The GR1 - 2018 Review

It's now 5 years since I first walked the GR1 - the Sendero Histórico, the subject of my first guide for Cicerone, but my memories are kept fresh by a steady stream of people who come back to me with appreciative comments.  Although fewer people attempt it than the Karnischer Höhenweg or Munich to Venice, the subjects of my last two guides, I think it's more of a once in a lifetime adventure.  Not only does it take 55 days it also crosses a challenging empty part of Spain.  It's a beautiful walk, not technically difficult, but you are "on your own" and making things work is very rewarding.

Making things work often involves the kindness and hospitality of locals.  My style of travel, whether walking or cycling, involves making use of whatever local accommodation is available.  I've never wild camped so I'm dependent on finding a bed at the end of each day's walk.  Three things have become apparent since I put the guide together: firstly new places have opened or people have discovered places I missed; secondly, places have shut particularly as an elderly restaurant or hotel owner has retired or worse; thirdly walkers have discovered how hospitable the locals are and that there are locals who will provide a bed or a meal where formally it doesn't necessarily exist.

A number of people have been kind enough to contact me with comments about accommodation and other services and there is an update section on this blog which lists the accommodation changes.  It's fair to say that since writing the guide there has been a net gain in the amount of accommodation available and that the GR1 remains a viable long-distance walk for someone who likes to sleep in a bed every night.  I'm particularly grateful for the most recent set of comments from Peter Bastide, a Canadian who enjoyed the middle sections of the GR1 in October 2018 and provided me with some updates.

There have been some minor updates to the route but essentially hikers are still finding their way using local signs, my guide and the GPS.  Like everything in Spain, things change as you cross regional boundaries not least the quality of the signs for the footpath.

One issue that has emerged is the quality of my GPS file.  Users seem to divide into two groups - experts and novices.  If you're a novice using Viewranger loaded with my GPS file is a revelation - you can see where you are relative to the route and retrace your steps if you've gone wrong.  If you're an expert and have become used to a well-edited GPS file with waypoints strategically positioned than my GPS file doesn't quite cut it.  I think I've been lucky in the sense that most walkers are still (bizarrely I think) in former rather than the latter category when it comes to expertise but the criticism is understood and I intend to step things up on subsequent guides.

Photographs in this blog have been provided by Peter Bastide, my new Canadian friend - many thanks.


  1. We have reviewed your account of the GR1 and think it may be something we wish to thru-hike. You started at Puerto de Tarna; other maps we have seen have the GR1 starting at Cape Finisterre. Why did you chose to start where you did and do you have any comments about the other section of the trail?

    Thanks, James and Amy:

    1. Hi James and Amy

      The GR routes in Spain are looked after by the regional walking associations. The original intention was to have a trek that went from the Atlantic to the Med but unfortunately Galicia and the Asturias didn't agree and so the official route, which is waymarked, stops at Puerto de Tarna. My guidebook includes a suggestion how to make the whole trip using established trails.

      It's a great trip. If you need any help planning for your hike feel free to ask.