Pyrenean Haute Route 2016. Days 20–27 Gavarnie to Bagnères-de-Luchon

France

Louis went home from Gavarnie. I would be on my own for the rest of the hike.

Day 20. Cirque de Gavarnie with the Brèche de Roland, seen from the Espuguettes hostel.
Day 20. Cirque de Gavarnie with the Brèche de Roland, seen from the Espuguettes hostel.

The HRP heads over a pass to the Cirque d’Estaubé and then to the lower reaches of the Cirque de Troumouse, two lesser-known cirques. Continue reading Pyrenean Haute Route 2016. Days 20–27 Gavarnie to Bagnères-de-Luchon

Trekking the Pyrenees: GR10, GR11 or HRP (Pyrenean Haute Route), a short guide to the differences

Map of GR 10 (red), GR11 (blue) and HRP (yellow) in the Pyrenees, as I walked them. As the crow flies the distance from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean is around 420km. For walkers it is about twice that.
Map of GR 10 (red), GR11 (blue) and HRP (yellow) in the Pyrenees, as I walked them. As the crow flies the distance from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean is around 420km. For walkers it is about twice that.

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?

Continue reading Trekking the Pyrenees: GR10, GR11 or HRP (Pyrenean Haute Route), a short guide to the differences

Pyrenean Haute Route 2016. Days 7-13 Orreaga to Somport

Spain

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.

Day 7. Heading for Mendizar.
Day 7. Heading for Mendizar.

If you don’t have a tent, you still need a roof. I had chosen Egurguy on the basis of the excellent Pyrenees Refuges and Cabanes site. It lived up to expectations, which weren’t very high. I slept in huts about once a week. Continue reading Pyrenean Haute Route 2016. Days 7-13 Orreaga to Somport

Senda (GR11) diverted near Candanchú

New route of the GR11 near Candanchu
New route of the GR11 near Candanchu. Click on map to enlarge

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.

Update: August 2017. Tom Wheeler has pointed out that there is a detailed description of the new GR11 route from Lizara to Candanchú dating to October 2016,  though these walkers followed a different path above Candanchú.

Pyrenean Haute Route 2016. Hendaye to Orreaga

Day 1. Hendaye, 20 June 2016. Filling up a bottle from the Atlantic, a Pyrenean walking tradition.
Day 1. Hendaye, 20 June 2016. Filling up a bottle from the Atlantic, a Pyrenean walking tradition.

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.

Each one proposes a different trek. The walk, it seems, is not a itinerary at all, more of an idea!

Continue reading Pyrenean Haute Route 2016. Hendaye to Orreaga

Goiat has crossed the border

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

New train service into the Central Pyrenees

Canfranc Station - semi-derelict for 40 years but the prospects are brighter
Canfranc Station – semi-derelict for 40 years but the prospects are brighter

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).

Source: Vue sur les Pyrénées

Walking on the Senda (GR11)
Contact: Steve Cracknell +33 (0)4 68 43 52 38    email