A Guide for the GR1 Sendero Histórico

Europeans have access to great walking right on their doorstep.  It's the continent for 'easy walking' - where walkers can travel long distances through wild, varied and remote countryside, and find at the end of the day a warm bed and great food.  Even in Europe however, Spain is special.  Spain was the last country in Western Europe to experience rural depopulation. The ancient infrastructure, built for a population where everyone walked, is still there.  The GR1 Sendero Histórico follows paths and trails that, until the 1960s, were the main way people and their animals moved from village to village.  Although sadly, the days when every village had a bar, Cantina or Hostal have now gone, there are still just enough to make walking from place to place the best way to travel.

While the attractions are obvious, planning a walking trip in Spain is a challenge.  Walking as a leisure activity is a recent discovery for the Spanish; aspirant long distance walkers struggle to find support like that in France, Switzerland, Germany and Austria. Routes are not marked on the national map base; waymarking is variable with the quality in particular, changing from region to region; and the routes themselves are not always completely fixed.

I first encountered the problems of planning a long distance trip through Spain when I walked the E4 from Tarifa, near Gibralter, to Budapest.  In Spain most of the E4's journey is along the GR7, Spain's oldest 'GR', but finding out where the route went proved to be a nightmare. There is just no single source of information and it took nearly as long to plan the route as it did to walk it.

There was of course an exception to this and that was the route through Andalucia.  For Andalucia there as a Cicerone guide, "Walking the GR7 in Andalucia by Michelle Lowe and Kirstie Shirra" and this provided all the essentials; where the route went, how long it would take to walk each stage and where to stay.  Above all else, it convinced me that I wanted to walk it.

My Spanish friend, Juan Holgado, suggested that I walk the GR1 back in 2012.  He has walked most of Spain's long distance trails and felt that this was the best. Although I can't make Juan's informed comparison, my first trip along it (March/April 2013) convinced me it was an epic trip and one that should be promoted to a wider, international audience.
The combination of an epic trip and the challenge of planning one in Spain cried out for a guide; to be honest, Cicerone didn't take that much convincing.  "Walking the GR7" has now gone to a second edition and I'm convinced that once people get to know about "Guide to GR1 Sendero Histórico", that it will be just as successful.

John Hayes - December 2013


  1. Happy New Year John.
    Good to hear you are committed to writing the GR1 Guide - I'm sure it will be inspirational. It's time that more people discovered the joys of long distance walking in Spain.
    Shame that Cicerone haven't tried to complete their coverage of the GR7 - still there are now plenty of Spanish guides to the route out of Andalucia.
    Have a great 2014 walking and I will be interested to keep up with your blogs.

    1. Happy New Year to you as well, great to hear from you. Busy on the guide at this very moment, struggling with punctuation and Spanish place names.

      Not sure if you're reading Christine's account (aka German Tourist) of her trip along the GR7 - it's great fun although the weather sounds nearly as bad there as it is here - see http://www.christine-on-big-trip.blogspot.co.uk/

      Best wishes John

    2. Thanks for the link onto Christine's account - good reading whilst I'm laid up after toe operation, but not missing much outside in the bad weather..

  2. I am glad John, I will be to the delay of the edition of the guide, now I am finishing gr. 48, when I have time, and am going to begin in Portugal the Route Algarviana, besides to follow (in vacations) your passages by the E4 http://e4destinoatenas.blogspot.com.es/

    1. Excellent, I recognise your skinny companion - send him my best wishes