The first person known to have walked along the spine of the Pyrenees from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean was Johann Jacob Friedrich Wilhelm Parrot. He completed his traverse in 53 days in 1817 thus laying the foundations of the modern Haute Route Pyénéenne footpath – the HRP as it is known in France. The trail weaves its way roughly along the border crest of Spain and France at moderate to high altitudes. In 2011 Mandy and Sacha are offering the first four weeks of this trail, with more in the years to come.
- Six days on the High Level Route in the French and Spanish Pyrenees
– Adapted itinerary to visit the spectacular Ordesa Canyon
– Walk through the legendary Breche de Roland, one foot in Spain, the other in France!
– Walk on the Faja de las Flores, perhaps the most impressive path in Europe
This six day trek has been slightly adapted and covers one of the most impressive sections of the Pyrenean high route through the Breche de Roland and on eastwards towards the Bielsa tunnel. We have chosen this route in order to take in the Ordesa canyon and walk the Faja de las Flores, which is considered by many as one of the most spectacular footpaths in the world. With the vertical walls of Ordesa limestone dropping abruptly to your right, the views are truly unforgettable. This unique day’s walking culminates with a return to France via the dramatic Breche de Roland, before you drop down into the cirque of Gavarnie to rejoin the high route and continue eastwards.
Price: 875€ pp. which includes 7 nights accommodation (2 nights hotel, 5 nights refuge), all breakfasts, dinners, and 5 picnics, 6 days guiding, transport to and from trek start and end points. Date: 20-27 July (confirmed, four places remaining) or 8-15 Sept or 15-22 Sept. Contact to Book: Sian.
The best way to get here is via train to Lourdes and then connecting SNCF bus to Luz. Hotel Les Templiers is 3 minutes walk from the Tourist Office where the bus lets you off. If you arrive on the night train to Lourdes the connecting bus will get you to Luz about 9am. You can leave your bags in the hotel and get some advice on a gentle warm up wander for the day. In the evening the group will meet for drinks and dinner in the hotel restaurant.
The first day of the trek picks up the trail exactly where the previous trek left off, at the Ossoue dam just west of Gavarnie. From here you will climb up to the Bernatoire Lake which sits high on the French-Spanish border. After lunch at the lake you head down into the green valley of San Nicolas de Bujaruelo where you spend the night.
Today is a big day and a very memorable one. An early taxi and shuttle bus start will bring us into Ordesa National Park and the bottom of the canyon. We start on a steep climb through the trees, toward the famous Tozal del Mallo and up the walls of the canyon. Some chains and fixed equipment is in place to help at the more tricky moments, although there is nothing which would be considered technically difficult. Once past the steeper section, the land flattens out as we cross over limestone pavement towards the start of the Faja de las Flores. From below anyone sighted on this path will look like a technical climber pinned onto a vertical cliff face, and it is not until you reach the faja that you see how this natural parapet forms a perfect and easy path for a walker. The walk along this path is truly unforgettable and gives views down into and across the canyon far below. From the Faja we turn northwards and head towards the Breche de Roland. At the end of the day this can be a hard climb but the Breche is a worthy target as it opens an immense doorway of rock back into France and down to the Refuge des Sarradets where a cool beer is waiting.
From the refuge we head down to the Gavarnie Cirque via the Plateau de Bellevue (for a very nice view!). There are wonderful views of the Grande Cascade, the longest waterfall in Europe outside Norway, which tumbles some 420 metres down the cirque walls. Once in the cirque, with an optional walk to the foot of the waterfall, we climb steadily up towards the plateau de Pailla and the Espuguettes refuge using another fabulous ledge path. The views from this plateau are immense.
We head up the mountainside to the Hourquette d’Alans where we have the choice of either dropping directly into the adjoining cirque of Estaubé, or alternatively climbing to the peak of the Pimené, one of the area’s most notable peaks with panoramic views. Once on the valley floor in Estaubé we follow the river down before heading up again across a plateau towards Troumouse. Our destination is the small hamlet of Heas, where there is a comfortable auberge and a small chapel. The hospitality is second to none on any part of the High Route and we enjoy this little luxury with hot showers and ice-creams and beers on the terrace!
From Héas we have a shorter day as we follow the HRP east to the Barroude hut. After a steep climb we reach the Horquette de Heas below the Pic de la Gela and then head down to the Horquette de Chermentas before heading due south under impressive cliff faces to the Barroude hut and its charming lakes.
We set off along little walked stretches of the HRP, staying mainly on high ridgelines to the Col de Port Vieux. There are terrific views from here both north and south across the Pyrenees. We descend then to the Tunnel de Bielsa and it is here that we will be met by the minibus and taken back to our clean clothes and some well-deserved comfort in Argeles-Gazost.
Catch the SNCF bus out of Argeles to Lourdes station. If you are catching the night train you have the day spare to spend in Argeles or Lourdes. Visit the beautiful villages of St Savin or just laze around and enjoy the scenery.
Please Note: This itinerary may be altered if conditions and weather are judged to put the safety of the group at risk, or if they indicate another route would be preferable for the group’s comfort. Pyrenees Discovery Mountain Leaders reserve the right to make changes to the itinerary without notice. These changes will, of course, be explained to the group as they occur.
Fitness Level: This trek, as with all the high route treks and Tour of Mont Perdu, involves relatively long days with an average altitude gain of 1000m/day. To consider this trek, you should be comfortable walking for 8 hours in the mountains at your own pace with, of course, short rests here and there and a decent lunch break. The following day, you should be able to get up and do the same again! We are walking in high mountain terrain and although, for the major part, we are on paths, you still should feel happy with rock or scree underfoot. If you feel unsure about your capacity to do this trek, please don’t hesitate to talk to us about it.