    I'm in Requena now. I tried to get to Chera from El Rebollar, but the fence... The whole valley is blocked - I tried two different ways. I should have read your blog in advance :)
    a short search shows, that the problem already existed back in mid 2010... So the Valencian Federation simply doesn't care.
    Walking the GR7 in the province Valencia is my most unpleasent walking experience on the route until now. I hate the narrow paths lost in vegetation. I look like I'd fight cats on a daily basis and I must be quite a sight, when I enter a pueblo, bleeding and cursing; my backpack, which survived two months of hiking in Patagonia without a scratch, has developed several holes the the last days. And the real fun starts in rain - rain clothes against vegetation.
    Seriously, I think, they should revise the route.

    The receptionist at the hotel tries to find out, how to get by bus to Chera - I don't want to walk for 20km a "yellow" road, and that's my only alternative ad my maps are quite tailored to the GR7 and don't show any variants (apparently, the GR7.1, which forks maybe 3km befor El Rebollar, doesn't run into any fence)
    I'm thinking about giving up and going to Andalusia instead, to visit Granada, Cordoba and Cadiz...

  13. Hi Michael

    This is a really bad stretch if you need accommodation. I noticed the GR 7.1 option but didn't try it because again there was no accommodation along that variant (it was the middle of the night when I saw it).

    I got lost on the Chera to Benageber stretch as well, very confusing route about 5 kilometres on from Chera but once you get to Benageber than things really do pick up. Great places to stop and I really liked the countryside.

    Keep in touch and best of luck

  14. Hi John,
    I couldn't leave it like that and got by bus from Requenta to Chera. There, I asked the locals about the paths and they told me, that most people decide to walk the road to Requenta.
    But the pdfs distributed by the Valencian authorities indicate, that the GR7 goes via El Tejo now - so the "variant" is the official route now.
    For people staying at the motel at El Rebollar and walking north: you don't need to backtrack to the fork, there is a signposted PR, but I did not pay attention to the number, yellow marks, crossing the old GR7 north of El Rebollar, at the ruins just before GR7 dives into the valley. It goes to El Tejo, where you should meet the GR7.1. That variant is apparently not affected by private ground property. But I haven't walked that, so consider it unconfirmed.
    After Chera things got indeed better, even if there is another private finca to cross. The paths are sometimes narrow and overgrown, but it's nothing compared to the state of the GR7 between Vallada and Cortes de Pallas.I'm in Andilla now and start to prepare the route for Catalunya.

  15. Hi Michael

    Thanks ever so much for you comments, will publish an update on the blog.

    I've got a link to the PDF on the web-site and your right it does imply that you go by the variant but my problem was I couldn't find any accommodation and walking all the way to Chera seemed too far.

    I'm interested in your reference to a motel at El Rebollar, I couldn't find it. Would be interested in the details.

    You have some great walking awaiting you all the way to Morella so enjoy. Unfortunately the E4 leaves the GR7 once it enters Catalunya so my blog won't help.

    Best of luck


  16. Hi John,
    the motel: going north through El Rebollar, you have to cross the highway. On the northern side of the highway, to your right, you'll see the Repsol gas station (the gas station, or rsther their light sign, can be seen as you approach El Rebollar from the south), which has a restaurant and motel attached (different building, but once you are there, no problem figuring that out). I don't know, what's the business hours, but I assume 24/7.

    Yes, the walk from Cortes de Pallas to Chera would be very long and rather dangerous.

    I enjoy your blog greatly and it is a great help, I'll be missing it in Catalunya. Thanks!


  17. The GR7 north of El Rebollar has been re-routed to avoid the fences. http://www.frankrevelo.com/hiking/dest_eu_spain_gr7.htm has links to a GPX file which follows the new route, and also a KML file so you view the new route in Google maps.

    Cortest de Pallas to El Rebollar (where there is definitely a hotel, though it might be full) is 52km. You can then walk another 9km to Requena where there are plenty of hotels. That makes for 61km. I carry camping gear myself and enjoy camping. Inability/unwillingness to camp makes life difficult.

    To avoid backtracking from to El Rebollar from Requena (in case you visit the latter), you can walk north on a paved road from Requena, crossing the autovia, until you hit the new GR7 route.

    I know this is 3 years late, but some people may be visiting this page via google searches.