Great Pyrenean Traverse

From the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, from France to Spain and back again…

Hercule_PyreneLegend has it that Hercules could not resist seducing Pyrène, the beautiful daughter of the King of Cerdagne (a high plateau in the Catalan Pyrenees), before leaving on a new mission. Despaired by her lover’s departure, Pyrène chased after him but was devoured by wild animals. Hercules, on learning of this tragedy, built a tomb for his loved one and piled it high with great rocks, thus forming the Pyrenees…..

What a dream to traverse this great chain of mountains; to join and mix the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea in one unforgettable adventure; to discover, step by step, the infinite variety of flora and fauna, landscape, geology and climate that make up the Pyrenees; to walk in the steps of famous Pyreneeists, climbing great summits and crossing historic passes used as escape routes during the Spanish Civil war, and WWII….

We are attempting to make this dream come true !

In 2018 we are offering four weeks trekking, starting at the Atlantic Ocean and finishing in Gavarnie, in the central Pyrenees. For the first two weeks (which follow the famous GR10 on the French side) you can start any day and finish any day, joining Sacha as he treks eastward. Each itinerary indicates where you join or leave the trek and the means of transport. The third week must be done in one stretch as there are no road heads where you can leave the group. For the fourth week, two three day sections are offered.

Friedrich Parrot completed the first Trans-Pyrenean route in 53 days in 1817. His exploit was followed by many others, but Georges Veron made this trek popular by describing it in topoguides, stage by stage.  There are three main paths possible on the French side of the range: the foothill path or ‘Chemin des Piemonts‘, the middle- mountain GR10 path and the Pyrenean High Route (HRP).

We have chosen to follow the GR10 for the first two weeks, then we switch onto the Pyrenean High Route as refuges allow us to stay high. In week four we make a detour into the Ordesa Canyon, and we then plan to continue on the Spanish side and the GR11. We also offer ascensions of some of the higher summits along the way where the conditions suit.

We would love to take you right across the Pyrenees…if you should choose!  But of course, you can simply take on a trek one week at a time, choosing the sections you find the most attractive, or those that suit your schedule…and see if the bug pulls you back the following year!

Traverse 1: Atlantic Ocean to Iraty

HRP1 AinoaStarting with a swim, as one must, we set off on the start of our great adventure.  A grand traverse switching back and forth between France and Spain and staying high. As little civilisation as possible, aside from the ever present grazing herds and shepherds, the ancient pastoral civilisation of the Pyrenees. This first week we remain in the Basque country and finish by climb the first 2000m summit, Pic Orhy, as we come from the west. We pass through St Jean Pied de Port, classic starting point for the pilgrims heading to Santiago de Compostella and finish in the Iraty forest – the largest beech forest in Europe. On this section you can join or leave the walk any day. Check the itinerary for details.

Traverse 2: Iraty to Ossau

HRP2 Lescun2We leave the Basque country and arrive in the Béarn in the mythical Ossau Valley, home of bears and beautiful sheep’s milk cheese, via the stunning Pic d’Anie and the Ansabère needles. The village of Lescun, surrounded by its cirque is another highlight. On this section you can also join or leave the walk on any day you choose. We finish at the Bious Artigue lake before descending to Laruns for the night.

Traverse 3: Ossau to Cauterets

This section of the trek is one ofNorth face Vignemale the most spectacular – we walk around the mythical Pic du Midi d’Ossau before heading past the Balaïtous, crossing into the beautiful Respumoso Valley and back into France to the Marcadau Valley, again into Spain and down the Gaube Valley to the Pont d’Espagne. This section must be done as a complete week as we are in refuges every night and don’t come down to a village, or road, at all.

Traverse 4: Cauterets – Gavarnie via Ordesa

OrdesaWe diverge off the standard HRP to take in the spectacular and unmissable Ordesa Canyon, and the Mont Perdu World Heritage Area. This week also includes the Pyrenees’ most famous glacial cirque, Gavarnie, and the spectacular Gaube Valley. We pass from France to Spain and finally back to France at the end of the week. On this section you can join in Cauterets (France) and leave in Torla (Spain), or join in Torla and finish in Gavarnie. If you’d like one of these 3 day options remember that you need to cross the mountains with all your possessions – there are no bag transport options!

Dates 2018:

28 July – 4 August (Traverse1, 7 days/7nights) CONFIRMED, 4 – 11 August (Traverse2, 6 days/7 nights), 11 – 18 August (Traverse3, 6 days/7 nights), 18 – 25 August (Traverse4, 6 days/7 nights). Price: 1110€pp for Traverse1, 1010€pp for Traverse 2, 3 & 4. Includes seven nights hostel/refuge accommodation, all meals, six days guiding, transport to start and end of trek from nearest town with bus connection on Saturdays 4th, 11th, 18th and 25th August.