The GR11 Trail - La Senda

Through the Spanish Pyrenees

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12 May 2014
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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.

Seasons 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 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 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 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.
Out of Stock
12 May 2014
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.8cm
  • Overview

    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
  • Contents

    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

  • Maps

    In good visibility, when the ground is free of snow, it is possible to follow the GR11 using the waymarking, route description and 1:100,000 maps in this guidebook, but we would always recommend carrying a map. You should certainly carry more detailed maps if you intend following the route in early season, when there could be extensive snowfields, or if you intend to cross high passes in bad weather.

    Most navigational mistakes occur because the walker does not look at the map or guidebook until they are lost! The route descriptions and maps in the guide are designed to prevent you getting lost and they will be of little use when you are already lost! Keep the guidebook handy, not buried in your rucksack.

    Note on the maps

    The base maps used in this guide were developed from publicly available information. The contours are generally very good, and other tracks and paths are taken from open source information and they are considered to give a reasonable representation of the area and features surrounding the route.

    Water information has only been checked on the route of the GR11; streams shown on the route can be expected to run throughout the summer and the water-points marked on the map are likely to be reliable through the summer.

    Not all tracks and paths are marked. This is particularly noticeable at the Atlantic and Mediterranean ends of the route where mapping the multitude of paths and tracks would have made the maps unreadable.


    The timings given in this guide are the actual walking times recorded by the author when he backpacked the route in 2012 and 2013. This does not include time for breaks or breathers and actual walking time will depend on other factors such as navigational ability, fitness, load and conditions. Times to climb peaks assume you are walking without a pack.

    Distances, climb and height profiles

    Distances don’t mean very much in the Pyrenees, where the steepness or roughness of the terrain can be a lot more important than the distance or the amount of climb. Distances and climb have been estimated from the maps. The height profiles are intended to show the general trend of the day’s walk and won’t show all ups and downs.


    A GPS device is not needed to follow the GR11, but GPS co-ordinates (latitude and longitude) have been included for key points along the route for those who insist on using one. At the time of writing the ‘free’ maps of the GR11 that you can download from the internet for use with GPS are too inaccurate to be worth bothering with.

  • Updates
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    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.

  • Reviews
    By far the best guidebook I have ever used.

    I can honestly say that this is by far the best guidebook I have ever used. We walked for 51 days using this guidebook, and lost our way only 2 times [very minor, missed a turn-off both times, but soon realized and got back on track within the hour]  NONE of these where the fault of the book, actually if we had spent more attention to the book, we would not have missed the turn-offs.

    Brian Johnson’s detail to the trail is second to none, whenever we were in doubt, we would check the book, and it all became clear. Although we carried the Prames Maps with us, we never actually used the maps. We did the GR11 only using the guidebook.

    While on the GR11 we met a handful of hikers [we were there early in the season] and every single one of them praised Brian Johnson and how well the book was written.

    What we REALLY liked about this guide, was the “reliable” water-points, highlighted on the map, and color coded in the route description – this really made the walk a lot easier and lighter.

    Absolutely no hesitation, anyone planning on doing the GR11 should have this book.

    Trails Talk review.

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Brian Johnson

Since taking early retirement from his career as a physics and sports teacher, Brian Johnson has found time for three thru-hikes of the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2700-mile round-Britain walk, three hikes across the Pyrenees from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean as well as a single summer compleation of the Munros and has climbed all the Corbetts in Scotland. He has also completed a 2200-mile cycle tour of Spain and France and done multi-week canoe tours in Sweden, France, Spain and Portugal. A keen climber and hiker, he has led school groups in Britain, the Alps, the Pyrenees and California and has completed ten traverses from Atlantic to Mediterranean on the Pyrenean High-Level Route, GR11 or GR10. As a fanatical sportsman and games player, he has competed to a high standard at cricket, hockey, bridge and chess. His crowning achievement was winning the 1995/96 World Amateur Chess Championships.

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