The Pyrenees are smaller than the Alps but no less dramatic. There are some great places for hiking at any time of the year though you should be careful in winter and spring as there can be avalanches. I lived close to the Pyrenees for 5 years and was a regular visitor. Here are some of my favourite shots taken while hiking in the Pyrenees.
The Cirque de Gavarnie. I was there in July 2006 and arrived at 18.00, just as the hordes from Lourdes were disappearing.
You could also buy the image at istockphoto.
This one was taken in January 2005 while hiking on the Plateau de Benau, looking down the Valley d’Ossau. There were red kites and hungry vultures flying around that day.
The lac d’Anglas, just behind the ski resort of Gourette. Take the cable car up to the top of the mountain behind Gourette and the lac D’Anglas is but a short hike away. Marmottes were reintroduced to the Pyrenees and there were plenty around this lake.
On the horizon it is possible to see le Pic du Midi Ossau, 2885metres tall, not the tallest in the Pyrenees, but certainly the most striking.
This is part of the GR10, the footpath motorway that crosses the Pyrenees. It is not as well signposted as it could be and you should take a good map and, if you have one, a GPS when you hike in the Pyrenees.
October 2003 – Col du Tourmalet. Another favourite of the Tour de France.
I hope the riders appreciate the spectacular beauty of the place as they pedal through it. Of course, the weather is not always this great.
It is not too steep but it is a very long hill and they’ve often been over a couple of other cols before they get to this one.
No prizes for guessing which time of year this picture of Lac d’Estaing was taken. The sunken boats were left there by the local tourist authority so that tourists could take even prettier pictures.
This hike is particularly easy, even for those who are not in the best physical shape. You get to see the mountains (and the superb autumnal colours) without actually having to climb them.
Don’t they just make you want to switch off your computer and start hiking?
This is the chemin de la mature in the Ossau valley. A ‘mature’ is a mast for a tall ship. A couple of hundred years ago, this path was cut through solid rock so that large trees could be brought down from further up the valley.
I went back to the chemin de la mature in 2006
There are a lot of lakes in the Pyrenees. The Lac d’Isabe has lumps of ice floating in it in July. Fishing is a popular activity for hardy hikers. Strangely, swimming is not.
A beautiful lake a good hike from the Cirque of Lescun. Guess who went swimming in it in September?
Looking down at the skiing resort of Gourette. Designed with all the sensitivity of the 1970s, it is a blot on the landscape. When it is covered in snow in winter it looks better but why on earth didn’t they make an attractive ski resort?
The road from Accous just asking to be hiked.
I did hike from Accous to Laruns.
More of the Pyrenees ?
Breche de Roland Flora and Fauna Gavarnie chemin de la mâture Gorges de Kakouetta Lescun in Summer