|Approaching Andorra from the North .. the pointy bits ahead|
I want to go back to Andorra! I want to walk round it, to circumnavigate it in fact!
I went through Andorra in 2015, during my trek along the Pyrenees on the HRP (see other posts. Andorra is from Day 38 through to day 43). So it was well into the second half of the walk. I was already starting to think about finishing .. the weather in Andorra was rather mixed .. Refugi Coma Pedrosa was the worst manned refuge I stayed in, on the whole journey .. and I got lost once or twice .. so overall, Andorra and I did not get on terribly well on first acquaintance. However I suspect that was really more because of me, than the country itself.
The scenery in Andorra is nothing short of magnificent: remote, wild even, uncrowded, and unspoilt. There is only the one manned refuge, but Andorra does have a very neat network of small, unspoilt refugis. They are free to use, and they all have bunks (no mattresses though!) and fireplaces and usually, a wood supply. Even at the time, when I was not feeling on top form, I remember thinking that if you were properly prepared and equipped, you could have a really good time in Andorra. This thought has nagged at me since and although I feel in many ways I have done my time in the Pyrenees now, I want to go back to Andorra - and now I shall.
The first thing to do is to make a basic plan, with the following elements:
- a timetable, not just for the trip itself but for preparation. Andorra goes up and down a lot and I will need to be fit.
- information. Look at available books, interact with a walkers forum or two, look for others who have done the same.
- mapping. I prefer digital maps these days but Andorra is not huge so a paper map of the whole thing might be useful. I might even have them already from HRP days.
- route. Plot a viable route and work out rough timings. I am thinking three weeks may suffice for the whole thing including travel there and back but I need to confirm that
- accommodation. Can't book it until I know roughly where I will be when. I will take a tent but would like a base to work from, especially if I drive there.
- travel. Drive or train? L'Hospitalet pres d'Andorre has a train station.. driving or train, each has their pluses and minuses.
- equipment. Check I have everything I will need. With the possible exception of walking boots/shoes, I bet I do have everything I need but hey, never miss an opportunity to buy an exciting new toy of some kind.
- other. What else is needed? There are bound to be some logistics I've forgotten to think of .. phone coverage is an issue in Andorra for example, Spain and France are now just like being at home in England, but not Andorra, oh no.
So, that is my starting point. I hope to have the information and mapping sorted within the next month or so. I will do some more posts here as things develop.
.. if you have ever been to Andorra, maybe you drove along the main road between France & Spain that goes across it. It is a dire experience, full of petrol stations and duty free tat, but that is not the real Andorra. Below are some photos that I took in 2015, passing through from NW to SE along the HRP. They will show you, I hope, what Andorra is really like:
|Estany Negre, which had lumps of ice in it.. in August!|
|Refugi Les Fonts, a typical unmanned Andorran refugi|
|.. and the view from its door|
|Two Dutch friends, Gert & Thijs, met en route. It is hard to see but Refugi Coma Pedrosa is visible on the shelf in the centre of the picture|
|the view from the Collada des Meners, looking forward..|
|.. and the view looking back. Between the two pictures, you can see most of Andorra.|
You see what I mean, about wild and unspoilt? It is not an area that is to everyone's taste, i admit, but I found it thrilling. I am hoping that it will be even more thrilling next time, if I am properly prepared and equipped, free to wander, and not preoccupied with the HRP.
we shall see!