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If you are walking from Hendaye to Banyuls without a tent you’ve probably thought of spending your last night at the Col d’Ullat in the Chalet de l’Albère. Another alternative is to sleep in the Refuge de Tanyareda (Tagnarede), which is basic to say the least (graffiti on the walls, bottles on the floor). You might as well sleep outdoors.
In either case you will have to walk for at least eight hours the next day to arrive at the Mediterranean – of course you will be used to it by then – but there is an alternative, nearer to Banyuls: the refuge Tomy, also known as Can Tomy.
The “refuge” – to be accurate it is really only a shelter – is quite literally tucked into the Pic de Sailfort, in a fold in the rocks at the summit. Banyuls can be seen in the distance, less than three hours’ walk away but I think a last night in the Refuge Tomy would be a fitting end to walking the GR10.
At 960m above sea-level and located at the top of the most easterly mountain in the Pyrenees there won’t be crowds, which is a good thing because the refuge will accommodate a maximum of three people lying down, as long as they are friendly: it is “cosy”, the size of a big tent.
Clambering through the entrance hole needs a bit of care, but the tightly fitting glass windows ensure you a wind- and water-proof bubble. There is even a carpet, made of Astroturf, which makes all the difference. When I was there, there were bags of almonds and other food items hanging from the ceiling, and a couple of pans. (Try to leave replacements for what you eat.) There is a spring 20 minutes’ walk away (descend the GR10 towards Banyuls to 857m above sea level, turn left at the signpost). Note: the tap is not obvious – look on the right side of the cistern.
There is also reading matter: a guest book provided by Papy Maurice who restored the shelter “for walkers caught out by bad weather.” Here are a couple of the more recent entries:
“16/6/11 Last stop on the Pyrenean Way. The only thing left is the descent to Banyuls. It’s the end of a marathon, because it started in 2004. When we started there were five of us; now we are only three. That’s life… Claude, Bernard and Christian from Perpignan (three seventy-year-olds).”
“07/07/11 I came looking for quiet. I found a spirit, undoubtedly the spirit of Maurice and that of those who feel at home in the Pyrenees. It is good to be here. Thanks. Franck.”
With the prospect of seeing the sun rises from the sea at dawn, could there be a better place to spend the last night on an epic mountain walk? Merci Maurice.
Update August 2014
The refuge is still in good condition.
This time I stayed overnight, walking up from Banyuls.This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012 at 3:36 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a comment below, or trackback from your own site.