Circular walk on Cap Béar

January 8th, 2017
 
Topo de randonnée du Cap Béar

The circuit – 14km, 650m ascent

Port Vendres is at the very end of the Pyrenees. Walkers on the GR10 normally dip their feet in the Mediterranean at Banyuls but Cap Béar just to the north is worth a visit. Read the rest of this entry »

Bearded vulture returns to the French Pyrenees

December 17th, 2016
 

Bearded vultures (Gypaetus barbatus, also known as the lammergeier vulture) are coming back to France helped by an initiative of the Ligue pour la protection des oiseaux (LPO, the French equivalent of the RSPB). Read the rest of this entry »

If your feet ache, walk on your hands

December 7th, 2016
 

source : wikipediaI have just relearnt how to walk at the age of 62.

Recently, I was struggling to keep up with a friend striding down a hill; when I looked carefully I realised she was walking differently. It’s Trekking 2.0, she explained. It was new to me, and to judge by what I saw in the Pyrenees this summer, will be new to many people. I learnt the technique in a couple of hours and practised it over the following weeks. As a result I no longer have problems with my knees. 800km of testing seems pretty conclusive to me. Read the rest of this entry »

Trekking 2.0: or how technology has revolutionised walking

November 13th, 2016
 
On the moon, treading lightly: Buzz Aldrin sets a good example

On the moon, treading lightly: Buzz Aldrin sets a good example

 

I’ve only just noticed. Trekking – hiking, rambling, walking, call it what you will – has been changing over the last few years. An accumulation of little things, which together add up to a quiet revolution: Trekking 2.0.

Yet Trekking 2.0 is not just about electronic gadgetry. It includes what we wear, what we carry, and even what we do with and to our bodies. Read the rest of this entry »

Diversions on the GR 10 near Superbagnères and Le Perthus

November 7th, 2016
 
Diversion of the GR 10 west of Superbagnères

Diversion of the GR 10 west of Superbagnères

 

Coming back home for a rest from the exertions of the Pyrenean Haute Route (HRP), via a leg of the GR10, I got lost. Despite a big, clearly labelled arrow, I walked round in a circle. From the Col de la Coume de Bourg (2271m) to Superbagnères, instead of skirting along the hillside, the route now drops into the valley and then climbs out again on a freshly-made path.

 

Diversion of the GR 10 east of Le Perthus

Diversion of the GR 10 east of Le Perthus

 

A rather older diversion further east is also worth noting. Immediately after passing under the motorway at Le Perthus the GR 10 now climbs back into the forest (passing absent-mindedly into Spain) before re-joining St-Martin-d’Albère. A great improvement: previously it followed the road for many kilometres.

Meeting Maurice

October 21st, 2016
 
Refuge Tomy

Refuge Tomy

After many years of wondering who he was, I have finally met Maurice, on my last day walking the Pyrenean Haute Route. I had slept the previous night in ‘his’ Refuge Tomy and was slowly descending to Banyuls when I bumped into a man wearing a red bonnet climbing up, carrying an empty container. It must be him!

Tomy

Tomy

There were no grapes to be harvested, he told me, so he was on his way to take water up to the shelter close to the summit of the Pic de Sallfort. What dedication!

The shelter is named after his poodle Tomy, who was also a runner. He used to follow his master up the slopes but he aged more quickly than Maurice so he was left to rest under an overhanging rock. This led Maurice to think of making a shelter for hikers as well. He started work in 2003 or thereabouts.

 

My sleeping bag on the bench

My sleeping bag on the bench

 

Miniscule is the word for it. From the outside it looks like a little greenhouse, half hidden 100m NW of the point where the GR10 drops over the ridge. Inside there is everything a walker could need: benches which convert into a bed for three, mattresses, a gas stove, pans, and most importantly containers full of water. The nearest water is 20 minutes’ walk away. Maurice brings it up from the spring at least once a week in summer. He has had it analysed; it is drinkable.

We talk about the other springs at this end of the GR10, about walking, and I learn about Maurice’s friend François Grand who helped him build the shelter. But it is only when I arrive home that I discover I have been talking to a Pyrenean legend. Maurice Parxes has competed in the Course du Canigou 34 times. This year he yomped through the 34 km and 2180m ascent in 5h47. He is 74!

 

The François Grand spring, named after a friend.

The François Grand spring, named after a friend.

 

A note on the spring. The first time I saw it I thought it was almost dry but I had misunderstood how it works. The spring is only a trickle at the best of times. So Maurice has installed a cistern with a tap low down on the right (not easy to see). The overflow drips at the same rate that the water arrives, but there is always a supply of water.

On bears and sheep in the Pyrenees, 2016

October 7th, 2016
 
Estive at the Cabane de Gourge Sec on the Pyrenean Haute Route near Somport

Estive at the Cabane de Gourge Sec on the Pyrenean Haute Route near Somport

 

The provisional figures for bear attacks in France this year (up to 31 August 2016) have just been released. Despite the optimistic gloss of the text of the report, the figures tell a different story. Read the rest of this entry »

Reg Edmunds on the GR10 trek

September 22nd, 2016
 

Reg wrote this report on his 2105 charity walk. Thanks for sharing, Reg.

 

In the mist on the GR10

In the mist on the GR10

I was 70 when I hiked the GR10. I found it to be varied in what it offered. Lots of mountains to cross, I do not remember many ridges to follow, just mostly up and downs. On some days I had lots of fierce sun, some fog and obviously rain but little or no wind. Except for the Ariège region, where I did not see another human being for three days, I found the towns, villages, hamlets, individual refuges, campsites and so on all well spaced out. Most needed a good walking effort to get from one to the other, unlike the Tour du Mon Blanc where such facilities seemed to be available every few kilometers. Read the rest of this entry »

Reintroducing bears, rewilding the Pyrenees: for and against

September 17th, 2016
 

Bears filmed recently in the commune of Melles where the first Slovenian bears were released in 1996

Although there are many aspects to the debate, one of the main issues separating the pro- and anti-bear camps is the importance to be given to the number of sheep killed by bears. Is it a significant figure or not?

Read the rest of this entry »

Walking in the Pyrenees: free book

June 14th, 2016
 

Goodreads is giving away of six copies of my new book on the Pyrenees. Click here to enter.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Footprints on the Mountains... the News from the Pyrenees by Steve Cracknell

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map of GR10

 
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