To be honest I feel mixed emotions when a walker using a guide points out a route change (thanks Amir). On the one hand, a bit of my precious guide is out of date while, on the other, the route is still being worked on and taken seriously. This is exactly what's happened in Aragon in general and Huesca in particular. As part of a 400,000 euro investment in the fabulous Sierra de Guara, the original routing for the GR1 has been diverted just east of Nazarre, southeast through Pardina Seral to Rodellar and then northeast and back up Letosa and Bagüeste before rejoining the original route back to Paules de Sarsa.
The change helps a lot. Although it adds an extra stage, the stages are more manageable. Because of the lack of accommodation, Stage 5 in the guide is huge (12 hours), and although heading south to Rodellar adds the overall distance there is accommodation there (camping, in a refuge, or in a hotel). So instead of Nocito to Paules de Sarsa, as described in the guide, the new recommendation is to go from Nocito to Rodellar (22.7km, 1010m up and 825m down taking an estimated 7h 35m), stop there, before heading to Paules de Sarsa (27.3km 1025m up and 1190m down taking an estimated 9hr 10m).
Follow the link to see the information panel for the route through the Sierra de Guara
Although I haven't walked the new Rodellar bits the report from Amir states that it is excellent although totally empty in March. Rodellar is a major climbing and canyoning destination so it should get a bit busier from April onwards, as the season opens up, but don't expect crowds. One slight regret is that the new route misses out Otin, the biggest abandoned town on the route, but there are plenty of other ones to explore.
As part of the upgrade, which was completed in 2022 and which apparently includes new signage, the available online information has improved since I walked the route 10 years ago. Better still the Aragon GR1 web presence has at least been matched by a similar effort in Catalonia. This means that the GR1 through the pre-pyrenees, from Olite all the way to the coast is now up-to-date and accessible.
Both Catalonia and Aragon are promoting the GR1 as a coast-to-coast walk and while the guide describes how this can be done there is no evidence, as far as I can see, that their enthusiasm is matched by all the regions on the route. As before expect to see signage in the Castile y Leon, the Basque Country, and Navarre but there is still a small gap in Cantabria and a lack of enthusiasm in Galicia and the Asturias.
My guide also heads from west to east whereas the websites go east to west. Finishing at the Mediterranean made sense to me back in 2012/13 but I know a lot of people prefer to follow the sun and head west. I don't think it's a big deal either way although if you're using the guide as your only source of navigation (unwise) it's less useful if heading west.
Although GPX trails for the guide are available on the Cicerone website it makes sense to download them directly from the people who maintain them in Spain via the following links. At some point, the new route to Robellar will get included on the Openmap database and the IGN digital maps but this hasn't happened yet.
Whilst I agree that Otin is the largest, and, arguably, most spectacular of the abandoned villages on section 5 (the only section I've walked) I enjoyed it least, because it was so very crowded. By contrast, I had Bagueste entirely to myself, and could soak up the tranquil atmosphere and views. I was walking late May, last year.ReplyDelete
That's interesting, both the times I walked through Otin I had it to myself - perhaps it's less abandoned than it used to beDelete