Today we entered the Pyrenees National Park and if I thought the scenery was good before this was on a whole new level. I must have taken 25 pictures but could have taken many many more but sadly there doest appear to be enough WiFi to upload them to the blog.
Today was always going to be special as there were 2 big highlights of the trip. The Chemin de Mature and the pic de Midi Ossau. The Chemin de Mature is a cutting in the rock which runs for about 5 Km around the valley side. In some places it is less than 4 feet wide. That means it was less than the length of my walking poles and it had a 150-200 Meter drop at the side of it. So I ask my friends from the transport industry, would you stand on a pallet 200 meters in the air. I expect the answer is Non Monsuir. The path was created so the French Navy could gather timber from the Forest in the upper Valley. It is truly truly spectacular. If only I could upload the pictures.
It’s funny what goes through your mind when you are on your own and you don’t have much to do. After the Chemin de Mature I reached a really steep section and as I had my head down climbing I though about a French family who.had stayed in the Gite last night. The ruc-sacs they had were massive. It’s an exaggeration to say I could have fit in but it’s no exaggeration to say my daughter Vicky would. Also they had more gear on the outside than on the inside. why do they need all that gear? Pointless I thought. It’s like that bloke that runs the Great North Run carrying a Fridge. At least he is raising money for a charity. That lead me to think about Rob. Rob is the guy I met a few days ago in Lescun from Ashbourne. Rob is a type one diabetic. We got talking about diabetes and how it is a massive problem for the NHS. He told me he had to carrying all his medication and keep it cool. I thought he could do with the bloke with fridge. Just then I heard a noise on the path ahead and look up just Un time to see a mule train coming down quickly A lady hearding 3 donkeys down the path laden with gear. She had a small day pack and I thought you can pack light if you have got a big Ass!. It was priceless moment.
It is really strange how the mind works as seeing the lady remained me of my father in law Jim Howley. Jim is a lovely man who would not hurt a fly and in saying that I a reminded of the time my mother in law, Maureen found a rat in one of the kitchen draws. Obviously the pest control people were called but Jim was feeding it until they arrived. The connection was that the lady with the mules was wearing wellies. There was I worrying about my feet in my expensive walking shows and she was walking up and down the same mountains in Wellies. By all accounts Jim was not a bad footballer but he tells me he had to play in cut down wellies because they couldn’t afford proper boots. Our generation don’t know how lucky we are.
I was certainly lucky. I saw more interesting things on this day alone than some people will see in a life time. Pictures will be uploaded eventually.
I was lucky enough to meet 4 people from Bristol later in the day at the refuge D’ayous. Two of the group now live out here and they were showing their friends the sights. I can only take my visitors up Hope Hill. One of them kindly gave me the blister plasters from his first aid kit. Thank you. He told that the weather forecast for tomorrow is good and the scenery will be better than today…I can’t wait.
The Hotel I stayed at in Lescun
Another short day 16km From Lescun to Etsaut. The route climbed up through woodland which masked the view for much of the time but I did manage to get a few nice shots of the scenery.
A view from today’s walk
It also passed through the village of Borce which was wonderful.
3 views of Borce. A Very nice place
This was alway going to be a big milestone. The guide book I am using splits the G.R.10 into 4 sections, and Etsaut marks the end of the first section. We are leaving the Payes Basque and entering rhe High Pyrenees where more time will be spent between an altitude of 1000 and 2500 mts. Etsaut is at 600 mts and tomorrow I go over a 2185 Mt col Col D’ayous before decending 1100 mts to the village of Gabas. 23Km. We need lots of these to keep us on the right track.
We will have to see how the foot holds up. Luckily it doesn’t hurt going up hill. Early start tomorrow and I need my beauty sleep as several of you have pointed out from this mornings video. No I have not been boxing. Not yet anyway. Bon Nuit.
Painted on the Wall outside the Gite at Logibar. This is now the icon of the blog.
Suspension Bridge the route goes across
The Church at Saint Engrace
Carved on the end of a water trough in the middle of nowhere
One the vultures got. You may have to zoom in.
2 Guests from Refuge Jeandal
Cecile The Mountain Guide outside Refuge Jeandal.
Marmots. Yes they are there.
The highest point so far.
The view from the Col
Little House on the Prairie?
Cabana la Batch.
Finally Lucian comes into view
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.