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.


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

    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?

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.