The GR1

When it comes to Spanish walking there are few people more knowledgeable than my Spanish friend Juan Holgado.  I had fallen in love with Spain when I walked across it in 2011 on the way to Budapest so when Juan suggested that I have a look at the GR1 I jumped at the idea.  Juan has just about walked every Spanish long distance trail and rates the GR1 as the countries best.  I did it for the first time in 2012 and after subsequent trips in 2013 and 2014 have now written the first comprehensive guide to the route for Cicerone.  This page is designed to answer some basic questions about Spain's best long distance walk and keep readers up to date with its development.

What is the GR1 Sendero Histórico?
What's walking the GR1 like?
What's the countryside like on GR1 Sendero Histórico?
What is 'Históric' about the GR1?
What's the accommodation like on the GR1?
How do I find my way on the GR1?
Some GR1 Q & As
A GR1 Radio Interview
GR1 Accommodation Updates
GR1 Updates to the description
On the GR1 with Rebecca and Barry
New Zealanders on the GR1
A Norwegian on the GR1
A guest blog from Stephen Mulvey
A Dutchman on the GR1

If there are other questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch and I'll do my best to answer them.  If you want to know more about my trips along the GR1, and other journeys, then have a look at the walk diaries page.  If you want to buy the book then go to:
Spain's Sendero Historico: The GR1: Northern Spain - Picos to the Mediterranean (Trekking) http://www.johnhayeswalks.c


  1. This is a good guide to a good walk. Recently completed Section 1 and enjoyed it immensely. The guide worked well. The accommodation recommended was great. The maps suggested were spot on. The especially helpful tip was to install the Rangefinder App with downloaded kebabs GPS maps. These were excellent - always knew exactly where we were within metres. Thank you John for the obvious care and attention to detail.

    1. Hi John

      So pleased you enjoyed it. Section 1 is perhaps the most challenging from an accommodation point of view so it's great to hear that you were able to make it work. I'm also getting lots of feedback from the accommodation hosts telling me that the extra business from GR1 walkers is very welcome.

      Please feel free to share you comments on Amazon!


  2. Greetings
    Im planning on doing the gr1 and sureste next year. The sureste finishes at benavente. It looks like puerto tarna is a very small village, is there a more convenient town that is accessible on the gr1 from benavente?
    I've ordered your book so maybe getting to puerto tarna is addressed
    Ps..just finished the via francigena which i heartily recommend

    1. Hi Kevin

      Getting to the start of the walk is discussed in the guide. From Benavente you can get the train (I think or bus) to Oviedo and then a train and a bus to the nearest accommodation. The last bit, up to the pass itself (Puerto Tarna is just a pass) needs a taxi.

      Lots of different places to start the walk - one option for you would be to catch the narrow gauge train from Leon which takes to close to various points along the route.

      When you get the book, have a look and if you have any questions then I'll try to answer them.

      Also check for updates on the this blog, both route and accommodation updates.


    2. Thanks john
      Will check updates for accommodation..always an important consideration!
      Looking forward to doing this route.

  3. Just to the other side of Puerto Tarna is Redes Nature Reserve (Parque Natural). For me is one of the most beautiful areas in Asturias for walking. Less rocky than Picos de Europa offers nice walkings along forests and gorges. Actually it should´t be difficult to reach Caso (Campo de Caso, Campu Casu in local spelling) from Oviedo. From Caso to Tarna you can get a taxi I suppose. You also can you to Tarna from León. I suppose thereís still buses to Riaño from León. From Riaño to Tarna I think you have a stretch of this route, or at least there´s a walk up to Puerto Tarna. Miguel from Santiago

  4. We've just walked to Liguerra de Cinca with a booking and we're told that we had to walk back to Mesón de Cinca. They accommodation in Liguerra seem to be purely a wedding venue now?

    1. Hi Sin

      Sorry to hear about the extra walking. It's amazing that they didn't honour the booking. Have just looked at the website and it looks new with a fresh emphasis on weddings. It may be that they have changed there business approach which would be a shame. I'll update the section in the blog on GR1 accommodation. Many thanks for letting me know. Enjoy the rest of your hike. John

  5. Hi,
    I am walking the part from riglos tot graus at the moment and am enjoying it immensely, so beautiful and quiet. I just game from liguërre and they still offer accomodation and campsite with bungalows, at meson. But from there you can also get a bus to ainsa (around 6 pm) and a bus back early in the morning. 15 minutes drive. Ainsa is a pretty town with bars, restaurants, hotels, hostals, shops,..

    1. That's a very helpful update Elke, someone thought that the hotel at Liguërre is now only open for weddings but the bungalows on the campsite look like a good option. Hope you having good weather, I'm in Seville at the moment and it's been raining for 24hrs.

      Thanks for the update.

  6. Hi, we can offer some clarity re ligüerre de cinca - weekends from March to July inclusive are for weddings only but there is camping and bungalows in meson as elke says. We're here now though and struggling to be able to get meals as the restaurants at either cinca or meson aren't open today / tonight due to low numbers of people.

  7. Thanks for the update Lilly, I'll include it in the accommodation list. Hope you managed to find some food and that the rest of the trip is going well. Enjoy the gorge tomorrow.


  8. Hi there, getting ready to do the GR1. I've downloaded the IGN app + maps (free!) and am just looking for your GPX in the hope that I can add it to the IGN maps. You mention that "The GPX trail for the route is available for free download from the Cicerone website once you've bought the guidebook" and I have registered the book but can't see where to find the GPX - any ideas please? Muchas Gracias

    1. Hi Giles

      There is a helpful FAQ on the Cicerone blog that deals with this

      If that doesn't work let me know.

      You definitely need the route, those Spanish maps are not much use without it.

      Have a great trip and let me know how you get on

      buen caminar!


  9. Hi, John
    Just got your latest Via del Plata adventure via Cicerone! I couldn't get the link to this working on your blogs pages so I'll come in here on the GR1 page. Well done - you two never stop! Debby and I have just got back from cycling the Danube (source to Budapest and loved it), followed by the Tour de Mont Blanc - busy but superb. I'm afraid we chickened out of your recommended Munich Venice walk - must be getting old.
    Warm regards, Rob and Debby McColl, NZ

    1. Great to hear from you again

      Doesn't sound like you're getting old, so you're cycling as well. Maybe you'll have to do the Ruta Vía de la Plata.

      Keep in touch


  10. Hi,

    I’m planning to walk the whole of the GR1 in April/May this year, but I just can’t decide in which direction to do it. I’m going to start in the first week of April and continue until I have to go home for about 5 days at the end of the month, and then go back and do the rest in May.
    It seems that the most obvious is to follow the guidebook towards the mediterranean, but I’m concerned if there’s going to be snow/too much bad weather at the beginning. But on the other hand, I’m afraid it might be more difficult to follow the trail if I go from east to west. Do you have any advice on how to choose? I also have the opportunity to do it May/June, but June seems a little late, meaning too hot…
    And about walking poles… I haven’t used them before, but are considering it. What are your thoughts about it? Apart from helping with the walking, they seem most attractive to me as a security against loose dogs.

    And thank you for a great blog and guidebook.


    1. Hi Marie

      I had snow in March on one of the years when I was on the GR1 but it was exceptional and I think you would be very unlucky to get it in April. Generally speaking April/May is the perfect time to walk the GR1. In June it will be getting warmer and in some years (a couple of years ago in particular) it gets very hot, but it will vary and normally June is a good month for most of the walk.

      In terms of following the trail I would recommend that you download the GPS trails and learn how to use Viewranger or similar on your phone, and if you use GPS the direction won't matter. It's very long trail and although I've tried my very best to provide accurate route instructions just using the guide for 1250kms is a challenge. I know one person who did it ( but he did have have problems. For a brilliant report of someone who went from east to west have a look at this blog (

      I'm a fan of walking poles and have used them for a long time. They are supposed to help spread the load but it's anyone's guess as to whether they do. Dogs in Spain can be intimidating but their bark is definitely worse than their bite and I can honestly say that in all the months I've walked in Spain that I've never been even nearly attacked by a dog. If you don't take poles the alternative defence is to threaten them with a stone and apparently that works.

      Have a great trip and let me know how you get on - always looking for a guest blog!


    2. Hi John,

      Thank you very much for the fast reply.
      I started the GR1 last week, and is right now about an hour’s walk from L’Espunyola, staying the night in a lovely Airbnb house.
      The weather have mostly been really good so far, and the walking nice. Have had some, hm, interesting dogs encounters, but actually thought it would be worse, so it haven’t spoiled anything.
      I’ll send you an email when I’m done about accommodation and so on, think I’ll maybe have something useful to add. And about a guest blog, why not? We’ll se... I’m going back to DK in 13 days, so are just going to Graus, for now.
      And btw, the GPS works perfectly, and although I’m going in the “wrong” direction, it’s nice to read about the next day in your guidebook, so thanks for both. So far the waymarking have been quite good, and some days I haven’t really used the GPS, so that’s nice.


  11. Hi John. Do you know where I may be able to get info on GR15 - just north of GR1?

  12. Dear John- the book's great- we enjoyed the first section last June and are going back for more this year- from Olite to Bolea. Do you think going from Olite through to Gallipienzo in one day is do-able?
    Couple of tips for the first section:
    We also stayed in Los Riegos in Belerda at the beginning and found them very helpful- we stayed 3 nights and did some walks locally in the Parque Natural de Redes. The taxi driver you mention in the book, Rafael, can take you up into the higher mountains in his 4X4 and is incredibly knowledgeable about the area.
    In Cervera de Pisguera the best food and atmosphere was at Taxus, the restaurant at the campsite. The bar is also a good place for a coffee/drink. You have to book for meals, it's very popular. 979 870 424.
    The walk from C de P to Branosera is long- we took a taxi a few kms up the road towards Vanes- taxista Maria Angeles on 600 863 084 was lovely and a passionate advocate for the side-trip to go and see El Roblon, the old oaktree!
    We had a good evening at Cueva del Coble with the irrepressible Jesus and Hostal Cholo was great value and did a really early breakfast so we made Reinosa for lunch.
    That's where we left the GR1- we took the afternoon bus (towards Bilbao) to Quintinilla de Rebollar, where we stayed a few days at the absolutely delightful Posada Real El Prado Mayor. A beautiful house, great, good value food cooked and (much of it) grown by the lovely owner, Olga. There are lots of gentle walks in the area, as well as visits to cave systems in the cliffs, so it's a fine place to wind down and you can get to Bilbao by bus or (very slow) train.
    Thanks again for the book, John.

  13. Hi Gill

    Thanks so much for your comments, really nice and some great information. If you have any pictures I would love to turn it into a guest blog.

    On the Olite question, yes it is possible, I suspect it will take a good 8 hours and you would have to blast through Ujue which is a shame. The walking is very easy.

    1. Hi John- yes we have quite a few- can I email them to you? best wishes, Gill. As you will see the weather was mixed!

    2. Yes please - email address is

  14. 1030/5000
    Dear John, ici Cecilia Sanchez of Albergue El Condor in Paules de Sarsa on the GR1 route.
    we are delighted to receive the walkers of the GR1 for our establishment
    "El Condor" here in Paules de Sarsa, we would like you to send us an email to notify us of your arrival:
    or by phone at 0034 618828587 or 0034 974343095

    also to inform that the Albergue de Arcusa has closed its doors.
    there is a change proposal of the GR1 by the Aragonese Mountaineering Federation, the GR1 will continue past Paules de Sarsa and then go to Almazorre, Barcabo, Abizanda and Samitier,
    see link
    .http: //
    Dear John, here is my husband Dany and me Cecilia to help if you need more information about the Gr1 in Aragon.
    We will be very pleased to help you in any doubt, and do not hesitate to visit us.
    we are in contact with the federation for any change in the GR1
    receive a cordial greeting and see you soon
    Cecilia Sanchez

    1. I remember Paules de Dates really well, very beautiful and remote part of Spain. I hope that my guide is encouraging walkers to visit this special place

  15. Hi, John
    We often think fondly of our GR1 walk and our gratitude to you that we did it. One thing I often wonder about is how many people are now doing this wonderful walk. Have you any ideas of numbers? It's still one of our favorites.

    We're planning to do the Andalusia Coast to Coast next April 2019. What are you up to walking wise?

    Warm regards, Rob and Deb McColl NZ

    1. Hi Rob and Deb

      Great to hear from you again and so pleased that your memories of the GR1 are still warm ones.

      I think it's fair to say that the number of people who through walk the whole GR1 is not that high. The guide sells about 100 copies a year and I doubt that everyone who buys it actually completes. Compared to my other guides however people who do the walk often get in touch and the trip is clearly a life event. My wife often says she would like to do it again.

      I'm mixing up cycling with walking at the moment and have caught the lycra bug. I did a lovely trip through Spain last year and I'm currently working on the guide.

      Andalusia is great, I've walked there a lot, not sure where the coast to coast goes but it can, surprisingly, be wet north of the Sierras.

      Have a great trip and keep in touch


  16. Hi John,
    I did the GR1 in 2005, only Catalunya, in the other direction east-west, and wrote a book about it in Dutch (175p) that I also sent to Juan Holgado (met him last March in Madrid).I'm planning to do the GR1 next May, Aragon. I download the GPX trail from FEDME and they also follow the GR1 in the east-West direction. Legend goes that the GR1 is following roughly the 44° (±) north latitude and that it has been followed since the Neolithic period. So I wonder why you choose to follow the GR1 west-east.
    My second question: is there already an update of your Cicerone Guide 2015 (which I have) or is it still trustworthy particularly on accomodation (65 years old: I don't do tent anymore:)
    Thanks for your reply!
    Willem, Ghent, Belgium

    1. Hi Willem

      Nice to hear from you.

      No particular reason for going west east other than the desire to finish the walk at the sea.

      I think the guide still works in general terms on accommodation although people are always finding new places to stay. I got some detailed comments on the Aragon section a few days ago and I'll put them up on the blog in the next few weeks.

      Best wishes


  17. Hi John,
    Great website, thank you.
    I'm planning to do the GR1 in the Palencia / Cantabria region (or indeed the GR99 Camino del Ebro or maybe even the Cordillero Cantabrica), but researching all 3, the one thing that stands out from all the sources I've checked is that they all appear to have long stretches on tarmac. I'm used to walking France's wonderful GRs, where there's (in my experience) almost no stretches on tarmac. Could you comment please on the GR1 section from Caporredondo de Alba towards Reinosa and onwards to the east end of the Embalse del Ebro reservoir. Many thanks, Barry

    1. Hi Barry

      Thanks for your comments.

      The GR1 has a Cantabrian gap, not supported by the regional walking association, so yes, if you want to through walk you have to go along the road near the reservoir. In my Guide I describe an alternative route into Reinosa but recommend catching a bus to the end of the reservoir. It's a little bit messy after that for a couple of kilometres but normal service is resumed once you leave the Cantabrian region.

      It's a great trip, I'd love to do it again