GR 92 intro pic

The GR 92 is a coastal hiking trail that runs along Catalonia’s Costa Brava. It’s part of the extensive network of GR footpaths which cross multiple European countries, most notably the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Spain. The 583km hiking trail also forms the southernmost portion of the E10 European Long Distance Path which starts in the Lapland region of northern Finland.

Starting on Christmas Eve last year, my sister and I hiked a 70km portion of the GR 92 trail from Roses to Portbou, before taking the train back to Barcelona. While the trail between Roses and Portbou only makes up around 50km, we took some intentional (and some less intentional) detours along the way that are well worth checking out if you have the time. But more on that later.

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Hiking on the GR 92 trail in winter

 

Since my sister lives in Barcelona and we were visiting for the Christmas holidays, the timing of our hike was determined more by circumstance than by choice. That said, this definitely turned out to be for the best.

During the summer, many hikers struggle with the number of bugs and with the heat – the majority of this section of the GR 92 trail follows the coastline and there is minimal cover along the way, so hikers during the summer are advised to carry additional water, cover their skin where possible and be wary of any symptoms of heatstroke. Additionally, the trail tends to be a lot busier and prices of accommodation along the way tend to be higher at this time of year.

GR 92 intro pic

By hiking over the Christmas break, however, we avoided many of these problems. The weather was sunny and warm enough to hike in shorts and a t-shirt, though not hot enough to cause us any problems. Our accommodation was relatively cheap, and it seemed like we basically had the entire trail to ourselves – throughout the 70km hike, I think we only met two other hikers following the same trail.

 

The film camera I brought

 

While we did get lucky with the weather during the hike, I wasn’t taking any chances with potentially damaging a camera, so I packed my trusty Nikonos V.

Nikonos V front

While the weather was a minor consideration with this choice, I packed the Nikonos for a different reason. At this point, I was only using neck-straps for my cameras rather than my Peak Design Capture clip, which meant that accidentally swinging my camera and having it bounce off a rock or a tree at some point during the hike was a distinct possibility. At least with the Nikonos in tow, you can rest assured that you’ll likely do more damage to the rock than the camera.

 

The film I used

 

I packed two rolls of film for this trip – one full roll for each full day.

The first roll I shot was CineStill 800T. You might be thinking that using an 800 speed film known for its effect on artificial light is a strange choice for a hike in bright daylight. And you would be right.

This roll of CineStill 800T was already in my Nikonos when we decided to go on this hike, so it was either shoot with it or waste the majority of this relatively expensive roll of film. Thankfully, CineStill 800T is a very versatile film stock, and you can even notice its tell-tale reddish hue with natural light.

CineStill 800T on GR 92

The second roll I brought on the GR 92 hike was Kodak Ektar 100, definitely a more reasonable choice when you’re shooting bright landscapes. Its ISO of 100 also meant that the images from the latter half of the trip contained much less noise, which you’ll no doubt pick up on later in this post.

 

Day 1: Roses to Cadaqués

 

The first day began at my sister’s apartment in Barcelona. We opted to take the metro to the coach station and the coach to Roses to begin our hike. Since we planned to cover a fair amount of ground on the first day, we set off one of the earlier coaches and around two hours later, we arrived at our chosen trailhead in Roses. We stopped to have some breakfast and a coffee or two, before setting off on the coastal route to the picturesque town of Cadaqués.

The route to Cadaqués was a perfect start to the section of the GR 92 we had chosen to hike. The trail is clearly marked, with red and white stripes that resemble a polish flag painted on rocks and trees every few metres. The trail was fairly flat on the way out of Roses, and when it started getting hillier, it largely consisted of small hills interspersed by sections on flatter terrain.

GR 92 trailmarker
GR 92 in Roses
GR 92 in Roses
GR 92 leaving Roses

It seemed that every time we turned a corner, we saw increasingly beautiful views of the rugged coastline and the crystal-clear Mediterranean waters alongside it.  

We arrived in Cadaqués at sunset. A pinkish hue covered the town, progressively turning more purple as we were making our way along the beach to our hotel.

Cadaques early sunset
Cadaques later sunset

After we had some dinner and a couple of drinks, realising I was still shooting CineStill 800T, I tried to take a low light shot of an artificial light source. The ‘T’ in CineStill 800T stands for tungsten, as this film stock was developed for use with tungsten studio lights. Shooting non-tungsten-based light with this film stock results in a reddish hue that gives it a very unique and almost cinematic look.

The problem is that such low-light photos are usually shot with a tripod to eliminate motion blur due to the slower shutter-speed. Since I hadn’t brought one to dinner, however, I decided to use my knee, which turned out to be very slightly less stable than a tripod.

GR 92 low light shot in Cadaques

Day 2: Cadaqués to Llançà (via Cap de Creus)

 

On the second day of our hike, we decided to take our first intentional detour from the original trail.

After Cadaqués, the traditional GR 92 route cuts inland, skipping out Punta de Cap de Creus and its picturesque coastline and lighthouse. We knew we had enough time for a detour to the lighthouse, before joining back up with the trail later in the day, so we set off early and followed a separate AllTrails map to Cap de Creus.

If you’re on this hike and you’re reasonably fit, I would definitely recommend opting for this detour. It does add some time and distance to your hike for the daybut, in my opinion at least, well worth it.

After the lighthouse, we followed the trail inland to re-join the GR 92. This part of the hike was definitely hillier than the route we followed on the first day, but it flattened out again once we re-joined the trail.

The trail lead us into the small seaside town of El Port de la Selva. From here, the GR 92 follows a smooth, paved path along the coastline and into Llançà, where we spent the night of Christmas day. 

GR 92 paved path

What we didn’t consider is that this very small town largely caters to tourists, and since we were about as far outside of the tourist season as it was possible to be, every shop and restaurant in the area was shut. This resulted in a pretty meagre Christmas dinner by most standards, since our sole ingredients consisted of what remained of the snacks we had crammed into our bags back in Roses.

Christmas dinner on the GR 92

Day 3: Llançà to Portbou, and back to Barcelona

 

On our final day on the GR 92, our shortest day in terms of hiking, we set off from Llançà and headed further along the coast towards Portbou. Since we were hiking less than half the distance we had hiked the previous day, we were able to take our time and even stop for a quick swim near Colera.

GR 92 coastline 1
GR 92 coastline 2
GR 92 coastline 3

We passed by a few more kilometres of jagged rock-laden coastline, before arriving at one last big incline. We hiked up the hill, took a short detour through a tunnel and descended into the town of Portbou via a steep and almost certainly unmapped path covered in thorns. 

We arrived in Portbou in the early afternoon and checked the train times back to Barcelona. We then speed-walked to a seaside restaurant for a beer and some food to make up for our meagre Christmas dinner the previous night, before taking our train back to Barcelona.

GR 92 Strava Map

Wrap up

 

So that about wraps it up. If you find yourself in the area and you have two and a half days to spare, I can’t recommend this part of the GR 92 route enough. If I was to do it again, the only thing I’d change is that I’d probably hike it the other way around, as I imagine the route from Cadaqués back to Roses would be an amazing stretch on which to finish the trail.

If you enjoyed this post, why not check out some of our other recent content or take a look at my full review of the Nikonos V?

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