Author Topic: TR - Spanish Pyrenees (GR11) with dog  (Read 6424 times)


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Re: TR - Spanish Pyrenees (GR11) with dog
« Reply #15 on: 17:00:26, 28/04/16 »
Ah, Lescun! A very attractive and pleasant village. I stayed on the same campsite as you for two days and had two evening meals at a local restaurant with beer and wine. It was wonderfully sunny and I sat outside on the restaurant veranda each time. The short steep track back to the site was not easy to walk up with so much alcohol inside me and because of my lack of willpower to resist the grape I obviously had to do it twice!

I was hiking the GR10 at the time and Lescun was significant in my journey because I had discovered that I had given myself a hernia and needed to make a decision to finish there, or to go on? A young woman at the camp site desk (her identical twin worked at the restaurant) helped me to locate a medical warehouse in Oleron about 50km away. I hitch hiked there the following day and bought myself a truss. I was then able to resume my hike to the Mediterranean.

On the return journey from Oleron I got a 5km lift from an elderly driver and his younger companion to the edge of Lescun and I'll never forget it! The driver, in English, just as I put the seat belt on, asked me firmly if I was a Catholic? I politely replied no. He then asked me if I was a Protestant and again I said no. He then asked me if I believed in God. I could have lied but chose to tell the truth and again said no. He did not talk to me again.

His companion then interrupted and told me that he was a Catholic priest from Poland who was going to Lescun to carry out a child baptism. Whilst the driver was focused on the road the priest silently mouthed the word "sorry" to me.

Great photos and I bet, like me great memories!


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Re: TR - Spanish Pyrenees (GR11) with dog
« Reply #16 on: 18:49:03, 28/04/16 »
Did you have any maps with you? I'm planning the GR11 but find it impossible to come up with any reasonable mapping solution... For GR5 I used four 1:100k IGN maps, which were perfect but unfortunately the IGN mapping grid won't reach far enough to the Spanish side. Can't carry 1:25k or 1:50k maps that seems to be the only available Spanish maps, expensive as well.

So far I might go with the Cicerone guide + make my own printed maps:
Anyone better ideas? (and no, no GPS)

Hola Kukko,
Great that you're thinking of walking the GR11 - one of my best ever walks.
I have dug out what maps & books I have and can mail them to you if you like..though I may ask for them back as you never know I may walk the route I did, but in reverse. Due to the high levels of snow I was not able to do some of the amazing variants - an incentive to go back. I walked from Torla to La Guingueta d'Aneu and then back up to Parc Nacional d'Aiguestortes i Estany se Sant Maurici to explore more in the mountains away from the heat and then walked out from Refugi de la Restanca. It was an incredible 3 weeks or so trek.[/size]
all the guide books direct you to camp in the towns low down, but best to break the routine and camp high up and enjoy the wilderness. Once I did not see anyone for 36 hours..a bit unusual for me.[/size]
Books -
Cicerone Guide - Through the Spanish Pyrenees GR11 2014 edition - recommend this one
Trailblazers - Trekking in the Pyrenees 3rd Edition- virtually impossible to find - fantastic sketch maps - I still have all the book but I ripped out the pages I needed..these were invaluable.
Other guide books (Rough Guide etc) to the area which gave me a bit of history & info on how to get to my starting point and back.
Maps -
Prames GR11 Senda Pirenacica - scale 1:40000 - 47 or so one page maps covering whole GR11 - 6th or 7th edition - took the ones I needed and were very good.
Prames Posets /Llardana - scale 1:25000 - fantastic - Variant GR11.2 - comes with booklet in Spanish
Prames Aneto-Maladetta - scale 1:25000  - fantastic - comes with booklet in Spanish[/size]
Editorial Alpina - two ace maps 1:25000 purchased in Torla - Parque Nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido & Parc Nacional d'Aiguestortes i Estany se Sant Maurici - used extensively as I went off on other routes due to the abundance of snow. [/size]

I speak very good Spanish, which was welcome by the locals. In fact I didn't hear anyone speak English..but I'm sure some don't forget a Spanish phrase book - Lonely Planet are the best ones.[/size]
If you have any question just ask.[/size]
I will finish my trip report as the experience was unforgettable and the weather the best ever (after the first two days of rain).[/size]
I just got a bit frustrated with my photos not uploading.[/size]

I still have plans to walk the GR5, though probably in two sections.[/size]
Last year I walked the Coast to Coast in the UK and three Yorkshire Peaks. This year I'm off to Cornwall in Sept to walk another two weeks or so of the South West Coast Path so the GR5 will wait till another year.[/size]
Ian & Zen[/size]
Good luck on your next adventure
Ian & Zen


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Re: TR - Spanish Pyrenees (GR11) with dog
« Reply #17 on: 07:57:11, 18/05/16 »
Thanks Ian for your reply and kind offer!

I decided to use combination of The Cicerone guide + print my own maps. I was able to fit the the whole trail into ten, doubled-sided A4 sheets. If this seems not adequate enough, I'll buy maps for some of the sections there on trail.
More to follow:


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Re: TR - Spanish Pyrenees (GR11) with dog
« Reply #18 on: 14:42:30, 19/02/17 »
Hi Ian,
I checked out your report a few times before completing the entire GR11 solo last year. We now have an 8 month old dog, Canela, and next summer or the one after I intend to repeat the GR11 in reverse, with my dog this time.
I wonder if you could help with some dog-related questions please?
- did you have any issues with no-dog areas especially in Ordesa? I noticed a few signs, but also noticed them being ignored, including by some walkers I shared the trail with for a few days. I was planning to put my dog on a lead in those areas if there was anyone else around
- did you try any unmanned Refugios with Zen?
- I had some downtime at hotels - do you have any experience of dog friendly hotels?
- same question regards transport - I've heard that trains and buses in Spain are dog free, so imagined that hitching might be my only option if I need to link to towns?
- I see you posted dried food to a Refugio, great idea. Did you find dog food to be reasonably available in camp shops or the little town stores?

I won't over-worry about it, I'm sure it'll be manageable and fun, but having a bit more of an idea would be great. I think my biggest concern is attracting the attention of cows and bulls and horses, which normally ignore us hikers. So I'm working on getting her used to Spanish mountain trails, and need to find some farm animals to get her used to them.

Any tips appreciated.
Thanks, Susie


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Re: TR - Spanish Pyrenees (GR11) with dog
« Reply #19 on: 11:40:21, 20/02/17 »
Hi Susie,[/font]
Well done. Fantastic achievement for completing the entire GR11. [/font] O0
I only walked from Torla to La Guingueta D’Aneu & then back upto Refugi de La Restanca before walking out of the Pyrenees.[/font]
It’s great that you thinking of walking it again in reverse. Be only glad to help.[/font]

With your queries:[/font]

- did you have any issues with no-dog areas especially in Ordesa?[/font]

Dogs are allowed on the entire GR11, in Spain.  I did see signs asking you to put your dog on a lead in the National Parks. [/font] :)
However, they are not allowed in the National Parks in the French part of the Pyrenees at all, not even on a lead. So you will not be allowed to go through Breche de Roland into France to Refuge des Sarradets and see Cirque de Gavarnie. [/font] :(

It’s important to know you dogs behaviour when off its lead. My dog chases sheep, so I made the decision to start my walk (Torla) early in the season (end of May) when snow would be covering the ground, as such there was no sheep as no grass. I did walk with Zen on a lead in Ordesa National Park all the way to Refugio de Goriz, then on to Fuen Blanca. On the way down the Collado de Arrablo (steep rock face) I got tangled in the lead and had to let Zen go.  [/font] :D
It was a bit of a watershed moment, as he behaved well, stayed close & was off the lead for the rest of the walk (apart from in towns), which made my life so much easier as I could concentrate on the getting up and down the ‘puentes’.[/font]

- did you try any unmanned Refugios with Zen? [/font]
I did stay in a few. I always put my head in the door when I passed one, and most were quite dirty and unappealing. A local told me about one – which was clean, had a foam mattress & a fire pit (though my dog was not so impressed with my fire – too smoky), just before Refugio de Viados. As I started early this refugio & a few others were not open yet.[/font]

The best one I stayed in was the clean, wooden Refugio d’Anglios, but it took me 12 hours walk to get there from the campsite at Puen de San Chaime & over Collado de Ballibuena.[/font]

- do you have any experience of dog friendly hotels?[/font]
I only stayed in one hotel on the walk, a pension in Parzan, then had a couple of nights at the end of my walk. I had no problem with finding a hotel/pension that accepted dogs.[/font]
However, you cannot stay inside any hostels or refugios with a dog. [/font] :(
 I camped or stayed in the unmanned huts the rest of the time, which was over 20 nights.[/font]
Apart from Refugio de Goriz, camping is not permitted outside the refugios. However, they never had an issue with me. As I was walking out of peak season, when there were very few walkers, every refugio just said ‘camp where I cannot see you’, and suggested good spots. I was then able to eat and shower in the refugios. If you go in peak season, this may be different.[/font]
I had to leave my dog in the tent each time, but he didn’t mind as I always came back with food scraps. [/font] ;)
It would be a shame to have to walk down to a town to stay in a hotel/pension every night and miss being high up in the mountains, so you should definitely take a tent. Plus you can wild camp anywhere.[/font]
With regard to transport, unfortunately you are correct, dogs are not allowed on trains and buses unless in a transporter. I took two expensive taxis on my trip.[/font]
In France dogs are allowed on trains and buses, though they should be muzzled.[/font]
- Did you find dog food to be reasonably available in camp shops or the little town stores?[/font]
I posted 2kg bags of Zen’s favourite food to a few camp sites that I knew I would stay at. [/font]
In towns I did find tinned dog food and dry food (2kg min size), but often it was the last tin on the shelf. I supplemented his diet with leftovers from the refugios and other food he likes, like tuna, rice, pasta. He had enough food, though he’d probably argue with me on that.[/font]
As I said, it’s important to get to know how your dog is: on and off the lead, with animals around, on unfamiliar paths, with unfamiliar food, sleeping in a B&B & tent, on multi-day walks, on steep stony paths, on bridges, on being tied up whilst you’re away, etc.[/font]
A couple of important things:[/font]
Pyrenean Patou Mountain dogs, which live with and protect the sheep. It will attack if it feels its sheep are threatened. I only saw two. Just give them a wide berth and you’ll be ok.[/font]
Heat -  this is extremely important and should be your major concern. I changed my route when I got to La Guingueta D’Aneu[/font] as it was too hot for Zen to walk all day, and I went in the cooler months.
Paws – Zen got a blister on the bottom of his paw from walking on sunburnt tarmac, so you will need to take little boots.[/font]
Below is a photo of his gear. All very useful, especially the bungy lead. I now have a harnass for him as well.[/font]


I hope this helps. If you have any queries please ask.[/font]
Please see  for further info.[/font]
Have fun[/font]
Ian & Zen[/font]
Good luck on your next adventure
Ian & Zen


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Re: TR - Spanish Pyrenees (GR11) with dog
« Reply #20 on: 12:01:10, 21/02/17 »
Thanks for such a detailed reply Ian.

I like the kit list - I hadn't considered booties, but I am going to invest in a strong harness with a handle - I know there are places I'll have an issue with climbs beyond the capability of a four-legged companion.

I stayed in Refugio d’Anglios too - another hiker had a dog and I said he was fine letting the dog stay in the Refugio too, so I suppose it's down to the understanding of other tenants. Apart from that I only stayed in one manned Refugio and one other unmanned - both so noisy I could hardly sleep - I also prefer my tent!

I'm lucky to live in Spain and get to take my dog onto mountain trails and coast trails almost every day, so she's getting really used to small leaps, light scree and sniffing out the path. I've even got some practice mini-climbs lined up for when I try out the harness with the support of some friends. She's used to trail-walking off leash and keeps close, though my challenge is getting her past her fearful reaction of other hikers when it's been quiet for a while - she's very young so hopefully confidence will improve with age and socialising.

I'll try her out on full day hikes after she turns one, and introduce camping and multi days hikes a little while after that.

I think my biggest challenge will be cows, bulls and horses - she's seen one horse and was almost sick with terror, so I'm looking out for local farms and stables, but she'll have to be leashed around any animals. I can imagine all those huge bulls I walked past last year wouldn't be quite so nonchalant with a growling dog on a lead walking past! Or the 2-year-old bullock that mini-charged me after licking my toes!