Day 2 on the GR1 - to Cervera de Pisuerga

Today was our first day on the GR1 Sendero Historico proper, a brilliant day, fantastic weather and packed with memorable moments.

Juan was desperate to get away and make the best of the clear blue skies. After the cloud yesterday he was keen to make sure I saw the mountain tops.

It was freezing cold and the ground was iron hard. Leaving the Camporredondo del Alba and crossing the bridge over the reservoir I saw something moving and sticking out of the water. At first I thought it was an eel, it was so thin, but it spun round and two little eyes from a tiny narrow head were starring up at me; I was looking at an otter. I thought I had seen one before in France in the Canal du Midi, but that was fat and clumsy not at all like the speed merchant I had just seen. Of course it was gone in an instant ruining the day for the two guys with huge cameras who arrived just moments too late to take its picture.

Juan seemed more excited by our first sight of the Pena Espiguete which we saw for the first time peeping over the side of the valley a couple of hundred yards later. At 2450 metres it's not quite the highest mountain in the range but its classical pyramid shape makes it the most famous and the one everyone wants to climb.

It really was cold and despite the icy road I had to pack my poles and bury my gloved hands deep into my pockets to warm up.

Climbing up the valley, crossing over a pass we headed back down towards the Camporrodondo reservoir and got our first sight of the Curavacas which at 2525 metres is the highest in the range. The views were amazing and at last we could see Pena Espiguete without the obstruction of the side of a valley.

The best view of the day however came 10 minutes or so later. Looking down towards the reservoir, half covered with a huge sheet of ice we got a perfect reflection of
Curavacas. The sheet of ice created a weird effect giving a strange depth to the image, the best of its type I have ever seen.

The village of La Lastra, near the the top of the pass brought us back to reality - three huge barking dogs, one almost as big as Juan, and then a bull in the middle of the trail. Juan was not afraid of the bull because it wasn't the sort they used in bull-fights - fair enough I said and let him go first.

Over the pass and into a steep sided oak strewn valley we disturbed a family of deer who were enjoying what was now a warm sun. At about 1 o'clock we stopped for the first time since just after eight and shared a bar of chocolate at the edge of the village of Rebanal de las Llantas.

After walking for about 4 kilometres along a road, passing through San Martin de Los Herroros, we started to cross a flat water meadow which had stream running through its middle. Suddenly out of the stream one then a whole series (6 or 7) of huge ponderous brown birds, like Pterosaurs, clawed their way into the sky. I've seen Griffen Vultures before, and Lammergeier, but never this close, they really are massive. The stories about them attacking living animals are apparently true - there just isn't enough dead stuff to go around. In this instance however we had disturbed them starting on a more traditional menu - a horse which had somehow met its end in the river.

After such excitement the rest of the walk passed pleasantly but without incident. We passed through the village of Ventanilla, where the church has been converted into a farm house (Juan told me that the last time he was here he was told off by the bear warden for straying off the pass), and on alongside the reservoir to Ruesga. We were so far ahead of schedule that Juan suggested we stop for a beer at the Hotel Rural Casa Maria.

I think Juan now orders food designed to shock and after our first beer a huge plate of Morcilla arrived. I however, am dead sophisticated and know my black pudding from my elbow and woofed it down. Delicious, two different types, one fried to a crisp and the other heavily flavoured with chilli and cumin - a sort of Moroccan black pudding.

Fully restored we made our way to Cervera de Pisuerga and the very comfortable family run hotel, the Hostal Cholo. A great day's walk, 39 kilometres, and as dinner is not until 9.30 it's a good job I had a late lunch.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


  1. Hi John. Now at home and you walking, not dancing, in the rain.
    The hostel in Cervera de Pisuerga was Hostal Peña Labra where we were treated like the family as I have been a customer from 40 years.

  2. I just found your excellent blog. I walked the Camino Primitivo in May 2017 and we're looking to go back in 2019 and do some more hiking. I'm thinking about doing part of one of the GR routes and this one is on the list. However, I can't walk 40km in one day. I don't want to buy a guide book until I've narrowed down my choices. Is it possible to do 15 or 20km days on this route and still be within range of towns with albergues, hostels, hotels, casa rurales, etc?

    1. Hi there the answer is yes, basically - I haven't got the schedule in front of me but I suspect there is the odd day when you might have to walk 20-25. Thanks for the kind comments about my blog and good walking!

  3. John, just starting to read your delightful blog as I eagerly await arrival of your book. This walk looks enticing and definitely a possibility for me in 2019. A question: is it difficult to arrange transport of a suitcase on a daily basis?

    1. Hi Victoria

      Thank you so much for your kind comment

      To be honest I've never tried to send a bag ahead. There is no formal bag ahead service on the route so you would need to do it by taxi. Some of locations are a little remote, taxis would need to go a long way and it could get expensive. We carried out own stuff and got quite good a getting everything down to hardly anything at all. My wife was never carrying more than 5 kilos.

      Hope that helps


    2. John, thank you so much for your reply. The book arrived and I raced through it just enough to get a sense of the walk, which looks absolutely stunning! Should I go ahead with este sendero, I would have to use taxis for baggage transport, though, despite the expense.

      If any readers have experience with this, could you comment?