I’ve now walked the length of the Pyrenees three times on different routes. 2700km, Atlantic to Mediterranean: 164 days hiking. I’ve been asked which route I liked best. Is it the Pyrenean Way (GR 10) [guide and forum] in France, the Senda Pirenaica (GR 11) [guide and forum] in Spain and Andorra, or this year’s trek, the Pyrenean Haute Route [Cicerone guide] (Haute Route Pyrénéenne, HRP, in French; Alta Ruta Pirenaica in Spanish) which flits across the border every second day?
Like all the other walkers in the Orreaga/Roncevaux Pilgrim’s hostel we were woken by the sound of monks singing. But unlike them the four of us were the only ones heading north, still on the Camino, but in the wrong direction. Once we had climbed up to the ridge we were in France – but only just – passing by frontier markers 200 to 204. This is where the Pyrenees really start, although they are still clothed in grass. We saw very few other walkers.
The official route of the Senda Pirenaica (Spanish GR11) is being changed in order to conform to new safety standards. Although it is true that the passage in France to the west of Candanchú is often damaged by avalanches, the new route has other failings. It drops down into the Canfranc valley creating a long detour in a valley blighted by road traffic. See Aragon Mountaineering Club‘s page on the subject.
I knew I could never walk the Haute Route (HRP) – too high, too technical, and above all I would need to carry a tent and all the extra kit that implies. But then, in the dog days of February, I came across TransPyr, a guide which claimed a tent wasn’t necessary. I looked at other guides to the Pyrenean Haute Route.
Goiat, the Slovenian bear released near Isil in Pallars Sobirà on 6 June has been travelling fast. He has already crossed into France and by-passed the town of Bagnères-de-Luchon to be seen by a gardener in Cazaux-Leyrisse 45km NW of Isil. That’s 45 km as the vulture flys but he will have avoided contact so his trek will have been much longer.
Meanwhile a bear has been captured on video in Bonac-Irazein, Ariège with an unusually large litter of three cubs born last winter. Two other bears are known to have had cubs this year – detected on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees. Source: Brown Bear Network
After 40 years of neglect the famous (infamous?) railway line from Pau to Canfranc is being renovated. At present the trains all stop at Oloron and a bus takes passengers across the border to Canfranc. But the French SNCF is in the process of testing the line as far as Bedous and a regular service will be inaugurated on 3 July 2016 (SNCF reservations are now possible).
The Senda Pirenaica crosses the Camino at the western end of the Pyrenees. I am returning there this year, staying in the Roncevaux/Orreaga Pilgrims’ Hostel so I have been reading about the ‘other’ trek.