Tag: Hiking

Spring flowers weeding and strimming

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Koch's Gentian

Having arrived again from Chamonix we had a week to get installed in the barn and set the garden up for the summer. It’s a great time of year full of little surprises. Finding plants amongst the weeds and giving them space to breath again after the winter. And let’s face it, when we say “garden”, we are actually trying to tame a bit of a field. We introduce plants that one would not normally find in a field and try to remove plants that should be there but are not to our liking. Then there are the critters. The slimy black ones that eat seedlings and salad crops and the big brown furry ones that eat the fresh tips off the fruit bushes and beats.

We have learnt over the years that going at it, full throttle, is not good for our bodies. These days we do a little of something and then do something else. Then go back to the first thing. One could do all the strimming in a day, or one can do a tank of fuel each morning first thing before it gets too hot, and take a week to clear the place. There are, of course dependencies. Clearing some weeds to allow some compost to be dug out of the heap before the fresh grass cuttings get put on the compost heap for example.

By the end of the week we had all the weeding done and plant supports in place for the flowers, all the strimming done and even managed a couple of walks. One over Pic de la Fonta, above Couflens, and the other, from the barn doing a loop via Bois de Lanette. The wild flowers were amazing.

Categories: Summer 2023 Tags: Tags:

Soubirou ridge walk

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The ridge behind us

One of our favourite walks locally and the ridge we see from the kitchen window at the barn. From Col de Crusous to Col de la Serre is an amazing ridge with fantastic views on each side spanning miles of the French Pyrenees. It is not technical though being sure footed is essential.

We liaised with a couple of friends from the village to do a car drop at the Gite in Rouse, above Couflens, the night before and picked them up early in the morning for a start from the mine above Salau. From there it is about 2 hours of walking up to Col de Crusous. Starting early means that you are in the shade for all bar the last bit of the ascent. After a short break we turned north to follow the ridge. We had a great day with almost perfect weather. Flowers, vultures, mushrooms and lots of laughter with friends.


Categories: Summer 2022 Tags: Tags:

Neouvielle National Park 4 day Explore

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Early start from Camp 3

We’d been keeping an eye on the weather and looking for a 4 day window to get away with the tent into the mountains to a new area. Weather forecast kept changing but we had a plan to leave on Friday no matter what!

So when we woke to cloud and mizzle at 6am on Friday morning we were not impressed! However, the weather gods were with us and as we turned up at the parking area the sun was shining and continued to do so for pretty much the whole trip.

For those of you who do not know this area, we drove over the famous Col de Tourmalet en route to the parking a few km below.

WOW, what a stunning area this is and so pleased we got to see it at it’s best. Full of granite peaks, quite a few 3000m peaks too, pine forests and loads of stunning lakes and valleys each with their own different charm and beauty.

Day 1

Walking in from Tournaboup parking area up to the Coubous lakes area, quite a few day trippers about not as busy as we thought it may be. We took a small path up over a steep col de Mounicot before descending into the Glere area where there is a refuge. We were higher up than here and found a wonderful camp spot to ourselves on Lac de Mourele. Perfect for a dip. We also lucked out and saw a Chamois and quite a few marmots too.

Day 2

This was a big day as we were planning to take in Pic de Neouvielle at 3091m. We had spied the Col de Chausenque as a way up to join the main “toursit route” on the other side and hoped it would go. It was a steep boulder hopping 2 hours up with a 15 minute section of very loose and very steep terrain, not very nice! But the rest of it was OK. From there it was another boulder hopping route up to the summit. Quite busy mainly with Spaniards so we did not get the summit to ourselves but shared it with about a dozen others. Incredible views in every direction especially of Gavarnie. We were pondering a couple of different options from the summit but decided that with heavy packs maybe our scrambling plans were a tad over ambitious so we descended to Lac D’Aubert for the night. This is an official bivi site as officially there is no camping in the NP other than the 2 official bivi sites. As it was a Saturday we did not have the place to ourselves! But it was great to see so many people of all ages up there for the night, kids being introduced to camping in the mountains, climbers wanting an early start the next day, GR10 people. It was a quiet and chilled place even if it was busy. Did manage a lovely dip in the lakes which was great after a hard and long descent down.

Day 3

Another glorious morning and we were up and away by 8am after brekky and de camping and had the next 2 hours pretty much to ourselves as we passed over the Col D’Aumar and down into the Estibere valley with lots of pretty lakes before arriving at the large Lac de L’Oule, good snack stop here before joining the GR10 and yomping up to Refuge Bastan and beyond to the col. This was stunning with the lakes, fishermen were about and even some random ducks on one of the lakes! We had a quick lunch near the refuge before continuing up to a col with the hope to climb Pic de Bastan. It was just beginning to cloud over at the col and we looked at the way up the Pic and it did not look tempting at all, loose rock never great so we decided we would pop over another col and head to Lac de Bastan to camp. Good call!!!

Found a superb camp spot again to ourselves with sun till 745pm. As we got to the camp spot the clouds cleared and we had a glorious evening. Even Al joined me for a dip! Lots of marmot action and birds and of prey which we are struggling to identify! Think we are both looking forward to non dehydrated food again!

Day 4

Woke to an amazing morning, one of those mornings that you pinch yourselves and say how lucky are we! Blue skies all around us, cloud in the valleys below, wonderful light on the lakes and a peak to climb! A gorgeous walk up to Col de Nere and then a scramble route up to Pic D’Aygues Cluses, a small peak but a really gorgeous one. Sat at the top in the sun on our own taking in the wonderful surroundings. It could not have been nicer. Scrambled across the ridge and down the other side to the next col. We were on the shady and windy side of the ridge and it was freezing! Hats, gloves and layers went on for 30 mins till we got to the col to defrost!

The ridge ahead looked tempting but will have to wait until another day due to time. We ambled down the beautiful Aygues Cluse valley following the beautiful river on easy terrain. A new refuge is being built by the lake and looks like it will be open next summer with current progress.

Our final stop was by the river for a quick lunch before heading back to Billy.

Would highly recommend this area to anyone who enjoys hiking we loved it. And if anyone can help us identify any of the birds that would be ace.

A fantastic few days away with hubby and the tent, nothing could have been nicer. Re charged and pleasantly pooped!

Categories: Summer 2022 Tags: Tags:

Pique Rouge Bassie Loop

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The lakes by the Refuge

Another hot day dictated another early start to beat the heat. Breakfast at Coumebiere before heading off via Col de la Fouzes. At the Col we turned right to take the ridge in the sunshine to Pique Rouge Bassie. There was a welcome slight breezy on the ridge, and on the lee side there was a huge flock of crag martins. We watched these beautiful birds playing in the wind for a while.

A cup of hot cassis and ginger (our preferred thermos filling) and a handful of peanuts at the summit before descending passed the lakes towards Refuge Bassie. We stopped at the the lower lake of Etang des Lavants for Breezy to take a plunge. From the Hut, uphill again, to Port de Bassie and Port Saleix then back to the van on the GR10.

Big loop of 1700m and 19km with great views and hardly anyone there.

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Etang Hillette

The weather forecast said it was to be 35 degrees so an early start was called for. Alarm set and no coffee in bed. Breakfast made up in ice cream containers and we were off.

Got to the parking, breakfast and away for just gone 8am. Most of the way up to Etang Hillette was in the shade which was bliss. There were a couple of people there but it was super quiet. An easy hour of boulder hopping to get to Etang Alet where Breezy took a dip. Lunch and then took the track via Cabane Lacarde and the descent back to the van. We couldn’t find the Cabane where it was marked on the map. There was a shelter built under a rock above the tarn but our notes from the last time we went was that it was quite comfy and well equipped.

A much needed day in the hills. Nice and peaceful though the parking was completely chock a block when we got back to the van.


Categories: Summer 2022 Tags: Tags:

Port de Salau

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There is something really nice about being able to walk from the door of the barn into Spain. Less than two and a half hours and 1000m of ascent carrying a sandwich and a salad for Breezy and you’re there. Generally it’s not the most interesting walk but this time of year the flowers are amazing. Also the birdlife, though never the easiest things to catch on camera.

We were lucky enough on the way back down to sit and watch a couple of goldfinches feasting on a thistle.

We also took a detour to go and look for the Eglise St Jean. This sign has been on the path for all the years we have lived here. We have never before even been curious enough to explore. This time we did. We found a pile of rocks with another sign explaining what the rocks were and a magnificent view of cascade Bege. In fact the site is a mere 10m from the path, and very interesting. From there we took the higher path round the back of our barn towards the village as a more interesting way home than the 4×4 piste.

Both the sandwich and the salad were delicious.

Categories: Summer 2022, The Project Tags: Tags:

Pic 3 Seigneurs

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Met Sheri, Michiel, Lee and Suzie at the Col to head up to the Pic des 3 seigneurs. A couple of hours to the top where we had lunch before heading down to the south on a cairn marked path which took us straight down to the lake. Some people took a dip. Nice new variation for the descent. Managed to get back to the van just in time before the rain started.

It is a great hike for a short day as only 750m of up and 9km.

Categories: Summer 2021, The Project Tags: Tags:

Frechendech and Tuc de Bouc

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An early start to meet Lee and Suzie and share travel to Frechendech. Not too hot a day made for perfect hiking weather. We set off up the river valley, slowly ascending to the dam below the Refuge D’Araing. A quick scooby snack and a coffe at the refuge and on up to Tuc de Bouc. Great views. Frome there we dropped down to join the GR10 and descended via the Chapelle D’Isard and back to the van.

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Air crash

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We collected Michiel from his place in pea soup cloud and parked at Col de la Core still in the clag. Headed off on the Chemin de Libertee through the woods towards Cabane de Luzars. Once out of the woods we appeared above the surging sea of cloud. It seemed like waves crashing against the mountain and flowing over the ridges. Completely amazing and lost in photos, we could have watched it for hours.

From Cabane de Subera we headed up past the Halifax crash site and on to Col de Craberous at 2382m where we sheltered from the wind and took lunch.

We traversed the ridge to Tuc de la Messe and descended to a low Col to enter the Eychelle Valley. A dip in Etang Eychelle on the way back to Col de la Core.

A lucky call with the weather for an 18km loop above the clouds.

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Pic de Trois Compte to Barlongere

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We have been holding off from heading away for a couple of nights waiting for a weather window. One finally arrived so we licked up the rucksacs and drove to Col de Pause. The plan was to head into Spain via Port D’Aula and traverse to Etang Long near Mont Valier to camp. From there, after an early start, we could gain the frontier ridge by the Pic de Trois Compte. Nip up there. Then follow the ridge to Barlongere. Head down to Trauc de Lesc and then descend the Spanish side to stay in the refuge Montgarri.

All went smoothly on day one and we got a prime camping spot by Etang Long where the water flows out to head down to Etang Rond. We did get to see one Isard and a couple of Marmots en route. Day two went well all the way to Barlongere. We met nobody and had amazing views into France and Spain. The tricky bit came getting down to Trauc de Lesc from Barlongere. When the ridge became knife edged and I was crying for the lack of a rope and harness, we bailed onto scree covered slabs of friable rock to descend steeply onto Spain above cliff bands. On reflection this was the limit of acceptable challenge and was far removed from any comfort zone we previously enjoyed. We were rewarded by a herd of 40 Isard near th Col of Trauc de Lesc. Strangely there was no path to follow down the valley to the refuge so we just made our way down.

The refuge was seeing off the last of the lunchtime guests when we arrived. What a great place. Friendly, good food, funky rooms and a brilliant breakfast with garlic and tomatoes. We spoke to the guardian before we left who was alarmed to hear that we went down to Trauc de Lesc. He said that it was famous for the military during the Civil War shooting all the escapees who left Spain via Port D’Orla.

Day three started with a hike along the 4×4 track to Borda Pedrosa where we headed back up to Port D’Aula and down into cloud filled France. The cloud reached to within 300m of the Col and stretched as far as the eye could see. We found the van in the cloud and headed back to the barn. Job done.

Categories: Summer 2021, The Project Tags: Tags: