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Explore the Spanish Pyrenees with a Cicerone guidebook

Cover of The GR11 Trail - La Senda
Temporarily out of stock
12 May 2014
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.8cm
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The GR11 Trail - La Senda

Through the Spanish Pyrenees

by Brian Johnson
Book published by Cicerone Press

The GR11 is an 820km long-distance trek that traverses the Spanish Pyrenees from Irun on the Atlantic coast to Cap de Creus on the Mediterranean. Leading over high passes and through sweeping valleys, the 45 stages of the route often have better weather than its French counterpart - the GR10. Trekkers require experience of high mountains.

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The GR11 is a glorious 820km traverse of the Pyrenees from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean on the Spanish side of the border with France, taking about 45 days. Although it’s a serious challenge for experienced hikers the route is less demanding than the higher-level Pyrenean Haute Route, sunnier and more scenic than the GR10 which runs along the French side, and well waymarked throughout with regular opportunities to find accommodation and stock up your supplies.

It is now just about possible to walk the GR11 without camping or using bothies, and this guidebook is organised into 45 stages for the benefit of those who are using accommodation along the route.

The GR11 doesn't pass over many summits, but suggestions are made for climbing many of the easier peaks which could be attempted while walking the route. This is a serious expedition, so you should have previous experience of backpacking or long-distance walks before attempting this fantastic route.

Since 2008 there have been major route changes to the GR11 trail, especially in the Basque Country and Navarre. Road walking has been reduced to a minimum, the route has been well signed and waymarked and the GR11 has now developed into a magnificent route through largely unspoilt and wild mountains.

  • illustrated with original maps and profiles throughout
  • includes many bad weather alternatives, and options for those who wish to avoid camping
  • all facilities along the route highlighted, including places where you can get safe drinking water
  • Activities
    Long-distance trekking
  • Seasons
    June to October for the Central Pyrenees. Spring and autumn would be possible in the Basque Country and as the Mediterranean is approached.
  • Centres
    The route goes from the Atlantic Ocean at Irun on the French-Spanish border and passes through many small villages in Spain and Andorra before arriving at the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Difficulty
    This walk goes through alpine-style mountains, crossing passes up to 2700m where there is rough, steep terrain to traverse. It is at the upper end of walking difficulty and in early season, before the snow has melted on the high passes, it would be more mountaineering than walking.
  • Must See
    The Basque country, Anayet lakes, Ordessa and Monte Perdido National Park, Aiguestortes and Estany de Sant Maurici National Park, the Maladeta range, Andorra, Cap de Creus Natural Park.

October 2015

Culture and Language

Please note that many tourist facilities along the route will only be open in July and August. Typical closing during the siesta would be 12 noon to 4pm.


New regulations for bivouac are due to be implemented in the Ordesa National Park in 2016: Bivouac will only be allowed above 2500m in the Ordesa sector and 1650m in the Anisclo sector. A maximum of 50 campers will be allowed to bivouac at Goriz. 

Using this Guide/Timings

Times given are walking times only, not the total time for a day’s walk. Allow about 9 hours for a 6-hour ‘walking time’.

Right and left-hand side or bank of a stream in route descriptions always refers to right and left in the direction of travel.

Getting to Cabo de Higuer from Irún

I noticed some waymarks leaving Irún, but it’s probably easier to follow the route description.

Stage 1

Aldabe Farm now has a waterpoint.
The waterpoint at San Anton was working when I passed through in June 2014 but it is reported that it wasn’t working a few days later!

Ask at the tourist office in Bera for the possibilities for ‘unofficial’ bivvying.
Casa Rural Romano (tel 948 631 137) in Bera was recommended by Paul Lucia.

Stage 2

The waterpoint on the way out of Bera was only just running and I would recommend carrying water up from Bera.
It is reported that the shop at Collado de Lizarrieta has closed. The small hunter’s cabin 100m along the ridge from the saddle 10mins from here was unlocked in 2014 and might have been available as a bothy. Also, a new track had been bulldozed in 2014 below the Col de Narbalatz. The route hasn’t changed but some of the waymarks were destroyed so take care.
Collect water at the picnic area after Casería Gorra Farm, as the piped water just ahead no longer exists.
Time at Collado de Esquisaroy should read 5hr (not 5hr 50).

Hotel Pasado Elbete on the NE edge of Elizondo has been recommended:  tel 948 581 519

Stage 3

The tiny bothy at the Collado de Urballo was locked in 2014 and it is reported that the water was turned off in 2015.
The waterpoint at Collado Zaldegi has been repaired.

Stage 6

The bothy on the ridge after Paso de La Alforjas was deteriorating rapidly in 2014 and is likely to become unusable. In the paragraph which mentions this bothy, “Soon fork right down a faint path….” should (to make navigation easier) read “Soon reach a sharp right hand bend and then shortly fork right down a faint path …..”.

Stage 10

Walkers were crossing the Gave d’Aspe easily at the beginning of July 2014, but JM tried crossing on 20 June. He couldn’t cross to the lower path (because of snowbanks), but made the easier crossing to the higher path and described this as b…… dangerous. He’s right; if you cannot cross to the lower path you must retrace your steps and take the escape route down to Sansanet.

The railway line is being extended from Oloron to Bedous (due to open 2017) and the bus service is then likely to run from Bedous, not Oloron.

Stage 10B

After Puerto de Bernera, the first sentence of the next paragraph should read '…crossing the stream where it exits the flat valley' and then, in the next sentence, '...follow it down, crossing and recrossing the stream, then heading roughly N to rejoin the GR11'.

Stage 11

The route now crosses earlier to the right hand side of the stream after Fuente del Cerezo and before Refugio de Lacuas.
The campground at Sallent de Gallego has closed.
Sallent de Gallego tourist office no longer has a website but you can email them on

Stage 13

There is a cairned, but not waymarked, shortcut from Refugio Bachimana traversing to avoid the drop down to Banos de Panticosa. The route is not obvious. Get details from the refuge if you want to follow this route.

Stage 14

Cubillar dera Labaza has been repaired

Stage 15

New regulations for bivouac are due to be implemented in the Ordesa National Park in 2016: Bivouac will only be allowed above 2500m in the Ordesa sector and 1650m in the Anisclo sector. A maximum of 50 campers will be allowed to bivouac at Goriz.

Refugio L'Atalaya website now
Hostal La Fuen website has changed to

Stage 18

Stage time 6hr 30min (not 6hr 10min)
Just after Collado de la Collás, if you don’t shortcut the first switchback you pass a waterpoint with camping.

Refuge de Biados website no longer available but email

Stage 20

The timing for this stage is optimistic. It was considerably quicker when I crossed the col on snowfields in 2013 than crossing the boulderfields in 2015.

Refugio de Cap de Llauset. The outer shell was completed in 2014, but no work was done in 2015. It is not clear when money will be available to complete the work and open the refuge. should now be

Stage 22

The path junction between Barranc de Lac Redon and Port de Rius would be easy to miss.
The time to the campsites just past the Ribera de Rius should read 3hr 15min

Stage 24

GPS reference for Espot should read N42°34.546 E001°5.170

Stage 26

The ascent from Dorve and descent are now well waymarked.

Stage 28

Ignore timings on signposts; they are wrong

Stage 32

The time at water catchment reservoir should read 3hr (not 3hr 50min).

Stage 33

The higher level traverse from Coll Jovell, shown on the map, is a better route than the GR11 (follow yellow dots).
The Refugio de l’Illa is being rebuilt as a manned refuge and is due to open in 2017. (In 2016 there will only be one room available for hikers)

Stage 36

Around Torrent Llarg, it would be easier to continue along the track rather than follow the path below it.
Planoles has a railway station with a link to Barcelona.
Since 2014 No wild-camping is permitted in the ‘Queralbs Municiapal Area’ which includes the surroundings of Nuria.

Cal Marrufès website is no longer available but email

Stage 38

Small basic bothy available when Refugi d'Ulldeter is closed.
Hostal Pastuira also closes mid-September. Most hostals in Setcases also closed by mid-September

Stage 40

House at Talaixa is being converted to an unmanned refuge. When complete it will need to be pre-booked. (No details available)

Stage 42

It has been reported that these campgrounds don’t exist.


National and Natural Parks
From the Atlantic to the Mediterranean
The GR11
Weather and when to go
Getting to the start
Getting home
Culture and language
Using this guide
The GR11
Getting to Cabo de Higuer from Irún
Stage 1 Cabo de Higuer to Bera (Vera de Bidosoa)
Stage 2 Bera to Elizondo
Stage 3 Elizondo to Puerto de Urkiago
Stage 4 Puerto de Urkiago to Burguete (Auritz)
Stage 5 Burguete to Hiriberri (Villanueva de Aezkoa)
Stage 6 Hiriberri to Ochagavía (Otsagabia)
Stage 7 Ochagavía to Isaba (Izaba)
Stage 8 Isaba to Zuriza (over Peña Ezkaurri, GR11-4)
Stage 9 Zuriza to La Mina
Stage 9A Zuriza to Hotel Usón (Puen de Santana)
Stage 10 La Mina to Candanchú (GR11)
Stage 10A Hotel Usón to Refugio de Lizara (GR11-1)
Stage 10B Refugio de Lizara to Candanchú (La Senda de Camille)
Stage 11 Candanchú to Sallent de Gállego (Sallén de Galligo)
Stage 12 Sallent de Gállego to Refugio de Respomuso
Stage 13 Refugio de Respomuso to Baños de Panticosa
Stage 14 Baños de Panticosa to San Nicolás de Bujaruelo (Buxargüelo)
Stage 15 San Nicolás de Bujaruelo to Refugio de Góriz
Stage 16 Refugio de Góriz to Refugio de Pineto
Stage 17 Refugio de Pineto to Parzán
Stage 18 Parzán to Refugio de Biadós (Viadós)
Stage 19 Refugio de Biadós to Puen de San Chaime (Puente de San Jaime)
Stage 20 Puen de San Chaime to Refugio de Cap de Llauset
Stage 21 Refugio de Cap de Llauset to Refugi de Conangles
Stage 22 Refugi de Conangles to Refugi dera Restanca
Stage 23 Refugi dera Restanca to Refugi de Colomèrs (by Port de Caldes, GR11-18)
Stage 24 Refugi de Colomèrs to Espot
Stage 25 Espot to La Guingueta d’Àneu
Stage 26 La Guingueta d’Àneu to Estaon
Stage 27 Estaon to Tavascan
Stage 28 Tavascan to Àreu
Stage 29 Àreu to Refugi de Vallferrera
Stage 30 Refugi de Vallferrera to Refugi de Comapedrosa
Stage 31 Refugi de Comapedrosa to Arans
Stage 32 Arans to Encamp
Stage 33 Encamp to Refugio de l’Illa
Stage 33A Encamp to Refugi Xalet Cap del Rec (GR11-10)
Stage 34 Refugio de l’Illa to Refugi de Malniu
Stage 34A Refugi Xalet Cap del Rec to Refugi de Malniu (GR11-10)
Stage 35 Refugi de Malniu to Puigcerdà
Stage 36 Puigcerdà to Camping Can Fosses, Planoles
Stage 37 Camping Can Fosses, Planoles to Núria
Stage 38 Núria to Setcases
Stage 39 Setcases to Beget
Stage 40 Beget to Albanyà (via Sant Aniol d’Aguja)
Stage 41 Albanyà to Maçanet de Cabrenys
Stage 42 Maçanet de Cabrenys to La Jonquera
Stage 43 La Jonquera to Els Vilars
Stage 44 Els Vilars to Llançà
Stage 45 Llançà to Cap de Creus
Appendix A Route summary table
Appendix B Facilities table
Appendix C Glossary
Appendix D Sources of information
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