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GR11 - Coast to coast across the Pyrenees

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nickpellatt

Member
Camino(s) past & future
French 2015 Portuguese 2018 Norte May 2019 Finesterre and Muxia April 2019
Now I know it's not a pilgrimage, but has anyone done the through hike on the GR11.

I fancied doing it this year, bought a guidebook, but found the lack of clear information on accomodation off-putting, and did the Camino Norte instead.

Just wondering if anyone has done this and has direct experience in booking and reserving the mountain huts? It's that part that I'm curious about really.

I didnt find a central website where you could book them all, and would that even be sensible? Could you get to one, and then the warden will advise you on the route and book the next one for you, so you always book one day ahead? Any ideas really, I still like the idea of this hike as it seems very beautiful
 

lunna

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
frances; portugues, lisboa-muxia; norte + to bayonne; vdlp; chemin du puy; voie d'arles/ aragones
The GR11 parallels it in the south side of the Pyrenees.
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
The GR website might be the better source of info. Open it with Chrome as your browser if you don't read French.
 

martini

Pilgrim
Camino(s) past & future
portugal way, french way, muxia way- past
Aragones way, catalan way, piamonte way- future
look- Travesia Pirenaica Etapas.
maybe help.
 

OTH86

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés five times, Madrid two days, Ingles once.
The GR11 appears to be in the Paris region - Íle-de-France.
Please, @lunna where are you finding the GR 11 that is south of the Pyrenees? Just curious... Thanks!
 

nickpellatt

Member
Camino(s) past & future
French 2015 Portuguese 2018 Norte May 2019 Finesterre and Muxia April 2019
libreria_stella_alpina_15203576096371.jpg

GR11

I have a guidebook and have looked online, but not really found clear information about accomodation. Posted on the off-chance someone may have done it, and has first hand knowledge of how it all works.
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
You can test how it feels to walk on section of the Spanish GR 11 by picking it up near the Ibaneta Chapel on the Camino Frances.
For a good account of GR10 which crosses France from the Bay of Biscay to the Mediterranean see--

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/GR_10_(France)

For a good account of the GR11 which crosses Spain from the Bay of Biscay to the Med
see --

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/GR_11_(Spain)

A section of the Spanish route from Ibaneta to Irun, which I abstracted/translated earlier, is a combo of a section of the Spanish GR11 combined with small lanes.

If you would like a copy of this abstract/translation please send me your email address in a PM.
 
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Maxie

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 15,16
Ingles 15
Norte 16, 17
Finesterra /Muxia 16, 17
Primativo 16
VDLP 16
Portuguese 17
I have walked the GR11 CtC and the GR10 CtC.
If you have specific questions just ask.
You didn't give dates so I can't give much of an answer on huts, August is busy and will need booking although the remote ones will be less so. I carried camping gear but also stayed in a variety of huts from the
cow shed type to a mountaineers refuge I didn't stay in commercial huts.

untitled-3534.jpg
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
I was hoping to do the GR11 in addition, and after, the CF. We were too slow and so we skipped it. We were going to bring a tent and camping/backpacking gear so we did not check on hut accommodation. Two things I picked up on though was (1) Go west to east. That gets you in shape for the taller mountains to the east. Also gives time for the snow to melt in the higher elevations. (2) I cannot remember exactly my thinking but I did do some research and I was concerned about finding liquid fuel for the stove. I decided to get a gas stove that could be used with either the typical Spanish canister or the one used most in France.

My elaborate article on camping stoves jetboil gaz etc: https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/buying-camper-stove-fuel-on-the-trail.42513/#post-435047
 
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nickpellatt

Member
Camino(s) past & future
French 2015 Portuguese 2018 Norte May 2019 Finesterre and Muxia April 2019
I've looked at some of the links people have kindly shared, and at first glance I appear to run into the same problems I have seen when I looked before. I can't see how to book anything. And pretty much every map and forum linked isnt in English so I cant read it to navigate it easily.

Not being able to read most of the information on the maps or forums, I have very little idea about how it would actually work. I'd start in Irun and go East ... Can you just find places, and have hospitaleros who will then book one day ahead for you?

A few links show websites for regions ... but I would have to get to the region first. The sites dont have English options so hard to use as well.

Right now I'm looking at the map on Pyrenees-refuges.com and I can see what may be the first stop from Irun, called Abri de la Rhune, but when I click on it the information is only in French or Spanish, and doesnt seem to include a booking option. To be honest, on that map ... I cant even see what the place is, pension, hut etc.

I bought the Ciccerone guide, which also didnt seem to show much information about how to book places, and based on bad experiences with their guides on the Norte, I am loath to trust them.

I'm not much of a planner, infact ... I hate planning. For a camino, this is kinda perfect ... because you can just go.

But this route looks a little dangerous. Do people get stuck in the mountains with no place to stay?

As the route is tough, surely you can't book days ahead because who knows where you will be right?
 
D

Deleted member 90080

Guest
the highest point in the GR11 is the Collado de Tebarray 2717 meters. 2717 meters in Pyrenees means deep snow 9 months a year, glacial temperatures in winter... Is a high mountain route so YES, is dangerous even in summer. Requires preparation, planning and high mountain experience. Think about this
Please excuse mi spelling mistakes, english isin't my native language. But i hope you can understand what i mean. (your complaints to Google translator :p)
(2717m=8914ft)
 
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Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
@Maxie it looks like you might be the best source of specific information- how did you go about making bookings?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Del Estrecho, Ruta Fray Leopoldo,
Vía Serrana, Camino Francés
We've also struggled with some of the same questions you mention when planning for either the GR 11 or the GR 1 Sendero Historico (neither of which we have yet done). Here are some sites that have helped me with specific info on booking the huts.

The information below is in English and Steve is good about answering questions. Scroll down to the bottom of his page and you will see that his latest answer was just a few days ago. You might have good luck asking him for help:
http://www.lasenda.net/guide-gr11-spanish-pyrenees/#huts

Andy has an FAQ section in English and answers questions:

Once you reach the areas below (unfortunately, not the start of your trip), these two sites have links that allow you to reserve online:
http://www.lacentralderefugis.com Although the home page is only available in Catalan and Castellano, the reservation page can be displayed in English.
 
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KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
...
Right now I'm looking at the map on Pyrenees-refuges.com and I can see what may be the first stop from Irun, called Abri de la Rhune, but when I click on it the information is only in French or Spanish, and doesnt seem to include a booking option. To be honest, on that map ... I cant even see what the place is, pension, hut etc.
...
Those that you are looking at are really "huts", small refugios or similar. Abri or cabane is the word for that. The one you mentioned has only place for one person. And they are not attended with staff. More or less they might be just old stone-made shepherds shelters.
 
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Maxie

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 15,16
Ingles 15
Norte 16, 17
Finesterra /Muxia 16, 17
Primativo 16
VDLP 16
Portuguese 17
@Maxie it looks like you might be the best source of specific information- how did you go about making bookings?
Hiya, I didn't stay in commercial huts.

Anyone contemplating the GR11 or the GR10 should be aware these are mountain routes and need to be treated with respect. I would consider the Napoleon route on the Frances, the first day out from Irun taking the high route of the Norte or the Hospitales route on the Primativo to be easyish days compared to walking GR10/11 There are many days that are much harder with parts of the route that have significant exposure. Do not think this is just like walking a Camino. Although there is a route that shares a path with the GR11 for a few KMs.
DSCN3417.JPG

Hope this helps.
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
I've long been curious what the GR trail is like heading west from near Ibaneta pass. I see it on maps, but it's forest at that point. It could make for an interesting ... challenging ... link trail to the Norte or Baztan.
 
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mspath

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
I've long been curious what the GR trail is like heading west from near Ibaneta pass. I see it on maps, but it's forest at that point. It could make for an interesting ... challenging ... link trail to the Norte or Baztan.
A section of the Spanish route from Ibaneta to Irun, which I abstracted/translated earlier, is a combo of a section of the Spanish GR11 combined with small lanes.

If you would like a copy of this abstract/translation please send me your email address in a PM.
 
Camino(s) past & future
.
Hi nick
My experience: I have not walked anything like coast-to-coast, but several times have walked in sections the paths joining up SJPdP in the west to Gavarnie in the east - so really only a part of the west side. Always with camping gear. From SJPdP you have some nice hillwalking gradually getting harder, until the limestone plateau around Pic d'Anie. After that more strenuous to Pic du Midi Ossau then strenuous and a little bit technical to Garvarnie. After that, I'm told strenuous and more technical as you go into the heart of the biggest mountains - Maxie will be able to describe.
From the parts I've walked, particularly from Lescun to Gavarnie:
GR10 along the french side, well marked, stages go down to villages at the end of each day, lots of Gites d'Etape accommodation. A good path to start on.
GR11 (I have less experience of) often poorly marked and not maintained that well: e.g. if there are landslides, you'll probably have to work out your own path round them and that might be precarious.
High Level Route HLR aka Haute Randonnee Pyreneenne HRP - kind of goes gown the middle but joins up with parts of the GR10 or GR11 where they have the best high options. The high refuges are excellent and can be booked, but you'd be lucky in August. For a shorter trip, the first half of September (until they close at the middle of the month) is a good time. The joy of this option is you often stay up high and that can be sensational on a clear night.
In my opinion - firstly you need to make an honest appraisal of your abilities - fitness, mental strength, mountain and navigation skills. Then if you pass, do serious preparation. You're going to need to have time and plan timing seriously as you're going to need the highest passes to be clear of snow.
My suggestion: if you have the time, think of this a 2-year project. Maybe next year go on one of the group trips like Exodus, who take small groups for 8-10 days. Or do your own section of the GR10, where you might be able to book accommodation all the way. For the other two paths you are almost certainly going to need a tent.
I apologise if you are a seasoned mountain walker and I'm just telling you obvious stuff, but your avatar CV just shows straightforward caminos!
and Maxie - respect. I'm sure there's much more you can say, if asked!
Cheers, tom
PS Last there in 2016 when I mixed up bits of GR11, Gr10 and HLR
 

nickpellatt

Member
Camino(s) past & future
French 2015 Portuguese 2018 Norte May 2019 Finesterre and Muxia April 2019
Interesting replies all ... thank you.

I looked at a number of YouTube videos and posted questions to a few people who have done it, some messages were also warnings with a 'maybe you should do something else' vibe.

It's hard to gauge I think ... a lot of the information I have read says it's at the upper end of hard walking, but it is walking. Not technical, and with excellent way-marking.

I have wondered what it means to be ready. Mountain experience? Not really ... I've done a Kilimanjaro hike, and a Mt Toubkal one, both as part of groups. I've done 3 Camino's on my own, with the Portugese from Lisbon being the shortest. I've run a marathon ... And I'm generally the fastest person I meet on the Camino. The GR11 is a walk, waymarked, and used by others is it not? A lot of the sites I have seen suggest it's hard, but not life-threatening.

It won't be this year anyway ... It's something that's a bucket list thing at the moment ...

I may have a window of time next year, and I'm thinking maybe I could just go to Irun and start walking inland from there, seeing how it goes. Next year I think my time will be limited, I will probably walk for 10 days to 2 weeks and camp just to see how it goes and test the water.
 
Camino(s) past & future
.
Hi nick
I think your idea of starting from Irun with a tent is a good one. That way you can see how things develop as you move towards the higher mountains. And the tent helps deal with your original question about accommodation, if you find you can't book everything in advance.
BTW Did you see this website?
https://www.ruralgia.com/casas-cerca-de-gr11-sendero-pirenaico
 

nickpellatt

Member
Camino(s) past & future
French 2015 Portuguese 2018 Norte May 2019 Finesterre and Muxia April 2019
I hadnt Tom, but it looks a good resource for hostels etc. My rough plan now will be to camp, should I ever get the chance.

I dont like to plan the details of a trip .... I prefer to just go ... but I do need to plan what / where and when, often a year or two in advance. The GR11 is a bucket list thing at the moment, with a plan to do it in 1-3 years I guess.
 
Camino(s) past & future
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