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Solo hiking the E4/GR7 across Spain 👣 🇪🇸 🇦🇩 (A Walk Across Europe I)


Hi, my name’s Ashley and in 2017 I went for
a walk. A two thousand – eight hundred mile walk across Western Europe. From baking hot
Spain to the icy mountain passes of The Alps this is my adventure. This is the first stage of my Walk Across
Europe and it’s the GR7. This is a 1,179 mile footpath that goes right across Spain. From
Tarifa in the South up to Andorra in the North. I’m starting out in Tarifa. This is a very
windy town on the southern-most tip of Spain, and of Europe as a whole. As the ferry sets
sail for Tangiers, I leave the Mediterranean behind for Andorra Day one, I’ve just left Tarifa, walking along
the beach. That way is a bit of water and then Africa. That way is just all Spain. Two
months of Spain! The day’s were long and they were hot. I was
beginning to question some of my recent life choices… and my chosen method of transport. Fantastic view this, I can see right down
to Jimena de la Frontera where I set out from this morning. And then on the horizon – standing
out like a sore thumb – is the Rock of Gibraltar, where I was a week ago. It’s fantastic just
to see the distance I’ve covered in one view. Amazing! I’ve just come down this steep path, got to
the bottom here and it’s a bit of a dead end. And I checked the GPS and apparently I’m way
off, I should be on the other side of this thing here. I have no idea where the path
goes ‘cos I saw no markers and no other obvious path. I’m just gonna have to back track up
until my GPS says I’m on the trail and then see if I can see where it goes. I think this is my problem, instead of going
up that open gate up the hillside, I should have gone through that closed gate down the
hillside! I’m guessing that road probably swings round the side of the hill and then
back up again. That’s what I’m gonna take from what my GPS was saying before. I’ll give
it a punt, see what happens! You wouldn’t believe this, about 20 meters
from the gate there’s a GR way mark. Faded but unmistakable! I’ve just made it down the pass, I came down
just up there, behind the trees. And I’m in another really lovely wide open valley. The first large town on my route would be
the cliff-top Ronda. The new and the old towns are divided by a deep gorge, but linked by
the beautiful Puente Neuvo – or new Bridge. The problem with these tracks is they’re great
when they’re dry but when they’re wet they just turn in to a mud bath. It’s just really
hard to get anywhere with your boots caked in mud! On the map this looks like a really nice walk
around a reservoir, and I thought “oh great I’ll sit there and eat my crisps and I’ll
have a nice little view”. But in reality this is the reservoir. So I took my shoes off and I’ve got a massive
blister on my heel. It’s swelled up enormous, I think I’m going to have to do something
with it, but I’m not quite sure what. I think I’m gonna have to drain it. Otherwise it’ll
just pop when I’m walking and it’ll be agony. i don’t know, is this the right thing to do?
I’m not sure. Ah well I’ve got to do something. This is really not the advised way to drain a blister! Ah man, it stings! F**##g hell. Ooooh f**##g hell! I was entering the Spanish Sierra Nevada.
The peaks around were still dusted in snow and I knew that in just a couple more days
I would be crossing the mountains at 2000 meters. Snow really was the last thing I wanted
to see. So tomorrow’s plan is an early start. We’re
here at Laroles and we’ve got to cross the Sierra Nevada at the Puerto de la Ragua to
La Calahorra. That looks really simple on this large scale map but it involves an ascent
of 1400 meters and then a descent of nearly 1000 on the other side. And it’s also
a 20 mile walk, So I’m gonna try and get up really early and see how far I can get. So it’s 9am, it’s a bit later then I intended
to start. I just couldn’t sleep last night so I changed the alarm from 6 to 7 and then
just… You know I was just lazy basically. I’m climbing out of Laroles now. I’m unlikely
to make La Calahorra before dark so I’ll just have to find a place to pitch and hope it’s
not too cold. The sky’s quite dramatic today but it looks clear-ish over towards the pass.
So hopefully it won’t be too bad. So I made it! The Puerto de la Ragua – 2000 meters
on the pass. As you can see it’s very snowy. But I made it. It’s half past five so that’s
taken me eight and half hours. So i’m not going to make La Calahorra before midnight
– before dark, even. So I’ll just descend as much as I can, find a place to camp, hopefully
where it’s a bit warmer and there’s no snow. So let’s go! I wanted to go inside the castle but it’s
only open on Wednesday and today’s a Friday, so it looks like it’s back on the road. The North Face of the Sierra Nevada. The day
after my crossing a fresh snow storm blanketed the mountains. I was lucky to have made it
over on the day I did. Walking in Spain starter pack! One, neckerchief
to keep the sun off the neck. I like to tuck it into my shift but it never stays in. Two,
sunglasses! Yeah! Three, a hat… with a cape! Now this hat is called The Kalahari, so I
know it makes me look like a bad ass. But more importantly it stops the old ears getting
burnt. Hey! Ready to take on any trail any time! Bad ass! I’d ran out of cooking gas and the only place
I could get any was Murcia City which was a bit of a detour. But when I was there I
found myself with a front row seat to the Holy Week parade. I’ve never seen anything like that before
– any parade like that before – so yeah it was well worth the outing. I’ve just spent the better part of yesterday
afternoon and then this morning climbing up into this pass and I’ve come up against this
huge fence. It looks like something out of Jurassic Park! If I go down the tunnel… And there’s a gate on the end which I could
get through if I wanted, but there’s a sign that Google Translate seems to indicate it
says “don’t go through here – danger of parasites, tuberculosis, scabies – disinfect yourself
before entering and when leaving the area”. It’s so annoying because the path is just
right there and looking at the map I’m not entirely sure there’s a way to get around
this valley. So I don’t quite know what to do. I don’t think I want to risk going through
this and contracting something dodgy or passing something on to the outside world. I might
have to go down. What a pain in the arse. I’ve just come back down from the pass, I”m
pretty much on this spot where I camped last night next to a ruined farmhouse and overlooking
these hills. I’ve had a look at the map and there should be a path or a trail or a track
that goes down the bottom of this valley and then connects to the road at the end. And
I might be able to use a track that comes off that road to reach the valley – I was
at — sorry I’m just trying to dodge a bee. I’ve just been stung by a bee and I don’t
want to get stung again. I should be able to around this pass from the valley floor.
Hopefully it’s not sealed off down there as well. This could still turn out to be a very
long day. The pass I couldn’t get over is right up there
between those hills. This road’s been a pain so far. There’s a river running right beside
it and it crosses the river a lot and the road itself has been flooded at least twice.
I had to bushwhack a couple of times. The second time was horrible, I had to crawl under
bramble bushes and pull my pack along beside me. I then had to run along the road and scout
to see if it was passable. God knows what it’s going to be like after. I’ve got another
bit to cross now right here, hopefully I’ll do that without getting my feet any wetter.
So yeah, bit of an adventure today. I was really hoping to make a shop tomorrow
but with all this detouring I might be cutting it fine so I’m gonna have to ration my food.
What a day! I had a bit of a rough day today really. There
was that problem along that pass so I had to descend back down to the valley floor and
fight my way along it only to then turn back because the blinking gate on the river wouldn’t
open. And then I had that road walk and then loads of stream crossings – I had to ford
a river, which wasn’t the best thing to do really. But then I’ve just got up here and
I found this refuge! So come on inside. So here we are. There’s a table, got my tent
ground sheet laid out on the floor and then the sleeping mat and sleeping bag on top of
that. So that’s my bed for the night. Best thing is I only had a liter of water left
and I thought I’ll have half tonight for my tea and then I’ve only got half a liter for
the walk down tomorrow. There’s no tap here but there’s a load of water. So hopefully
it’s drinkable, because I’ve filled up one of my bottles and I’ll use that tomorrow.
So yeah pretty chuffed about this. Yeah. cool. My favourite town in Spain? Morella. A modern
town still surrounded by it’s complete Medieval walls. It was a place I loved exploring. The South Face of The Pyrenees! They appeared
on the horizon yesterday morning when I got up and I’ve spent all day yesterday and then
the first part of today walking towards them. And I start climbing up into them this afternoon
or tomorrow morning perhaps. It’s Tuesday. It’s my nephew Owen, he turns 3 on Saturday
so I’m hoping I can make Andorra on Friday and then have a video call with the family,
say Happy Birthday to the little man. So yeah… Andorra La Vella – the highest capital city
in Europe. Hello? Hello. Hello… you’re 40 minutes early! Oh crap, it’s because you’re an hour
behind me isn’t it! Ahhh damn! I’d learnt a lot on my journey across Spain
but my biggest lesson was that the bad times can and do very quickly swing to good, and
vice versa. In short, you’ve got to take the rough with the smoove – that’s what makes
the good times good. Having been on the road for three months it
felt like a bit of an end, but really it was just the beginning, and next I would have
to find my way out of the Pyrenees and across France to The Alps.

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13 thoughts on “Solo hiking the E4/GR7 across Spain 👣 🇪🇸 🇦🇩 (A Walk Across Europe I)

  1. Excellent! Well done, enjoyable and unique. I loved watching this.One of the best hiking films of spain.So far so good!

  2. Hahaha, it reminds me of our first weeks on the trail too!! We are currently hiking from Portugal to Turkey, we are about to finish the Alps right now and to reach Slovenia.
    We had so much snow in Spain too!!!

  3. Respect!
    Great landscapes, nice narration and thanks for all the warnings about hard-to-find paths.
    Did you meet a lot of people on the trail, other hikers or locals?

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