Posts Tagged ‘GR 11’

A new way of walking in the Pyrenees. On the Senda de Camille

Sunday, August 20th, 2017
Lescun with Pic d'Ansabère in the background

Lescun with Pic d’Ansabère in the background


Do you prefer walking in a straight line or going round in circles? Until recently most of the long-distance treks in the Pyrenees were linear. The big three, the Pyrenean Way (GR10), the Spanish Senda Pirenaica (GR11) and the Pyrenean Haute Route (HRP), which have been around for over 30 years, all stretch from coast to coast. Then came other trails like the Cathar Trail and the Chemin des Bonshommes. All linear trails, at least in principle.

But if you wanted to walk in circles, ending up where you started, you more-or-less had to plan it yourself. In recent years this has changed. The FFRP (French Ramblers Association) has brought out a guide to circular cross-frontier walks in the eastern Pyrenees (Ariège, Pyrénées-Orientales). And Brian Johnson is working on a guide to circular walks for Cicerone.

But perhaps the most interesting initiatives have come from Spain.

They are all circular walks with nights in staffed hostels. Most importantly they offer central booking facilities. You also get a dedicated map (1:25,000) and a souvenir tee-shirt.

I’ve just come back from walking the Senda de Camille with two friends. It was great!


My Senda de Camille. Click to see on Wikiloc

My Senda de Camille. Click to see on Wikiloc


Footprints on the mountains… the news from the Pyrenees

Monday, May 2nd, 2016
Footprints on the mountains... the news from the Pyrenees

Footprints on the mountains… the news from the Pyrenees

My new book on the Pyrenees and walking

From the back cover: The Pyrenees are by turns beautifully natural and bleakly austere; shaped by centuries of labour… and scarred by human suffering. In the valleys, Steve talks to locals and meets an eccentric cast of hikers. But on the heights he is alone with marmottes and sarrios. He listens to protagonists on both sides of the argument over the reintroduction of bears. And goes searching for ibex imported as part of a rewilding programme.

Sario (Spanish) or isard (French), a common sight in the Pyrenees

Sario (Spanish) or isard (French), a common sight in the Pyrenees


My new book on the Pyrenees is about to be published. This time I’ve been walking on the Senda Pirenaica, the GR11.


GR10 and GR11: Joining up the dots

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016
Paths linking the GR10 and GR11

Paths linking the GR10 and GR11

In case of bad weather, for variety, to see if the grass is greener on the other side… the passes over the Pyrenees provide many opportunities for those who are looking for something different. See my page on Crossing the Pyrenees on

Spanish GR11

Thursday, January 14th, 2016
Above Zuriza on the GR11

Above Zuriza on the GR11

Running about 30km to the south of the Pyrenean Way, the Spanish GR11 (Senda Pirenaica), is an alternative way of tackling the Pyrenees. I walked the route over three years and have just finished writing an account: Footprints in the Mountains: Nature and culture in the changing Pyrenees. For more information on the Senda and the book see

Using a GPS with Spanish maps : beware

Monday, August 31st, 2015
Spanish Alpina map (left) and French IGN equivalent (right). The difference in position of the yellow D8 road is particularly noticeable

Spanish Alpina map (left) and French IGN equivalent (right). Note the difference in position of the yellow D8 road relative to the intersections of the grid


If you mostly walk in the French Pyrenees but occasionally hop over to Spain, beware. Your printed Spanish maps won’t correspond to the ones on your GPS. Everything is hundreds of metres out of place!


Mountains of Freedom – a four-day circular trek in the Pyrenees (Ariège and Catalonia)

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015
Cascade-d'Ars near to Aulus-les-Bains

Cascade-d’Ars near to Aulus-les-Bains


Official site of the Mountains of Freedom walk.

This circular walk in the central Pyrenees takes in rugged high mountain passes, pristine lakes and peaceful farmland. But behind all the beauty lies another story, intimately linked to the history of the 20th century and its refugees. Just like those who cross the Mediterranean today, many failed to arrive at their destination. Today, climbing up to the passes is a pleasure but the interpretive panels tell a different story.

We took four days, staying in staffed hostels each night.

Aulus to Bidous (Gîte de l’Escolan) 5h30

There is a restaurant half way along this section at 1700m, the Chalet de Beauregard; at the end, the gîte d’étape “l’Escolan” run by Pauline and Jean-Charles provides a warm welcome.


Gîte de l’Escolan at Bidous

Gîte de l’Escolan at Bidous


What are the restrictions on dogs in the Pyrenees?

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015
Walking and dogs in national and natural parks

What are the restrictions on dog walking in the Pyrenees?

In general there are few restrictions on dog walking in the Pyrenees, except in National Parks, Natural Parks and Reserves (see below for details). In some of these areas dogs must be kept on a lead; in others they are prohibited. Even when there are no specific rules, dog owners need to be aware that stray dogs are the second most important cause of death for sheep in the Pyrenees (after sickness). A shepherd has the right to kill any dog which menaces his flock.

The only dogs which are allowed to roam freely are the patous, specially trained sheep guard dogs. If your dog approaches a flock guarded by a patou it will attack.

Patou des Pyrénées

Patous are the only dogs which can be left alone with sheep


The return of the living dead: the Pyrenean Ibex

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

Don’t miss the exhibition about the Pyrenean ibex in the château de Seix (Ariège), 1 July to 31 August, 14h30 to 19j00.

Pyrenean ibex 2.0

Five-year-old male ibex with tracking collar, recently released in the Ariège department © Jordi Estèbe, Parc naturel régional des Pyrénées Ariégeoises

Strange things have been happening in the central Pyrenees, in a triangle bounded by Cauterets and Ustou (Ariège) on the French side and Torla (Huesca) on the Spanish side. The Pyrenean ibex has come back from the tomb.

map of pyrenees showing GR10 and GR11The Pyrenean ibex (bucardo in Spanish, bouquetin in French, steinbock in German) was first reported extinct in 1825 but it actually survived until 6 January 2000, to become the first extinction of in the 21st century. Despite that, another Pyrenean ibex was born in 2009 and there are now thirty grazing in the French Pyrenees. What happened?

The three horsemen of the ibex apocalypse were hunting, inbreeding and loss of habitat.


Walking the Pyrenees: the French GR 10 or the Spanish GR 11?

Friday, September 5th, 2014
GR11: flowering pastures above Estos; in the background the Maladeta massif

GR11: flowering pastures above Estos; in the background the Maladeta massifmassif de la Maladeta


I’ve now walked the Pyrenees from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean twice. First on the north side, then on the south. Having written about the first trek (If You Only Walk Long Enough: Exploring the Pyrenees), I’m trying to put my thoughts together for my book on the southern option, the GR 11. [Update 2016. Book now published as Footprints on the Mountains: The News from the Pyrenees]

So what are the differences for a walker between the GR10 and the GR11?


map of GR10

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