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Eating and accommodation tips for GR99, GR85, GR73

With comments on the casa rural bubble and a call for deregulation of rural hostelries and shops in order to prevent walkers starving to death.

Posted by admin on Sunday August 1st 2010. 2 comments

Part of lunch at the excellent Casa Social Bar-Cina in Barcina del Barco. All photos © Mr Baldie. More.

I've been ordered to be more sociable with information which isn't of much use to me but may be to others. So ***here*** for starters are ratings for various bars, restaurants, casas rurales, bed and breakfasts and hotels on the GR-99, GR-85, and the GR-73, passing through Logroño, Baños de Sobrón, San Martín de Don, Barcina del Barco, Montejo de San Miguel, Trespaderne, Puente Arenas, Hoz de Valdivielso, Puente Arenas, Valdenoceda, Peñalba de Manzanedo, Cidad de Ebro, Cilleruelo, La Población de Yuso, Soncillo, La Población de Yuso, Silió, Molledo, Ventorillo, Pesquera, Las Fraguas, Caldas de Besaya, Viveda, Torrelavega and Santander in the provinces of La Rioja, Burgos and Cantabria. I've included all the stuff for which I have notes, but there are omissions. Contact me if you have any queries.

As you'll see and may already be aware, the extraordinary growth in the casa rural sector over the past few years has given rise to some marvellous establishments (see eg La Behetria in Peñalba de Manzanedo) but also to a considerable number of enterprises which are poorly run and considerably more expensive than hotels of a comparable standard. Hopefully the market will take care of this over the next few years.

A second, graver problem for long-distance walkers in sparsely populated areas throughout Spain (and Europe) is the increasing lack of bars and shops. There is only so much that one wants or is able to carry, and casa-rural-type facilities are frequently unwilling or unable to sell food at competitive prices. This is all despite the fact that many villages contain small but active populations of pensioners and rural hippies with flourishing allotments and freezers full from weekly trips to urban supermarkets.

As far as I can see the only sensible solution is radical deregulation of rural eating, drinking and shopping, removing the completely useless 90% of rules created by autonomous communities during democracy. These imitations of the fascist control-freakery of Manuel Fraga make it impossible to (re)sell produce at farm gates or offer lunches or snacks to passersby on a casual basis and the only beneficiaries appear to be the inspectors, who come and eat their free lunch every now and again and then vanish. For such regulation might conceivably have made sense in the information-poor 1960s, but it is surely redundant now we have reasonably effective online consumer forums and more efficient instruments for punishing grievous offenders.

One thing of which you should be aware if you plan on following either the GR-99, the GR-85, or the GR-73 is the extent to which the countryside has been ruined by motorway construction. Motorway noise impacts considerably on the GR-73 for much of its course, and I found its proximity fairly unpleasant north of Molledo until Santillana. The GR-99 and GR-85 will be similarly affected by the construction of the autopista AP-69 Dos Mares, which as you can see from the map over at Aves del norte de Burgos closely follows the course of the GR-99 and will utterly destroy the sensitive and quite extraordinarily beautiful valley of the Aguayos, of which more some other time. Still, I suppose any remaining walkers will be able to pop into service stations every 50km or so.

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  1. [...] other places which is of no commercial use to me and may be of practical assistance to others, so here for starters are some hints on where (not) to eat and sleep on parts of the GR-99, GR-85 and GR-73, [...]

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