GR 66: Castellano-Manchego Path
The GR 66 is the project of a path of over 600 km that crosses the entire autonomous community of Castilla La Mancha from north to south on the east, through Guadalajara, Cuenca and Albacete before entering Aragón in the north and Andalusia and Murcia in the south.
Only two sectors are signposted in the province of Cuenca, between Peralejos de las Truchas and Cuenca, for a length of 140 km.
It begins in the Castilla region of Guadalajara, right on the provincial border with Zaragoza, between Algar de Mesa (Guadalajara) and Calmarza (Zaragoza), where it will connect with the future Aragonese GR 24.
The first 25 km cover the extensive and splendid valley of the River Mesa. It then continues along the Molinense waste land, at times coinciding with an old royal path.After 80 km through large pine groves and beautiful red sandstone ravines, you reach the village of Villar de Cobeta and Puente de San Pedro, where the GR 66 connects with the GR 10 and together, along the Canyon of the Alto Tajo, wind parallel to the river until Puente de Martinete, where the GR 66 splits off to continue through the province of Cuenca. The route through the province of Guadalajara is called Path of the Molinense Rivers, as it visits the lands irrigated by the Mesa, Gallo, Arandilla and Tajo. The path passes through important spots from Anchuela, such as the Romanesque chapel of El Barranco de la Hoz, Puente de San Pedro and the monastery of La Madre de Dios, also Romanesque, in Buenafuente de Sistal (District of Villar de Cobeta).
After crossing the River Tajo, the GR 66 enters the province of Cuenca, which it will cross from north to south, taking the so-called Hoces y Torcas Route before reaching Albacete. The Cuenca route runs through a collosal and magical stone world and stops, rests and turns back to wind at the same rhythm marked by the varied karstic limestone carpet of the Mountainous Area of Cuenca: Thick mounds, gorges, torcas and valleys irrigated by the rivers Guadiela, Cuervo, Júcar, Huécar and Cabriel. It visits places of interest such as Los Callejones de Las Majadas or La Ciudad Encantada and shows its best face when crossing the old quarter of Cuenca. To the south is enters maritime pine, crossing the lower mountainous area close to El Torcal de Los Palancares, the lagoons of Cañada del Hoyo or the wall paintings of Villar del Humo. It finally enters the region of La Manchuela where, after travelling alongside the River Cabriel, in the countryside known as Los Cárceles, the GR 66 enters the province of Albacete.
In Albacete and among vineyards, the path covers extensive plains following the route of the old Baeza-Utiel railway line, an excellent path for walking, with the possibility of using the old stations as places to stay overnight.It crosses places such as Casas Ibáñez, Fuentealbilla or Mahona, before approaching the capital city of Albacete. From here, the path heads south east towards Alcaraz to climb the mountains of the Sierras of Alcaraz and Segura, with their dry limestone, along the narrow and steep valleys of the Rivers Mundo, Segura, Tus and Taibilla, some of the most spectacular natural landscapes that you will see.
The GR 66 ends in the Municipality of Nerpio, where it connects to the GR 7 that, on the Murcia side, reaches the Chapel of La Rogativa and, to the south, through Santiago de la Espada (Jaén) and Puebla de D. Fadrique (Granada) to connect with the Andalusia side.
Departure point: Algar de Mesa
Arrival point: Nerpia
Distance (km): 630
No. of stages: 37
Province of Cuenca:Martinete Bridge, over the River Tajo (Peralejos de las Truchas-Beteta) - Cueva del Hierro - Masegosa - Santa María del Val - Vega de Codorno - Tragacete - Majadas - Uña - Valdecabras - Buenache de la Sierra - Cuenca.
The path is signposted in the province of Cuenca: all services in Cuenca, Beteta and Tragacete. Accommocaiton and basic supplies in the remainder.