One of the nice things about the Journey is meeting people. You don’t meet many but the ones you do all seem to share a love of the hills. Last night I slept in a mountain Hut. There were only 3 other guests, all walking the G.R. 10 but in the other direction. 2 men who were doing it over a several different holidays and a lady, Cecile a 34 year old mountain guide who looked like she should be on the cover of a magazine. She had walked all the way from Banyules in 33 days and is on to finish in 40 days. Amazing considering her pack was twice the size of the one I have. Anyway I had to share a dormitory with her. Luckily for me she wasn’t attracted to a hobbling,balding middleaged men with bad breath cold sores and feet that now smell of two day old tuna. Otherwise I would have had to fight her off. So the point of the story is Cecile, the two other guests, the refuge warden and several other people I have met today all asked me the same question. Are you from Scotland? Non Mademoiselle, Je Suis Un Yorkshireman. Tonight I had the privilege of spending dinner sat next to Rob who originally from Ashbourne in Derbyshire, went to University in Newcastle but spends large parts of his year climbing and walking in the Western Highlands. At least he could understand me. Rob is doing the H.R.H. The high level route which spends most of the time above 2500 meters and rarely drops into the valleys. In addition to a love of the Pyrenees Rob and I have something else in common. SORE FEET Rob’s are so bad he is having a rest day tomorrow. Mine have been bad today and I am taking a few easy days. Today was only 15 km but it took me 6 1/2 hours. However the scenery was the best yet. I even saw several marmots. I did take some photos but again can’t seem to get them to upload. Obviously operator error. Bon nuit.
Wow what a week. I estimated I have covered 192km of the 955km so not a bad start. However it is noticeable that the sun is rising later. I set oof at 7 am today and needed my head torch until 7:20. Last week Saturday morning it light enough to see at 6:50. So my days will be shorter from now on. Also the days will be tougher too as we are in the high mountains now. So accommodation permitting I will be trying to limit my days to 25 km and 1500 Mt ascent. Not the 42km and 2400 I did today. Still having a problem access my photo album on my phone from the blog. I have uploaded them first and it takes ages so no pictures tonight as I need to sleep
Interior of the church
This was in the entrance of the church at St Etienne. (Etienne is French for Stephen)
For the non religious this a depiction of Our Lady of Lourdes. When the Virginia Mary appears to Bernadette.in the town of Lourdes which is a few miles down the road. From this the church has the special feast day of the immaculate conception which is 8th December which happens to be my birthday. Seems strange that I arrive in A town named after me and one if the first thing I saw was a reminder if my birthday. Like I was meant to visit. Any how the town also has an old Bridge…but I can’t find the picture
At 8 am the weather forecast said 90 percent chance of rain so I decide today would be a rest day and I would take advantage of the fine room (and has a kettle…but only minute cups) I knew it was the right decision when I put my foot on the floor and I made a small pool of strawberry calpol on the floor.
So far the lodgings have been varied. First night was a fabulous 4 star hotel which was really luxurious but I did look out of place sat in the restaurant with only posh clientele enjoying a Saturday evening and me sat there in my Pertex wind proof pants and my Bingley Harriers Tee shirt. It was fine dining so you know what that means..FIFTY FIVE euros for 2 lamb chops each the size of my little finger and a dozen borrower sized mushroom. Sacranblure! Vous et aving Un laugh. In the morning when I found that my €140 room didn’t include breakfast I bought 4 croissant from the small village souvenir shop and washed them down with a litre of water.
2 days later I stayed in my first gite d’tappe at St Etienne De Biagorry and for €36 euro I had my own room a 4 course evening meal of good home cooked food with Yorkshire portions and breakfast included. Now that’s what I call fine dining. St Etienne has a wonderful church and if I can remember how I added the last photo I will and a picture of the interior. It was spectacular in that it has galleries all the way around looking like the inside of a Shakespeare theater….can’t seem to get the photo to up load so you will have to wait for the next installment.
Yes it is fair to say that by the end of each day, how shall I put it, I stink. Walking up hill when it’s hot makes you sweat. Walking up steep hills when it’s almost 30 degrees and you have a pack on your back makes you sweat alot so once the walking has been done every thing I have worn that day has to be thorough washed and dried. Well it seems to work for Jack Reacher.
A lack of Wi-fi has meant I have not been able to update you and the tracker hasn’t been updating so sorry if you have been concerned.
So far it has been great. One or two slightly less than perfect moments but mostly a thoroughly enjoyable journey. It’s 7 am it’s pouring outside and today’s section has a lot of limestone on the route. The guide book specifically says this can be a difficult section if it’s wet and rain is forecast all day today 6/9. I have a massive blister on the sole of my left foot which is oozing liquid the colour and texture of strawberry yougart! should I be worried? I am in a lovely warm bed and can feel a rest day may be the right decision I will see how I feel in an hour or so.
I have finally worked out how to insert pictures. Only taken 2 weeks.
Not sure how they will come out on the blog or where to add a caption. The one above is day one 500 meters into the Journey.i will add more later.
Well yesterday’s journey was certainly a baptism of Fire as the temperature reached 29 degrees. Yesterday was always going to be hard. Because I couldn’t find any accommodation in the first 2 villages I had to double up and do two full sections. A total of 42 km with 1900 meters of ascent.It turns out there was a wedding in the tourist hotspot of Sare. I arrived just as the happy couple exited the church and the streets were packed it was 5pm very hot and I was still over 2 hours away from my hotel. All the bars and restaurants were full. Eventually I arrived at my hotel at 8.11 pm 12 hours and 1 minute after leaving Hendaye. I am looking forward to a few easier days now before getting into the really high mountains. Yesterday only reached 600 meters but nevertheless the scenery was stunning.
So today is the day and I am at the airport waiting patiently for my plane. I have just read an article about next months cycle world championship which take place in Innsbruck Austria. The writer is at pains to stress the men’s race has 5000 meters of ascent and is 265km. Yikes my route is roughly 960km so almost 4 times the distance but at 54000Mt it has over 10 times the ascent. I hope.the author of my guide book has made a mistake or Maybe it won’t be as easy as I thought. Up up up keep going up…..
Grand Randonee dix Or G.R. 10 is a long distance footpath traversing the length of the Pyrenean mountain range. It starts from Hendaye on the Atlantic coast and finishes at Banyules sur Mer on the Mediterranean Sea, approximately 590 miles. It has been a long held ambition (since 1978) to walk this route and to be honest I was starting think it may never happen. A pipe dream. A wish that is just a wish. A different type of lottery win. However having decided to take the bull by the horns I asked my employer for 2 months of unpaid leave and hey presto on 31/8 I fly to Biarritz to start the walk on 1st September.
I would like to share the experience with friends and family so will be posting updates, pictures, tales of daring do and possibly of woe WiFi permitting. Why not read my ramblings over your Petite Dejeuner.