My Pyrenees HRP Diary - Introduction
I will record preparations and progress here, hopefully something new each week until the job is done... I hope you will follow this diary and walk along with me. I look forward to comments on all that I write, it will make me feel I am not talking just to myself!
If you are new to this blog it may help if you start at the oldest post first, to get some background
Thursday, 17 September 2015
Friday, 4 September 2015
Tuesday, 1 September 2015
- nothing lost or forgotten en route, (except one small item), most unusual for me!
- most of my equipment lasted the course very well, especially the Zpacks kit - rucksack, tent and sleeping bag. I will do a separate post about equipment, in due course.
- most of the hotels and gites d'etape that I stayed in were excellent, as were some of the refuges.
- the phone plan provided by 3, which treats calls, texts and data made in France and Spain the same as in the UK, is the bees knees, and saved me a great deal of money. Pity about Andorra though.
Monday, 31 August 2015
Monday 31 August 2015
A long day today. The Col de l'Ouillat is at 936m, and the total ascent for today is 700m. It follows that to get to the beach at banyuls, a descent of 1636m is needed, a real challenge for my knees. But with the great incentive of knowing that when it's done it's done, I plugged away.
The HRP had one last joke to play. For the entire morning, visibility was virtually nil. I was firmly in cloud, and damp cloud at that. So my first sight of the sea was not until about 1.30pm, with Banyuls itself in the distance.
I got to the beach about 5pm, I confess I did feel slightly out of place because I couldn't see anyone else there at all who had a large rucksack, walking poles and boots. Most had much less. Nothing daunted, I accosted a tanned adonis, who kindly agreed to take some photos, see below. He informed me he had been up Vignemale and Aneto, and seemed properly appreciative & friendly. We shook hands, then I had a quick beer, and off to find my hotel.
Afterwards I had a very nice dinner with Florent and Reg, One of the features of walking in these mountains is the lovely people you meet.
Although this is the end of the line, walkwise, there will be a few more posts to this blog. Some reflections on the experience as a whole, and some reviews of the equipment I took, and how it performed. Most of it actually did very well, though don't talk to me about walking poles!
It will be nice to get back home to Linton
Sunday, 30 August 2015
Sunday 30 August 2015
Set off, usual time and walked over dull dirt roads to the Col de Perthus, a border town with all of the tackiness such places manage to display. There was a supermarket but I honestly couldn't think of anything I wanted. I found my two friends, Reg & Florent, sat and had a beer, then set off for the Col de l'Ouillat. This is at 937m so clearly climbing is involved, Perthus being about 280m. It turned out to be a bit of a challenge, since the route of the GR10 has been changed several times in recent years in this area. I had assumed I could follow the instructions in my guidebook, even if the official GR route had changed, but this turned out not to be the case. Not only was it not the GR10 any more, it was not a footpath at all. After floundering about for a bit, I ended up walking up the zigzag road to the col. Feeling rather aggrieved, I stuck out a thumb now and then, but sadly few cars came past, and none of them stopped. Still, I got to the Chalet d' Albere by about 5pm. I thought of sleeping in my tent but it has turned very windy, so I decided against, and booked in for a room and dinner. Dinner was ok but it was pasta.
One more day!
Saturday 29 August 2015
Left at about the usual time. .. got to Las Illas about 5pm... I am finding it rather hard to say anything about the walk in between, now we are deep into the Languedoc. It still goes up and down - the high point was almost 1500m, comfortably higher than Ben Nevis - and it was hot and humid again today, which makes climbs difficult, but it is still a far cry from the giddy heights of the central Pyrenees.
There were a couple of interesting things though. We are still near the border ridge here, and the HRP diverges from the GR10 during the day for a brief foray into Spain, though by the time we get to Las Illas we are back in France. The HRP path goes past a Spanish hermitage, the Ermita de la Salinas, which on investigation I found had a cantina, which was happy to sell me a beer for €1. I don't think it is still a working hermitage, as it were, the young couple in charge and their delightful daughter Giarmina didn't look terribly religious, but it was a really nice place, peacefully located deep in a beech forest. Opportunities for beer on the HRP are very limited, and should not be passed up.
Las Illas has no shops or other facilities. It has a small gite d'etape, just a dormitory and a small kitchen, and it has a delightfully old - fashioned hotel, the Hostal dels Trabucayres, which is where I am. The other two, Reg and our new French friend Florent, are in the gite d'etape, but are coming here for dinner
Two more days to go!
Thursday, 27 August 2015
Friday 28 August 2015
I left about the usual time and set off. The refuge is at about 1500m, and Arles-sur-Tech is about 280m, so it was clear what was going to happen and so it proved: a long 1200m descent into Arles. I got there just before 12 and wandered around for a few minutes. It is a nice enough place, nothing remarkable. I had some moules frites and set off again after an hour or so. The next bit is a climb up to the col de Paracolle, overall about a 700m climb. By now it was really hot, the hottest day so far, and this became a hard slog that took me almost three hours to complete. Then a steady walk through the woods, finishing about 6pm at the gite, where I found Reg had arrived a few minutes earlier.
There was nobody else there, just the two of us and the gite owner, and it turned out that he was going to go out, would not be back til the morning, and would leave us to our own devices! He had prepared a meal, and stuff for breakfast, showed us where everything was, and off he went.
Reg was going to sleep in his tent, so I had the entire upstairs part of the house to myself. All very comfortable, though why it's called an eco-gite is unclear. .. There is a wood burning stove, perhaps that's it.
Three days left