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Postby iandsmith » Sun 21 Jul, 2013 11:11 am

I had wanted to go there last time but time and weather were against me. This time I had my weather good luck charm (self appointed) called Lorraine and so I was assured of favourable skies. With only two days at Pau I couldn’t believe our luck as we drove south west into the Pyrenees and the clouds that hung around Pau slowly but surely were left behind. We paused at the village of Betharram that surely has the ritziest way of the cross I’ve ever seen, and moved into the tall peaks.
Betharram (17) (424x640).jpg
Betharram (17) (424x640).jpg (266.11 KiB) Viewed 4318 times

By the time we reached Cirque du Gavarnie you couldn’t have asked for better weather. The snow remnants in the carpark merely whetted our appetite for what lay ahead. One of the Pyrenees great attractions was already partly visible as we donned appropriate garments and headed out, uncertain as to just how long it would take. We’d heard everything from 1 ½ hours to about 4 and fortunately time wasn’t an issue.
France 2013 - day 9 Cirque de Gavarnie 079 (640x417).jpg
En route
France 2013 - day 9 Cirque de Gavarnie 079 (640x417).jpg (243.3 KiB) Viewed 4318 times

The easy trail criss-crossed the river over small bridges as we would our way closer and then started upwards. Cirques are roughly half circles of rock and appear in many places of France. The most stunning I had seen was Cirque de Navacelles so I didn’t expect anything better. Indeed, it wasn’t better or worse, but different.
France 2013 - day 9 Cirque de Gavarnie 151 Stitch (640x220).jpg
Getting close
France 2013 - day 9 Cirque de Gavarnie 151 Stitch (640x220).jpg (133.56 KiB) Viewed 4318 times

The higher our ascent, the more imposing the rock faces became. Below and beside us the roaring waters of the spring melt played a constant reverberation to stimulate the senses. Up through the small forest we climbed as the snow became an overall coverage rather than sporadic drifts.
Finally we reached Hotel de Cirque, a modest and unreliable establishment. We’d come to expect places to be closed and this place, right at the key point to view Cirque du Gavarnie, didn’t let us down, so we pushed on, another 200 metres to the point where it was inadvisable to go any further.
You could see avalanche tracks at different points across the face. It was a tad disappointing because here is the tallest waterfall in Europe. However being a little bit of an aficionado (self appointed also) in this department, it is worth knowing whether it is a single drop or multitudes of cascades. Here it was the latter so it didn’t really rate with me but the cirque itself was awe inspiring.
France 2013 - day 9 Cirque de Gavarnie 262 Stitch (640x203).jpg
Cirque de Gavarnie
France 2013 - day 9 Cirque de Gavarnie 262 Stitch (640x203).jpg (140.14 KiB) Viewed 4318 times

Massive cliffs wrapping around with the lesser slopes still holding plenty of snow and the snow melt well under way beneath crisp clean skies left an indelible impression on us both. By the time we returned to the car, a few hundred photos each to the good, it was around three hours, and when we later motored down the mountain on twisting switchback roads with peaks all around and verdant spring pastures nearby, we could but reflect that it had been one of those special days you have when travelling.
France 2013 - day 9 Cirque de Gavarnie 234 (640x424).jpg
Upper part of the trail
France 2013 - day 9 Cirque de Gavarnie 234 (640x424).jpg (269.08 KiB) Viewed 4318 times
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Re: Pyrenees

Postby frenchy_84 » Sun 21 Jul, 2013 12:15 pm

Thanks for posting Ian, its a place that has been on my bucket list for a while. Did you have a chance to do any other walks in the Pyrenees?
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Re: Pyrenees

Postby JohnDaly TakeAWalk » Wed 29 Jan, 2014 7:51 am

Hi there,
We are leading another trip to the Pyrenees in September. This time we'll include the best sections of the Pyrenees High Route and the Chemin de la Libertee Track. We'll hike along Cares Gorge, the most popular hike in Spain, we'll climb Mulhacen, the highest peak in mainland Spain and visit the Alhambra - the most visited attraction in Spain.
We will be using the guides that we used on our previous trip and the total cost will be around 60% of what you would normally expect to pay.
You can download the complete itinerary from our website
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