Finding your way along the GR1

As it would be for any long-distance route in Spain finding your way along the GR1 can be a challenge.

Spanish walking routes are 'defined' by the regional walking associations operating to standards set at a national level. It's a voluntary activity although regional government does occasionally get involved as part of the promotion of tourism.  Waymarking and the quality of the route does however vary from region to region (the route passes through 5 regions).



Waymarking usually involves the red and white markers used in France and for 70 to 80 per cent of journey these can be followed with ease.  The guide includes maps and provides directions but this is a 1250km route and most walkers will want other support.  Spanish maps produced by Institute of Geograhic Information (IGN - the national mapping agency) are poor quality compared to their UK or French equivalent and don't generally include accurate information on footpaths.  Paths are usually marked but not defined as the GR1 and may well have disappeared since the map was produced and can't be reliably followed.

To supplement the information in the guide the recommended approach is to use a GPS and a smartphone based GPS, for example the one I use, Viewranger, is the perfect solution.  The GPX trail for the route is available for free download from the Cicerone website once you've bought the guidebook.


While many walkers have a smartphone it is surprising how few use the GPS. If you haven't used this facility don't leave it to the last minute before your trip to Spain to find out how it works.  Battery life will be a concern to most people but remember, as with a paper map, you will be only using it as a back-up enabling key navigation decisions (e.g. turnings at junctions) to be checked.  To get a full day's walking from your phone make sure you turn off any unnecessary functions (wifi and data roaming in particular).  For emergency back-up carry a supplementary power pack.


Once the GPX trail has been downloaded, it can be displayed against the Spanish map base which itself is available for download at the Viewranger map store.  You can download these before you set off to Spain or once in the country.  It's easier to do it in Spain as, although the maps inexpensive, you'll end only buying those you really need.


9 comments:

  1. Big user of ViewRanger myself. I recorded my Camino de Santiago 2012 hike using the app :)

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    1. Hi Chris, nice to hear from you. I think the app is great, so easy to use and fun as well, great sharing stuff with other people. What did you think of the Camino?

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  2. Dear John
    I am enjoying your book and planning to walk some of Section 7 shortly. Is it possible use Viewranger to download part of the route without paying £74.99 for the whole lot? If not is there another way to get the Section 7 route onto 1:25000 IGN maps on my smartphone?
    Thank you
    Alan

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    1. Hi Alan

      Yes!

      You can download the Spanish maps tile by tile, and only buy the maps you need around the route itself. Alternatively you can download the openmaps from app which are free.

      Any problems let me know or even send a question to Viewranger, they are very helpful.

      John

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  3. Thank you John for your prompt reply . I have already downloaded some of the 1:25000 maps tile by tile. But I cannot see how I can overlay sections of the GRI ROUTE onto them other than by buying the whole set of Pyrennes maps and route from Viewranger for £74.99. What am I missing please?
    Alan

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    1. Hi Alan

      If you have the tiles on your phone, downloaded and available for off-line use, and the GPX downloaded as well, you can display the route against the maps.

      It can be a bit fiddly practicing this stuff for another country as app will locate to the country your actually in. So if your in the UK try downloading a route close to your home, download a tile (either OS or a free tile) and then display the route against the map. Then practice the navigation techniques. Personally I don't actually use the route for navigation, I just record the track I'm walking and as long as its the same as the route it works.

      John



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  4. I've also been having difficulty. I've just been trying to download sections 6 and 7, with all the necessary map tiles. To do this, I opened the Viewranger app and hit the magnifying glass icon ("search"). Then I clicked on the white space just above the grey arrow and selected "Routes". Then I typed in GR1 section 6. Weirdly, this brought up every section except section 6... but I took the opportunity to download section 7. The price advertised as 99p. (I have an Apple iPhone and had to enter my Apple password at this point.) To get section 6, I went back to the Viewranger search tool and selected the People category, and then typed in John Hayes. There are quite a few people called John Hayes... but I had noticed that John's profile pictures is a couple of beaten up shoes, so I clicked on that one. Then I started scrolling through all of John's many routes. Eventually I came across GR1 section 6 and downloaded it. Also 99p. All seemed to go well, except that I now have all the map tiles without the route itself.

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  5. Hi John

    I've only started on the GR1, having just completed your Section 7 (although from East to West). Just one observation on navigation. The IGN have their own Android app onto which one can download their digital maps gratis. I'm not an expert on GPS navigation apps so couldn't comment on how it's functionality might compare to Viewranger but I found it perfectly adequate for negotiating Section 7.

    Ian

    P.S. I've not found the much talked about dogs a problem, rather the malodorous intensive pig farming!

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