Day 19 GR1 Bolea

When it comes to navigating along long distance trails every country in Europe is different. In the UK we have fantastic maps, with the routes and rights of way clearly marked but on the ground the way marking is comparatively poor. In Spain the routes are not marked on the maps so you're dependent on the way marking, guides when they exist, or a GPS trail from someone who has already walked the trail before. I'm using Juan's trail which he has developed over a series of trips along the GR1.

In Spain routes do however change, much more frequently than in the UK where changing a "right of way" is a big deal legally. In addition variants are often added and "on the ground" it can get a bit confusing particularly when there is no route map to refer to. That was the story of today - lovely route but not the one I was expecting and a good bit longer.

All started well, great breakfast in a hotel with absolutely amazing views, and good weather.

Breakfast views
Setting off south along the road, rejoining the GR1, crossing the River Gállego on a road bridge and following the signs heading east, everything started as planned. After a while the route headed north, parallel with river but away from my GPS trail which heads east. The way marks were very clear so I stick with the signs expecting them to take me east "around next bend".

After 2/3 kilometres I see up ahead of me a new footbridge crossing the gorge. It dawns on me that this is a new route from Murillo de Gállego and that I'm heading up it the wrong way and about to get three quarters of the way round a circle. Without a map with the route defined on it there is no way to check.

It turns out that the new footbridge has been built for the Camino Natural de la Hoya de Huesca, a route I first saw yesterday and on which no expense has been spared. There is however no suggestion that the GR1 crossed the bridge. Deeply confused I called a friend but luckily for Juan he wasn't about - how could he have helped. I decided against retracing my steps and carried on along the route north continuing away from my GPS trail. After 100 metres or so I see a GR1 Sendero Historico marker, confirming that I am after all going in the "right direction" and that indeed the GR1 had changed its route since Juan last walked it.

After climbing and crossing a narrow gauge railway line the route took me into Riglos a little village in a location of gob-smacking beauty - where else could the GR1 go. The set-up was similar to Agüero, but the village felt higher and the massive red cliffs of the Mallos de Riglos even more dominating. The frustration of not knowing if I was heading in the right direction was completely vanquished.
Riglos (again)

But there was more. At last the trail headed east and sharing a route with it's wealthy cousin, the Camino Natural de la Hoya de Huesca, ran along the side of those red cliffs and eventually into a deep echoing gorge. Spectacular walking and the best bit of the GR1 so far.

Pared de los Butres
Circling vultures are now an everyday thing but today, amongst the red cliffs, I saw for the first time, and much higher, V shaped formations of seasonal migrants returning north from their winter holidays in the sun.

Tower of Marcuello
After climbing up through the gorge the route heads south and arrives at promontory on which stands, in dramatic fashion, the ruins of the Tower of Marcuello. At this point the GR1 decides to part company with the Camino Natural de la Hoya de Huesca, and head down the mountain to Lina de Marcuello. This doesn't make any sense, is going to be longer, and probably less scenic, but determined to stick with the GR1 I stay with with signs and head down the mountain.

El Cubilillo
After such dramatic scenery in the morning the rest of walk was sadly a bit of an anticlimax. After Lina de Marcuello the route goes along ugly, recently constructed, gravel lanes eventually arriving at Loare where it rejoins the Camino Natural de la Hoya de Huesca. There is a wonderful castle to the north of Loare which, if I hadn't walked so far, would have been worth a visit, but I stick with the GR1 and head through the almond trees and on into Aniés.

Loarre Castle
Immediately after Aniés the route leaves the Camino Natural de la Hoya de Huesca (and my original GPS trail) only to rejoin it again before entering Bolea.
The church at Aniés
All pretty strange - a new route has come through with great signs, fantastic information boards and a new bridge over a river. Separately the GR1 has been rerouted but without any real co-ordination with the new route. For the innocent Englishman abroad it can be a bit confusing.

Well I got here, 38 kilometres and over 2,000 metres of climb, if you want to see the route than please go to the following link

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


  1. John. Certainly the GR1 route has been redirected by the new footbridge crossing the River Gállego and going to Riglos and the Mallos, continuing by the interesting gorge to the top of the mountain and coming again to the south.
    Not later I will return to walk that part of the route.

    1. The strange thing Juan is that GR1 Sendero Historico doesn't make use of the new bridge - that would make sense - you might want to have a look at this, I couldn't make much sense of it on my iPhone, but I think it has this new route I

  2. I'm continuing to enjoy your reports. At least you aren't getting snow!
    Our Apennines trip starts with a flight to Rome, so presumably we get the Florence train to somewhere where a bus or taxi will take us to the start - thanks for your comment on that query.
    You like long days, don't you!

    1. Hi Martin. I got a bus to Sansepolcro but I'm struggling to remember where I caught it from. I got a train from Florence to this mystery place, it could have been Arezzo. There is a bus from Sansepolcro up to the start of the route but not on a Sunday - it's a long way up!

    2. My cousin confirms it was Arezzo, I caught a bus at about 3, he didn't get there until a lot later, had to get a taxi and it cost him 85 euros.

  3. John. It does not make sense starting the walk in Murillo, walking on the road to the south and after crossing the river by the road bridge going north to Riglos having the footbridge directly from Murillo to Riglos and cuting the walk by nearly 4k.