Wild Camping on the GR1

I'm getting lots of questions from potential GR1 hikers about wild camping in Spain. I've tried to answer as best as I can but because I haven't done any wild camping I can't claim to be an expert.  Having explored various forums it's clear that most English hikers are confused about the legal status so I decided to do the thing I should have done in the first place and ask a Spaniard.

Juan Holgado is not, of course, any Spaniard, but an expert on all things to do with walking in Spain.  I met him by chance on the third day of my trip from Tarifa to Budapest and since then he has become my Spanish walking mentor.  He provided invaluable input into my Cicerone GR1 guide and his website is a go to place for anyone planning a walking trip in Spain.



Regarding the question of wild camping. The councils tolerate it as long as you reach the place at the end of the day and get things ready for departure early next morning and if the place you choose is not too near an inhabited area. They do not allow camping during the day or for several days in the same place. So there would be no problem to spend the night in the tent you carry on your backpack. Even on Natural Parks, far from the entrance or the information offices, you can fix the tent late in the evening and get ready at sunrise and nobody would notice you've been there.  The GR1, as you well know, passes through wild empty countryside and there are plenty of places where you are unlikely to see anyone.

Also one can contact the mayor of the village and explain your situation of not having a place to spend the night and he will often find a solution.  Friends have stayed in many villages in sleeping bags on the floor of schools or churches.  In one place I stayed in the medical center and the mayor made sure the heating was turned on. So if you are sensible and considerate wild camping on the GR1 will not be a problem.  In particular remember that people in small villages are always pleased to help a foreigner.


8 comments:

  1. John,
    As you know I've 'wild camped' all over Spain. Nobody really bothers. The only time I was arrested was in a national park [Murcia] - so one should be wary of their officials.
    Better to wander into a village and ask at the local bar or Ayuntamiento. They normally fix you up - but be patient.

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    1. Thanks John - sounds good advice - I always find that the best adventures happen when you need help.

      John

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  2. John,
    We walked the GR 7 in Spain from Tarifa to Elda in 2012. We wild camped the entire way and never had a problem. We generally set up late and took down early, but didn't particularly try to hide. campe on a scenic overlook platform, in a plaza behind a mayor's office, on abandoned farmhouse patios and so forth.

    Same thing when we walked the HRP, no problem wild camping in either France or Spain.

    James and Amy

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    1. Thanks for that, that's really helpful. If anything the GR1 is even more remote than the GR7, which make it even easier.

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  3. It is difficult to walk the GR7 all the way from Tarifa to Andorra without wild camping unless like John you are good with ordering taxis. This is especially true in February and March when places are often closed but the weather can be pleasant for walking. Like others I have never been disturbed, however, accommodation is relatively cheap in Spain and Portugal and I feel guilty of not using inexpensive accommodation if it is available. Not doing so deprives people of income in areas where other sources of employment do not appear abundant.

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    1. Hi John

      Thanks for you're comment. I managed to get all the way without wild camping but I did have to leave the route a couple of times. The most difficult stretch was through Valencia. Completely agree about the using local facilities, it is cheap and often good fun but even then not everyone can afford it.

      John

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