Walking in the Pyrenees

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Landscapes of THE PYRENEES: walks and car tours

by Paul Jenner and Christine Smith

We found your book on the Pyrenees while browsing for books to help us plan our walking holiday in the Pyrenees; it was pure serendipity! The book proved a godsend: helpful, informative and a wonderful guide to an area we did not know at all. (F&DN, Dunfermline)

The Sunflower guides are for me what makes or breaks a holiday… This guide is a ‘must’. To be absolutely recommended. How do they get so much into a guide that fits in your pocket! (AL, Amazon)

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Description

PyreneesYou don’t have to be an expert to enjoy walking in the Pyrenees with this guide book. None of the hikes requires special skills (under summer conditions) and, if you are not very fit, simply turn back when you feel like it (although there are also specific short walk suggestions with most of the itineraries). Nevertheless, the authors (who have lived in the Pyrenees for 30 years) believe that “experienced and fit walkers will find much to enjoy, for we have included some of the wildest scenery in the Pyrenees, walked pilgrim routes and World War 2 escape routes, climbed to summits (like Canigou), enjoyed the habitat of marmots, vultures and lizards (the Pyrenean chamois), and not neglected the great and the famous (like the Breche de Roland)”. Paul and Christine have also written the Rough Guide to the Pyrenees (1st ed) and the Berlitz Explorer guide to the Pyrenees.

Area covered: This book covers the entire Pyrenees range in France, Spain and Andorra, and describes well over 400 kilometres of walks — the equivalent of a coast-to-coast traverse, one of the ‘classics’ for all serious walkers.

The best months for walking in the Pyrenees are from June to September.

Where to stay

The book embraces a huge area and the walks are widely scattered. It is assumed that users of the book will be exploring the Pyrenees by car. Places where you will find hotels, restaurants and hostel accommodation are listed in the text and highlighted on the touring maps.

Edition/contents etc

12 car tours, 65 long and short walks, 12 picnic suggestions
136 pages + 2 pull-out touring maps (eastern/western Pyrenees); 1:50,000 topo maps
7th ed, 2016; ISBN 978-1-85691-486-4; UK retail price £12.99 / USA retail price $18.00

Table of contents:

Preface 5
Pyrenees – the people 6
Acknowledgements; Books 6
Getting about 7
Picnicking 8

TOURING
Car tour 1: THE ALBERES 12
Car tour 2: INTO THE MOUNTAINS 14
Car tour 3: TO THE CADI 16
Car tour 4: THE PLATEAU OF THE CATHARS 18
Car tour 5: DEEP VALLEYS, HIGH PEAKS, PAINTED CAVES 21
Car tour 6: PARC NACIONAL D’AIGUES TORTES 23
Car tour 7: ‘GROTTES’ AND GARGOYLES 25
Car tour 8: MARVELS AND MIRACLES 27
Car tour 9: GRAND CANYONS TOUR 29
Car tour 10: THE VALLEY OF THE BEAR 31
Car tour 11: LIMESTONE AND LEGENDS 33
Car tour 12: INTO THE BASQUE COUNTRY 35

Country code for walkers and motorists 37

WALKING
Weather 38
Transport 39
Clothing and equipment 39
Food and water 40
Waymarking, maps and grading of the walks 40
Safety and guides 41
Organisation of the walks 42
Overnight accommodation 43
Language hints 43

WALKS IN THE EASTERN PYRENEES
1 Vilajuïga · Dolmen de la Vinya del Rei · Sant Pere de Rodes · Serra de l’Estela · Llançà 45
2 (Roses) · Cadaqués · Cala Jóncols · Roses 48
3 Collioure · Notre-Dame-de-Consolation · Tour Madeloc · Banyuls-sur-Mer 51
4 Fageda d’en Jordà · Santa Pau · Volcà de Santa Margarida · Volcà Croscat · Fageda d’en Jordà 55
5 Sant Aniol d’Aguja 58
6 Alta Garrotxa – Santa Bàrbara de Pruneres 61
7 A Canigou canter 63
8 Carança cliffhanger 65
9 Núria · Gorges del Freser · Queralbs 68
10 Pedraforca 71

WALKS IN THE CENTRAL PYRENEES
11 Sant-Miquel d’Engolasters · Madriu Valley · Refugi del Riu dels Orris · Sant-Miquel d’Engolasters 74
12 Mourgouillou Valley · Etang de Comte · Etang de Couart · Etang Vidal · Etang de Comte · Mourgouillou Valley 77
13 Gorgeous Gorges de la Frau 80
14 Among the lakes 82
15 Circuit around Lake Artax (Artats) 84
16 Crête des Isards 86
17 Parc Nacional d’Aigües Tortes 88
18 A taste of the Baronnies 90
19 The roof of the Pyrenees 93
20 Cirque de Gavarnie 95
21 Russell’s Caves 98
22 Brèche de Roland 100
23 Pont d’Espagne · Vallée du Marcadau · Refuge Wallon · Lac du Pourtet · Pont d’Espagne 103
24 Valle de Pineta · Collado de Añisclo · Valle de Pineta 106
25 The Añisclo Canyon 109
26 Ordesa – the grand canyon walk 111
27 Pic d’Anie 115

WALKS IN THE WESTERN PYRENEES
28 The song of Roland (Mt Astobizkar) 118 29 Roncesvalles 120
30 Iparla Ridge 122
31 Circuit based on Biriatou 125
32 Choldokogagna (Xoldokogaiña) 129
33 Col d’Ibardin 131
34 Peñas de Haya (Aia) 132

Index of place names 135
Fold-out Pyrenees map inside back cover

Guidebook index

Agos Vidalos 27, 28
Aigües Tortes, Parc Nacional d’ 23, 24, 88, 89
Ainhoa 35, 36
Amélie-les-Bains 14, 15
Ancien Redoute de la Bayonnette 126-7, 130, 131
Andorra la Vella 16-17
Ansó 31
Arette-Pierre-St Martin 31, 32, 33
Argelès-sur-Mer 12, 13
Argelès-Gazost 27, 28
Arles-sur-Tech 15
Arreau 25, 26
Arties 23
Ascain 36
Aspin-Aure 26
Aulus-les-Bains 21, 22
Ax-les-Thermes 18
Axiat 18
Bagnères-de-Bigorre 25, 26, 27, 28, 90
Bagnères-de-Luchon, see Luchon
Banyoles 14
Banyuls-sur-Mer 12, 13, 51, 52-3, 54
Barèges 27, 28
Baronnies 25, 90, 91, 92, 92
Beaucens 27, 28, 37
Bellver de Cerdanya 16
Besalú 14, 15
Bidarray 35, 36, 122, 123, 124
Bielsa 29, 30, 106
Biriatou 36, 125, 126-7, 128-9, 130
Le Boulou 12, 13, 14, 15
Bourg-Madame 16
Broto 29
Buerba 29, 109
Bujaruelo 29
Burguete 33, 34, 121
Cadaqués 12, 48-9
Cala Jóncols 48-9, 50
Cala Montjoi 48-9, 50
Caldes de Boí 23, 24
Campan 26, 28
Camprodon 14, 15
Candanchú 31, 32
Canfranc 32
Cap de Norfeu 48-9, 49, 50
Castellfollit de la Roca 14, 58, 61
Castillon-en-Couserans 22
Cauterets 27, 28, 37, 103

Caves
Bédeilhac 21, 22
Bellevue 98, 99
Gargas 25
Médous 26, 28
Niaux 21
Pierre-St Martin 32, 33
Russell’s Caves 98, 99

Cerbère 12, 13
Céret 14, 15

Col, pass, port
Anies 115, 116-7
Añisclo 106, 108
Arnostéguy 119, 120-121
Aspin 25, 26
Belagua 31, 32
Bonaigua 23
Boucharo, see Gavarnie
Brèche de Roland 28, 35, 36, 95, 100-1, 101, 102
Burdincurutcheta 33
Envalira 16
Ibañeta 33, 34, 118, 120-1
Ibardin 36, 125, 126-7, 129, 130, 131
Ispéguy 36
Lepoeder 120-1
Marmare 18
Monastero 88, 89
Orgambidé 118, 119, 120-1
Orgambidesca 33
Ours 18-9
Peyresourde 25, 26
Poiriers 126-7, 128, 129, 130, 130, 131
Port 22
Tentes 100, 101, 102
Tourmalet 27, 28
Trappe 22
Venasque 93, 94

Colera 13
Collioure 12, 13, 51, 52-3
Comus 18, 19, 80, 81
Cornellana 17
Dantxarinea 35, 36
Elizondo 35
Engolasters 74, 74-5
Escaladieu, Abbaye d’ 25, 91
Les Escaldes 74-5, 76
Escalona 29, 30
Escároz 34
Esparros 25, 90, 92
Espèche 25
Espelette 36
L’Espine 18, 20
Espolla 12
Espot 23, 24
Esterri d’Aneu 23
Eus 10-1
Eyharce 36
Fageda d’en Jordà 55, 56, 57
Fanlo 29
Foix 18, 20
Garriguella 12
Gavarnie 26-7, 28, 95, 96, 97, 100, 101
Gèdre 28
Gerona 14
Gerri de la Sal 23
Goizueta 35
Gósol 16, 17, 71, 72-3
Gourbit 84-5
Gréixer 17
Guardiola 16, 17
Guzet-Neige 22
Hecho 31
Hendaye 125, 129
Hernani 35
Hospice de France 93, 94
Hospital de Tella 29, 30
Irún 126-7, 132, 133, 134
Isaba 33
Itxassou 36
Jaca 31, 32
La Jonquera 12
Josa del Cadí 17

Lakes, reservoirs, etc
Artax (Artats) 84-5, 85
Banyoles 14
Comte 77, 78-9, cover
Couart 77, 78-9
Engolasters 74, 74-5
Gardelle 82, 83
Gaube 103, 104-5
Laparan 86, 87
Lers 21
Monestero 88, 89
Nère 104-5
Ossoue 98, 99
Pourtet 103, 104-5
Sant Maurici 23, 89
Soulcem 21, 82-3, 83
Vidal 77, 78-9

Laroque des Albères 13
Larrau 33
Laugibar 33
Lées-Athas 32
Lescun 31, 32
Llançà 12, 45, 46-7
Llavorsi 23
Llívia 16
Lomne 25
Lourdes 27, 28
Luchon (Bagnères de) 25, 26
Luz-St Sauveur 27, 28
Maçaners 8-9, 17
Massat 21, 22
Mauvezin, Château de 25
Mérens-les-Vals 18, 77, 78-9
La Mongie 27, 28
Montagut 14, 58, 61
Montaillou 18, 19
Montségur 18, 20

Mountains, ridges, volcanoes, plateaux, rock formations, etc
Albères 12-13
Anie 33, 115, 116-7
Astobizkar 118, 119, 120-1
Belh 86, 87
Cadí, Serra del 8-9, 16, 17, 71, 72-3; Túnel del 23, 24
Canigou 15, 63, 64
Choldokogagna (Xoldokogaiña) 126-7, 129, 130
Coutendé 116-7, 116-7
Croscat 55, 56-7
l’Estela, Serra de 45, 46-7
Garrotxa, La 14, 60, 61, 62
Gavarnie (Cirque de) 27, 28, 95, 96-7, 101
Iparla 36, 122, 123, 124
Isards, Crête des 86, 87
Midi de Bigorre 28
Orgues de Camplong 116-7, 116-7
Pedraforca 8-9, 17, 71, 72-3
Peguera 88, 89
Peñas de Haya (Aia) 36, 126-7, 131, 132-3, 134
Perdido 30-1, 112, 113
Pibeste 28
Pineta (Circo de) 30
Prade 27, 95, 101
Rhune, La 35, 36, 125
Santa Margarida 55, 56, 57
Sault 4, 18, 20, 80, 81
Sauvegarde 93, 94
Soaso (Circo de) 2, 111, 112-3, 114
Taillon 100, 101
Urculu 118, 119, 120-1
Vignemale 98

Niaux 21
Núria 68-9, 70
Ochagavía 33, 34
Olot 14, 55, 57
Ordesa, Parque Nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido 29, 111, 112-3, 113
Oza, Selva de 31
Pamplona 33, 34
Pierrefitte-Nestalas 28
La Pobla de Segur 23
La Pobleta de Bellvei 23, 24
Pont d’Espagne 103, 104-5
Pont de Suert 23, 24
Portbou 12, 13
Port de la Selva 12
Port-Vendres 12, 13, 52-3
Prades 19
Prats-de-Molló 14, 15
Puigcerda 16, 17
Puyarruego 29, 30
Pyrénées, Parc National des 32, 43, 95, 96, 101
Queralbs 68-9, 70
Revilla 29, 30
Ribes de Freser 15, 17, 68
Ripoll 14, 15

Rivers, streams, valleys, gorges, glaciers
Añisclo 29, 30, 108, 109, 110
Ara 29
Arazas 112-3, 111, 113
Ariège 21, 77, 78-9
Aso 29, 109, 110
Aspe 31
Aston 86-7, 87
Bethmale 21, 22
Bidasoa (Bidassoa) 126-7, 128
Biert 22
Carança 15, 65, 66, 67
Castelbó 23
Cinca 107, 108
Fou 15
Frau 18-9, 20, 80, 81
Freser 68-9, 70
Holçarté 33
Kakouetta 33
Madriu 74-5, 76
Marcadau 103, 104-5
Monestero 88-9, 89
Mourgouillou 77, 78-9, 79
Nivelle 36
Noguera Pallaresa 22, 23
Núria 68-9
Ossoue 26-7, 98, 99
Pineta 29, 30, 106-7, 108
Ribaouto 22
Riutort 86-7, 87
Sant Aniol 58, 59, 60, 62
Segré 16, 17
Soulcem 21, 82, 83
Tech 15
Ustou 22
Vellos (Bellos) 29, 109, 110
Yaga 30

Roncesvalles 33, 34, 120-1
Roquefixade 18, 20
Roses 12, 48-9, 50
Sadernes 14, 58, 60, 61, 62
St-Arroman 25
St-Aventin 26
St-Bertrand-de-Comminges 25, 26
St-Etienne-de-Baïgorry 35, 36
St-Girons 21, 22
St-Jean-de-Luz 35, 36
St-Jean-le-Vieux 33
St-Jean-Pied-de-Port 33, 34
St-Lizier 21, 22
St-Martin-du-Canigou 64
Ste-Engrâce 33
Ste-Marie-de-Campan 26, 27, 28
Salardú 23
Saldes 16, 17
San Sebastián 35
Sant Joan de les Abadesses 14, 15
Sant-Miquel d’Engolasters 1, 75, 74-5
Sant Miquel Sacot 55, 56, 57
Sant Pere de Rodes 12, 45, 46-7
Santa Pau 14, 55, 57
Santesteban 35
Sare 36
Sarvisé 29
Seix 21, 22
Senterada 23, 24
La Seu d’Urgell 16, 17, 73
Talaixà 59, 60
Tarascon-sur-Ariège 18, 20, 21, 22
Tella 30
Thuès-entre-Valls 65, 66, 67
Torla 29, 30
Tuixén 16, 17
Urdos 32, 122, 123, 124
Valcabrère 25
Vallfogona 15
Vera de Bidasoa 126-7
Vicdessos 21
Vielha 23, 24
Túnel de 23, 24
Vilajuïga 12, 45, 46-7
Zuriza 32

Current update

PYRENEES 6th edition, 2011 (Updated 09/07/14)

Updates for walks and car tours (drives) in in the Pyrenees given below supplement those provided in the guidebook. It is vital that this Update is read in conjunction with the text of the book, but note that the Update applies only to the edition stated and not to any earlier editions. (If you have an older edition of this book you can “upgrade” to the latest edition at half price.)

Information has been forwarded to us by users of the book, and Sunflower Books offers the data in good faith but cannot be held responsible for any misleading or inaccurate content in the Update. Unless indicated otherwise, what appears here has not been verified by the author or publisher, so please allow due caution when new or amended routes are suggested. Each piece of information is dated; bear in mind that some of the older observations may have since been overtaken by events or further changes. If, during your holiday, you are using the current edition of the guide and are able to provide any additional updating to add to this page, we will be pleased to hear from you. Please send information, preferably by e-mail, to info@sunflowerbooks.co.uk.

Walk 6: We struggled to stay on the trail as it was not clearly described or marked. It took us 6h30min to complete this walk. (User, 10/11)

Walk 9: Directions for this walk are misleading. Simpler instructions for this hike would be “follow the red and white or yellow trail markers”. (User, 10/11)

Walk 11, Suggestion: You describe only one walk in Andorra, the Madriu walk. I would like to suggest two other candidates:

1) La Massana – Riu de Montaner to Collada de Montaner. Thereafter up to Pic d’Enclar, and walk along the crest to Pic de Carroi. Descend along the track back to La Massana. Easy to access with public transport. This walk is quite long and strenuous with parts between Enclar and Carroi quite vertiginous. It is excellent if you are interested in an adventure. It also gives wonderful views. It is possible to shorten it by walking up to the Pal ski station from the Collada, where you will soon have contact with roads. I also think that this variant will turn the walk into an easy one, though herein I am only relying on my map. It is also possible to cut the distance by going in taxi from La Massana up the Montaner valley to the end of the road. Might even be recommendable since this part is really not that interesting. The descent is also a prime candidate for a taxi ride since it is all on road and about 1000 meters in one go.

2) Follow the GR7 from Andorra la Vella to Certes, northeast of Sant Julia. An easy walk climaxing in a fantastic view of Andorra and Spain. (User, 2007)

Walk 20: Compared to the other walks this is very easy. I added the extra to get to the waterfall and it wasn’t difficult. (User, 9/12)

Walk 22: Despite finding the above extension of Walk 20 easy, I didn’t feel capable of finishing this walk. I got as far as the Sarradets Refuge and returned from there. The ascent to the col with chains was running with water and in places the chains had become detached. (User, 9/12)

Walk 25: There is a new-looking circuit de San Urbez from the car park, which is an ideal short walk, or one can use one half out-bound and the other return. (User, 9/12)

Walk 26: On inquiring with the visitors centre I was advised that this walk was 7-hours and 24k in length (and so it proved) and that I MUST do it the other way round, i.e. start with the ascent to the Fajay de Pelay and return via the valley. How right they were! The ascent was lung-busting and steep, but I would have hated to do it as a descent with 20+k walking in my legs. I would also suggest the views are better walking towards the head of the valley from up high. (User, 9/12) + We had a day in the Pyrenees on 14th June this year, specifically to walk the Ordesa Valley and found your guide very helpful; here’s some updates to your information. We arrived in Torla at about 3.00pm. Our hotelier said we had plenty of time to walk the Ordesa and could drive up to the Pradera car park. He said the requirement to take the bus applied only in busy July and August. We drove up the track to the very large car park, I had imagined it would be small, which had capacity for several hundred cars. We set off at about 4.00pm and took the path up the valley as you describe, walking at a fast steady pace we made slightly better times. Most people were descending at this time of day, but as the path was wide it didn’t slow us down. We reached the Cascada de Cola de Caballo and had a snack. We had intended to return via the Faja de Pelay but there was a notice posted that said it was closed. In our best Spanglish we asked the few people still at the top and I think they were saying the track had deteriorated and was dangerous. The notices looked quite old. We came back down the valley but crossed to the south bank at the bridge and followed this path back to Pradera getting there for 9.00pm, still in good daylight at this time of the year. Its all well signposted and the last section on the south bank has a well-made accessible path with viewpoints and chairs. The car park end of the Faja de Pelay was also closed off but there was no notice of why. We had plenty of time to drive back to the Hotel. On the continuation of our journey on Sunday I called into the Torla visitor centre, sadly to buy a tee-shirt and a postcard, it isn’t this kind of a visitor centre but an impressive multileveled building with displays about the natural history of the area. I noticed a big sign in the visitor centre car park near the bus stop giving a daily limit for the number of people allowed into the park, so on busy days you may have to queue to be allowed in. (User, 7/14) [Editor: on a web blog about the park, it says that sometimes the Faja de Pelay doesn’t open till the end of June, due to snow. This user was only halfway through June. It was certainly open in 2013. Best to call the park office, as it says in the book.]