Day 9 GR1 to Miranda de Ebro

Yet another lovely day, nice mix of easy walking, pleasant scenery and interesting things to see.
For once there was nowhere to stay on the GR1 within walking distance of Espejo and Miranda de Ebro, a town well to the south of the GR1, was the best option. Rather than walk all the way along a road to Miranda de Ebro I thought I would make a virtue out of necessity, leave the route at Fontecha, catch a bus or thumb a lift, get to the hotel early and have a bit of a rest. So today's walk was a relatively short one at 18 kilometres.

Left the party of teenage schoolchildren preparing to set off on their racing bikes god knows where. They were very excited and dressed to the nines in lycra racing gear. To English eyes it all looked incredibly impressive. My bible on Spain (apart from Juan) is Giles Tremlett's book "The Ghosts of Spain" and he argues that the Spanish education system puts an enormous emphasis on socialisation and I guess going away for the weekend and flying around on bikes is part of that. Looks great to me.

Another cloudy morning, perhaps a bit colder than of late, but with the occasional snatches of sunshine beautifully illuminating different parts of a very green landscape.

The church at Tuesta didn't look much at first sight but inside its 18th century outer clothing was a 12th century Romanesque gem. The stonemasons decorating the main door had really gone to town. There were seven concentric arches around the door - the inner two dressed with geometric patterns (moorish?) and the rest with dozens of small figures. Some of these were traditional and biblical but the rest were, to various degrees, fantastical (twin headed animals, animals dressed as people and lots of weird behaviour) a display perhaps designed to contrast earthly horrors on the outside of the church with the peace within.

Leaving the church and heading gently upwards in an easterly direction you start to appreciate its location. It sits on a small hill but is silhouetted against the Pico Bachicabo which rises to over 1200 metre behind it.

Like Tuesta, Salinas de Anana, doesn't look much from the distance with its gem, ancient salt pans, hidden in the valley at the bottom of the village. To be honest they are more impressive than attractive and at first sight look like the long abandoned remains of some frantic gold rush. After a while it starts to make sense. Flat terraces have been constructed on the hill side, sometimes with a sort of wooden scaffolding, where I guess salty water is deposited and left to evaporate. Wooden conduits fly about the site taking the water to the different terraces. It started operation in the 8th Century and its success made the town one of the richest in northern Spain. Efforts are now being to develop it as a tourist attraction.

The rest of the walk was good but not spectacular involving, after a little climb, a long descent through a wooded valley. I was hoping for some ducks on the Lago de Caicedo de Yuso but today they were elsewhere.

Fontcheta, at the end of the valley was another little gem, two castles, at least two bars and a lovely looking church perched up on the hill. Protecting the salt trade made this an important town in the Middle Ages but judging by the poor frequency of the buses it has lost some of its significance since then. It is about 9 kilometres along the road to Miranda de Ebro and I got a lift after one. "Nice job" as Johnny Spanish says on my podcast Spanish lessons, unfortunately so far that's about the only thing I have remembered.

If want to see on a map where I went today go to this link.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


  1. John the link to Juan´s Site is not working well.

  2. Hi John. I retire next year and am planning (well, dreaming about) getting a bit fitter, going to night school to learn some basic Spanish and brushing up my rusty O level French and then doing the Camino Santiago. The more I look into it the more attracted I am to avoiding the main drag and taking the road less travelled. My current thinking involves crossing into Spain at Irun and taking the Tunnel Route to Miranda de Ebro, the GR1 to Oviedo and the Primitivo to Santiago.
    Do you think this is doable solo by a moderately fit person in his early 60s not wanting to do much more than 30 km in one day? (I have done over 40 km in under 7 hours over primarily open moorland, farmland and rough tracks on sponsored walks but I had plenty of company to keep me going and was not much use the following day!) To what extent am I likely to come across other temporary walking companions along the way? I appreciate your guide does not go that far west but do you know if the GR1 continues to (or near to) Oviedo? What time of year would you recommend for this? Do you have any other recommendations? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. With kind regards, George.

    1. Hi George

      If you're not carrying too weight it's definitely doable. You do need to build up to day after day walking however and there might be a few pain barriers to cross. Light weight is key and that includes footwear - light weight footwear is the best way of avoiding blisters. Taking some anti-inflammatory in those first few days should also help.

      I think the GR1 takes you through prettier more remote countryside than the Camino but the downside is that there isn't as much accommodation and off course its not as cheap. This means that sometimes the next place to stop is just a bit further away. By the time you get to the GR1 however you should be fit as a fiddle so this shouldn't be a problem. Please check for accommodation updates elsewhere on this blog.

      The guide describes why the GR1 starts/finishes where it does and how to join it up with the Camino to continue to the coast. There is a lovely trip report from 'wild-pilgrims' which describes their journey westwards to the coast so please have a look at that -

      Best wishes


    2. Thanks John. I'll check out that web site link. Yes, I can see that weight will be an issue. Once I get into training, I'll try building up to doing it with 10kg on my back (and hopefully take at least some of that off my belly). Kind regards, George.